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 Feb 25 - Mar 3, 2010 

Sonic Reducer

Tobias Gebb & Unit 7 Free at Last (Yummy House Records)

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Tobias Gebb’s limber drumming and the adept pianism of Eldad Zvulun provide the underpinnings for four different combos (two quintets and two sextets drawn from nine other players) on four Gebb originals and four covers. Things get off and running with Toby Wine’s “Blues for Drazen,” which both altoist Bobby Watson and tenorist Stacy Dillard just nail. Unfortunately, the remaining tracks cannot all sustain that high level. On the upside, Gebb’s ballad “My Love” features sensitive work from tenorist Joel Frahm, who also captures the “out there” feeling on the perky arrangement of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.” On the downside, Gebb’s calypso “Bop Be Dop” never achieves the genre’s centrifugal rhythmic pull, and on “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” Watson’s lovely solo is almost ruined by Gebb’s intrusive castanets. (MM)

Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore Dear Companion (Sub Pop)

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Turns out bluegrass and the slumped shoulders of indie rock ain’t a bad fit. “If I’ve wounded you, I’m sorry / it happens all the time,” Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore sing on this mellow, countrified Sub Pop release, which benefits efforts to end mountaintop removal coal mining in central Appalachia. Produced by My Morning Jacket frontman Yim Yames, Dear Companion nicely juxtaposes the reverb-heavy pop-rock of Yames’ band and the spacey Appalachian shuffle of the Grateful Dead’s long-pleasurable acoustic endeavors. Like dilapidated tales of West Virginia and Kentucky told by kids passing through Brooklyn, Dear Companion’s sharp, sparse and woodsy compositions skillfully speak for people and places discovering why we invented faith. (AP)

The Besnard Lakes The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar)

Often compared to Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scenebut really only due to its size and Canadian home-baseMontreal’s The Besnard Lakes is no longer indie rock’s dark horse. Singer/guitarist/producer Jace Lasek’s high-pitched crooning, which harkens back to The Beach Boys and Chicago, spearheads the group’s sweeping psychedelic rock à la the Cocteau Twins. On The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night the band returns with even bigger guitars and attention-demanding multipart harmonies. Lasek is a noted producer of Canadian sensations such as Stars and Wolf Parade, but the larger-than-life, crawling symphonic rock of The Besnard Lakes is actually more impressive than those more famous acts. This third full-length album is the group’s all-around best yetregularly shimmering and exploding as if pulling listeners into a dreamalthough at times the gentleness is vicious with America-bashing tracks like “And You Lied To Me.” (AP)

(MM) Mel Minter, (AP) Adam Perry
 
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