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 V.20 No.21 | May 26 - June 1, 2011 

Sonic Reducer

A Hawk & A Hacksaw Cervantine (L. M. Dupli-cation)

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A Hawk & A Hacksaw’s Cervantine has one simple objective: Induce an ecstatic state in listeners. The principals—Jeremy Barnes (accordion, percussion) and Heather Trost (violin, viola)—enlist several highly accomplished musical friends to blend the folk traditions of the Balkans, Asia Minor, southern Europe and the Southwestern U.S. into mesmerizing vortexes of sound. On “Española Kolo,” the multicultural echoes create a kind of Hispanic/Slavic second line rhythm that demands you dance ’til you can’t. The beguiling “Lajtha Lassú” offers a secular, wordless hymn of compassion. Every tune, whether original or reimagined, is galvanized by passionate intensity and exceptional musicianship. (MM)

Joseph Arthur The Graduation Ceremony (Lonely Astronaut)

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I usually would argue with the idea that “simple is better.” But when it comes to Joseph Arthur's new album, The Graduation Ceremony, it's impossible to disagree. Arthur's voice is complimented beautifully by guitar, bass, keyboard, drums and back-up singers. Never once does one instrument overpower another. Instead it’s an artful dance of vocal and instrumental harmony. Arthur's range is incredible, and the album is calm yet twinged with despair and heartbreak. And just when you think his melancholy is too much, he drops a little note of hopefulness into the mix. (SB)

Dengue Fever Cannibal Courtship (Fantasy)

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Despite the woeful title, on its fourth album Dengue Fever is making music that’s slightly more rosy than previous releases. The band, formed 10 years ago in Silver Lake, channels ’60s Cambodian pop and American psych rock, creating a super hip, loungey vibe. Lead songstress Chhom Nimol, singing in both Khmer and English, is the sexy voice in front of organs, horns, fuzzy guitars and eclectic percussion. All together it makes for an album that sounds like an intercontinental flight to the Far East wherein the stewardesses wear polyester minis and serve Martinis. (JCC)

(MM) Mel Minter, (SB) Sharla Biefeld, (JCC) Jessica Cassyle Carr

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