Sonic Reducer

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Scores of bad singer/songwriters have deflated some words: you, this, night, feel, love, city, asphalt, sky, heart, etc. There they lay, withered and shrunken, miserable and odorless—until Nedelle came along and filled some of them all back up with stunning song-poems. They’re perfumed with her clear, sweet voice and interesting chords that slip through tracks like "I Hate a Mountain" and "Spell the Night Right." That’s not to say everything that spills from this pretty, little voice is pleasant and friendly. This bard’s ready to dig into the dark bits when she needs to. [MD]

Eastern Conference Champions Ameritown (Suretone Records)

Ameritown is a hodgepodge of alt.rock. "Yuppy Hipster Fuck" leads with a voice squeezed from Joshua Ostrander’s gut that’s eerily similar to Thom Yorke, laid atop electronic meanderings in the vein of The Postal Service. Not to dabble too long, Eastern Conference Champions kick in the violins, electric guitars and rolling drums found on the best Smashing Pumpkins records. Its originality is subtle, and in some instances, so hard to notice it’s easy to dismiss. Ameritown isn’t a one-listen album. My guess is if you don’t love it on the first go, try again. If you still don’t warm to it, well, at least you gave it another shot. [AD]

Okkervil River The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)

The Stage Names has a way of both imitating and recreating life. Plug it in the next time you find yourself walking alone down a street around dusk, and be amazed at how each appears to become in-tune with the other. Every song on Names has an epic feeling to it, as if each were intended by leader/lyricist Will Sheff to be the final song in a feel-good movie that you later realize is bittersweet. Go to your quiet place and find solace in the simple beauty of “Savannah Smiles,” dreaming that life could only be as sweet. [TG]

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