Sonic Reducer

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Embarking on a road trip with an unknown band in your CD player is a gamble. It’s advisable to have a back up plan in these situations, unless the album you’re about to feed your player is The Thrills Teenager . The first note of "The Midnight Choir" is like aural comfort food. The inviting strum of a mandolin accompanied by acoustic guitar and piano immediately welcomes you into the feel of this alt.rock pop album, which is something like finding your favorite childhood teddy bear while cleaning out your parent’s attic. Teenager is familiar with just enough “different” to make it lovable. [AD]

Mac Lethal 11:11 (Rhymesayers)

Mac Lethal is a Midwest country boy who wants to sweep the slate clean with expression through lyricism and a lethal dose of tongue-in-cheek. “You’re just dancing on corpses hoping to get famous” he remarks on "Tell Me Goodbye," describing the many ways artists profit unethically off of tragedies and politics. He’s remarkably honest to the point where you wouldn’t dare take him to a family dinner. Most hooks are poppy and melodramatic, but it’s the lyrical content that keeps 11:11 on point. [JH]

Band of Horses Cease To Begin (Sub Pop)

While I’d really like to like Band of Horses‘ second full-length album, it sounds a little too contrived and clean for comfort. And jeez, in several songs it’s as though the lyricist fell in love and started scribbling sappy free-verse at coffee shops. Don’t get me wrong, some of these tracks are worthwhile (as, although patchy, their last album was). Mostly though, for a band attached to so much promise and hype, this work is sadly forgettable. [JCC]

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