Sonic Reducer

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While Cuban-born and New York–based Prieto has already proven himself a virtuosic drummer, this masterful release (the first on his own label) insists that we recognize his remarkable gifts as a composer, too. On Taking the Soul for a Walk, Prieto gives full, emotionally articulate expression to the exile’s internal life, the angst of separation scissoring across the exhilaration of liberty. His skillful use of texture seems to double the sextet’s sound and heightens compositional nuances, and complex rhythms rub bellies together to produce an affecting dance for the spirit. Special kudos go to trumpeter Avishai Cohen and saxophonist Yosvany Terry. (MM)

Cavedoll No Vertigo (Kitefishing)

If releasing an album every year is good, releasing 10 albums a year is better. That seems to be Cavedoll’s motto. The Salt Lake City neo-new wave band is set to release two handfuls of records in 2008, and No Vertigo is strong evidence it’s up for the challenge. The CD is full of homages to new wavers of old, but more spontaneous and diversified than the genre’s forefathers. There’s a refreshing reliance on non-electronic instruments, and, save for some saccharin-sweet moments, No Vertigo doesn’t go overboard with sunshine. It’s a jab in the side, made for anyone looking to cut loose in tight jeans. (SM)

Ed Harcourt The Beautiful Lie (Dovecote)

Released in the U.K. two years ago, this prepossessing album from indie-rocking Englishman Ed Harcourt is finally available to us ’mericans. With the combination of Harcourt’s falsetto vocal style, ’70s-sounding piano balladry, resplendent arrangements with dramatic strings and perfectly placed lo-fi moments, this beautiful album is material for late-night crying-in-your-cabaret. This is especially true of the crackling love song "Until Tomorrow Then," my favorite item on the album. (JCC)

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