Sonic Reducer

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It’s been a while since Portland-based desert gypsy rocker Kate Mann called New Mexico home, but the Land of Enchantment still swims in her blood. Her latest release remains intimate even as it fills to the brim with acoustic and electric guitar, fiddle, cello, accordion, piano, saw and harmonica. Mann’s sleepy-eyed acoustic ballads sit at one end of the bar, while cello-heavy movers and shakers beg for another shot at the other. Things Look Different is an album that gets its point across with forceful grace. (SM)

Evidence The Layover EP (Decon Records)

Evidence is like a rare bottle of wine, a vintage that starts out crisp and gets better by the year. If only his rift from the epic underground act Dilated Peoples hadn’t left such a bitter taste in the mouths of many. Spilt milk aside, Evidence comes clean on The Layover EP through a laid-back Cali vibe and a hip-hop-heavy dose of turntablism. The flows are slow and full of swagger, backed up by guest artists like The Alchemist, Defari and Avid fans of Dilated Peoples fret not–the times and people are changing, but The Layover EP still covers all bases of a craveable hip-hop album. (JH)

The Pica Beats Beating Back the Claws of the Cold (Hardly Art)

I’m fond of some of the guitar parts on this indie-pop album and the highly percussive quality on which The Pica Beats is based. But by the time you get to Track 4 or 5, Beating Back the Claws of the Cold sounds like a bed of monotonous slush below whiny and annoying vocals. And come on–the sitar? I’m all for novelty, but in this case, it sounds like that low-rent New Age stuff occasionally jammed at ethnic restaurants. (JCC)

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