Sonic Reducer

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This is an inspired collection of what could be called Christian campfire songs. mewithoutYou‘s orchestral, joyful exuberance forms a cocoon around every note and causes the nonstop religious messages to bounce off your skull without causing irritation. The diverse terrain of the album covers accordion waltzes, clip-clop Americana, plodding hymns and remorseful, guitar ballads. There’s an innate beauty that shows through every inch of it’s all crazy! While instrumentation remains understated, dynamics push toward something epic because of swaying tempos. If you can swallow the God talk, it’s all crazy! will reward your tolerance. (SM)

Wilco Wilco (The Album) (Nonesuch Records)

How and why Wilco has managed to attain legendary status in the annals of recent rock history is slightly mystifying. The band appeals to aging hipsters, small children and dogs alike, maybe because the sound is a safe, adult contemporary balance of indie rock and Americana—not too mainstream, but not too obscure. But what’s so special about Wilco? They have a few really excellent tracks, but on the whole they aren’t amazing. Anyway, the band’s semi-eponymous, unreleased album was leaked onto the web a couple of weeks ago. I’m not very fond of it. (JCC)

Will Sellenraad Balance (Beezwax)

Guitarist Will Sellenraad’s superb quartet—with Abraham Burton (saxes), Kiyoshi Kitagawa (bass) and Victor Lewis (drums)—generates a good deal of heat while keeping the flame down low. With such excellent original compositions (seven from Sellenraad and one each from Kitagawa and Lewis) and irresistible grooves, whether a supple bossa (“Nye”) or easy-rolling funk (“Blewis”), you don’t need pyrotechnics. You just need to keep things simmering, and they do. Each player shines solo—and Sellenraad’s comping (check out “Prayer”) is nearly as engaging as his soloing—but it’s the group interplay that makes Balance such an appealing celebration of equilibrium. (MM)

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