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75OL-173 Northern Lands - He Took a Dive

Formed in the summer of 2011 as a backing band for singer Josh Cournoyer's appearance at the WBRU Summer Concert Series, Northern Lands has since evolved into a full fledged rock and roll collaborative with Aaron Jaehnig (bass), Peter Hayden (lead guitar), and Joshua Wallace (drums) rounding out the lineup. Joining the band for guest spots on the album is Roz Raskin (The Ricecakes). Northern Lands also recently teamed up with Revival Brewing to launch their own craft lager, Northern Lands Lager which is available regionally this summer to coincide with the launch of He Took A Dive. For Fans of: The Hold Steady, Lucero, Dinosaur Jr., The E Street Band. Nine tracks in all, you can purchase a copy of the cd at the label website.

Neutral Milk Hotel Vinyl Box Set

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Neutral Milk Hotel Vinyl Box Set

On November 22, Neutral Milk Hotel is self releasing a vinyl box set with 15 previously unreleased tracks. This will include both full length albums - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and On Avery Island, two 10" records - Everything Is EP and the Ferris Wheel on Fire EP, both with bonus tracks, three 7 inch records - Little Birds, You've Passed/Where You'll Find Me Now, the Holland 1945/Engine picture-disc, and two large posters. Priced at $88 plus S&H, you can pre-order and check out the details of the package here.

Nous Non Plus - Ménagerie

Nous Non Plus - Ménagerie (Aeronaut) [audio] [upcoming shows]

I typically don't mind listening to bands with non-English lyrics. But when that band is made up of New York musicians, it seems a little more like a gimmick. That colors everything else about Ménagerie, from the tongue-in-cheek disco tracks which sound like Scissor Sisters cast-offs to the bossa/yé-yé moments that pale in comparison to France Gall or Sylvie Vartan. In fact, I'm not sure there's anything about this album that isn't a complete facade. Just some good ideas that are ruined by ham-handed impulses.

The New Standards - Rock and Roll

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The New Standards - Rock and Roll (Princess) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The New Standards continue their path of reinterpreting classic and recent alternative rock into piano and vibes. Of all the songs they cover, The Replacements' "Androgynous" was a piano based song to begin with and is immediately recognizable. But hearing radical reworkings of Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Outkast and The Clash is no longer surprising as more punk and new wave songs find themselves as jingles in television commercials. The muzak versions of these and other contemporary indie songs will be waiting for you someday.

The New Year - S/T

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The New Year (Touch & Go) [audio] [video]

Yet another chapter of the glacier-like book the Kadane brothers have been composing since their Bedhead days. The blueprint is familiar; whispered vocals and the trademark minimalism slowly building into gentle cascades of guitar and piano scales. These end up coming at you from all angles, slowly crawling over you like a pack of spiders whacked on Valium. Prepare to reverse engineer your ears and brain, as you are programmed to work at a much faster pace than this delivers. It will get there. Did he just say orgies?

A.C. Newman - Get Guilty

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A.C. Newman - Get Guilty (Matador) [audio] [upcoming shows]

As the leader of perhaps the most talented and prolific of all the Canadian "it" bands (outside of Bryan Adams), the other redheaded Alfred Cornelius Newman is so overflowing with musical output he needs to release solo records at just about the same rate as both Destroyer and Neko Case. Fans of The New Pornographers will love these songs, as they basically follow the same blueprint—no epic tracks, just charming, reverb-bathed orchestral pop that's just a little mellower than the moneymaker, plus lots of backing vocals of the female persuasion.

Nneka - No Longer at Ease

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Nneka - No Longer at Ease (Yo Mama's Recording) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Nigerian-born and Hamburg-based singer Nneka Egbuna caught my ear in 2006 with Victim of Truth, a kitchen sink-type debut album encompassing all things pop, soul and hip-hop with native African influences. No Longer at Ease continues to defy basic categorization, though it's warmer and less guarded in approach. The curtain between artist and listener has been ripped down and what's revealed is probably the most engaging album of its kind in many years; since The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, anyway.

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV

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Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV (The Null Corporation) [audio] [upcoming shows]

If you like to work on your music rather than enjoy it, this might be the recording for you. I suppose if I had a month to listen to 1-2 tracks a day, reflect upon them, and fill out a journal decorated in electrical tape about the feelings it inspired, this might be a fun project. I don't. There are moments of beauty here and interesting ideas, but they are sketches without a central theme or anchor. Almost anyone could dig through here and find 30 minutes of great stuff, but I can't imagine you have the time.

Silje Nes - Ames Room

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Silje Nes - Ames Room (Fat Cat) [audio] [upcoming shows]

The danger of providing a description of Silje Nes' music is that it will only evoke everything it does not sound like. Nes expertly arranges her multi-tracked home recordings of eclectic instrumentation and shy vocals to maximum effect, resulting in an album which is both inviting and mysterious in equal measure. The dirty weapon which propels the record is the impressive, unavoidable catchiness of the melodies as tempered by the charm of their eccentric presentation. Ames Room is an album of filtered yet inescapable beauty.
The New Pornographers - The Spirit of Giving (Matador) [audio] [upcoming shows] iTunes Holiday Single

It's a seasonal indie rock single that doesn't completely suck eggnog! The title track is re-purposed from Challengers, but the two others are where the real joy lies. "Arms of Mary/Look at a Baby" is a clever collision of two very different songs (both covers) which somehow become Christmas-y when paired together. Far and away the best thing about this, though, is the original "Joseph, Who Understood", written from the point of view of a guy whose virgin girlfriend just told him she's carrying God's baby. Stuff someone's e-stocking with this, won't you?

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