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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

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Low Kick And Hard Bop

Solex ought to be a superhero in her own Saturday morning cartoon. During the day she'd unassumingly run her little record shop in Amsterdam; at night she'd retreat to her basement studio and mix up samples like a mad scientist, perfecting her latest audio concoction. Her recent album, Low Kick and Hard Bop, would be the soundtrack to her adventures. It makes perfect sense. Besides, it isn't far from the truth. Solex indeed is a collage wizard whose songs defy convention, yet for whom "kooky" is too crass a description.

In her first album since 1999's Pick Up, Solex hasn't much changed her style, which isn't to say that her music is uninteresting. It would be hard to find any other musician who sounds like Solex (born Elisabeth Esselink). Perhaps she's best defined as a modern pop diva: as producer and composer she combines sampling with live instruments; she writes and sings the lyrics, and fronts the band in live shows. After listening long enough, it's easy to envision her sitting behind a big oak desk, puffing on a cigar and ignoring the pleas of some bigwig while her music blares in the background.

Scouring the dusty record bins in her own shop, Solex finds and uses what's usually left on the symbolic cutting-room floor to create songs that incorporate elements of many genres, but avoid falling under any particular one. Beneath the cracked pastel coating of "Knee-High," we hear greasy jazz riffs, police sirens, shouty distorted vocals and a good dose of peppy drum kicks that leave us confused yet somehow blissful and satisfied.

As listeners, we're never sure whether Solex is playing her songs for us, or we've been spying on her in her lab all this time. The tracks are three-minute wild bursts of color; they feel as if we've suddenly opened a trap door into one of Solex's zany adventures, caught a glimpse, and then slammed the door shut. Her lyrics tell tiny stories, their true meaning known only to Solex herself. They're oddball, but perhaps strangely normal moments: a man surprised in the sheriff's cornfield; eating Cajun crabs for the first time; dancing like a showgirl in your own kitchen. The moments are incomplete, and that's what makes them intriguing.

Low Kick and Hard Bop doesn't necessarily lend itself to all listening situations, and may even be tiring at times. It can, however, enlighten and surprise the listener. When you least expect it, you'll find yourself shouting along to the songs and bopping your head up and down to the addictive buzzes and breaks. Esselink is indeed a mastermind — but not one bent on destroying the world. She saves it by thrilling us.

by Vanessa Meadu

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