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Building a Bomb (self-released) Channeling some of the lazy-day, mournful mourn·ful  
1. Feeling or expressing sorrow or grief; sorrowful.

2. Causing or suggesting sadness or melancholy: the mournful sound of a train whistle.
 Europop that was so prevalent in the '80s and '90s

(the U.K.'s The Housemartins, The Beautiful South, and a downtempo Downtempo (or Downbeat) is a laid-back electronic music style similar to Ambient music, but usually with a beat or groove unlike the beatless forms of Ambient music. The beat is sometimes made from loops that have a hypnotic feeling.  Communards, to be precise), Atlanta quintet Little Tybee blends vivid storytelling and haunting melody with crafty folk instrumentation to deliver a stellar debut full-length album. The interplay between Brock Scott's quiet guitar strumming and powerful soprano/falsetto voice and violinist Ryan Gregory's laid-back, classical bow work makes for a dreamy case of chamber folk-pop that hops from tear-inducing to knee-slapping, and usually without warning. Despite a few abrupt shifts in emotional tone,

the album eventually gels and feels like a whole, the bulk of it tied together by delicate strings, reverb-heavy vocal harmonies, and what appear to be dancing chord melodies emanating from the slightly detuned strings of Scott's honky-tonk piano (also quite heavy on the reverb re·verb   Informal
1. A reverberative effect produced in recorded music by electronic means.

2. A device used for producing this effect.

intr. & tr.v.
). The band follows up this summer's debut EP, I Wonder Which House the Fish Will Live In, with the addition of an electric bassist (Ryan Donald) and percussionist (Pat Brooks, who also handles minimal Casiotone beat-looping and sampling duties), giving the album a fuller sound while keeping the best attributes of the original trio front and center. And talk about DIY DIY

DIY or d.i.y. Brit, Austral & NZ do-it-yourself
abbr DIY
do it yourself a DIY shop/job.
: inside a hand-pasted album sleeve created by Georgia printmaker Jason Scott Kofke is a note apologizing for the tracks being laid down in the wrong order. Classic. -- Rob DeWalt

ISLANDS Vapours (Anti) Nick Diamonds and Jamie Thompson, both of Montreal's whip-smart lo-fi group

The Unicorns, began recording as Islands in 2006. But after a promising debut full of buried pop treasures, Islands drifted apart. Thompson left the group, and the album that followed -- the overwrought o·ver·wrought  
1. Excessively nervous or excited; agitated.

2. Extremely elaborate or ornate; overdone: overwrought prose style.
 mess Arm's Way -- showed that he may have served as a judicious editor for Diamonds' musical ambitions. Thankfully, Thompson is back for Vapours, and the duo is doing what it does best: cranking out delightful two- to four-minute numbers with apparent ease, skipping happily over the tropical rhythms that are implied by the band's name. The opener, "Switched On," sounds eerily like Phish at the outset, with its chunking, shuffling beat and awkwardly high harmonies. Soon, 1980s-era synthesizers enter the mix, ushering in a triumphant chorus. "Vapours" introduces a horn section in the Stax Records tradition. Only the sashaying "Heartbeat" goes slightly awry and makes me wish yet again that I could go back in time and kidnap Daft Punk to make sure the autotune trend never happened. For the most part, rollicking ditties like "On Foreigner" prove that Islands has its compass pointed in the right direction once more, and I can't wait to hear what waters they sail to next.

-- Robert Benziker


Tragadiennes 2: From Rameau to Berlioz (Virgin Classics) This is the second CD in Gens and Les Talens Lyriques Les Talens Lyriques is a baroque orchestra founded in 1991 by French conductor Christophe Rousset. External links
 director Christophe Rousset's study of operatic heroines caught in fearful, sorrowful sor·row·ful  
Affected with, marked by, causing, or expressing sorrow. See Synonyms at sad.

sorrow·ful·ly adv.
, or fatal situations. Are there really any other kinds? Comedy may rule over a small part of the operatic kingdom, but tragedy is the majority tyrant. This album's emphasis is on French opera written not only by Gallic masters including Gratry, Berlioz, and Rameau but also composers from other lands who were at home in tragadie lyrique, such as Sacchini, Piccinni, Gluck, and Cherubini. A wonderfully persuasive singer, Gens summons a wild edge to her interpretation when a character takes on a wailing or prophetic or hopeless air; at Talens' helm, Rousset's hand is as sure as ever; and the production values and recorded sound are first-rate. But what makes this disc so alluring to me is the chance to hear unusual music from Piccinni's Didon, Sacchini's Dardanus, Renaud, and Oedipe a Colone (How did I miss these in opera history class? They're swell.) as well as big, well-known arias from Berlioz's Les Troyens, Gluck's Alceste, and Cherubini's Madae. By the way, though she throws herself right into each character, Gens never tries to make her voice bigger than it is, so the drama comes across with a healthy appealing soprano timbre timbre

Quality of sound that distinguishes one instrument, voice, or other sound source from another. Timbre largely results from a characteristic combination of overtones produced by different instruments.
 as well as meticulously inflected diction. Rousset gives her an unstinting cushion of support. -- Craig Smith

BEN ALLISON Think Free (Palmetto) Bassist/composer Ben Allison released Medicine Wheel, his first album for Palmetto Records, in 1998. Think Free, his eighth for the label, is a quintet set featuring the amazing violinist/fiddler Jenny Scheinman, guitarist Steve Cardenas, drummer Rudy Royston, and trumpeter Shane Endsley. The opener, "Fred," boasts a unique melody and a feeling at once placid, intense, and adventurous. In "Platypus platypus (plăt`əpəs), semiaquatic egg-laying mammal, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, of Tasmania and E Australia. Also called duckbill, or duckbilled platypus, it belongs to the order Monotremata (see monotreme), the most primitive group ," Allison and Royston establish a cool rhythmic bed for layered guitar and trumpet. It's another singular composition: airy but complex. "Kramer vs. Kramer vs. Godzilla" segues from a marchlike intro that's grounded in a five-beat pulse from Allison's bass to something more far out. Scheinman shows her mesmerizing technique, including creating soaring, otherworldly sounds (which sometimes paint "stereo circles" like Jimi Hendrix used to do --

an added dimension for headphones wearers). On "Peace Pipe," she plays pizzicato pizzicato (pĭt'səkä`tō), in music, the technique of plucking the strings of an instrument that is usually bowed. Directions for playing pizzicato are found in early 17th-century music. , invoking the song's original form on Allison's 2002 Peace Pipe album, which featured Mamadou Diabate on kora. "Green Al" is a very nice album finish, featuring an easy pace with good parts by all, and with some of the "cinematic quality" the leader likes to incorporate into his recordings. Allison has no "solos" on Think Free, but his bouncy support on bass and especially his stellar songwriting stand out. Definitely an '09 favorite.

-- Paul Weideman
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Title Annotation:Pasatiempo
Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:Nov 20, 2009
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