CityBeat - Short Takes http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/articles.sec-92-1-short_takes.html <![CDATA[The Shins' Port of Morrow - ]]>

Strangely, but perhaps predictably, James Mercer’s recent career moves seem indicative of diva behavior — signing with Columbia, dismissing his longtime bandmates and making The Shins something of a solo venture while exploring outside projects like Broken Bells.

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<![CDATA[The Mars Volta's Noctourniquet - ]]>

From the moment Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala left At the Drive-In to form The Mars Volta more than a decade ago, the duo and their co-conspirators have made a conscious effort to challenge even their staunchest fans and completely confound their easily befuddled critics.

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<![CDATA[Crazy Clown Time by David Lynch - Play It Again Sam]]>

In his films, paintings, photographs and drawings, David Lynch is an unrepentant surrealist, a fascinating and compelling storyteller who explores both the horrors and banalities that exist on the fringes of culture. As a result, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the self-taught “non-musician” brings a similar vision to his first album of music, Crazy Clown Time, a set of songs fashioned from jams into discernible structures which then suggested lyrics as only Lynch can imagine.

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<![CDATA[Lulu by Lou Reed and Metallica - Warner Bros.]]>

Attempting to critique Lulu, the new Lou Reed/Metallica collaboration, is a little like taste testing a vodka-flavored breakfast cereal; comparing it to either vodka or breakfast cereal is unbalanced because the combination is so mismatched. Both artists come from extreme backgrounds — Reed as an avant-garde sonic artist, Metallica as Thrash Metal welders.

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<![CDATA[Ceremonials by Florence and the Machine - Universal Republic]]>

The success of Florence and the Machine’s debut, 2009’s Lungs, left Florence Welch with little free time to work on its sophomore album, which she planned on making darker, heavier and denser. Ceremonials is the divine result of that proposed blueprint.

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<![CDATA[Last Summer by Eleanor Friedberger - Merge]]>

Eleanor Friedberger has accomplished plenty with brother Matthew in their well-regarded Indie Pop collective, The Fiery Furnaces. With Matthew occupied with his series of solo releases, Eleanor decided to test the waters with her own contribution, the patently wonderful and gently quirky Last Summer.

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<![CDATA[Messerly & Ewing - Every Bitter Thing - Self-Released]]>

Cincinnati’s Messerly & Ewing is the 17-year-old songwriting partnership of musicians Mark Messerly and Brian Ewing, whose catalog has been remarkably consistent from the start. But that doesn’t mean that the duo hasn’t progressed and evolved over the years. Every Bitter Thing finds the twosome in peak form, featuring some of the best songwriting in their decades-crossing career.

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<![CDATA[Feist - Metals - Cherry Tree/Interscope]]>

Former Broken Social Scene vocalist Leslie Feist was one of the highest profile beneficiaries of the TV-is-the-new-radio paradigm when her insanely catchy single “1234,” from her third album The Reminder, struck gold for Apple’s iPod. With the release of Metals, Feist finally breaks her long studio silence, and it shows that she followed the first commandment of following up a stratospheric album and single: “Thou shalt not try to duplicate the sound to capitalize on your last big success.”

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<![CDATA[Garland Jeffreys - The King of In Between - Luna Park]]>

From the beginning of his career four decades ago, Garland Jeffreys’ work has been laced with the realities of his New York upbringing, his African-American/Puerto Rican heritage and his subsequent unique perspective. Jeffreys assiduously avoided pigeonholing — and airplay — by cooking up a sonic stew that mirrored his melting pot environment, randomly flavoring his songs of social observation and outrage with Soul, Reggae, Pop, Rock and Blues.

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<![CDATA[World's End Girlfriend - Seven Idiots - Erased Tapes]]>

Fronted by the almost schizophrenically talented Katsuhiko Maeda, World’s End Girlfriend defies easy categorization. On WEG’s 10th studio album, Maeda creates a soundtrack that suggests Trans Siberian Orchestra on steroids and champagne, a Prog/Classical/Pop mash-up that is muscular, giddy, frenetic and undeniably fun.

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<![CDATA[Strawberry by Wussy - Shake It]]>

Now in it 10th year, one of Cincinnati’s most celebrated bands, Wussy (led by former Ass Pony Chuck Cleaver and his equally skilled songwriting partner/co-frontperson Lisa Walker), has amassed an amazing discography so far. Beginning with 2005’s Funeral Dress, the group developed a reputation for the “ragged glory” of its performances both live and on record. That sense of recklessness worked impossibly well with the band’s fractured, soul-burrowing love songs and the unbridled tense, passionate energy between its co-leaders.

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<![CDATA[The Goodnight Trail by Mack West - Self-Released]]>

When veteran Cincinnati musician Zach Mechlem launched his latest project, Mack West, a few years ago, he didn’t just form a new band — he created a new genre. Calling the band’s sound “AltWestern” to describe the dusty, often cinematic quality of its modern American Roots music, Mack West released its self-titled debut two years ago to much acclaim and, given the evocative, visceral nature of the songs, attention from the world of music licensing.

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<![CDATA[Holler and Stomp by The Cash Box Kings - Blind Pig]]>

Despite often being referred to as “young guns” in their genre, The Cash Box Kings have been playing together for over a decade. The seven-piece ensemble is known for its dedication to reviving the sound of the 1920s and ’30s Delta Blues and the post-war Blues that came from Chicago, where CBK resides. Despite the long career, there has been some changes in recent years. Of the original lineup, only Joe Nosek, Oscar Wilson and Kenny ‘Beedy Eyes’ Smith still remain.

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<![CDATA[Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math - Favorite Gentlemen/Columbia]]> Over the past seven years, Manchester Orchestra has evolved from post-high school baroque Emo Pop naifs to a viscerally muscular, Southern modern Rock force. The band’s 2009 album, Mean Everything to Nothing, drew comparisons to a pair of Southern Rock geneticists, Kings of Leon and Bobby Bare Jr., with shades of The Shins’ subtlety and Dashboard Confessional’s emotional bluster. Those elements are distilled into an even more beautifully potent brew on the Manchesters’ third full-length, Simple Math.]]> <![CDATA[The Cars - Move Like This - Hear Music]]> The New Cars project featuring Todd Rundgren in 2005 was a slight return for the surviving participants of the vaunted New Wave/Synth Pop icons, The Cars, but it was clearly dependent on the fans’ ability to accept Rundgren’s strong creative presence, a distinctive flavor that was almost more suggestive of his work than theirs.]]> <![CDATA[Elvin Bishop - Raisin' Hell Revue - Delta Groove]]> Elvin Bishop has enjoyed a nearly 50-year career in music at every possible level — from apprentice to veteran Blues master Little Smoky Smothers and Blues groundbreaker as co-founder of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to crossover Pop success (with “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”) and various degrees of roadhouse fame and commercial obscurity.]]> <![CDATA[Robin Trower: The Playful Heart - [V-12 Records]]]> Over the course of his four-decade career, Robin Trower has often found himself on the outs with critics. For his latest album, though, the guitarist offers his most subdued and quietly powerful work to date, featuring the most emotive songwriting and playing of his long career. ]]> <![CDATA[Tom Caufield: More Fire for the Firedome - [Self-Released]]]> If the name Tom Caufield is familiar, you might know him from his recent releases or you might be among the lucky few to be aware of his brilliant 1987 Pop treatise, 'Long Distance Calling.' But it's a safe bet that if you know Caufield you also know that he began as Tom Toth and was keyboardist for the seminal version of Cincinnati music heroes The Raisins. ]]> <![CDATA[The Greenhornes: **** - [Warner Bros. Records]]]> With The Raconteurs and Dead Weather on breaks, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler reconnected with Craig Fox, revived The Greenhornes and are finally able to release the 12 blazing tracks that comprise **** (just say "Four Stars"), the trio's first full-length of new material in nearly eight years, which they've been working on sporadically for close to three years.]]> <![CDATA[Elvis Costello: National Ransom - [Hear Music Records]]]> Elvis Costello's greatest quality is his unerring ability to shift sonic directions like he's changing from a thrift store overcoat to a Saville Row dinner jacket without compromising his artistic vision or his core creative philosophy. 'National Ransom' comes just two years after the Jenny Lewis-inspired racket on the patently excellent 'Momofuku' and a year after the mesmerizing 'Secret, Profane & Sugarcane.']]>