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Letters 06-20-2016

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4Play: Arctic Monkeys, The National, Jonsi, Band of Horses

Kristi Kates - May 17th, 2010
Arctic Monkeys - My Propeller - Domino
Of remarkable note for a mere 4-song EP (likely a fan-placating measure until the next AM album is well underway), My Propeller’s title track is the definite standout here, taken directly from the band’s last full-length, Humbug, and showcasing the English band’s new, California-inflected sound, in part courtesy of new producer Josh Homme. Accompanying the single are quirky “The Afternoon’s Hat,” the guitar-heavy “Joining the Dots,” and the danceable, confident “Don’t Forget Whose Legs You’re On.”






The National - High Violet - 4AD
Moody and manic by turns, The National’s latest is full of both spiky attacks and contrasting introspective (if gloomy) numbers. Harmony-rich and festooned with horns and strings, the Brooklyn band knows how to coordinate texture and temper, hitting some of their best moments on this album towards the end of the set. “Sorrow” is a heavy yet compelling song, with the weight deftly echoed in the drums/percussion; and “Conversation 16”’s wind instruments add an interesting detached element to the song that suits it well.





Jonsi - Go - XL Recordings
After ten years of performing as frontman for Icelandic electro-mood outfit Sigur Ros, Jn Thor Birgisson, aka Jonsi, has decided to strike out on his own (but don’t worry, Sigur fans, he’s reportedly not leaving the band any time soon.) Jonsi’s solo works are more dynamic and pop than what he creates with Sigur Ros, like the harmonic lift of “Go Do,” the dark pop balladry of “Grow Till Tall,” and the accomplished songcraft of “Sinking Friendships”; lyrically, things are a bit obscure, but all the better for letting the instrumentals show through.





Band of Horses - Infinite Arms - Columbia
Horses’ third full-length finds them at a new major label home, with two new bandmates (Tyler Ramsey and Bill Reynolds) and working wix mixmaster Dave Sardy on the album itself. Choosing to open in an unusual fashion with a ballad (the pretty “Factory”) instead of a more propulsive number, they set the album’s tone right away with the density of their guitar work and the mid-range tempo. The title track adds a more ethereal feel to those guitars, while “Neighbor” mixes in organ, and “NW Apt.” throws in a little unexpected pep.


 
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