Brian Gearing

The Dears : Degeneration Street

The average male rock fan’s opinion of musicals is likely to encompass the word “suck,” but hand him The Dears’ Degeneration Street, and unless he’s a pure-bred metalhead, it’ll more likely go something like “…awesome…”

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Of Montreal: False Priest

If Of Montreal’s over-sexed genre-hopping cast any doubt on Kevin Barnes’ commercial potential, False Priest puts them to rest.  With his (at least) metaphorical muse found in the enigmatic Janelle Monae, Barnes reigns in the verbal-orgy-as-art attention deficit freakout, and paints a pretty graphic picture of love in the age of therapy and public discourse. 

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Magnetic Island: Out at Sea

While old-schoolers bemoan the demise of the long-player in the iTunes era, Magnetic Island go back to the future on their debut EP, Out at Sea.

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Yair Yona: Remember

The debut from Tel Aviv guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Yair Yona attempts to bridge the vast span between atmospheric indie instrumentalism and Delta blues slide guitar, and while the result is undoubtedly original, it often comes to rest somewhere in the inter-genre no-man’s land reserved for smooth jazz and elevator music.

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Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: The Brutalist Bricks

To say an artist has hit his stride is to hint that the road ahead is an easy, straight path, but maybe Ted Leo is due a little comfort.  With all its dollar-loaf white bread sandwiches and fitful couch sleep, Leo’s road has allowed him to grow gracefully. His sound has always been his own, but since Shake the Sheets in 2004, his hardcore roots have branched to a complete musical tree, and The Brutalist Bricks brings Leo’s pop and soul buds to full flower.

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So Many Dynamos: The Loud Wars

So Many Dynamos prove on their third release that you don’t have to play three chords and two melodies to smash guitars anymore.  On The Loud Wars, the St. Louis four-piece cuts and pastes warp speed beats and thrash-happy hooks over punk’s spit, piss and blood and ends up with a chaos-soaked pile of snarled lips, gashed thumbs and ringing ears that just might be one of the year’s best records.

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Patterson Hood: Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs)

Drive-By Truckers front-man Patterson Hood’s second solo record, Murdering Oscar (and other love songs), flows like a DBT rock show—hook ‘em, rest ‘em, then beat ‘em senseless—and while saving the best for last may not always be the best recipe for an album, Hood leaves nothing on his plate.

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The Decemberists: The Hazards of Love

Anyone who has followed the Decemberists’ rise from just another quirky Portland, OR band to one of the most unique and celebrated indie acts around knew that this album was coming. With The Hazards of Love, Colin Meloy takes the band from the loose maritime and old-world concepts of their previous records to full-on rock opera.

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Here We Go Magic: Here We Go Magic

With Here We GoMagic, Luke Temple completes his transformation from everyday singer/songwriter to eccentric bedroom visionary.  Trading standard instrumentation for a four-track, a sampler and some found sounds, Temple arranges broad sonic horizons and soft, intimate whispers into a singular aural vision that is hypnotic from the opening notes to the closing silence. 

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Toubab Krewe: Live at the Orange Peel

Like their adopted African roots, Toubab Krewe’s music is meant to be shared, not locked behind soundproof glass, so while Orange Peel does at times lose some bite beneath the club’s high ceilings and constant white noise, it captures the band better than their 2005 studio debut.  

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