Having retreated to a converted ski chalet/cabin/studio in the NC mountains after 2001’s uber-heavy It’s a Wonderful Life, Mark Linkous returns, clean & sober, via his recently released fourth LP Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain. Great news — the time off has not dulled the creative edge that anchors the Sparklehorse sound and vibe. There are some artists, and some music, that demand a certain atmosphere and/or context to be properly ingested by the listener. In the case of Sparklehorse that atmosphere has always been: early morning/late night, raining, etc. In The Belly of The Mountain is no exception – which to these ears is a good thing. Lo-fi experimentalism channeled through hi-fi mastery — you’ll have to dig in to this one with both hands.

++ Frank at Chromewaves reviews the LP and does a nice round up of interviews with Linkous surrounding the recording of the album and where the artist has been the past five years.

DOWNLOAD:
MP3: Sparklehorse :: Don’t Take My Sunshine Away
MP3: Sparklehorse :: Shade & Honey
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Amazon: Sparklehorse – Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain
www.sparklehorse.com

+ Sparklehorse available through eMusic’s 25 Free MP3 offer.
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+ Visit The Hype Machine for additional Sparklehorse MP3s.

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The Decemberists :: The Crane Wife

A very polarizing group, this may very well be The Decemberists album for non-Decemberists fans. And that is not meant as a slight against the band; no, what I mean is that this album feels much more accessible to those that do not find themselves hanging on Colin Melloy’s every word (myself included). Long heralded as a “literary” indie outfit, The Decemberists sound turned off as many as it turned on. Having signed to a major label, The Crane Wife may be the group’s (un)conscious effort to cast a wider net beyond their existing fan base. How will die hard fans react has yet to be seen, but the album drops October 3rd s stay tuned.

Having said that, note that the album does not lose any of the grand scope found the group’s earlier releases; in this case, the material is based upon and around an ancient Japanese folk tale. The album opens with the signature Decemberists folk of “The Crane Wife 3” moving straight into the sweeping twelve minute plus “The Island, Come And See, The Landlord’s Daughter, You’ll Not Feel The Drowning,” all funky keyboards and ‘70s grooves before transitioning into acoustic guitar – then melding back into a mid ‘70s prog-rock vibe.

It’s this musical expansion, guests such as Laura Veirs, and an overall less self-conscious air to the album that create a more open and inviting listen. Just try and not get pulled in and hooked on the sugary sweet duet “Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then).”
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Amazon: The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
www.decemberists.com

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