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by Carey Murphy and Luke Baumgarten & r & Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Howl ** & r & Devendra Banhart & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941.460193222 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Cripple Crow & lt;/a & **** & r & Devendra Banhart's fragile, whimsical, idealistic compositions are the perfect tonic to the tough-guy veneer of so much posture-rock. Cripple Crow embraces a "Peace Now" ethic in the title track and distributes this vision through songs of vulnerability and loss. Images of children and nature dominate the 22 tracks, invoking a tranquility that doesn't sound forced.

It's not all morose seriousness or woe-is-me lamentations on man's wretchedness. Banhart may appropriate and exploit Blake's juxtaposition of innocence and experience, but his acoustic-heavy numbers reveal more capriciousness than might be expected from a neo-folkie. Is that a kazoo cameo or muted trumpet on "Some People Ride the Wave"? For sheer folly, see "Chinese Children," "I Feel Like a Child," and "The Beatles." Now imagine a tremolo unheard since the Incredible String Band's Wee Tam and the Big Huge. In Spanish. No exaggeration necessary.

The album takes more time than it's likely to receive, but giving up on it would be a mistake. Up close, it's Ben-Day dots -- at a distance, it's a Lichtenstein. -- Carey Murphy

The Double & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941.460193240 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Loose in the Air & lt;/a & *** & r & This is a very ambitious album. Donald Beaman fronts like Interpol's Paul Banks, though with greater vocal range. He also frequently channels the Pixies' Joey Santiago, creating manic, minimalist riffs and layers of billowing distortion. Jacob Morris' keyboard work is fairly inspired as well. The churning organs and lilting pianos (often heavily distorted) usually in stark contrast to the guitar work. The percussion is off-kilter and imaginative. It's good -- but somehow not enough.

In interviews, the Double demonstrate a conspicuous awareness of their influences, which is exactly the problem. They forego cohesion to allow each member a chance at making their individual idols jealous. Sure, they combine well on tracks like "Idiocy," which is simultaneously poppy and cacophonous, sinister and na & iuml;ve. Moments like that, though, are too few.

True, Loose in the Air has all the weird and wonderfully disparate elements that -- knowing myself as I do -- should have me on the ground, semi-conscious, convulsing with glee. Yet here I sit, barely even twitching. -- Luke Baumgarten
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