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by Andrew Matson and Courtney Harding & r & The Long Winters & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp; & quot; & Putting the Days to Bed & lt;/a & 4 STARS & r & John Roderick (the man behind the band) writes simple heart-warmers, sparkling pop songs with well-worn textures. Last year's Ultimatum EP showed J.R. on an epic tangent, fleshing out tried n' true chord changes and elemental (read: eternal, glacial, mountainous) melodies with sweeping, autumnal flourishes. The result sounded like an old leather book jacket bleeding with wisdom and nostalgia.

I'm sorry to say that Putting the Days to Bed proves that the Ultimatum EP was a singularity. The EP's title cut is here reworked with a robotic allegiance to precision, a quality fans love Roderick for abandoning. As a whole, John Roderick playing with a band is just too restrictive for anything other than straight AM pop bangers. True, he can do that style well, but the strummy, oddly affecting one-man epic is his bread and butter. The more attention to the lush stickiness the better, as rocking-by-numbers gets a little boring. PtDtB is a fine collection of songs that improves upon TLW's last LP, When I Pretend to Fall, but it could've been a bigger statement. -- Andrew Matson & r & Check out: "Pushover"

Girl Talk & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp; & quot; & Night Ripper & lt;/a & 4.5 STARS & r & This is a frenetic skip through the last 30 years of pop. A mash-up of the most thoroughly pureed variety, the release's apt title hints at its two most salient features: 1) Gregg Gillis has shredded 150 separate cuts ranging from Lil Wayne to Neutral Milk Hotel and 2) done it all on the super-sly, avoiding the need to pay royalties on any of the sampled tracks while giving profuse liner-note thanks to everyone.

So it's nice that he's pricking the RIAA's whiskers, but that's nothing new. Mash-ups are an illegal and clandestine art form by definition, and these facts have also made them rather prodigious lately. So what sets Night Ripper apart -- more than the insane number of samples crammed into a roughly 40-minute run time -- isn't the project's illegality. It's that each track is filthy. Like, exceptionally so. The beats and anthemic and thematic juxtapositions (three decades of male/female pop relations spin simultaneously on "Bounce That") create what's essentially a game of Trivial Pursuit at 180 bpm. -- Luke Baumgarten & r & Check Out: "Smash Your Head"
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