by Luke Baumgarten and Michael Bowen & r & & r & Sunset Rubdown & lt;a href= & quot;http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=rQy1MLe70wI & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp;RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F%252Fphobos.apple.com%252FWebObjects%252FMZStore.woa%252Fwa%252FviewAlbum%253Fi%253D150291775%2526id%253D150291766%2526s%253D143441%2526partnerId%253D30 & quot; & Shut Up I Am Dreaming & lt;/a & 3 1/2 STARS & r & I've been sitting on this album for a month or so now, not because I don't know what to say about it, but because I do -- I know exactly what to say about it. What I have to say, though, didn't seem like enough until now.
Sunset Rubdown (best name ever) is the side gig of Wolf Parade's keyboardist/vocalist Spencer Krug. He brings the keyboard to this project, along with his voice (the more distinctive and idiosyncratic of Wolf Parade's vocal pair), so the release sounds like half of Wolf Parade -- or the first half of the album does anyway. It's utterly indistinguishable from a Wolf Parade release until track five, when Krug begins testing his keys, voice and song structure to very satisfying results.
So it's one half of Wolf Parade's songwriting corps, and that may seem a bit thin, but if I may hit you with a little pop arithmetic: 1/2(Wolf Parade) & most other bands combined. The language of math is universal. -- Luke Baumgarten & r & Check Out: "They Took a Vote and Said No"
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones & lt;a href= & quot;http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=rQy1MLe70wI & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp;RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F%252Fphobos.apple.com%252FWebObjects%252FMZStore.woa%252Fwa%252FviewAlbum%253Fi%253D121205302%2526id%253D121205396%2526s%253D143441%2526partnerId%253D30 & quot; & The Hidden Land & lt;/a & 4 STARS & r & In The Hidden Land, what's revealed is Bela Fleck's artistry on half a dozen different banjos and guitars. From Celtic to classical, from jazz to bluegrass, the Flecktones' 11th album since 1990 demonstrates why Fleck has been nominated in more Grammy categories than anyone alive. Opening with a Bach prelude and fugue that recalls the group's 2001 classical crossover album, Perpetual Motion, Jeff Coffin's alto sax carries the melody while Fleck's banjo plinks follow along baroquely. With Coffin playing flute, "Rococo" recalls some of the Claude Bolling/Jean-Pierre Rampal pleasures. "Labyrinth" opens with a bass-and-guitar theme that signals the hard-driving tenor-sax anthem to follow, accented by Future Man's ethereal vocals. "Weed Whacker" best exemplifies the quartet's "blu-bop" style, alternating between aw-shucks bluegrass and rapid-fire jazz runs. In the murky "Subterfuge," Vic Wooten's electric bass propels Fleck's electric guitar. "The Whistle Tune," which begins as bravura bluegrass but turns into a melancholy Celtic farewell, has Fleck playing his concluding solo on -- what else? -- a 1937 Style 75 Gibson Mastertone banjo. -- Michael Bowen & r & Check out: "Labyrinth"