THE GRAND ARCHIVES & r & & r & The Grand Archives & r & & r & 4 STARS & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & hen Band of Horses moved to North Carolina, depriving the Pacific Northwest of one of its most recently successful musical exports, vocalist/guitarist Mat Brooke stayed behind to start Grand Archives. On the strength of an excellently-done demo and some early slots opening for Modest Mouse, Grand Archives signed with Sub Pop and has now released its full-length debut. From the lush, spine-tingling piano of opener "Torn Blue Foam Couch" (a candidate for best song of 2008) to the riotous "The Crime Window," The Grand Archives doesn't disappoint. Brooke's voice glides and glistens, a brighter counterpoint to his time in Carissa's Wierd. There are a few missteps, with the demo's version of "George Kaminsky" being superior to the album's, and a general folky sameness to the album's middle third, but fans both old and new will be suitably impressed by the heightened production and orchestral flourishes. Seattle still has some hope yet.
-- JEFF ECHERT
DOWNLOAD: "Torn Blue Foam Couch"
Sixes & amp; Sevens
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & L & lt;/span & ong known for having music's pottiest of potty mouths, Green discards much of his typically juvenile nonsense on these 20 tracks (totaling less than 50 minutes). While retaining the characteristically simple song structures, Green manages to expand his own sense of worldliness. Though still a neo-folkie-type, he seems equally comfortable in the role of crooner.
At the heart of this album, Green reveals that he's an optimist. The pure songs move deftly through whimsy and tragedy with equal, up-tempo acoustic strums. These can be a bit disorienting if you're coming from Green's most recent work, but the new songs make a case for his increasing maturity: His self-assurance often comes across as grating and irreverent while somehow remaining childlike and innocent. There's lots to like on Sixes & amp; Sevens. Try "Tropical Island," "When A Pretty Face," and "Getting Led." A definite step forward.
The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.