Listening Log 

Return to Cookie Mountain

TV on the Radio

(Interscope)

click to enlarge Return to Cookie Mountain - TV on the Radio - (Interscope)
  • Return to Cookie Mountain TV on the Radio (Interscope)

This Brooklyn-based collective's second full-length has been available as a poor-quality, mis-sequenced leak or as a pricey, bonus-track-lacking U.K. import for months. So much ink has been spilled to praise Return to Cookie Mountain before it reaches U.S. shelves that its actual release seems a little anticlimactic, despite the addition of three bonus tracks. Musically, however, it's triumphant in its unrelenting inventiveness and layered complexity. TV on the Radio sling elements of rock, hip-hop, doo-wop, and jazz into a New York boho splatter canvas, creating a slice-of-life-during-wartime work that's lusty, paranoid, angry, and passionate. The songs veer from the expected directions, instead curving into strange shapes and heading down odd avenues. "I Was a Lover" builds off a strangled three-note horn sample, "Method" is all whistle and hand percussion, and even the fierce "Wolf Like Me," perhaps the most accessible song on the album, rushes to some unknown resolution as singer Tunde Adebimpe likens sexual attraction to lycanthropy. ("I Was a Lover," "Wolf Like Me," "Dirtywhirl") -- Stephen Deusner

Grade: A-

Get Lonely

Mountain Goats

(4AD)

click to enlarge Get Lonely - Mountain Goats - (4AD)
  • Get Lonely Mountain Goats (4AD)

The Mountain Goats is the performing and recording name of lone singer-songwriter John Darnielle, whose long, linear artistic journey has had one major change: 2002's Tallahassee, an album that marked a move to 4AD and a less prolific one-album-per-year release schedule. If that sounds frequent, consider that prior to Tallahassee, it was common for Darnielle to release two or three Mountain Goats albums over the course of a year. This change also ushered in a different Mountain Goats -- one of lush, well-recorded, sometimes full-band songs as opposed to Darnielle's previous, bottomless-well approach of lo-fi, furiously played acoustic stories. Get Lonely is a low-feeling mood piece of almost jazzy pop that's true to its title (last year's Sunset Tree was a more antic musing on Darnielle's tumultuous relationship with his stepfather) and is not at all rushed, with a studio ensemble that includes longtime collaborator Franklin Bruno. ("Wild Sage," "In the Hidden Places," "If You See Light") -- AE

Grade: B-

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