Recommended Albums #49

newman

A.C. Newman: Shut Down the Streets (2012)

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Vancouver’s A.C. Newman, front man and main writer of New Pornographers, deserves mention, along with James Mercer and Colin Meloy, as among the most gifted melodists of the contemporary indie rock scene. His always-interesting arrangements juxtapose ear-catching flourishes of all things angular, reedy and jangly with a firm rock backbone, placing it into the same baroque pop territory inhabited by Mercer’s Shins and Meloy’s Decemberists.

The lyrics are quirkily confounding at times, but set into wonderfully unforgettable melodies as they are here it somehow all feels right. “I’m Not Talking” in particular is a thing of beauty, the kind of song that renders music evangelist-types unable to sit still until they’ve shared it with as many people as will listen. With an intro that deliberates for just the right duration, making you wonder what the song is going to be, the payoff is that much bigger at the 30-second mark as the full band comes in on a reverb-sweetened riff. Newman knows the art the curtain-opening track.

Neko Case joins in on backing vocals, adding an always-welcome depth to the songs. She’s especially prominent in “Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns”, which demonstrates right from its introductory hook Newman’s penchant for doubling instruments to create new textures–a hallmark of his work with the band as well.

Although 2004’s Slow Wonder is perhaps the most critically acclaimed of his three solo albums, to my ear this is his most mature and best work.

Don’t miss: “I’m Not Talking”

Listen to: “Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns”

Listen to: “There’s Money in New Wave”

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