March 15, 2007

Test Spins

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Damien Rice
(Heffa/Vector/Warner Bros.)
By Haixin Dang

Fans of Damien Rice waited four long years for the release of 9, the follow up to the Irish singer/songwriter’s critically acclaimed debut O. Now, listening to 9 since its November release, and reading mixed reviews, 9’s inconsistencies have finally come together to form a beautiful, aching whole. It is one of those rare albums that needs to be listened to many times before it finally sinks in. The first track, “9 Crimes” is a heartbreaking song about infidelity, which features Lisa Hannigan’s gorgeous background vocals. Her vocals weave in and out of Rice’s own poignant voice as she asks, “Is that all right with you?” The rest of the album does not disappoint; each song comes together to form a haunting and thrilling lament, which at its core is a cantharis. 9 is a sophisticated sophomore album from an artist with no problem baring his soul — and wounds — for the sake of music.

Singing Arc
(Morr Music)
By Emma Banks

With dusty guitars, scratchy vocals and mumbling percussion Seabear’s Singing Arc EP reminds me of star gazing in a forest clearing. From the same Icelandic fjords as Björk and Sigur Ros, Seabear has a sedate, esoteric sound with soft acoustics and barely there producing. From the opening dubbed vocals and bells of “Do You Still Like Scarecrows?” to the slow loops and blips of the hidden closing track, Singing Arc is a journey through strange dreams, broken hearts and late night bar tabs. Distant, haunting vocals drift over tinkling hammers, suspended pianos and pulsating synth bursts. Standout tracks include “The Hands Claps” and “The Sprinkling Harpsichord of Drunk Song.” “You’re Not Strange Enough” features vocalist Sigdoesson harmonizing with himself over breathy flute, lamenting lost love. Singing Arc is a bizarre, wonderful adventure best enjoyed during late night self-reflection after a couple whiskeys, taking you floating down fjords in icy isolation.