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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v8n32 (08/05/2009) » Section: Left of the Dial

Deerhunter - Rainwater Casette Exchange

Deerhunter’s strong quality streak continues with Rainwater Cassette Exchange, a bright little EP that serves as a fine afterthought to the band’s excellent 2008 LP, Microcastle. It’s still a progression for the band, but Rainwater is firmly in line with their recent efforts, and is more of a strut into new territory than a dash. But as with Microcastle, the straightening of their ghostly, madcap sound and the trapping of it into pop remain very rewarding.

The Jayhawks - Music from the North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology

If there were any justice in the world, the Jayhawks would be one of the biggest bands to come out of America in the last few decades. The Minnesota-based outfit’s punk-spirited blend of stalwart Americana, trad rock, folk austerity, and pop lilt not only set them ahead of the times but set the stage for bands as varied as Wilco and the Dixie Chicks. The thrill of the dueling songwriting between Gary Louris and Mark Olson was only bested by the pair’s oddly perfect harmonies: an organic, serpentine mix of Louris’ sweet, note-perfect voice with Olson’s reedy, high, lonesome one. Touring with the Black Crowes and the blessing of Rick Rubin was supposed to make 1992’s majestic Hollywood Town Hall their launchpad to stardom. It didn’t happen, and the tumult that followed only makes the Jayhawks’ story better: Olson split after their 1995 masterpiece Tomorrow the Green Grass, leaving Louris and company to forge ahead, including putting to tape the dark pop beauty Sound of Lies. In 2003 the band returned to quieter, country-folk territory with Rainy Day Music, which was to be the swan song. Now the best of all has arrived: John Jackson and band friend and superfan P. D. Larson have succeeded in the unenviable task of picking the best tracks from a rich catalog. Larson’s liner notes only bring out more joy in hearing these songs. And the book isn’t closed with Music from the North Country. In addition to Louris and Olson reuniting for the recent full-length, Ready for the Flood, the band’s classic lineup of Louris, Olson, bassist Marc Perlman, keyboardist Karen Grottberg, and drummer Tim O’Reagan realigned for a couple of shows this summer, so here’s to hoping that we have not heard the last of the Jayhawks.

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