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Back with a loaded edition of NMR, my recession babies. Ready to rock your socks off? Let’s get to it:

Newton Faulkner - Rebuilt By Humans

Rebuilt by Humans

Newton Faulkner

Released: September 28, 2009 (UK)

Isn’t that the Predator playing guitar? Nope, just the dreadlocked Faulkner. And man, can he play guitar. Throw in his heart-on-sleeve attitude and you’ve got yourself a winning combination. Repeat: Dreadlocks + Guitar + Heart = Success.

For a taste, check out the first single, “If This Is It

No one move,
No one speak,
Please don’t say that it’s just me, it’s not just me
And even though I wont forget,
Just don’t want this to end just yet, not just yet

– If This Is It

8/10

monsters of folk

Monsters of Folk

Monsters of Folk

Released: September 22, 2009 (US)

Indie folk supergroup? Damn straight. Try this on for size: Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, Jim James, and M. Ward. I like them apples. They’re like a self-aware version of CSN&Y. Now, Monsters of Folk isn’t a perfect album and never quite lives up to the sum of its impressive parts, but I’m hoping that these cats stick together and make a follow-up album that creates the kind of harmonies that album highlight “Baby Boomer” does. Overall though, it’s hard to fault the four fellas for making a side project that oozes the potential to be bigger than their respective day jobs.

For a taste, give “Baby Boomer” a listen

We’ve got to stand a little closer to what it is we’re leaning on,
Who was it that first said it? Could it be he could be wrong about the pilgrims and the natives having dinner on the lawn?

– Baby Boomer

8/10

Noisettes - Wild Young Hearts

Wild Young Hearts

Noisettes

Released: September 22, 2009 (US)

Released in the UK back in the spring, London trio Noisettes bring their Wild Young Hearts to North American shores, and it is way overdue. WYH would have been the perfect summer album for the girls at the club, the iPod kid on the bus, the commuter in traffic, etc. It screams fun, led by singer/bassist Shingai Shoniwa’s fantastic presence, equally adept at Motown soul, estuary pop, and NYC indie.

For a taste check out, “Don’t Upset The Rhythm


Skin and bones
Acrobats and microphone
Can’t get home
You can use my dog bone
Well crank the stereo even when the speaker low
D-I-Y
Just met at the paradise

– Don’t Upset The Rhythm

8/10

pete yorn scarlett johansson - breakup

Breakup

Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson

Released: September 15, 2009

PeYo & ScarJo! Finally, it is out there. The album made over two years ago is finally out. I don’t know what they were waiting for. Were they worried it might hurt Scarlett’s acting career? Puh-leez, she had already won critical acclaim for Lost In Translation long before that. Was Pete worried it would wreck his indie creds? Maybe, but with Ryan Adams now married to Mandy Moore, I guess it is acceptable for the plaidshirts to hang out with starlets.

But on to the music, which starts off with the surprisingly upbeat “Relator”, which has a similar feel to She&Him (M.Ward and Zooey Deschanel, another crooner/actress combo). This uppity feel carries on to the next track “Wear and Tear”, and you get the feeling that Breakup might have been a poor choice for the album name.

Listening to this album is more of a guilty pleasure than eavesdropping on fallout ought to be, partly due to the novelty of Johansson being there (where she fits better than as a solo singer), and partly due to the jaunty, bounciness of the tunes. Breakup also has the feel of two friends playing around, and not necessarily the devastating result of a romantic severance, like you would hear on a Damien Rice album (with the haunting interplay with Lisa Hannigan). Pete’s other album this year, Back & Fourth, actually is a far more depressing album. Overall, though, Breakup is worth listening to.

For a taste, check out “Relator

You can see that life’s for us to talk about
You can leave whenever you want out
Whoa. You don’t relate to me, no girl,
You don’t respect me, no girl,
No girl. Yeah

– Relator

7.5/10

Pearl Jam - Backspacer

Backspacer

Pearl Jam

Released: September 20, 2009 (US)

First off: this is not Ten. It will never be Ten. It cannot be Ten. All comparisons to Pearl Jam’s debut (oft-mentioned in any debate concerning best debuts of all-time) are unfair.

Second off: Pearl Jam have been around for a long time. All comparisons to young bands with shorter histories also have to be taken into consideration.

Basically, you have to be a little tougher on Pearl Jam because they’ve been at this a long time, but not so tough, because clearly they’re never going to replicate their amazing debut. Compared to their peers (U2’s latest release comes to mind), I think Pearl Jam should be pretty proud of Backspacer. It is contemporary, fun, and labourless.

For a taste, check out “The Fixer

When signals cross I wanna put a little straight on it
If there’s no love I want to try to love again
I’ll say your prayers I’ll take your side
I’ll burn as a way to make light
I’ll dig your grave
We’ll dance and sing
What’s saved could be
One last lifetime

– The Fixer

7.5/10Islands - Vapours

Vapours

Islands

Released: September 22, 2009 (Can)

Montreal outfit, Islands, led by Nick Thorburn (AKA Nick Diamonds, formerly of The Unicorns) drop in with Vapours, their third album. The best way to describe it would be to imagine a bizarro present-time if the 80s never ended and the Cold War persisted. The pop music of that era is met with the indie sensibilities of our own. I say bizarro, because it never quite feels natural, but the synthetic music is still welcome, as a comfort to, of course, the last 30 years of Reagan our alternate history has created (I’m reminded of the absurd presidency of Richard Nixon’s head in the year 3000 on Futurama….).

For a taste, take a listen to the title-track “Vapours

Don’t draw the needle, don’t draw the needle
Don’t draw the needle on the groove
And don’t move

Turn me on a rousing song for sympathetic ears
No one cares, no one’s there and you, you disappear

– On Foreigner

7.5/10

Mika - The Boy Who Knew Too Much

The Boy Who Knew Too Much

Mika

Released: September 21, 2009 (UK)

Pure joy. Seriously. There is no way Mika hates his job. It is impossible to hear, if he does. On The Boy Who Knew Too Much, an album that is filled with dark undertones, his flamboyant exuberance carries the listener along, from club-style hit “Blame It On The Girls”, to Beatles-meets-Queen “Dr. John”, to ballad and album’s best song “Pick Up Off The Floor”.

For a camp taste, check out “We Are Golden

Like lovers of the good book show – what’s the matter
He’s certain there is so much more – what’s the matter
While you’re wondering what the hell to do
Are you wishing you were ugly like me?

– Blame It On The Girls

7.5/10

afi

Crash Love

AFI

Released: September 29, 2009 (US)

Emo kids rejoice, AFI is back. Wait, sorry, I forgot, emo kids don’t rejoice. Which is odd, because being emotive, I’m thinking, would cover the whole spectrum, no? Well, whether they are willing or not, the kids get what the kids want on Crash Love. Life sucks. Girls are complicated. Et cetera. No surprises, really, but AFI do it so well that it’s not a tough listen.

For a taste, check out “Medicate

I am everywhere, everywhere but here
For here is where you grace the nameless
Were I not so weak, could I even speak,
I’d warn that you should leave before you’re seen with me

– Too Shy To Scream

7/10

Owen - New Leaves

New Leaves

Owen

Released: September 22, 2009 (US)

Owen (better known by the name that appears on his cable bill, Mike Kinsella) falls into that category of singer-songwriter that is too experimental to win over the acoustic crowd and uninteresting enough to win over the indie scenesters. New Leaves lives in that no-man’s land in between, leaving much to be desired, and plenty to forget.

For a taste, check out “Good Friends, Bad Habits

You spent the fall turning over new leaves
one by one on your way to the bar everyday
like the lost, desperate dog that you are
But you won’t find what you need
following that leash
never the less
you keep walking away from me

– New Leaves

6.5/10

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