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Taking a listen

by Heather MacIntyre

Peter Bjorn and John — Seaside Rock

This Swedish indie band was formed in Stockholm in 1999 with the simple band idea that really makes a lot more sense than most crazy labels: It’s the first names of everyone in the trio. Though it will be pretty hard to top their 2006 hit song, “Young Folks,” this new album isn’t bad at all. Though the group has contracts all over the world with labels for different distribution (Wichita/V2 in Europe, Shock in Austrailia), their pens were careful when it came to the United States when they signed to Almost Gold (www.almostgoldrecordings.com). Unable to just barely top Writer’s Block, I think that this new release will catch on after a few listens when the leaves start turning colors faster than my face on the Carolina Cyclone rollercoaster at Carowinds after too many hot dogs. CDs are so last decade, if it’s on a CD, you’ll probably download it anyway — they know this. Which is why they have made this a vinyl-only release: You have to buy the record or you can pay to download it online (the way you were going to obtain it any way). This is perfect for vinyl collectors like myself that also want a portable copy. The tracks are mostly instrumental, and carry swelling music and random animal and ocean sounds throughout a few of the tracks. It’s relaxing, and much like a day on the lake, a quiet fall day, not the crazy blistering ones on Fourth of July where you can’t spot a square foot with no high wake. You can still only pre-order this album for another week (www.insound.com), as it won’t be released officially on the market until Sept. 23. Oh boy, I just realized: One can refer to them as PB&J. Brilliant. Rating: 3.5 records (out of 5) www.myspace.com/peterbjornandjohn | www.peterbjornandjohn.com

Stereolab — Chemical Chords

It’s the foreign albums edition! It’s hard to believe, but London’s Stereolab has been together for 18 years. Chemical Chords isn’t their third, fourth or even fifth album — try 11 th . Timothy Gane, Laetitia Sadier, Andrew Ramsay, Simon Johns and Joseph Watson have all been in the game together since the Cold War? True. So what’s got this album topping so many music charts across the college music boarders? Though they originate from the ’90s, the tunes of this release play with beats and mixes of the ’70s touch. “One Finger Symphony” is a track with the first half containing no words, and the second sung in French. Most of the tracks may not be as poppy as previous releases, but still remain vibrant and express rhythm and melodies like ear candy. Sadier’s enchanting voice still holds your attention and your mind explodes with the mixture of electronic beats and their well-known Motown-ish percussions. For the most part, they’ve managed to remain themselves throughout all their albums, and this one is no different. The overall projection is just as well done as the previous 10 — I’m glad not every band feels the need to put out that ultra-boring “mature” album, not even after almost a dozen! This fall they’re coming to the US as a band for only the fourth time of their careers. On Sept. 29 they will be playing their new album at Cat’s Cradle (www.catscradle.com) in Carrboro — don’t miss it!

Rating: 3.0 records (out of 5) www.myspace.com/stereolab | www.stereolab.co.uk

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