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Snapshots #2 - M. Ward, Bright Eyes, Amor Belhom Duo, ABBC, Tracker, Centro-matic, Low

Snapshots #2

M. Ward, Bright Eyes, Amor Belhom Duo, ABBC, Tracker, Centro-matic, Low

The petit prince of folk, M. Ward, had really won us over last year with "Duet For Guitars #2" -- an album that seemed easily accessible at first, but that turned out slow-ripening. On "End Of Amnesia," the atmospheres are slightly more diversified but the outcome remains the same: the listener merges into these timeless and delicate tracks where Matt's voice becomes either more rugged or more crooning. This album has two noteworthy highlights: the instrumental "Silverline," on which our hero's guitar seems to be struggling against demons and a thumping bass drum, and "O'Brien," which you'd swear comes right out of the Anthology of American Folk Music. Bright Eyes share the same labels in France and the Benelux (62TV and Les Disques Mange-Tout) and even though Conor Oberst's raging screams seem to have abated, their 6-track ep keeps brilliantly evoking the daily discomfort through a sickly music. Double activity for Amor Belhom Duo, a French duet settled in Tucson, AZ, in order to breathe more closely the scent of Giant Sand. First, the re-release of their debut album "Wavelab" (with this time a facelifted production), showing a harder, rockier side of the band -- a side closer to their live performances. Second, ABBC, a project pairing Joey Burns and John Convertino from Calexico and the Duet for a summit meeting of lovers of sound experimentations and wide-open spaces. Highlight of the album: "The Wrestler's Masque," a 14-minute long instrumental starting very slowly and ending with the merger of Calexico's rhythmics with ABD's search for textures. One enters Tracker's music as if they were long-time friends -- which isn't very surprising, as one member of this band happens to be Adam Selzer, Norfolk & Western frontman and producer / percussionist on M. Ward's two albums. Panoramic folk music that passes through canyons, deserts and arid fields, and a whispering / confident voice that reminds one of the Giant Sand - Calexico sphere, as well as Neil Young's dreamy tracks. Centro-matic's "All The Falsest Hearts Can Try" may be the ideal record to listen to while waiting for the next Sparklehorse album. As on the two releases of Mark Linkous' band, quiet and dark folk tracks fight over the groove with burning cannonballs of tight and raging rock. The rhythm of the changes in Low's songwriting must be as slow as Mimi Parker's drum hammering. One passes from "Secret Name" to "Things We Lost In The Fire" without noticing it -- to our greatest delight of course. The alchemy of the couple's ethereal voices and the muffled bass keep taking us away into another dimension made of thrills and lunar landscapes.

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