Author

J. Edward Keyes

Antigone Rising’s major-label debut was developed exclusively for sale at Starbucks, and the marriage makes sense: The New York quintet delivers rich, full-bodied folk rock with a mild intensity and just a hint of acidity. Recorded live in front of a small audience of fans, From the Ground Up (get it?) blends big strums with brawny vocals. On ”Don’t Look Back,” they put both in service of a sweetly yearning chorus, compensating in heart for what they lack in invention.

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The sixth CD On My Way to Absence from Seattle’s musical Steinbeck opens with a shooting and ends with a burial. In the middle, widows weep, lovers split, and friendships go rancid with resentment. Other singer-songwriters might slather on the strings, but Damien Jurado — a gifted storyteller with an unsentimental eye for detail — makes minimalism his m.o. The songs are bare as winter trees, built from brittle guitars and crackling percussion. When they finally erupt — as ”Icicle” does — the contrast makes the combustion arresting.

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Have Brighton’s promising Britpoppers been taking Ritalin? British Sea Power’s debut, 2003’s The Decline of British Sea Power, was a manic mix of the Pixies, Pavement, and Proust, but alas, that feral energy has evaporated. In its place are well-bred rock numbers that chug dutifully forward, running on mannered riffs and indifferent vocals. Open Season does have its moments — the James-like transcendence of ”Please Stand Up” and slow-burn spookiness of ”Be Gone” both raise gooseflesh — but the only real surprise is its wan predictability.

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