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Iron & Wine

"our endless numbered days"

Available at All That Jazz for $15.98

Iron & Wine was featured on the "Garden State" soundtrack, which gave them a bump of popularity. It you've heard that soundtrack, you've heard the whispering voice of singer Sam Beam and the equally quiet plucking of the acoustic guitar.

This is the kind of music that requires a very small room for listening. You need to sit close to the speakers. You need to have a pot of chamomile tea brewing on the stove. You need a ratty quilt on the bed and a dog sleeping at the foot of it. You need a garden growing outside. You need to be the kind of person who listens to music with your eyes closed.

There's fuzziness in the recording of "our endless numbered days" that makes it sound old. It is the kind of album that could have been recorded on a living room four track, but it wasn't.

Rated: Don't close your eyes too long. You might fall asleep.

Garbage

"Bleed Like Me"

Available at All That Jazz for $14.98

Call it sexism, but I have a thing for female fronted bands. I like Sonic Youth because of Kim Gordon. I like The Breeders because of Kim Deal. I like The Donnas. I like the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. And so maybe it's because of my narrow gender vision that I like Garbage.

If you listen to Garbage's new release "Bleed Like Me" on your computer at work (like me) the album comes with a black and white music video for the song "Why do you love me?" and it's a good way to start the album. Despite their loud guitars, lead singer Shirley Manson is singing about the same thing women have been singing about since Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin put their faces up to a microphone -- relationships. Stupid, dysfunctional relationships.

It just so happens that Manson's relationships, or the ones she sings about, are more dysfunctional than most.

"You should see my scars," Manson sings in a choir-like voice on the title track.

Rated: Girls. Girls. Girls.

The Shins

"Chutes Too Narrow"

Available at All That Jazz for $15.98

I recently watched the film "Hype!" about the grunge scene in Seattle and how it went from something interesting to something that people bought for the name brand. At the center of it all was the label Sub Pop.

The documentary showed how the record label didn't just hype its bands. The label hyped itself as a label, creating an aura of cool. Sub Pop eeked out vinyl singles with cool art on the covers that kept collectors pawing at its door. And the label sold T-shirts. Not band T-shirts, but Sub Pop T-shirts that said LOSER on one side and Sub Pop on the other. And people bought them.

I am always a sucker for certain labels and a snob about others.

Almost a decade later, Sub Pop still has a residual cool, and I'll still reach into the bin for one of its records.

Skip to: Find my grubby hands reaching for The Shins' "Chutes Too Narrow" released on, guess which label.

I can imagine enjoying this band in a small cafe or coffeeshop with torn vinyl booths and layers of cigarette smoke and grime ground into the tile floor. I can imagine myself drooling in some windowless bar over my 100th cup of coffee, scribbling tripe into my journal and listening to The Shins with no other customers around.

I cannot, however, imagine listening to this album again. There are some bands that just don't translate well in the studio. In other words, not a bad band, just a bad album.

One of the few songs that pulled me in on this album was "Turn A Square." Is there such a thing as emo rockabilly? If not, there is for one song -- this song.

Rated: And people bought them.

-- Autumn Phillips

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