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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Sad Riders
Lay Your Head on the Soft Rock
Doghouse Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Lay Your Head on the Soft Rock is heart-achingly simple, down to earth, and just plain good. The Sad Riders play mellow, rootsy music that borrows influences from across America, from the folksy, Leonard Cohen intimacy of "Past the Belvedere", to the bouncy, standard blues-scales of "Maybe Just on Friday", and the southern twang of "The Plains and the High Roads".

While listening, I had the urge to pigeonhole the band, perhaps because of the music's surface simplicity - Chris Wicky, the singer-songwriter behind The Sad Riders, does often employ a twang - but then I found out he's from Switzerland.

Nonetheless, this record sounds really American, and I mean that in a good way. Similar to Wilco, The Sad Riders pick out all of the best elements of country rock and light pop, and mix it all into a surprisingly genuine sound.

Wicky's voice beautifully resounds in the middle; he sings clearly, slowly and emotively. When he raises his voice for the chorus in the ballad "The Radio Man", you'll want to join him; and when he lowers his voice in "Past the Belvedere", you'll perk up your ears to hear him.

"The Plains and the High Roads" and "Ace" are exceptional. On the former, Wicky's voice conveys the tone and words of a hopeless man out of work and money, but the chorus rises to an amazing emotional climax - the sort of which I've never heard on a blue-collar folk song. "Ace" is completely different - its lyrics recall a stream of consciousness, its references to endless streets and wasted years are reminiscent of beat poetry. The song begins with a pulsating piano and twice builds to a shimmering chorus, alternately tragic and uplifting.

Like a slew of new and old not-quite-country bands, The Sad Riders combine rootsy music with a polished, clean feel. Sometimes this can sound formulaic and commercial, but Lay Your Head on the Soft Rock comes out just right.

Reviewed by Josh Kazman
No infro.

See other reviews by Josh Kazman



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