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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
Halcyon Digest
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
The Loose Salute
Tuned To Love

Rating: 6.3/10 ?

July 3, 2007
On an "indefinite" hiatus from his main venture Mojave3, drummer Ian McCutcheon recruited singer Lisa Billson for side- cum full time project the Loose Salute, and the pair shoot for something precious with their debut, Tuned to Love. The album's opener, "Death Cab," suggests a sunny pop statement in the tone of those made standard on early Beulah albums, yet, Tuned To Love proves more country-tinged than works by bands channeling the Beach Boys' shoeless charm.

Equipped with backwoods finger plucking and steel guitars, The Loose Salute strikingly resembles a female-fronted Ryan Adams & the Cardinals ("Turn the Radio Up") and, at times, the homespun retro-chic of Wilco ("Tuned to Love"). But unlike those denim and whiskey bands, The Loose Salute is not alt-country at its core.

The band, rather, shows its strengths in offering meandering breakup songs that read more like short stories than play like pop melodies. Much of this can be accredited to the contributions of Billson, who was discovered by McCutcheon while singing along to Bob Dylan songs. Her standout vocals, which lend a homespun weight to songs like "Why'd We Fight?," are meant for traveling - both of the emotional and physical sort.

The emotionally wrought "Photographs and Tickets," with its overarching theme of "you're not for me," reflects on a relationship between the speaker and her performer ex-boyfriend. The song's chorus suggests a woman who has distanced herself from a former lover but cannot help feeling an emptiness in that negotiated space: "Hey that seems so long ago/ Piano sounded prettier when you played it slow/ Then LAX called me back home/ And all I have are photos/ Ticket stubs from old shows/ That's all I'm left with this time."

Tuned To Love works well in regard to songs that shoot for a simple consistency, and although Billson handles most of the vocal duties this goes for McCutcheon-fronted songs as well. The drummer's breathy vocals, which are more Elliot Smith than Sam Beam, compliment Billson's and make for some real gems, like the "The Mutineer."

With tracks shifting between sweeping melancholy, uptempo rockers, and a bit of sugary pop, Tuned To Love leaves in its wake a distinct hope for a more homogenous effort. With all things considered, the group's inclination to varying tempos of twang seems superfluous when juxtaposed with the band's understated charms: rolling melodies, an earnest delivery, and the leitmotif of the all-too-complicated breakup.

Reviewed by Patrick Gill
In in a state of suspended adolescence, Patrick Gill can be found hiding away in northwest Ohio, where he spends most of his time rediscovering shoegaze, noise pop, britpop, slowcore, sadcore, lo-fi, neo-psychedelia, post-rock, trad rock, and trip-hop music. In his spare time he teaches college English.

See other reviews by Patrick Gill



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