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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
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
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Reed KD
The Ashes Bloom

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

March 28, 2007
I'm a bit jaded when it comes to singer-songwriters slinging an acoustic guitar over their shoulder and nitpicking away. So why do I request an album from an unknown solo California troubadour who, on his website homepage, displays a black and white photo of a V-Dub Van parked off some NorCal redwood highway? Am I a musical masochist? The truth is, like most writers, I always keep an open mind in the hopes of finding an artist who proves me wrong. Or maybe I just really dug that picture. Regardless, I now find myself listening to the self-released debut record from a young man called Reed KD, with the elegiac title The Ashes Bloom.

Although the album is not shattering my preconceptions, I must state at the outset that it is an entirely enjoyable listen. Like the photo suggests, Reed KD comes to us from a small coastal town in Northern California. What immediately sets him apart is the fact that he plays and arranges a myriad of instruments, including acoustic and slide guitar, mandolin, accordion and harmonica. These are the primary sounds of the album, and as one would expect they give it a warm and fuzzy feel from start to finish. Mr. KD also wrote, recorded and mixed the album in "various living rooms, bedrooms and closets called home in 2006." If recording in a closet doesn't give a record a personal vibe, I don't know what can.

The strength of Ashes Bloom is undoubtedly its individual charm. Whereas many singer-songwriters attempt to tackle wide reaching topics, Reed KD keeps the subject matter simple. Most songs are seemingly about his own experiences with two recurring themes, traveling and relationships. All the tunes benefit greatly from the spirited arrangements that accompany his appealing voice, which when he self-harmonizes recalls Simon and Garfunkel. I am a huge sucker for mandolin and accordion, which are underused in this genre, and both are played prominently and elegantly throughout this record. It is clear that Reed is a talented multi-instrumentalist, and a detailed producer. Surprisingly, for an album that was recorded everywhere but a proper studio, the production values are quite high.

Most of the twelve tracks breeze by like a waft of coastal salt air, and in a sense, this would be the perfect mix for a campfire on the beach. There may not be a lot of intensity, but mild can be engaging in a serene way. Moreover, Reed KD shows potential for going deeper, as shown by standout song and album closer "The Winter." This is a true beauty, ear-catching mandolin plucking over drifting vocals, waxing poetic lyrics of seeds, trees and winter. If this wandering VW driver's next release picks up where this one leaves off, I'll definitely be requesting his sophomore effort.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro



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