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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]
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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
Time Since Western
A Sun Goes Down

Rating: 7.4/10 ?

June 23, 2008
A Wisconsin native and regional musician, Andy Brawner releases his solo debut earlier this month under the appellation Time Since Western. Brawner, better known for his contributions on Pale Young Gentlemen's eponymous debut, distances himself from that outfit with songs that are less rousing and more plaintive, part of which stems from his quavering vocal style. The best tracks on A Sun Goes Down come off as tonal sketches, more tempered feeling than introspective song.

The album's opener, "Near Impossible," channels a sense of dislocated nostalgia in the vein Pink Floyd's "Breathe," the lyrics "Now that I feel O.K." being substituted for "Breathe, breathe in the air." The track is all about foundered expectations. Its melody rolls along like tumbleweed over a lap steel slide before Brawner's vocals open wide the track's thunderstorm slowcore second half, when he languorously sings "You can lead a horse to the water" before the other foot comes ripping down: "But you can't bleed the fire from the sky."

"Perspective" also plays up sonic extremes. Brawner's vocals reach ethereal heights in terms of his euphonic capabilities, and combative guitar lines offset that cerebral tone, thus producing music with hints as powerful as Minnesotan neighbors Low. What's missing on the rest of the album is this dualism, which in itself creates an intensity normally generated from an entire group effort.

At times (however much he tries to distance himself from such labeling), Brawner comes off as an individual songsmith. "Bottom of The Sea," in its quirky power-pop splendor, calls forth Will Sheff, of Okkervil River, while "Feathers" builds like a Matt Pond P.A. major-scaled anthem. Neither track is tasteless or contrived, but listeners' initial hopes for aural displacement are negated in favor of less ambitious statements. Places where A Sun Goes Down becomes introspective and emotive ("Nothing," "Northern Down") give way to singer-songwriter similarities (and, unfortunately, a likeness to Howie Day).

One imagines Brawner's strengths will come through as he gains a sense of comfort with his own work.

A Sun Goes Down does not find Brawner feeling out the terrain so much as compiling all the sounds that make up his repertoire. Listeners will find his initial aesthetic impulses need no retooling; with a rigorous self-discipline to stay the course, they could only use a good parsing down.

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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