1. "Rotation of Crops," The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers
Contemplative but driving, "Rotation of Crops" is a blooming rock song with unexpected details. Notice the production on the drums and the reverse vocals undercutting Perry Wright's lead line. Text painting, anyone?
2. "Universe of No Parts," David Karsten Daniels
Peaks and valleys dominate here, lyrically and structurally. David's voice is at its weepiest, and his loneliness reaches the cosmic: "On a lonely sun/ nothing can be done."
3."But I Had to Go," Kapow! Music
You can almost see John Ribo smile during the instrumental portions of this song. Not quite flippant but not the epitome of Bu Hanan solemnness either, "But I Had to Go" could be the exit music for a Pavement reality show.
4. "Lisa," The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers
"Lisa" is a tale of loneliness as told by an estranged imaginary friend. For premise, illustration and execution, it's all but perfect. Recorded last year for Esopus Magazine, it's also one of the collective's best moments.
5. "Bigger Cities, Thicker Doors," The Physics of Meaning
It builds into the script nice and slow, Daniel Hart unfurling his personal foibles until the hook sets in, casting everything onto the brighter, bigger screen for which he's writing and wishing: "Now I'm more myself than ever before/ Waiting for the world to open up."
6. "The Sad Lives of Hollywood Lovers," The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers
The coda gets full and cascades outward like a piece from OK Computer. But Perry Wright's ruminations-in-verse are entirely human, watching two people cast their misery into one another.
7. "Jesus and the Devil," David Karsten Daniels
Recorded nearly three years ago with David's brother in Texas, "Jesus and the Devil" is bigger than the religious question it suggests. This is a song about life, love and what constitutes leaving. Fittingly, Sara Morris' beautiful backing vocals will make you gasp.
8. "Joan, Hank and Serge," Kapow! Music
Well, it certainly doesn't seem unsalvageable. The song John recorded for Louis Liard, this rolls gently through finger-picked acoustic guitars before Alex Lazara carefully joins with light keyboards and percussion. Tasteful and elegant.
9. "Down at Columbia and Cameron," The Physics of Meaning
Hear two Bu Hanan stamps: David's thick, goading bass and Daniel's string polyphony clinging to every surface.
10. "Siamese Hearts," David Karsten Daniels
David arrived in Chapel Hill from Portland, Ore., where he'd been waiting on a girlfriend and her medical school aspirations. This is that love's swan song, gentle and jilted.
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