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Music

Bodies of Water: A Certain Feeling

This is outside music, music to be set on a porch and blasted into the expanse of land around it, music that cannot be contained.


Bodies of Water

A Certain Feeling

Label: Secretly Canadian
US Release Date: 2008-07-22
UK Release Date: 2008-07-21
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You can call Bodies of Water's sound a lot of things, but you can't call it small. The nine players credited on A Certain Feeling -- that is, their core four-piece plus five helping hands -- can make a sound too big for any room you could put your stereo in. This is outside music, music to be set on a porch and blasted into the expanse of land around it, music that cannot be contained.

The sound is so big, the compositions so full to bursting with fresh sounds, that often the very nature of the songs create their own fundamental tension. "Under the Pines", one of many tracks on the album that clocks in at around six minutes, starts with a lone organ, crashed upon by tumbling prog crunches of guitar and cymbal. But from there, rather than rising up and up from the get-go, the song settles, letting the guitar lead it through a humbler, more psychedelic pop noise.

But even the psychedelia can't be left alone. Its simplicity is derided beautifully by the choir of voices that come into the song to pull it out of the murk, letting the guitar fall away, as the singers push the song to something bigger, something too big for even Phil Spector to imagine. In the same way, "Water Here" starts as a quiet number, where you can picture the choir standing still on a stage, chins raised, singing to a black tie crowd. But then the horns come in and the drums pick up and the guitar adopts a funky upstroke. Before you know it, the super-serious dirge has broken out into a pure dance number.

"Darling, Be Here" is the most rock-based of all the songs, with a heavy, Iommi-inspired riff to start it off. And, yet again, just when you've think it's settled, it swings back to the off-kilter psychedelics, and the shape-note vocals come, voices rising and falling together in quick swells. The vocals hit a high point on the record here, as David Metcalf and Meredith Arthur lead the group up a mountain to shout a joyful noise from the top. It is, along with opener "Gold, Tan, Peach, and Grey", the most chilling and exhilarating performance on the record.

And while clearly A Certain Feeling continues the playful size of their debut, Ears Will Pop and Eyes Will Blink, it is the moments of restraint on the record that make it work as a whole. Arthur's lovelorn solo vocals on the pining "Only You" are a spacey, stark contrast the dense compositions around it. And the closer, "The Mud Gapes Open", is just two minutes of piano balladry, where the group is singing once again, but they are all hushed. "The mud gapes open, we're not that worthy", they sing together, making the album seem like a humble offering to something larger. On an album of big drums and full voices, of arena-sized riffs and huge-hearted lyrics, it is a striking moment of quiet, and a brilliant ending to a great album. For all its grandiosity and bellowing, the affect of A Certain Feeling is quite subtle. But it's there, buzzing in the silence after the album is ended, keeping you from moving from that spot on the porch until, after taking in all that stillness, you approach the stereo and play the album again.

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Music

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Photo courtesy of Matador Records

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With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

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