By Lindsay Toler
By Chad Garrison
By Brett Koshkin
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Riverfront Times
By Danny Wicentowski
By Pete Kotz
The Decemberists, The Crane Wife (Capitol): Maybe Colin Meloy's over-enunciations have worn thin; maybe two twelve-minute songs was overkill. Either way, the Decemberists' move to the majors wasn't the triumph many of us anticipated, with proggy affectations weighing down the band's once-ebullient sound. Redemption Song: "Sons and Daughters"
Cat Power, The Greatest (Matador): This one shoulda been a contender. The crossover potential for this record was so great, it's still a surprise that Chan Marshall isn't doing duets with Missy Elliot. Greatest was Marshall's attempt at class and mainstream credibility, but pristine reverb and Stax session men can't make up for the lack of decent songs. Redemption Song: "Lived in Bars"
Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador): What at first listen sounded like a YLT sampler platter (a mix of dirges, guitar molestations and sunshine pop a kind of greatest-hits disc for a band with no actual hits) turned out to be disjointed and scattered in a way the band didn't intend. And what's up, Matador? Your most brazenly named album collapsed under the weight of expectation. Redemption Song: "Mr. Tough"
The Mountain Goats, Get Lonely (4AD): To be fair, anything following last year's career-defining The Sunset Tree was bound to be a letdown. John Darnielle continues his exploration of claustrophobia and paranoia, releasing a field guide to solitude that is too diffuse and lacking in narrative to stick. After writing brilliant song cycles about abusive stepfathers, meth dealers and co-dependent drunkards, a break-up album is far too mundane. Redemption Song:"Wild Sage" Christian Schaeffer