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The Stills 

Without Feathers (Vice)

If you always assumed the Stills were initially lumped into the same scene as Interpol and the Walkmen because of timing — and not musical similarities — the quintet has cemented that fact on Without Feathers. More Radiohead than the Rapture, Feathers finds the Montreal band more interested in creating expansive soundscapes than brooding in the corner. Maybe it has something to do with former drummer Dave Hamelin switching to guitar, but much of the album feels strangely familiar — yet difficult to place. In fact, the melancholic "Interlude" aside, Feathers actually sounds, well, hopeful. "Halo in The Harpoon" soars like a discarded helium balloon, while the driving "Baby Blues" is filled with caustic quips like, "I'm into looks, but I'm also into books." Ultimately, that line neatly sums up what the album is all about: Sure, it sounds good, but there's real substance beneath the band's artsy exterior.

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More by Jonah Bayer

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