I Can Hear Music

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Yo La Tengo bassist James McNew's second full-length release as Dump plays up the lo-fi elements of his one-man-band recordings a bit (the catchy opener "Slow Down" suffers from deliberate distortion and tape glitches), but it's overall a bit poppier and less experimental than either the full-length Superpowerless or the EP International Airport. As on all Dump records, the arrangements are heavy on the weedy little synths and inexpensive drum machines, which only adds to the homemade charm. Along with 15 McNew originals in varied styles, with the sublime "Liberty Spikes" a particular standout, I Can Hear Music continues Dump's predilection for obscure and fascinating covers. This time out, the choices are a straightforward and lovely version of the Fugs' "Morning Morning" (with backing vocals by Peggy Castagnes); an oddly bouncy take on Bob Dylan's "Wanted Man"; his Hoboken neighbors Fish and Roses' "The Letter"; and, best of all, a stately version of Ultravox's "Vienna" that strips all the production gloss off the original to get at the achingly pretty melody. The first pressing of I Can Hear Music included a bonus disc of largely instrumental songs that's interesting but not essential.

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