The Concretes


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Arriving just over a year after their self-titled debut album, the Concretes' Layourbattleaxedown collects tracks from singles like Seems Fine and Warm Night, as well as the extremely hard to find 2001 EP Nationalgeographic, aka the "lost" EP. Not surprisingly, the collection acts and sounds like the missing link between the sparer sound of Boy, You Better Run Now, The Concretes, and the band's folkier but equally lovely spin-off, Heikki, recalling that project on rural-sounding cuts like "Under Your Leaves" and "Seems Fine Shuffle." As Boy, You Better Run Now -- which was also an EP collection -- showed, the Concretes have a way with making their compilations sound as focused, if not more so, than other band's albums. Lay Your Battle Axe Down is no different; though the collection spans several years and lineups, the band's creative arrangements, effortlessly elegant vibe, and Victoria Bergsman's beautifully drowsy vocals make each track sound distinctively Concretes. They even manage to turn the Rolling Stones' "Miss You" into a moody, languid ballad. Though newer tracks like "Lady December" and "Warrior" (both from the Warm Night single) have more luxurious instrumentation than earlier tracks like Nationalgeographic's "Sand" and "Sugar," all of the songs included here flow remarkably well into each other, and even the less immediate songs like "Branches" and "Free Ride" are never less than lovely. There are still a few tracks from this period that aren't included on Lay Your Battle Axe Down, but the collection is still a great way of bringing fans won over by The Concretes up to speed on their earlier work.

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