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Oregon rockers graduate from grunge to gadgetry

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Richard Thompson on the flowering of Fairport Convention

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Introducing the Deluxe Ultimate Music Guide to Neil Young

Updated with a deep dive into Archives II and more

Portland’s poutiest love to send out conflicting signals. That crossover phone-ad hit (“Bohemian Like You”) disguised the fact that they’re a filthily wondrous live band who could eat The Strokes for breakfast. Now their fourth album, named after a Kurt Vonnegut book, arrives with production from ex-Durannie Nick Rhodes and backing vocals from Simon Le Bon. Which leaves them sounding more electro than grunge. Then Tony Visconti helms a couple of tracks, Nile Rodgers guests and Evan Dando co-writes a song. It could get confusing:you have to stay with Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s dry-as-sand voice as it leads you through the modernist maze. “Hit Rock Bottom” is pure T. Rex. They could’ve been new rock messiahs, but chose to be pop-art prophets. It’s arrogantly risky. That’s their best feature. Still cool.

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The Velvet Underground, The Black Crowes, Bunny Wailer, Richard Thompson, Nick Cave, Rhiannon Giddens, Laurie Anderson, Blake Mills, Postcard Records, Mogwai and The Selecter
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