stilllifestillnightLast year, I referred to Beach House’s album Devotion as “David Lynch movie music,” which I defined as being “beautiful, dreamily paced, sometimes eerie sounding…” Brooklyn based trio Au Revoir Simone’s first couple of albums certainly fell into that category, and unsurprisingly, they accompanied Lynch on a few of his readings for his last book tour. (Lynch has referred to their band and their music as “Innocent, hip and new.”) To some degree, Still Night, Still Life is more of the same, waif-like vocals, dream pop and folk melded with sometimes lushly produced, sometimes minimalist electropop. There are some subtle changes, however, as the band has added some hard edges to their music here and there, and lyrically, the songs are decidedly more sophisticated than innocent, concerned as they are with the hard reality of relationships, the consequences of some personal choices, and the resistance of some to face the future, owing to the past: “I’m moving on / I hope you’re coming with me…” The best material may be featured in the first half of the album, but in general, Still Night, Still Light is filled with lovely, often captivating music, and is a solid follow up to their breakthrough album, The Bird Of Music. Standout cuts: “Another Likely Story,” “Shadows,” “Knight Of Wands” and “Trace A Line.”

illstaytilafterchristmasEasily the best and possibly the most worthy set of holiday music to be released this year (all proceeds go to benefit Amnesty International), the evocatively named I’ll Stay ‘Til After Christmas collects 15 tracks by an international array of independent artists, including Au Revoir Simone, Sally Shapiro, My Brightest Diamond, No Kids, Blitzen Trapper and Au. It’s rare that a benefit album not only gives you a chance to support a worthy cause and gives you your money’s worth music-wise to boot, but I’ll Stay ‘Til After Christmas really does have all the makings of a Christmas classic. The songs here are by turns appropriately moody and haunting, sometimes experimental and other times surprisingly traditional, intelligent and frequently sharp witted and unsparing, i.e. Man Of Arms’ “It’s Christmas Time An Every Things’s Wrong.” Obviously, I’ll Stay ‘Til After Christmas is a hipster’s delight, but hopefully this will get a wider audience than just that demographic, as it’s not just the best holiday release of 2008, but one of the best releases of the year, period. Standout cuts: “Christmas Time Is Here (Au Revoir Simone),” “Anorak Christmas (Piano Mix) (Sally Shapiro),” “Christmas Is Coming Soon (Blitzen Trapper),” “It’s Christmas Time An Every Things’s Wrong (Man Of Arms)” and “Silent Night (Bosque Brown).”