The Damnwells

Air Stereo [zoë/rounder]

Music Reviews The Damnwells
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The Damnwells

On their second full-length, Brooklyn quartet The Damnwells graduate from “lightly likable” to “the far side of paradise” (to borrow ?lm critic Andrew Sarris’ categories). Air Stereo eschews the commonplace Replacements moves of 2004’s Bastards of the Beat in favor of a diverse, sharply conceived and executed song cycle in which the Alex Dezen-led band makes all the right moves, from expanding its sound with judiciously employed strings (“Graceless”), horns (“Kung Fu Grip Kiss”) and female backing vocals (“Golden Days”) to enlisting gifted knob-twiddler Jim Scott (Wilco, Matthew Sweet), who delivers a crystalline mix. The album concludes with the assaultive 10-minute “God Bless America,” which eloquently expresses the frustration and powerlessness felt by so many these days.

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