Audio Learning Center

Audio Learning Center were once members of grunge-era misfits Pond and Sprinkler, bands that disappeared before anyone could notice. “Stereo,” pairing anthemic crescendos with Chris Brady’s endearingly fragile vocals, may just right that wrong.

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I keep thinking CLOADM “donkey”…sorry. I actually played a Donkey Kong clone on my TRS-80, loaded from cassette. These tracks are much better than Donkey Kong; reminiscent of DJ Shadow’s work with UNKLE.

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The chin-stroking ambience of O!A!L!’s 2003 material (see “Ex’s and Ho’s Oh’s”) makes way for a more diverse palette of bristling pop and sprawling sonic gems in ’04.

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Smokey and Miho

Perennial guest vocalist Miho Hatori finds her most natural fit yet, resurrecting ’60s Brazilian samba and bossa nova with all-star session man Smokey Hormel (Beck, Tom Waits).

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Not rap, not jazz, not spoken word — at least not as you know it. Refreshingly tight live sessions that manage to reference Run-DMC and Mother Goose in the same verse with only a slight smirk.

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Dave Douglas

Douglas has played with some crazy kids (John Zorn, Cibo Matto, and Sean Lennon) and covered Rufus Wainwright. These remixes have a splash of electronic vermouth with a foundation of gin jazz and a little speed.

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