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M. Ward
TRANSISTOR RADIO
(Merge)

On his fourth full-length, M. Ward conjures an era when DJs like the late John Peel played music that reached beyond the latest trends. Nostalgia bleeds through his simple reworking of the Beach Boysí Pet Sounds classic "You Still Believe in Me." "Fuel for Fire" begins with spare campfire strumming that builds to incorporate elements of Bob Dylanís "Buckets of Rain" with the guitar styles of Chet Atkins and Skip James, as Wardís salty rasp of a voice drifts pleasantly through finger-picked melodies. In "One Life Away," he sounds as if he were channeling the spirit of Billie Holiday. Only "Sweethearts on Parade," with its distorted guitar tones, brings to mind anything modern ó in this case the band Grandaddy, whose frontman Jason Lytle produced the one homonymous album that Wardís previous band, Rodriguez, released. Transistor Radio is bookended by the C-major Prelude from Bachís Well-Tempered Clavier; itís performed as a guitar solo in the same folky style.

(M. Ward headlines this Tuesday, April 12, downstairs at the Middle East, 480 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square, with Devotchka and Norfolk & Western; call 617-864-EAST.)

BY CARY LOGRANDE


Issue Date: April 8 - 14, 2005
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