The New Year

Texas platters

Phases and Stages

The New Year

The End Is Near (Touch & Go)

The power of the Kadane brothers' latest project, the New Year, is difficult to explain to the uninitiated. Let's just say they play more perfect notes than anybody. Their music is an amazing nexus where surgical precision, ace musicianship, and thrifty minimalism intertwine joyously. The End Is Near is the sophomore effort by the New Year, which Dallas' Matt and Bubba Kadane formed in 2001 to pick up where their previous act Bedhead left off after a storied Nineties run. "The End's Not Near" kicks off the album on an odd and somber note, with the only piano of the Kadanes' career to date, signaling a pulling back from the uncharacteristically yet pleasantly aggressive New Year debut, 2001's Newness Ends. "Sinking Ship" features acoustic guitars and more of Matt Kadane's raised-up-front vocals, providing a strong platform for his poetic sentiments about growing into middle age and the powerful questions that raises. Razor-sharp tension-rockers "Chinese Handcuffs" and the remarkable tom-fest "Age of Conceit" reprise the venom of Newness Ends, while elsewhere, the vintage Bedhead sound makes a strong resurgence. "Disease" edges a skeletal windup patiently toward a halcyon three-guitar crescendo. "18" is the centerpiece of this very concise yet slow-growing album, with drummer Chris Brokaw reprising the snowy, eternal cymbal splashes of Bedhead's Trini Martinez. Kadane soloing takes shape over a Velvet-een strum, stretching out magnificently into Dinosaur Jr. territory, the jammiest yet heard from this ensemble. A true return from these Texas hall-of-famers.

****

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