Sharon Van Etten: Epic

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Artist: Sharon Van Etten Title: Epic Release date: September 21 Label: Ba Da Bing!

If you're relatively unknown as a musical artist, as is Sharon Van Etten, and you name your record Epic, you'd better be damn sure your record doesn't suck. The good news for Van Etten is that her seven-song record has little in common with things that do suck -- like, say, the song of the same name by one of the worst bands this planet has ever birthed, Faith No More.

Van Etten keeps it simple on Epic, letting her fine voice -- throaty, war, filled with pathos -- dominate the proceedings, especially on the Neil Young-esque opening track, "A Crime," a sad, minor-key relationship-gone-sour song in which she sings, "Never let myself love like that again" over a forcefully strummed acoustic guitar.

On "Peace Signs," she sounds like a less-sleepy Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star. She veers away from the conventional singer-songwriter approach with "DsharpG," employing a ghostly accordion and strategically placed hits on a kick drum/tambourine as she intones, "Following blind / Following blind / What if I do?"

To me, Van Etten is a cut above your average indie singer-songwriter, taking some chances with instrumentation and sparse arrangements but remaining accessible enough to keep you listening on this easily digestible record. I'll look forward to what Van Etten does next.

Sharon Van Etten - Love more by ribio rip

Best song: Album closer "Love More," which combines all the best elements of Van Etten's tack. Rotation: Medium-Heavy Deja vu: Sad times. I'd rather listen to: Charlotte Gainsbourg's IRM. Grade: B+

Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment hereThe "Nothing Not New" Archives:

December 1 -- OFF!: First Four EPs (A-) November 30 -- Robyn: Body Talk (B+) November 29 -- Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3: Northern Aggression (A-)

November 16 -- Stereolab: Not Music (B-)
November 15 -- The Fresh & Onlys: Play It Strange (C+)

November 12 -- Podcast #10

November 4 -- Salem: King Night (B+)
November 3 -- Matt & Kim: Sidewalks (C-)

October 27 -- The 88: The 88 (B)

October 26 -- Warpaint: The Fool (B+)

September 28 -- No Age: Everything in Between (A-)

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