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Elliott Smith
New Moon
Kill Rock Stars

Elliott Smith is by far and away one of Cascadia’s greatest would-be national treasures. His value as a singer/songwriter is immeasurable, as elements of his distinctive vision have popped up in the work of the thousands of musicians that have sprouted in his wake. That he died tragically only further cemented his immortality in the canon, however such lurid details shed no light on his genius, excepting, perhaps, the darkness and emotional turmoil that mark his songs nearly throughout. New Moon leaves this legacy intact, and is by no means a tossed-off posthumous grab bag of scrappy outtakes and demos. To the contrary, Moon is a compilation of fully-realized tracks culled from the dozens recorded in the period between ’94-’97 that, for reasons that had nothing to do with quality, didn’t make it onto the albums Smith released at the time.

Smith was a prodigious recorder, and often had difficulty choosing which pearls of his incredible output would see release on his LPs. The songs on these discs come from the same sessions that resulted in Smith’s self-titled second album and Either/Or, and are easily on par with virtually anything on those albums. The vast majority of songs here are pared-down guitar/vocal numbers, rich with Elliott’s trademark sonorous, quick ‘n clean pluck/strum style, deft finger-picking, breathy doubled vocals and harmonies. Every song here is a classic-to-be, bound to ensnare listeners new and returning and further concretize the incredible loss the world suffered with Elliott’s passing. The package includes liner notes by Tape Op magazine’s Larry Crane, as well as poignant and enlightening entries by friends/former bandmates/Portland scene mainstays Rebecca Gates, Sam Coomes, Christopher O’Riley and Sean Croghan.  There are a couple Heatmiser songs, one Big Star cover, and the rest are untouched Smith originals that tremble through with the fragile, wounded glory for which listeners have come to worship him. It’s rare that a posthumous release offers anything so essential to the completion of one’s holdings of any artist’s work however New Moon is a exactly that kind of goldmine.

Favorite Tracks:
Disc 1, “Going Nowhere”
Disc 2, “Whatever (Folk Song inC)”

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Steve Gunn is a hard-boiled suburban New Yorker with a PhD in rockology and the propensity to point with full-throttle moxie up to his ears and unflinchingly declare, “Hey! These things ain’t garbage cans, y’know!”

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