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Record Review

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Tim Kinsella makes rock music like he'd rather be doing jazz but doesn't know how. Loose dramatic structures crash into each other, sometimes with a sickening atonal thud, other times snapping into place like a cubist picture puzzle.

While onetime Cap'n Jazz partner Davey Vonbohlen explores the avenues of pop with the Promise Ring, Kinsella continues his deconstruction of rock first begun with Joan of Arc and continued on any one of a half-dozen side projects. 10 Songs features some of Kinsella's most accessible work, with moments of subtle beauty floating beneath his purposefully rough, tuneless vocals. The album ambles from throbbing, contrapuntal avant-jazz/rock ("Thax Douglas") to warm, propulsive, off-kilter pop ("I'd Rather Be High Than Get Laid Any Day of the Week") to meandering post-rock epics ("Teeny Comealong").

Beneath Kinsella's freeform-prose lyrics, the music bubbles with activity. Piano undergirds most of the compositions and provides supple opposition to Kinsella's electric guitar fragments and occasional complementary acoustic melodics. It's all held together with an overlay of tantalizing, insistent percussion that offers an entree into Kinsella's intricately constructed compositional edifices. The result is a difficult but ultimately rewarding exercise.

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