CD Review of Into the Blue Again by The Album Leaf

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Into the Blue Again
starstarstarstarstar Label: Sub Pop
Released: 2006
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It was late at night in the central part of Maine and it had been snowing for nearly two hours. After kicking back an ungodly amount of beer, because driving drunk in Maine is a sport (I’m sorry. I’m just kidding. I didn’t really drive drunk…I was stoned. Haha. Back to the story…), it was a two-hour drive to Portland from where I was staying to pick up my girl and I suck at driving in the snow. I especially suck at driving in snow that is sticking to the ground and making my little rental car dance all over the road. So, while white-knuckling the steering wheel, I had the last Album Leaf record, the ironically titled In a Safe Place, in the stereo. As scary as that drive was, the sound from the stereo was a perfect sound picture of the dark, cold yet eerily beautiful landscape that sprawled itself out in front of me. Random fact: Did you know that the Album Leaf got their name from a Chopin piece? That’s right! I do my homework for you people. I better get a Christmas card or something.

On the follow-up, Into the Blue Again, the one-man band fronted by former Tristeza guitarist Jimmy LaValle delivers another masterfully crafted ambient work. Jimmy is definitely the heir to the throne of ambient alt. rock currently held by the Icelandic wonder-kids of Sigur Ros. And in order to ensure his succession to that throne, he enlisted the guys from Sigur Ros to perform on his last record. This time around he handles nearly all of the instrumental duties by himself. He’s a bright guy. I’m not that bright. I can’t think of anything really stupid I’ve done or said as of late, but I’m sure there are plenty of things. I’m just too stupid to remember them at this particular point in time. Keep an eye out though. Something dumb is bound to happen soon.

Regardless of your personal musical preferences, albums by both the Album Leaf and Sigur Ros should be part of your record collection. Some Saturday night when you’re home alone (like that ever happens, you man about town, you), check out the radio program called Echoes. It’s on public radio. You’ll probably hear some stuff like this record on there. A little New Age music might do us all some good (see, I told you I’d say something stupid). Honestly, I'm convinced that these albums and that radio show will make you a more productive human being. They're almost like those Baby Genius records for adults. Suck your thumbs and enjoy.

~Josh Preston