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José González

In Our Nature, Jose González' second record, is more of the same blend of Brazilian rhythm, indie rock angst and acoustic folk that was introduced on 2005's Veneer, but this time around, the lyrics are more political. Some songs are more direct than others--"Invasion after invasion, this means war / Someday you'll be up to your knees in the shit you seed," sings González on "How Low"--but each has a tinge of bitterness that creates friction against the gorgeous sounds escaping from González and his guitar.

That's what makes González such an interesting musician--his ability to create sounds that transmit their live energy even through digital encryption. When he hits those guitar strings, you not only hear the notes, but the sound of physical contact, the process of action and reaction. Guitar harmonics twinkle between reiterations of the line "Don't let the darkness eat you up" on "Down the Line," and the hypnotic melody of "Killing for Love" allows Gonzalez to continually ask, "What's the point if you hate, die and kill for love?"

"Time to Send Someone Away" has González chanting quietly, "You're walking over bodies just to witness something new," and on "Cycling Trivialities," where the opening bass line is reminiscent of Sigur Rós, González sings, "Who cares in a hundred years from now? All the small steps, all your shitty clouds." The clash of words like "shitty" against the guitar strings creates an audible buzz, making the songs on In Our Nature sound almost alive.

More by Annie Holub

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