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Amy Rude

The new disc by Tucson's Amy Rude is not a casual listen. The melodies are ethereal rather than catchy; the arrangements are moody rather than driving. The lyrics are poetic and engrossing, but they require you to listen and think.

It's not just the words themselves, but the way Rude delivers them, that raise goose bumps. "I've done evil / I've done wrong," from the song "Malvina," just doesn't transfer adequately into print. Likewise, "No one wants to hit me in the face / What a shame / What a shame" can't be read aloud with the same reckless revelry Rude applies to it in the upbeat "Scottish Eyes."

That song and the jangly "A Live Wire" are the liveliest tracks, a welcome change from the otherwise downbeat fare that constitutes the rest of the disc. Don't get me wrong; Heartbeast is an album that's all about the brooding melancholy, but after a while, all that stark, beautiful sadness is likely to exact an emotional toll on your soul. Perhaps this is because too many of the songs are strummed on a droning electric in a dragging three-quarters time--this establishes mood well, but by the closing track, the repetition is a little tiring.

But then again, Heartbeast isn't meant to be an easy-listening album. Rude rewards the listener who pays attention. Like a Radiohead album, Heartbeast proves that strange, brooding and challenging doesn't have to mean esoteric.

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