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Slow Wonder

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ADA [Wea 1-Stop Account]
  • ASIN: 5559659886
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. J. Hulme on 29 May 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I heard about AC Newman from the work he does with the New Pornographers, where he's songwriter in chief - and who could resist anyone who can write a song as amazing as "Mass Romantic"? Sure enough, this album, though clocking in at just under 35 minutes, is an absolute gem. In an era where three chord wonders, drum machines and reality television "celebrity" cast-offs are all over the charts like a nasty rash, this album should be played from start to finish all year round to keep everybody musically sane.

What does it sound like? There's bits of the Kinks in here (and Newman's songwriting is up there with the best of Ray Davies), a bit of ELO, some Wilco, but it's so so so so SO much more than that. For proof, listen to "The Town Halo" and "The Cloud Prayer", two tracks which are at the same time intelligent, gorgeous and powerful. It may only be 34 minutes long, but there's more ideas on here (and more quality) than most bands manage in an entire career. I just wish he'd think about releasing a follow-up, as the world needs more of this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D Burin on 3 Sept. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Sometimes slow, but often wonderful, A.C. Newman's debut album signals a shift in both sound and lyrical focus, from both the heavy-rock sound of Zumpano, and the bright, eclectic rock sound of The New Pornographers. This shift sees Newman sound more introspective and brooding on 'The Slow Wonder', but it is a move which suits him well. 'The Slow Wonder' is packed full of wry, perceptive lyricy, such as in the poignant, beautifully melodic tale of a relationship lost, in 'Drink to Me Then Babe', memorable guitar riffs ('The Town Halo') and lovelorn laments with excellent vocals ('Come Crash'). But, as much as these facets underpin what is a superb album, it is when Newman lets loose a little that 'The Slow Wonder' reaches its highest points, with the fast-paced, gleefully smart rock of 'Secreterial' and the chord-heavy guitar chug of 'Miracle Drug'. Whilst the album is likely to please fans of The New Pornographers, it is also one which will surprise them a little. Whilst the likes of Neko Case and Dan Bejar have often taken centre-stage with The New Pornographers, 'The Slow Wonder' shows just how talented Newman is on all fronts - musically, lyrically, and vocally. In truth, I've nothing bad to say about 'The Slow Wonder'. Filled with intriguing tales of shady deals, lost loves and honest resignations, against a backdrop of well-chosen (if not virtuoso) guitar melodies, and tuneful, effectively emotive (when needed) vocals, 'The Slow Wonder' is one of the most wonderful rock records of the last decade.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andy Summers on 17 July 2009
Format: Audio CD
Seldom can an album have been so aptly named

This is a real grower, and just when you think you've picked a favourite track, a new one starts working through your cranium.

My personal favourites are the final three on the album, from the absolutely beautiful The Cloud Prayer through to the Abba-esque and bombastic 35 In The Shade (please don't let that put you off).

This music sounds like all the greatest pop you've heard, but apart from the last track you can't quite think where.

A genuine wonder
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 31 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A distinctive, introspective gem 13 Jun. 2006
By Christopher J. Benz - Published on
Format: Audio CD
If you love the New Pornographers (Newman is their unannounced band leader) but would occassionally like something a bit more introspective and chilled out then this could very well be what you're after.

Carl Newman has a way with a melodic hook and a pop reference that is utterly unique.

Without fail, my response to his work goes something like this: First listen - everything seems pleasantly hard to grasp, but there are one or two songs (always different for each listener) that instantly hooks you. For me, on this album it was - 'The Battle for Straight Time'.

Next step - play that song to death. While drilling this track, you accidently hear other tracks from the album again - "damn, that's catchy, why didn't I notice that before? - possibly better than my favorite track". And so it goes on, and on, and on... Eventually, you're in raptures and you've even learnt how to hear music a little differently.

This album has a variety of laid back, edgy, insanely catchy riffs and progressions.

Although he draws on a subconscious library of pop music references that are detailed and eclectic, he is able to turn the songs into personal statements.

They're always ever so slightly twisted to make them unique to Newman's particular style of presentation. He also has a great way of processing and altering his vocals to fit each song perfectly.

At the moment, I can't stop listening to 'The Town Halo' (a new millenium take on T-Rex), and the beautiful, dispassionately powerful 'Come Crash' but I'm sure tomorrow I'll be rotating two different tunes from this album.

It is an altogether more personal and soul baring outing than anything he does with the New Porno's. In that sense it's a legitimate exercise as a solo album.

Music this literate and melodic doesn't come along often. I hope Newman continues to grow and explore. There's no limit to what he might discover.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
What an Album! 31 Aug. 2004
By J. T. Winsor - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I wish this album wasn't so good, you see I have a bet with some of my friends, I say that Bejar is the great Genius of the New Pornographers, they all say Newman is. Well, I was hoping this album would be just pleasent, maybe hook filled, but in the end not as good as the New Pornographers records because it lacked the Bejar songs. But then I was wrong, this album is better than either Mass Romantic or Electric Version. The hooks are better the lyrics are better, heck even the singing is better. Gone are some of Carl's overproduction tactics (It is still layered, but it seems, added are trumpets, recorders, cellos, and people whistling.) These songs are darker, sharper and are more rock than pop. Slow Wonder starts with a driving drum beat and the first great hook of the record in the song Miracle Drug (Performed on The McEnroe Show Sept 1.). "Drink to Me Babe Then" slows it all down a notch, adding Whistles, a light keyboard, and organ. On the Table is the first Perfect song on the record, Piano that brings to mind something on Destroyer's "Streethawk a Seduction", but added are female backup vocals and subtle guitar hook. I'm not going to go through every song, because it is all more of the same (not repeated, but fantastic), I will say that my fav on the record is Come Crash, with it's constant crashing cymbols, slow sad hook, and trumpet solo.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Slightly Different Newman than the NP's 26 July 2006
By John Stodder - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Where this one fits: The Slow Wonder follows the New Pornographers' Mass Romantic and Electric Version, but precedes Twin Cinema. It is the transition from the frenetic power-pop of the first two NP albums and the deeper, more timeless quality of their latest. Without the burden of the NP "sound" to live up to, Newman stretches, writes ballads and Pink Floyd-y space out songs (though always concise), and if anything gets more Pet Sounds-like in his musical arrangements (the gorgeous trumpet on "Come Crash," the driving, rhythmic cello on "Town Halo").

Newman is, quite obviously, very prolific and his batting average is stunningly high. It's okay with me if he mixes in solo albums with his NP output, using them as places to experiment with new kinds of songs that he thinks maybe his NP fans won't cotton to.

But this album is full of hits, just as melodic and with just as many "how does he do that?" high-wire assemblages of melody, rhythm and arrangement as the NP delivers. If you like the New Pornographers, you'll be joyous at hearing "On the Table," "Mystery Drug," "Secretarial" and my favorite "The Town Halo." A.C. Newman is rapidly becoming the most valuable pop artist on the planet, a keeper of the great tradition of pop/rock songwriters that has nearly died out.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Perfect Summertime Pop Album 9 Jun. 2004
By J. Fahey - Published on
Format: Audio CD
With 'The Slow Wonder,' Carl Newman effortlessly trumps all of his prior work. It's a brilliant pop album that will have you singing along after just one listen and will stay with you for years to come. If you've enjoyed either of the two New Pornographers albums, don't hesitate to pick this up.
Pop music needs more songwriters like Carl Newman.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The label nearly scared me off 11 July 2005
By Greg Brady - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I love power pop...but not "lo-fi" all sounds "unfinished" to me. So it was with some trepidation that I borrowed this album on the Matador label...previously known to me as a "lo-fi" label enamoured with the "less is more" aesthetic. Luckily, this one does not suffer that fate.

There's bite to the guitars, the hooks are big and full, and it just ends up sounding pretty fabulous. I'll admit I've not heard the New Pornographers, but knowing that Newman was from that band (as "Carl Newman") I'll now have to try and dig up some of their stuff as well.

"Miracle Drug" is a soaring 2 minute blast whose sunniness belies its tale of an aspiring author who turns to drug dealing when he can't get published. Legal indictment "On the Table" is another crisp power pop anthem. ("On the table/the deal between the thieves and exits/Common and breathless/shrugging at what they've become/number one...") "Come Crash" is a winsome number apparently about a man and woman involved in a serious car wreck that decide kismet has destined their survival. ("'That's luck', she said,'we should be dead.'/We eyed the wreck. 'Good god', we said/She plants one kiss/for the road/on my chest/Sirens came after we left") "The Town Halo" uses a brisk cello to underlay its verses and bridges. That, coupled along with high doubled "aaaaahhhh" vocals, make it seem almost like brand new E.L.O. (think early period rather than the more Bee Gees inflected later period stuff). It's the saga of a "hometown girl" become celeb. ("Up through the crystal/raised on mythology/She winds her way from truth to apology...")

"Battle for Straight Time" is decent musically but there's no real hook. (the title repeated four times doesn't qualify)

Power pop fans, don't let the fact this is on Matador scare you off. This isn't thin angsty "college rock"'s blissful slices of 3 minute pop heaven. If you have some Raspberries, Big Star, and Jellyfish albums on your shelf and you're looking for something new, definitely give this one a try.

3 1/2 stars
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