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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iron & Wine - Sam Beam struts his funky stuff
Barely a month into 2011 and we are in real danger of being spoiled. In a matter of a week first we get the Decemberists magnificent "The King is Dead" and now master musician Sam Beam and his musical collective "Iron and Wine" release their fourth studio album "Kiss each other clean". Beam is a man on a musical journey from the Will Oldham inspired raw beauty of "Our...
Published on 24 Jan 2011 by Red on Black

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three and a half Stars - Consistently good songwriting but the "mystery" is gone.......
I'm a big admirer of Iron & Wine who in my opinion are right at the forefront of contemporary acts and "The Shepherd's Dog" is a masterpiece no question and one that has probably been difficult to follow up (it is three-and-a-half years since that opus, a long-interval by Sam Beam's standards). "Kiss Each Other Clean" has had pretty mixed reviews, some hailing it as a...
Published on 26 Jan 2011 by TCH


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iron & Wine - Sam Beam struts his funky stuff, 24 Jan 2011
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Kiss Each Other Clean (Audio CD)
Barely a month into 2011 and we are in real danger of being spoiled. In a matter of a week first we get the Decemberists magnificent "The King is Dead" and now master musician Sam Beam and his musical collective "Iron and Wine" release their fourth studio album "Kiss each other clean". Beam is a man on a musical journey from the Will Oldham inspired raw beauty of "Our endlessly numbered days" to the wider vista's of 2007's "The Shepherd's dog". A stunning live version of this new album has streamed on NPR for two weeks and I wondered how the studio versions could better some of the songs from that session; but they do and largely because Beam has painted over a much broader musical palette on this album than any of his previous releases. If you desire yet other autumnal dose of beautifully poignant Iron and Wine songs such as the achingly lovely "Fever Dream", "Such great heights" or "Naked as we come" this album is going to come as a bit of a surprise, albeit a nice one.

This is a deeply textured and layered album full of instrumentation of all shapes and sizes combined with, dare we whisper it, a real sense of fun. The great opener "Walking from home" is within traditional Iron and Wine territory with a Dylan style observational lyric and wonderful angelic backing vocals which at around 3.20 is interrupted with a bass like synth. Overall a splendid start. Contrast this with a song from later within the album "Big burned hand" which bounds along for underpinned by a funky dirty saxophone and lyrics which Amazon will not let us describe (the album is well interspersed with occasional profanities). Lets also state that with Big Burned, along with a number of other tracks, a bop around the dance floor is not only possible but also probably desirable.

In this context take "Me and Lazarus" seems to this reviewer to evoke the ghost of Lowell George with that sort of clipped Southern funk so beloved of Little Feat. "Tree by the river" revels in gorgeous nostalgia and could be a Josh Ritter song in its exuberance, while "Half moon" is a more reflective acoustic ballad. Two songs which are absolute stand out's are "Monkeys Uptown" which starts with bass and bells and then moves into a rubbery grove which George Clinton would have been proud of. While "Rabbit will run" again begins with those chiming bells and slowly builds into one of the finest reflective songs Beam has ever recorded full of vivid lyrical imagery and almost African style instrumentation. "Godless brother in lover" is a great title and classic heartbreaker Beam piano ballad while "Glad man singing" does have real echoes of Hall and Oates that is not a bad thing in this reviewers humble opinion and is a excellent pop song. It is all brought to a close with the seven minute "Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me" a jazz funk workout full of horns and litanies, demanding nothing more than your sheer enjoyment.

For Iron and Wine's Sam Beam this album represents a real sense of progression and experimentation. It is achieved thankfully without sacrificing the song writing quality, which has made Beam such a critics favourites and built a fanatical following. One health warning is that Iron and Wine are this reviewers current overwhelming obsession and no day passes without reference to their albums, thus a new listener may wish also to refer back to previous Beam output to get a fuller picture. That said "Kiss each other clean" would make a great starting point since this is an album you will be playing for at least the next twelve years as opposed to a mere twelve months. Highly recommended
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars no longer sounds like someone who chops his own wood, but still in a world of his own, 27 Jan 2011
By 
Jeremy Williams (Luton) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Kiss Each Other Clean (Audio CD)
Sam Beam made his name in lo-fi Americana, a bare-bones combination of hushed vocals and acoustic guitar. With each album since his debut, Iron and Wine has progressed, taking in a greater range of textures and instruments. While some fans may miss the earlier hushed and dusty incarnation, there was a richness and depth in Iron and Wine's last album, The Shepherd's Dog, and Kiss Each Other Clean takes that one step further.

This an album full of ideas, an artist full of confidence and trying new things. It's not experimental for the sake of it, it's more playful than anything else. It's also very accomplished, packed with understated melodies and layers of instrumentation. There are pretty harmonies throughout, some sung by Sarah Beam, sometimes Sam double-tracking his own vocals in falsetto. There are surprises too, the crazy toy whistle on `Rabbit Will Run', the funk basslines of `Monkeys Uptown'.

As usual, the lyrics are wonderfully poetic, cryptic, full of a home-spun mythology of angels, horses, moonlight. Songs feel lovingly crafted, and couplets jump out and suggest whole untold stories - the teenagers who are still "strangers to change" in the nostalgic `Tree by the River', or the character "barefoot in the city and your phone's ringing" on `Your Fake Name is Good Enough for Me'.

This is a lovely album that rewards repeated listens.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three and a half Stars - Consistently good songwriting but the "mystery" is gone......., 26 Jan 2011
By 
TCH (Cambs, UK.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Kiss Each Other Clean (Audio CD)
I'm a big admirer of Iron & Wine who in my opinion are right at the forefront of contemporary acts and "The Shepherd's Dog" is a masterpiece no question and one that has probably been difficult to follow up (it is three-and-a-half years since that opus, a long-interval by Sam Beam's standards). "Kiss Each Other Clean" has had pretty mixed reviews, some hailing it as a near classic and others put off by the rather 'slick' production. I fall into the second school on this one - the excellent quality of much of the songwriting is self-evident but whereas "The Shepherd's Dog" was enhanced by the brilliant arrangements and production which gave the whole album an opaque, mysterious yet very alluring quality (with all those buzzing sitars, dobros, acoustic guitars & dub effects) the overly 'clean' production of "Kiss Each Other Clean" rather diminishes the overall impact. For the first time on this record synthesisers are pushed to the foreground rather than being just used texturally losing something indefinable in the process. That said it is still a worthwhile listen especially for Iron & Wine fans since even a minor misstep like the too slick production employed here can't entirely eliminate Sam Beam's brilliant artistry and songwriting chops. The only track that really doesn't work at all is "Big Burned Hand" which is attempts an almost funky vibe but vocally Sam Beam can't pull it off convincingly (he's hardly Sly Stone!) and the production track is too brash and overwhelms him, still good try! In many ways this album rather reminds me of listening to Goldfrapp's "Black Cherry" after loving "Felt Mountain" - a pretty startling change and enjoyable enough but just not the same (and to be honest not as good, as least in my opinion though I'll be the first to admit others will probably love this direction but I prefer the "Wood-sy" vibe of Sam Beam's earlier work culminating in magnificent "The Shepherd's Dog").
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comfortably Done, 24 Jan 2011
By 
Gannon (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Kiss Each Other Clean (Audio CD)
From the Garden State soundtrack to Twilight much more recently, Iron & Wine`s Sam Beam has been on a journey. He started it wearily, his storyteller-like persona creaking and wheezing through the gate with outdoorsy, dusty, impressively beardy folk in tow. Yet now, ten years into the business, having relocated to Austin from South Carolina in the process, he sounds youthful, playful even in comparison.

Taking the upbeat, lyrical folk template from his well-received last outing The Shepherd's Dog, and now releasing via the rejuvenated label 4AD, Kiss Each Other Clean now sees Beam give his sound a 70s MOR sheen. Bled through with a magpie's capriciousness (check that sly marimba backbeat here and there), Beam's journeyman quality now comes bolstered with sympathetic concessions to the in-vogue Fleetwood Mac ("Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me"), to the gentle piano ballad ("Godless Brother"), and perhaps even to Toto`s "Rosanna" as heard with the countrified smoothness of "Half Moon".

Whilst tail-stacking the album with mature, West Coast rhythms - see the impeccably pitched "Glad Man Singing" - Beam nevertheless also takes the time to silkily glide "Rabbit Will Run" over troubled waters and introduce a murkier groove to proceedings thanks to "Big Burned Hand" and its warped sax and talk of tattoos.

Of course, the Midwestern Gayngs collective tried this same nostalgic hand last year, only with less subtlety. Their strict diet of soft-rock and Bone Thugs `n' Harmony suffered, but only slightly, by their self-imposed 10CC constraints. Here, unwilling to be anything but himself no matter the medium, Beam finds himself flourishing under similar conditions, soulful sax solos and all (the one on "Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me" bringing to mind fellow recent 4AD signing Ariel Pink).

At its most basic, alongside session accompaniment mostly groomed from members of Califone, handling dark matters with a confident lightness of touch, and despite an impressive catalogue to date, with Kiss Each Other Clean it feels like Beam is just beginning to find his stride.

Advised downloads: "Half Moon" and "Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me".
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sammy Beams Us Up, 26 Mar 2011
By 
Stan FREDO (BORDEAUX, Aquitaine, France) - See all my reviews
This reassuringly sounds like a cross between CSN&Y, Paul Simon and John Martyn but without hitting any of said bands/acts' heights. This LP nonetheless offers good songs such as tracks 1 (uplifting), 3, 4 (picked up in France for airplay by discerning radios), 9 and 10. And, Sam Beam, please leave the funk alone. You're as funky as a bodkin.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shattered expectations, 2 Mar 2011
By 
M. R. Willams (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I wasn't expecting alot from this album. I had heard alot about Beam moving even further away for his lo-fi sound I fell in love with than he did even with Shephard's Dog. It's true - there is a large expansive big band sound on the album but somehow this doesn't destroy Beam's ethereal vocals and vision - it enhances it. The beautiful musicality of sections of this album are as evocative in their own way as the simple acoustic melodies of Beam's earlier work.

Highly recommended. Listen through twice and you'll be hooked.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great new one from bearded Texan, 14 Jun 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Kiss Each Other Clean (Audio CD)
When I first heard this album, I felt like Samuel Beam was moving too far away from his folksy roots. But after having listened to it a few more times I really started to enjoy the funky soul groove that he started to add already on "The Sheperd's dog". Most of all, like always with Iron & Wine, the songs are really, really good and get to you on several levels. So, if you ask me, it's a definite good buy!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SO AMAZED!, 21 Mar 2011
This review is from: Kiss Each Other Clean (Audio CD)
keeping this sort,heard of them for a long time but have never bought an album.
Decided to buy this as soon as it came out,AMAZING!even now its still my joint top(after buying a fair few other albums)played
album this year, love it! 'Tree by the river' is timeless like the album buy now.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great!!, 19 Mar 2011
By 
C. L. Dick - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Kiss Each Other Clean (Audio CD)
If u r a fan of iron and wine then this is a a great addition to ur collection
some tracks r better than others but still worth it
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4 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the delicacy of Sheperd's Dog, 25 Jan 2011
This review is from: Kiss Each Other Clean (Audio CD)
I hesitated to write this, but is Kiss Each Other Clean well, a little too buffed? Held up against the understated but memorable groove and lustre of Shepherd's Dog - 50 albums of all-time; ever; period; no argument, (stop bickering at the back) - this just doesn't cut it for me. That's not to say it's not a grower, or is without memorable hallmark Sam Beard moments, but it 'aint happening for me. Just a bit too saxy.

Surprisingly so too, I must add.

3 stars at most, although with dullards like Lazarus and Fake Name, it's scratching at a 2.
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