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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 March 2013
This band were recommended to me by the Pocket Hipster App, and I have been enjoying their double album for a while now. The songs are somewhere between the blissed out instrumentals of bands like Album Leaf and more commercial pop fare. The songs all hang together, but are varied enough not to sound like they are all inferior variations of the same song. The vocals are not to the front of the mix, but are audible and intriguingly cryptic.

There is a slightly sixties sensibility about the variety of instruments, and an openness to experiment in how the songs are put together. Wisely they have chosen to include a mix of tempos, so a few mid tempo numbers can be followed by something more urgent. Of the two albums, Microcastle is probably the stronger, but at this price, getting the pair is a no brainer. If you like this, then the EP Rainwater Cassette Exchange will also appeal.

Although not as edgy as some of the 4AD label roster, this is a well put together pair of records that are a pleasure to listen to.

The CD case is standard size, with a slightly fiddly fold out arrangement that lets you access the two CDs. I have uploaded a few photos, just in case it is a deal breaker for anyone.
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on 27 October 2017
Great vinyl release, from the gate-fold artwork to the sound quality. The second record Weird Era Cont. is every bit as good as Microcastle, possibly even better, sounding especially good on vinyl. Amazing!
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on 3 December 2009
Excellent cd which I bought after some of the music magazines raved about the group. The main man is also responsible for Atlas Sound also critically acclaimed but I have not got around to exploring them. I have had this in my car for months now and it constantly engages me. It is most definately not some sonic distortion which some groups class as art but has commercial appeal as well. Good value album and not the norm.
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on 19 November 2017
Ons of the lessen Deerhunter’sCDs, but still well worth listening to.
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on 10 December 2016
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on 2 February 2009
To tar Deerhunter with the label `easy listening' is to do them a grand injustice. The album however does sound very lazy, but in an entirely great way, like it was somehow recorded with all the switches only turned up to nine. It sounds summery and laces dreamy, peculiar qualities through that fuzzy, warm haze.

Grandaddy's The Sophtware Slump is an immediate point of reference, as is The Shins entire catalogue. The tracks often seem to have an innate rhythm, and this is exacerbated in `Agoraphobia' by assonatic vocals, which elsewhere are gently distorted to further recall alt. heroes Grandaddy.

These influences point the album toward its natural hunting grounds of pop, but a dark shimmer lurks in the shadows that can only be accredited to the shoe-gazing fraternity, and it allows the album's insular qualities to appear. Also in the shadows, is Bradford Cox' tendency to embrace the musical anecdote, `Green Jacket' leaves the path well trodden and enters `aside' country. This murky domain of the interlude and skit, here hosts a mid-section of tracks, rather than songs, which make the album difficult to love yet compliment the whole seamlessly, the evocative spoken sample in `Saved By Old Times' seems irrelevant yet wholly congruous.

This understated record matures with each listen and repays dedicated relistening in full. As such, it is not an immediate album, which should serve as praise enough, as good records very rarely are.

Cox was a busy boy in 2008, first releasing Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel under the name of Atlas Sound, and this at the end of the year, and his output rightly garnered much positive attention. Its only detraction is that is not a little more heavyweight, not quite punchy nor quirky enough to warrant the use of `classic'. The album like the sound is best summed up by being nine out of ten, but despite that missing tenth, what has been achieved is a joy to share - easy and rewarding listening therefore.
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on 21 August 2016
Don't read the 2 star reviews.... This is one of the greatest albums that 4AD has ever released. Hypnotic and pop tastic, like a cross breed of the flaming lips greatest moments mixed with the drive of the best Strokes material... Essential listening.
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on 19 June 2009
effectvely youre getting 2 CD's for the price of one, and although Wierd Era isnt as immediate, after a few listens, you'll be sucked in.. VHS Dream and Backspace Century imo are 2 of the best songs out of the whole lot and fully represent Deerhunter's fuzzed out pop psych.

Microcastles has more of the Pixies/Pavement feel to it in songs like 'Never Stops' and 'Nothing Ever Happens' and sounds great on first listen, the melodies stick in your head like a blissful dream, and having bought this 2 months ago, i still play both CD's regularly, cant recommend it enough
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on 31 December 2008
When did 4AD suddenly get its act together? It appeared to be a label living on its (admittedly very fine) history, bereft of new talent, endlessly re-issuing the same Pixies/Muses/Cocteaus material. Then all of a sudden a roster that includes many of 2008's finest; Bon Iver, TV On The Radio, Dept of Eagles and Deerhunter amongst others, signals a welcome renaissance.

Deerhunter's third album has been much anticipated by the US indie media, after the plaudits received for Cryptograms, their previous 2007 album. Microcastles is, overall, worth the wait. Deerhunter are on Kranky in the US but licensed to 4AD in the UK and their music is frequently reminiscent of the sound of both labels; there are fuzzy ambient swathes but there is also a real hazy pop sensibility at work, particularly on 'Nothing Ever Happens' and 'Never Stop'. Comparisons with fellow 4AD alumni such as the Breeders, Ultra-Vivid Scene and even A.R.Kane are valid.

Although it's not mentioned in the Amazon blurb above, Microcastles was initially issued with (and may well still include) an entire bonus album, Weird Era Count. The story goes that, following the leaking of Microcastles onto the internet, the band wanted to reward those fans who purchased it upon release, so recorded Weird Era Count, which was itself subsequently leaked onto the 'net. The bonus disc is impressive; not your usual collection of out-takes and unfinished ideas from the studio floor (In Rainbows CD2 anyone?).

For those wanting to hear more, the 4AD site is at the time of writing (December 2008) offering a free MP3 of album highlight 'Nothing Ever Happens'. Those wanting more of the same should definitely hear second album 'Cryptograms' as well as front-man Bradford Cox's 'Atlas Sound' album, also released on 4AD this year.

Overall I'd recommend Microcastles; the album does sag a little in the middle and the cover art is shockingly poor (worst 4AD sleeve ever?), but it certainly deserves it's place in my end of 2008 `Best of..." list.
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on 17 April 2009
Take this review as a very personal point of view. I don't generally like writing negative reviews, but when a record is over-over-over-hyped it's good to have someone with a different perspective I had quite a few hopes for this album. It has been described with many superlatives both from the 'official' press, the indie-forums and the customers of online shops. Meine gott. This is the level contemporary indie listeners have come to... Album of the year???? How Sad. The good: a consistent mood (depression) is carried 'consistently' from beginning to end, with only slight euphoric-ish surges of instrumental vitality (i.e. the rather good "Microcastle" and "Nothing Ever Happened"). The vocals keep this mood steady, showing some kind of style awareness. There's a consistent (if feeble) production, kind of watery and airy, ethereal, loads of reverb, etc., which creates a specific atmosphere. The Bad: I think the vocals are rather bad, boring and .. ok, depressing! Melody-wise this so called 'pop' album is very poor. Please attend a few open mics in your city and become aware of how many people out there can write excellent pop hooks and great songs. Probably you can write better songs than the ones on here. Give it a go if you haven't tried yet! :) Plus, I have to add...There's nothing here of the sheer sonic brilliance of MBV, nothing of the pop urgency of early JMC or Ride, nothing of the psychological depth of Slowdive or of the psychedelic bliss of Spacemen 3. It kind of sounds like early Radiohead, stuck in a hospital bed covering Stereolab. And not in a good way! ..As the musicianship here seems rather poor. It makes me kind of think that some indie-critics have never listened to anything before Arcade Fire or maybe want to keep friends with big-indie labels? Maybe I'm sounding a bit too cynical, and I suppose that younger listeners may find this album quite nice, simply because they may not know "Playing With Fire" or "Isn't Anything". Actually, now that I mention these albums I see what I feel it's missing, and that's probably why I find it undeserving of great praise: Even in the most pop or melodic songs there's no sense of liveliness here. I mean, there are loads of depressive albums in which you can still sense a love of life and musical verve (take any Lisa Germano record!), but Deerunter's self-indulgence is probably a bit too much for me.
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