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No Slack 

Wednesday, Oct 17 2007
New York City's IFC Center recently held a two-week retrospective of "mumblecore," a strain of indie flicks that updates the outsider ennui of Slacker for the modern era. (For one thing, there are a lot more cell phones.) Two of the movies, Mutual Appreciation and Funny Ha Ha, featured Bishop Allen co-leaders Justin Rice and Christian Rudder, and their deadpan, hangdog performances might lead you to think the band would be equally mushmouthed and lost. But no. The Brooklyn-based outfit's new disc,

The Broken String, is crystalline and clear, full of cleverly detailed stanzas (a slew of debutantes named Jennifer, the "snippy snap of wild dogs") and wonderfully full arrangements (replete with trumpet, ukulele, and hand claps). Rice's voice is equally surefooted, whether shouting in his best Ira Kaplan howl or crooning in a cigarette-strained Will Oldham-y tone. And then there's "The News from Your Bed," a cheery, Sufjan Stevens–esque charmer that's as anti-isolation as you can get. Compared to their mumblecore performances, the boys of Bishop Allen are practically Up with People, offering a declarative, feel-good record worth shouting about.

Bishop Allen plays with John Vanderslice.
Sat., Oct. 20, 9 p.m., 2007

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Dan Strachota


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