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4.1 out of 5 stars15
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on July 12, 2006
The Austin-based drone-pop group American Analog Set are probably the most consistent band in pop music. Over the course of the last decade or so, they have released 6 LP's of really quite similar music. While some may dismiss this as a lack of versatility, I believe it is really quite remarkable, and a testimony to the talent of this band. Constantly re-inventing oneself (Radiohead) takes guts, talent, and fortitude, yes. But the opposite side of the coin is just as difficult. To continue making records so similar, yet unique, must be a phenomenally difficult thing. Granted, this isn't exactly the most challenging music in the world to create. But to have so many tracks released, and still sounding somewhat fresh, I must applaud their effort.

Set Free, if it must be said based on the above paragraph, is classic AmAnSet. This band is some of the best laid-back party music I've ever heard. Its also fantastic for early morning drives to work when everything seems to be moving too fast. AmAnSet has the unique ability to somewhat slow down time. I find it quite difficult to be up-tight or panicked about anything with AAS playing in the background. Life just moves to a slower beat, and one to which I like walking. The production is solid, if unassuming, and the instrumentals play their parts well to a tee, which one could expect after a decade of making this music. Tracks to surely check out are "Cool Kids Keep" and "She's Half."
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on October 3, 2005
When I think of American Analog Set, the word 'scintillating' comes to my head, as well as breezy, comforting visions of softly shimmering waves in a fall sunset (because of course, a summer sunset here is a bit too warm). It was this same feeling I got when I walked into a local coffee shop and heard a familiar, driving beat I couldn't help but nod my head to (this was before ordering the caffiene, mind you) The barista told me it was American Analog Set, and I believe they were doing a brilliant cover of Neu's "Negativland" with vibes and all! I had to go and high tailed it to my local record shop. I went and searched through the catalog, but alas, I could not find it anywhere listed. I instead found this record.

I figure they are usually a pretty good bet...I was most pleased with Know By Heart and have a few singles. Off from the start, "Set Free" starts things off with the instantly catchy "Always Wins" and then very strangely segues into the Immaculate Heart pieces. It's difficult to leave the first three tracks, I find myself replaying them (which I suppose is a bit unfair to "Cool Kids Keep"). Anyway...it's quite an outstanding album that to me has so much weight and nuance and yet still manages to sound like it's got the most natural flow.

Maybe I'm just gushing, guilty, but I tell you, it's the album's fault. Do these gentlemen a favor and at least check out the free sample mp3 on their website.
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on May 5, 2010
This is the 3rd album by AmAnSet I've bought, and I have to say, it's my favorite. This album has their most diverse collection of songs - some slow drones (JR), some acoustic (She's Half), and some straight up rockers (Green Green Grass). Their releases before this usually consist of slow tempo drones song after song - good for a quiet drive or relaxing, but I put on Set Free to sing along and rock out (a very subdued rock out). No song is too long or too short. She's Half takes my breath away every time. If you still aren't convinced, go to AmAnSet's website and you can download the demos for the whole album, which is what sold me.

I love it so much - I bought it on vinyl too!
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on October 11, 2007
I wasn't completely familiar with the "drone pop" genre until about a year ago, when I got into Broken Social Scene (and from there, older bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Portishead, Low, etc.). American Analog Set's album "Set Free" has those elements of background electronic grooves alongside acoustic instruments, and generally sounds more organic than the heavily distorted guitars of other drone pop bands. The vocalists sing at a whisper, similar to The Kings of Convenience or Sufjan Stevens. If you like any of these artists I mention, check out American Analog Set.
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on December 19, 2011
Simple&amazing. One of my favorite albums to kick back and take it easy to. Favorite songs are "Cool Kids Keep" "The Green Green Grass" "First of the four" "Frickk this, i'm leaving..." The whole thing is soooo good! Buy This album!
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on January 30, 2010
I continue to listen to almost all of these tracks months after buying the CD. That rare for me. There's always something of melodic interest, I like the mildly wry lyrics, and the studio recording is perfectly mixed. There's a studied quality to their music that might turn some folks off, but anyone who likes the mid-tempo tracks of Stereolab, for example, will likely enjoy this CD.

Its a shame that the band seems to have broken up, but this is a great final CD for them if indeed this is the last we'll hear from them.
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on March 18, 2009
Amanset (American Analog Set) is a hidden gem of a band. This is a good CD to start with if you are interested in them. Know By Heart and From Our Living Room to Yours are the others I'd start with. I'm pretty baffled by the low-end grades this disc received. I really like it. It works as background, but it more than holds up to active listening. These guys are different and fun. Mellow and chill, but with some edge.
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on January 5, 2008
"Mellow, quietly gleaming songs" sounds good. That's what AMG says about these guys. Kinda like Luna with a bit more Southern twang. Kinda like a cool breeze... okay, kidding. Good musicians. Good songs. "Immaculate Heart 2" and "Born on the Cusp" will make you happy. "Promise of Love" also good album, especially the propulsive "Hard to Find."
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on May 15, 2006
I've been a fan of AAS since their first record, and one of the criticisms that's haunted them is that they make the same record over and over. This is not quite true, but Andrew Kenny & co. make such gorgeous music that I for one wouldn't mind if they'd keep making the same record forever. This is apparently not to be, and this is supposedly the last recording they're planning to make after over 10 years as a band.

Whatever the critics say, I can put just about any AAS disc on for nearly any crowd and still get the same positive reaction - despite their unusual and distinct sound, they're easy to "get" right away, which makes it more surprising that they're not more popular.

The basis of their sound is that chugging, percussive strumming and close-miked drums, whispering vocals and keyboards. It's something like a really laid-back Sweet Jane Velvet Underground sound, with the emphasis on hypnotic repetition and drone with an overlay of gorgeous melodies that draw you in - like some weird hybrid stoner pop easy listening music (?). It's quiet but intense, and dark without ever becoming gloomy - the rhythms are always too propulsive for that.

So where does Set Free rank in their output? I'd say it's a half-step below their amazing last two records, Know By Heart (my favorite) and Promise of Love - which is to say that it's better than 99% of the stuff out there. I don't think you could go wrong with any of their records, but Know By Heart is probably the most accessible place to start. Set Free or Promise of Love would be a tie for second place - chances are you'll end up buying a bunch of them once you've heard one.
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on August 11, 2014
I was a little bummed out that it was warped.
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