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Slow Wonder

31 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 8, 2004
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Editorial Reviews


"Newman makes pop so informed by pop royalty that he himself should wear a crown of jewels" -- The Stranger

1. Miracle Drug
2. Drink To Me, Babe, Then
3. On The Table
4. Most Of Us Prizefighters
5. The Battle For The Straight Time
6. Secretarial
7. Come Crash
8. Better Than Most
9. The Cloud Prayer
10. The Town Halo
11. 35 In The Shade

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 8, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Matador Records
  • ASIN: B0001ZMCWS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,219 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Benz on June 13, 2006
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.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. T. Winsor on August 31, 2004
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Stodder on July 26, 2006
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Fahey on June 9, 2004
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Greg Brady on July 11, 2005
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...
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