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Extended Play: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Bill Callahan

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Isbell400_l

Isbell400_l

Welcome to Extended Play, a weekly feature here on the Music Mix wherein our intrepid staffers review albums and album-related products that didn’t fit into the magazine. These reviews were not “killed.” They were just “given the opportunity to be even more special online.” And now you can stream the “Download This” selections while you are reading the reviews! Holy french fries, Mixers!

This week: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit; Bill Callahan, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle

addCredit(“Allison V. Smith”)

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Rock (Lightning Rod)

There’s a sadness running through the thick Muscle Shoals sound of the former Drive-By Trucker’s second solo effort. This is a record made for exquisite wallowing: in the horns of “No Choice in the Matter,” the car-crash guitars of “Soldiers Get Strange.” Sung in his world-weary voice, Isbell’s tales of broken people linger, and when the thundering, Explosions in the Sky-worthy outro of closer “Last Song I Will Write” drops into silence, it’s hopeless to do anything but push play again. A –Whitney Pastorek
Download This: “No Choice in the Matter”

Bill Callahan
Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle
Folk-Rock (Drag City)

Callahan’s second album since shedding his Smog alias is full of weird words, from that grammatically-perplexing title on out. Mostly he intones mystical poetry about animals, letting his commanding baritone fall softly against an ever-changing chamber-pop backdrop. As the string section swoons, then stabs, behind him, don’t spend too much time trying to figure out what he’s talking about. Just be glad you’ve found such an enthralling maze to get lost in. A –Simon Vozick-Levinson
Download This: “Eid Ma Clack Shaw”

More from EW’s Music Mix:
Phil Spector: What’s your verdict?
Wilco’s new DVD: An exclusive full-song clip
Will you buy the new Beatles remasters?
Bob Dylan’s free single: Snap judgment
Neil Young Archives: They’re really coming this summer

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