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The New Year

Hey, remember Bedhead? If you don't, they were a really terrific rock band from Dallas who put out fine records throughout the '90s -- records that didn't try to wow you with a lot of bells and whistles, instead simply reveling in the pleasure of calm, sophisticated guitar rock. The architects of Bedhead's sound were the brothers Kadane, Matt and Bubba, a couple of boys who refused to be separated from their guitars or each other while growing up in Wichita Falls, Texas. After Bedhead's 1998 breakup, the Kadanes went on playing together, as they always have, and soon recruited a couple of friends -- drummer Chris Brokaw from Codeine and Come and bassist Mike Donofrio from Saturnine -- to form a new band, which they dubbed The New Year.

It sounds much like Bedhead, which is a really, really good thing. In fact, the Kadane brothers would have recorded these songs as the fourth Bedhead album, had the band stayed together. If The Velvet Underground had grown up in Austin in the middle of the lackadaisical '90s indie rock scene, their third album (the quiet, self-titled one) might have sounded a bit like this. In other words, the music is spare, and often reflective, but it's still very much rock and roll; guitars play a big role and the band's meditative, intricate compositions occasionally build to brief bursts of sound. But it's never noise for noise's sake, it's always carefully orchestrated, intelligent, and often truly beautiful.

The New Year recorded its first album, Newness Ends (featuring "Gasoline"), with Steve Albini in Chicago in July 2000 and released it the following year. After a three-year interval, the Kadanes and Co. extended their fixation on finales with annother understated, laconically pretty affair titled The End Is Near. Matt Kadane's wry introversion has never been more in effect, lending the album a watery-eyed journalistic flavor akin to Elliott Smith, but those bubbling guitars with their occasional small controlled explosions will feel like a security blanket to anyone who adored the Bedhead of yore.