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Elliott Smith 

New Moon (Kill Rock Stars)

New Moon is a 24-track collection of rarities recorded over the two years preceding the release of 1997's Either/Or, Elliott Smith's crowning achievement. Most of these songs are among the singer-songwriter's best work. Take "All Cleaned Out," where Smith encapsulates his strife through the second person, a trick he loved using: "You toss the empty beer/Not really as composed as you appear/Icicle inside/Wearing clothes that clash/Wondering is this treasure, is this trash?" Smith recorded the song at Portland, Oregon's Jackpot! Recording Studio, owned by Larry Crane, the Smith archivist who put together New Moon's exceptionally clean mix.

However, this double-disc set lacks the unified vision of 2004's From a Basement on the Hill, another posthumous album that Smith intended to release before allegedly committing suicide in 2003 (he was only 34). But really, how can you complain when there's a version of "Miss Misery" with different lyrics? "I'll fake it through the day somehow/ With Johnny Walker Red/And a cold pain behind my eyes/That shoots back through my head."

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