Cranes Live in Italy

The Cranes are masters at creating atmosphere and this disc shows them bringing the ethereality of their studio work from stage to CD. Tunes from their entire career (since 1990) were recorded on several dates on last year’s tour. The 14 songs making the cut are awash with all the luscious reverb and layers of melody that have come to signify their sound. Throw this one on and you’ll imagine the stage lighting — dim and foggy — with swirls of purple and pink casting an otherworldly glow. Only the faint sound of applause breaks the womb of their fairytale sound, and front-girl Alison Shaw, with her pixie-like utterances, couldn’t possibly sound any cuter. This band has made fans with both down-tempo and faster numbers, but they chose to keep the overall mood slower and intimate. Acoustic strumming and sweeping strings are a warm contrast to the stark piano and childlike vox of Ali Shaw. Staying true to shoegazer form, the pace builds at the end of the set with crashing percussion and slide guitar, but you still get the warm fuzzies from this record. (Instinct)