» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Thinking Fireplace
Inner Flight Records

Rating: 5/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Putois' Bob Mason repeats himself. A lot. It's not that he's forgetful. It's just that he doesn't have much to say on The Thinking Fireplace. A sensitive, overwrought singer-songwriter whose reverb-soaked vocals and rich, complex acoustic guitar textures probably go over well with the folkies at the coffeehouse, Mason writes mawkishly sad songs with lyrics so predictable and insipid they're almost laughable. There is not much to say, except that at least his heart is in the right place.

It's a good time for a protest music revival. Too bad Mason won't be leading it. The anti-war sentiment of "Wooden Floors" gets lost when you hear Mason deliver lines like "We gotta stop killing ourselves" and "I looked up at the sky and asked God, 'Why?' and there was no answer/ But I saw the sunrise and it was beautiful." Worse yet is the paint-by-number revenge song "When I Get My Gun." Every line of this song you've heard before. "When I get my gun, you'd better run" is repeated twice for chilling effect. Not surprisingly, it doesn't work, it's not chilling. He knows "all the bad things you've done" and "you can try and hide" but of course, "he's going to find you and blow you away" because "you've messed with the wrong guy this time." Did O.J. write that? Name an old blues man, any old blues man. Any of their estates could sue Mason for plagiarism.

Here's my beef with Mason and a lot of folk songwriters: often, they'll write lyrics they feel must be sung over and over again, ad nauseum, as if the thinking behind those words is so revolutionary they have to be heard again and again to be believed. Rarely is it ever anything more than "it's cold outside" or "it gets hard, sometimes", which Mason repeats three times in "Someday I", like he's the first to ever truly see how "hard" life is. Ever see football highlights where the color commentator runs the play backwards and forwards to make his point, scribbling arrows on the teleprompter to point out the obvious? Mason and his ilk do the same thing, and say virtually nothing. What's unfortunate is some of the music on The Thinking Fireplace is really quite haunting and beautiful, even if the strummed guitar chords all sound the same after a while. "Rise And Shine" blends Mason's echoing vocals to stunning effect and there are soaring melodies, like that of "Stars And Garbage", that fly on wings of... sorry, got carried away there for a second.

The Thinking Fireplace is one of two records Putois was scheduled to release in 2003. The other, entitled Race Car Typewriter, was supposed to be a collection of ambient experiments. Hate to say it, but I hope it's entirely instrumental.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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