» 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
An Automotive
An Automotive
Six Gun Lover

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
There are very few places where the principle of diminishing returns is as self-evident as it is in music. Once a sound has been explored, a combination of instruments tested, electronic and organic elements intertwined, then no matter how effectively another group comes along and assembles the mix the sound will never be as intriguing as your first experience with it.

For this, I blame Chicago, and its surrounding areas of course. The high profile music scene there has been the forbearer of bands that consist of an amalgam of jazzy guitar work, ardent drumming, and attention deterring sampling, which makes it hard for a band like An Automotive, who have emerged with a respectable self-titled debut record, to get any recognition.

For a couple of guys who have done their time in the music pen (Frank Hryniewicz attended the Berkley School of Music) and other bands such as Sidekick Kato, Joan of Arc, Ghosts n Vodka, and the Firebird Band, An Automotive's self-titled debut ain't too shabby. Album opener "All Flint and Steel, but No Spark" is sure to get the heads bobbing and the toes tapping as the groovy Casio drum loop, keyboards, live percussion and melodic guitar work add up to a pretty captivating goulash. Following closely on the opening tracks heels, "Pop Wasteland" begins with some comically corny melodies, but they are quickly washed asunder by the dynamic drumming and lithesome guitar work, turning the song into quite a rocker before its finish. On the whole, the album never ventures too far from its sense of humor, but it keeps the album lively and engaging. Waxing nostalgic for a moment, I have trouble not being able to have a good time listening to a song like "Whatever Happened to Galveston Island" which would have made a marvelous soundtrack to that bonus level in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

The album is not all upbeat finger-snappers and hip-shakers though. Several songs, such as "Ballad of Julee Cruise" which plods along on an ostinato bass line and reverbed guitar chords and whose samples seem to echo in the distance as if they originated from the other end of a subway tunnel, weigh down the mood of the album, causing the middle portion to lag in interest considerably.

Though much of the album is primarily instrumental, a few tracks feature vocals, but end up having mixed results. The aforementioned "All Flint and Steel, but No Spark" and particularly "Someone's the Subject", which would otherwise be the tune that crashes the center of the album through the floor, benefit from the singing. But then again, there are songs like "Communal Lobe", a track that otherwise has an intriguingly innate sense of flow, and "The Anchor" whose raspy whine diminishes the overall effect of the songs.

As it stands, I feel like I lose a little bit of affection for this record upon every listen, and finding other bands, especially in the Chi-town area, that have a similar aesthetic would be about as difficult as finding hay in a haystack. If I had to venture one guess at the cause of my waning interested, I would probably point to the lighthearted nature of many of the songs which manages to provide the initial attraction, but wears down towards the tiresome end of the scale after repeated listening. Now that I think about it, maybe it's not Chicago's fault, and if that is the case, that leaves only one culprit who is not above reproach. Damn you diminishing returns, my enjoyment of everything in life has been ruined by your inescapable principle!

Reviewed by Mark Skipper
Mark Skipper currently resides in Nashville, TN where he can be found skipping shows, drinking Guinness, making bad home recordings, and complaining about how much music sucks these days.

See other reviews by Mark Skipper



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