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LITERATURE

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

MUSIC

 » 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]

MUSIC

 » 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
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Hanalei
We Are All Natural Disasters
Thick Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


January 20, 2005
Through the late night airwaves of a dusty, vintage radio device or the polished Internet, we can hear America snoring. This mermaid sound is usually charming, but rather obsolete most of the time. Even this year's reinvention of folk music, at one point, turned into a silent wave of cast-off junk and eventually a swansong luminary, which makes this new folk impossible to bear in the months to come. From the Charalambides and Devendra Banhart to The Sunburned Hand of the Man, there's plenty of stuff to know but most bands from this aesthetical slot sound pretty much the same.

Let's put a silly myth to bed, shall we? Contrary to what most critics say, always willing to praise The Milk-Eyed Mender, Joanna Newsom's debut record on Drag City, she has the voice of a pregnant canary. In fact, no elf-like wannabe surpasses Willard Grant Conspiracy's take on folk-noir or even The Silver Jews' puissant lyrics. And the world moves on, constantly giving us reasons to believe in contemporary music, but always assuring the non-aligned that, as comforting as an old pair of trousers, the old-school roster of folk prevails.

Hanalei is right in the middle of young achievers like Banhart and Newsom, and the ever-present muses of slowly driven music. Coming from the post-punk band The Ghost - not to be mistaken for the Japanese psychedelic collective of the same name - Brian Moss creates a record of what he describes as laptop folk. We Are All Natural Disasters, with a great title and better artwork, is a smart leap out of the emo-soaked vomit of some American underground.

Recorded in Chicago by Lance Reynolds, who has worked with well-informed folks from the likes of Alkaline Trio and Braid, Hanalei's debut is so fresh it hurts. From the cadenced opener "Action Drum" all the way through numbers like "Josh and Sarah's Belated Wedding Present" and "Eulogy", it's the folk routine stitched with a gem of indie rock and Americana. But for those eager to bang their heads, there's still an injection of well-rendered electronics throughout this 48-minute journey.

We Are All Natural Disasters has a matured sound that circumnavigates the works of, say, Postal Service and creates something new. In a few words, it encapsulates a sonic cluster, which attests that you don't have to kick your heart around and evoke the holy spirits of lameness to sound captivating. Acoustic guitars and silent strings can be as rich and powerful as electric distortion telling the story of a recent break-up.

For the record, Hanalei is a town located in Kauai County, Hawaii with a total population counting no more than 500 souls. Certainly a peaceful and relaxing spot on the map - just as this debut album would have you believe. So, while you're still drooling and another bomb attack takes place in the Gaza Strip, Hanalei can be the soundtrack throughout the night. This record will not change the world, but will make yours far more acceptable.

Reviewed by Helder Gomes
Currently living on the south bank of the Tagus river, in Portugal, Helder Gomes is a working class hero. He is a journalist for the local radio station Rádio Nova Anten. In his spare time, he skates and watches many odd movies. He is in love with the French nouvelle vague, and the Danish/Swedish invasion. He writes for a number of publications, on the Internet or otherwise, notably the underground Portuguese magazine Mondo Bizarre, and the Jazz Review website. He is also the news collector and a staff witer for the adorable Lost at Sea. Oh, and there is also the Coffee Breakz radio show that he tries to host every Saturday.

See other reviews by Helder Gomes

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