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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
Caribou
Andorra
Merge

Rating: 9/10 ?


August 16, 2007
Thank goodness for the lone rangers of the independent music world, the geeks who worship at the alter of Do-It-Yourself for what a bland world it would be without feverish record collector and genre-amalgamator extraordinaire, James Murphy's LCD Soundsystem. Imagine life on this planet without Endtroducing, DJ Shadow's magnum opus of endless samples. And where would the Arcade Fire be sans the synergetic string arrangements of Owen Pallett, the loop happy violinist who records as Final Fantasy?

Any list of contemporary audiogeeks forging their own path of sound would also have to include Dan Snaith, the compositional blender known now as Caribou, having formerly gone by the name Manitoba before being sued for trademark infringement by ageing punk rocker Handsome "Dick" Manitoba. As the story goes, when Snaith was a young lad in the solitary Canadian environs of rural Ontario, he stole a sampler from the high school music department. His recording career, Snaith recalls, began when he was 14, "before I could drive, and living in the middle of nowhere... there weren't many options aside from practicing, playing and recording music all in complete isolation." Years later, after having earned a PhD in Mathematics at the University of London, Snaith, now a bona fide Dr., still finds time for weekly trampoline lessons. What more could possibly be added to the CV of such a renaissance man, who plainly has the Geek Cred of a Greek God?

As a solo artist Snaith has been releasing albums at a modest clip, increasingly catching the ears of critics and fans. His third full-length, 2005's The Milk of Human Kindness, properly put Caribou on the map, and the 140 shows he played worldwide helped extend an already solid fan base. Human Kindness was a highly regarded album among critics (rated 8.5 right here), but was an album a bit lacking in the emotional department. While it goes without saying that single dudes messing around with samplers have never been emotive torchbearers, things may be changing thanks in large part to some of the aforementioned artists. Owen Pallett's strings took the emo-draped skeleton of Funeral to further, fleshier heights, and LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver showed that beneath the precise technology of 2007 there is a live, beating heart. Now Caribou has responded in-kind, with the glowing and brilliant Andorra.


From the very first seconds of album lead-in "Melody Day," one is taken aback by the warmth that radiates from the myriad of instruments that Snaith recruited for Andorra. Bells chime, a flutophone whirls up scales like leaves in the wind, wild percussion keeps it all in sync, and along the way Snaith proves he is a wonderfully expressive vocalist, not simply a technologist. The following track, "Sandy," sounds like a classic Beach Boys cut, had the coast of southern California been replaced by the Arabian Sea. The haunting "After Hours" falls third, pitch-perfectly capturing the lingering states of relationships - "And you and I a spiral spinning around/ and standing near a circle on the ground/ I'll follow you/ until you wear me out" - the constant "pinging" of a distant keyboard sounds like an evocative echo from the past. It is this remarkable attention to detail, different in each track but always precise, that elevates Andorra to the headphone level of aural pleasure, and establishes the album as another feather in Snaith's credibility cap.

Nine tracks in all, Snaith truly blazes through Andorra in streak of diversity, the thirty-one flavors continuing with "She's The One," which features the vocals of fellow Canuck and Junior Boys member Jeremy Greenspan. Two tracks later, the Eastern-flavored pop nugget "Eli" is a great homage to Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles, and the closest thing I've heard to that album since it last spun on my Technics. The simple and exact keyboard notes of "Sundialing," laid over a bed of constant kick-drum and quivering flutophone, are the melodic highlight of Andorra, an album th at stretches out over its closing tracks before fading into a din of samples and wilting vocals, the familiar quintessence of Caribou.

Dan Snaith, solitary man that he is, has quickly evolved into one of the more capable and intriguing artists out there over the course of his past few albums. His recorded work, most notably The Milk of Human Kindness and now Andorra, has created a demand for live Caribou exchanges, and Snaith will venture out on the requisite tour in support of Andorra with a live four-piece band. It will no doubt be a sight when the live band's members are flitting about between an array of instruments in an attempt to capture, or at least translate, the rich tapestries of sound that Snaith so adeptly creates in the studio. The four-piece will have their work cut out for them, but if the live set sounds half as good as the studio tracks, it will be a show not-to-be-missed. The Milk of Human Kindness was one of 2005's highlights, but the Dr. of Mathematics has one-upped it with Andorra, keeping all of the earlier album's core sonic qualities while adding layers of heartfelt atmospherics to craft what is not only one of the most mesmerizing and unique albums of the year, but also one of the best.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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