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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
Athlete
Tourist
Astralwerks

Rating: 6.5/10 ?


September 26, 2005
Piano instrumentation, four young English guys and ballady pop music. What we have here are two forms of the word "problem": the first is a sort of equation to be solved, 'piano + lads + ballady pop = Athlete.' The other sense of the term is more toward pigeon-holing - any semi-popular piano rock bands from England will invariably hear comparisons to Coldplay or Doves or Oasis. Such a convention is not fair to Athlete because, despite some general music similarities to any of these other groups, they have a unique sound.

Tourist is an album of several footnotes. Most notably, it is the band's second full-length release on Astralwerks. The album comes fresh off almost two straight years of touring behind the group's freshman effort, Vehicles and Animals. The experience of being on the road for this amount of time is made evident through the group's second time around in the studio.

With the maturing time spent together, the members agreed to two basic enhancements for creating: to become more profound in their songwriting style, and to be more personal in their lyrical explorations. It is fairly easy to hear, even for those unaware of the group's first release, how the album could be considered an advancement; the direction of Tourist is both fun, emotional, experimental-ready and personally uplifting.

There are moments on the disc that feel as if they come on without any warning, and these are perhaps the greatest and most original parts of all. At the end of "If I Found Out" - which is otherwise a keyboard-driven soft rock ballad - a small choir section sings "Oooo…Soul!" and one of the band's four singers calls back, "I thank you/for soul/No point unless/you got soul",continually bringing it back to the theme of inner spirit. Athlete also effectively launch into breakdowns - like during the title track - and hit some sort of pop-rock, soul-derived pocket that sounds familiarly white bread and strangely soft soul, complete with string section in background. Memories to pop genre-dancers of old such as Hall & Oates come to mind; even moments of a flute jam and break beat (during "Half Light") show that the rock quartet isn't afraid to throw something a little different into the works every once in a while.

The effect of band members using albums from Flaming Lips, Massive Attack and Beck for sources of inspiration can be felt, but it sounds as if, in some small way, the group is equally influenced by Doves or the melancholic, grand idea that Coldplay brings to the table. Slow, non-tricky drum parts are conjoined by twinkling guitar riffage and plaintive piano works. Vocal melodies are catchy and string arrangements definitely catch the ear, differentiating Tourist from any other of the 2,000+ English piano pop releases.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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