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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
Pete Yorn
Nightcrawler
Columbia

Rating: 5.5/10 ?


September 8, 2006
The year was 2002, the place a dynamo of a club in Tempe, Arizona called Nita's Hideaway. Inside the joint was perfectly divey and hip enough to attract bands that hadn't quite broke yet but were getting close. When the club did book bigger names (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, et cetera), they would convert their sizeable parking lot into a fantastic outdoor venue. It was in an industrial part of town and there was a surreal view of a giant electric station that was lit up like a shrine to non-sustainable power. The stage was prominent, the sound huge, the but-it's-a-dry-heat Arizona weather great for lots of cold beer under the night sky.

Nita's was the setting a few years back when a lone gentleman trotted onto the stage, acoustic guitar in hand. Without saying a word he launched into a cover of Bruce Springsteen's masterpiece "Atlantic City." He only played half of it before leading into one of his originals, but he had me - and everyone else in the sold-out lot - captivated. The singer was another Jersey boy named Pete Yorn and he was touring to support his debut album MusicForTheMorningAfter. Unfortunately Nita's is no longer there, and neither is that version of Pete Yorn. It is a lot easier to explain what happened to Nita's (permit problems) than to ponder where Pete went.

Yorn's debut was chock full of singer-songwriter gems. It developed nicely over the entire length, working in just enough classic rock sound with a slight step toward a more independent vein. It has aged well and I still find it a satisfying listen to this day. The slip came on Yorn's sophomore output, Day I Forgot. On that record Yorn lost some of his character and passion, and began the move toward more straight-ahead songwriting; soulful compositions like "Lose You" were nowhere to be found. It now appears that on his third release, Nightcrawler, Yorn has fully abandoned any reckless abandon he might have had and has completed the transformation to tame journeyman.

Nightcrawler is essentially a sequence of fourteen overproduced songs that bleed into one another. Mind you these are not bad songs; Yorn can still write a decent hook and his rich voice is always welcome. But there is an overwhelming feeling that he is merely going through the motions. Even the subject matter of most tracks is fairly sterile, using detached metaphors to describe love and any number of social ills. The raw confessional nature of the Yorn of yore is sorely missed. The only true break comes midway, during a cover of Warren Zevon's sardonic "Spendid Isolation," and the track jumps out both lyrically and musically, seemingly out of place. As for the rest, it's a mixture of acoustic ballads, sincere rockers and even the techno-tinged "Georgie Boy," which would be more comfortable on a Postal Service record. Employing Dave Grohl to guest on drums and the Dixie Chicks to provide backing vocals doesn't do much to create diversity, and in fact it almost feels gratuitous.

The end result of Nightcrawler depends upon through which light it is viewed. As an album of easy listening rock and roll, bordering dangerously close to Adult Contemporary, it works just fine. No matter how much Pete Yorn has slid from his debut heights he is still above many of his fellow singer-songwriters. But measured against his early promise of troubadour-in-waiting it's another head scratcher. New Jersey will never produce another Boss, but four years ago I saw a guy who was at least brash enough to cover the great one, as a show opener no less. For whatever reasons Yorn has now found his comfort zone as a middle manager musician for conglomerate Sony/Columbia. Perhaps one day he will stumble into a dive bar, axe in hand, and launch into "Simonize." I'd love to be there.

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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