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 » 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
Deerhoof
The Runners Four
Kill Rock Stars

Rating: 9.5/10 ?


November 3, 2005
Way back in 2004, Deerhoof opened for Wilco on their A Ghost Is Born tour and played blistering, mostly-Milk Man sets that jarred every tooth from coast to coast. Providing a fine accompaniment to the newly noisy Wilco sound, Tweedy thanked Deerhoof and commented that they were the best band around. Sure, this is a typical remark made by headliners to openers, but Tweedy was right. Constantly touring, constantly reinventing their music and pushing forward, releasing albums worth of material for free online, updating a Myspace page with funny little on-the-road stories for God's sake - you
couldn't ask any more from a band. Deerhoof keep it real.

And so, from the best band around circa '04-'05 comes one of the best albums of the year. The Runners Four, like Milk Man before it, marks a new direction for the San Fran quartet that won't sit still; it's even noticeably different from The Green Cosmos EP, released just this summer.

It's difficult to describe the differences. There's no doubt that the new album is indeed new, but I can't really say how. In all, I think the album is more melodious than Deerhoof's previous releases. The staccato guitar assaults of Milk Man have been replaced by smoother - yet just as bizarre - noises. "Chatterboxes" opens the disc with discordant taps, only to dissipate into a breathy, mild hum. Likewise, "Twin Killers" draws attention to its alien, subdued feel with whistles and way up high pitches. The highlight of the track, though, is Satomi's voice; it's confident and mature as never before.

Still, don't expect to find standard song structures anywhere on this album. More than anything, the songs seem to be arrangements of coda sections that sometimes fit together and sometimes don't. When they do, you get songs like "O'Malley, Former Underdog" which keeps a similar theme throughout; when they don't, you get "Siriustar," a three-movement/minute epic. Part of what makes Deerhoof great is their ability to throw everything together and somehow end up with great songs - no other band comes close to their (dis)assembly skills.

Add to this appeal the fact that Deerhoof maintain their original sound throughout The Runners Four; they seem unaffected by fads, phases and marketability. Though they are receiving a fair amount of due praise these days, it's evident that they are making the music they want to make.

"Spirit Ditties Of No Tone" is one of the best songs on the CD, and acts as the centerpiece of The Runners Four. Satomi's chorus, "Montage fragment ditties of no tone," could be a criticism of today's music scene, or it could just as well be Deerhoof's mission statement. Beginning with a spooky little guitar number, the track quickly evolves into a funky, poppy sing along, builds steam for about 60 seconds, then cuts short to finish with a barely audible drone.

Other tracks dabble in the cacophony of previous releases, but never in a cumbersome or redundant way. "Lightning Rod, Run" has a hints of "Milking" and "Byun," "News From A Bird" is a saner version of "Dog On The Sidewalk." Rather than break the consistency of the new material, these likenesses serve only to remind where Deerhoof have already left their mark.

The Runners Four is a satisfying album through and through. It's interesting, unique, weird and inviting. Because of its user-friendlier pretty/crazy ratio, the album is sure to win over fans who have never heard of Deerhoof before, and indeed it's a good place to start. Whereas Milk Man and Apple O' raised eyebrows and collected cult followers, The Runners Four forever secures Deerhoof's place in the indie rock canon. The best band in the world has done it again.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown

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