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


 » 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]


 » 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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Urgent Sea
Pretty Activity Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

May 31, 2005
Courtney Love had it pretty lucky early on. She got to work with Kim Gordon and Babes in Toyland as she made her first thumbprint/fingernail gash, Pretty On the Inside. The sound was intense, designed to make you uncomfortable, and in contrast it was starved for adoration.

Ume's The Urgent Sea sounds like Pretty On the Inside if it were given the advantage of living through the Blonde Redhead catalog. It, too, sounds like it's worked with Our Lady of Sonic Youth and the early riot grrl malcontents, but it lingers attractively as Kazu Makino would. While strangely alluring, you know any relationship with Ume would be a tumultuous one.

Beginning with "Wake," an appropriate description would be "strung-out." It squeals with the boredom of Generation X, with vocals that approach the median of Gordon and Makino, and it seethes with similar impatience. With guitar squalls also aligned with Sonic Youth, it is at first difficult to distinguish Ume from just-another-imitator, but idiosyncrasies reveal themselves with time.

Most of Ume's quirks come from diving into that formative 7 Year Bitch/Bikini Kill scene, making them far more aggressive and abrasive than their more intricate counterparts. Ume sounds threatening and rash on "Hive-Mind," even as the guitars continue in homage of Moore and Ranaldo. There's anger hiding in "Shake Down," "Manic" and "My Sweet Time" that sidetracks any of the inherent hipster cool of their forebears.

Nevertheless, when they are doing their best SY impression, Ume succeeds where others fall short: doing a very good job of mimicry, right down to the restlessness. "A Maze" sounds enough like an early b-side that it could be snuck onto a mix and left for assumption; without meticulous listening, you could trick yourself into thinking it was Sonic Youth by default.

However, there is one thing we all know that Ume may have purposely overlooked: Sonic Youth has some colossal shoes to fill, and after years of playing together their new albums are arguably as good as ever. By sounding like Sonic Youth, they invite constant comparisons, by which Ume will always, unquestionably fall short. The Urgent Sea is not a Sonic Youth album, and in perspective it's probably not even close - nor could it be - but it is different enough to be interesting and fiery enough to show sincerity, which certainly warrants credit outside the giant shadow.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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