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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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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
South San Gabriel
The Carlton Chronicles: Not Until The Operation's Through
Misra Records

Rating: 5/10 ?

April 5, 2005
Very few records begin with the strongest track. I can think of Massive Attack's Protection and Brian Eno's Here Come The Warm Jets, but those are strong albums that begin with what I feel is the strongest song of the bunch - I'd be willing to listen to an argument in favor of "Weather Storm" over "Protection" any day.

But, while South San Gabriel's The Carlton Chronicles: Not Until The Operation's Through begins with its best song, the rest of the tracks are not particularly memorable. "Charred Resentment The Same" is an epic introduction to a less-than-epic CD, with Will Johnson's fragile voice gliding over doleful acoustic chords. The occasional backup vocal adds the slightest touch of drama, creating the finest moment on the album.

Combing through my collection of CDs and even my dusty minidiscs, I couldn't find any albums quite like this - either the first track is just as mediocre as the rest of the album, or there isn't quite as much of a drop off after the first 4 minutes. I began to doubt my collection, feeling it was missing this quaint species, until I realized that I had probably owned CDs like this at some point, only to sell them or give them away. Albums that start with a bang and end with a whimper don't last long on my already-full iPod.

South San Gabriel's take on slow-mo pop a la Califone has a few strikes against it going in: The Carlton Chronicles: Not Until The Operation's Through is a wretched name for anything, and especially for an album dedicated to an ailing cat. Granted, I wouldn't have known about the feline motif had I not read the press kit as the lyrics are difficult to discern, but just because you make airy acoustic pop doesn't give you license to sing about a sick cat on more than one track.

And yet, for all of these shortcomings, The Carlton Chronicles slowly grows on you. Getting past the gap between the first track and the rest of the album is tough to surmount, as is the whole cat thing, but once you get over these bumps the CD unfolds some gems; the lethargic downbeat on "Affection's The Pay," the strings on "This Rookie Runs" and the slide guitar on "I Am Six Pounds of Dynamite" won't grab you at first, but after several listens their elegance shines through.

I can't speak of the shelf life of an album with a terrible name and a strange theme, but if you are patient enough to stick with The Carlton Chronicles, your persistence will be paid off with an album that isn't afraid to be average at best.

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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