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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
Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse
Dark Night of the Soul
self-released

Rating: 8.9/10 ?


July 30, 2009
Perhaps the problem with recent music is that the attention to detail just isn't there. And while songwriting has varied (slightly) in quality over the course of Mark Linkous' career, attention to detail has never been a flaw for the Sparklehorse mastermind. The "getting to know you" vibe of the Sparklemouse (Dangerhorse?) collaboration, 2006's Dreamt for Lightyears in the Belly of a Mountain may have failed to astound, but the recent repairing of Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse, Dark Night of the Soul, a high-concept project involving David Lynch and a shady release schedule, scores.

The main attraction for nonbelievers will be the slew of A-list vocalists stepping in for Linkous's sleepy croon, but despite the distinctive voices of Wayne Coyne, Frank Black or Iggy Pop, many of the tracks match the distinctive Neil Young-on-Quaaludes temperament of Linkous himself. The songs are all carefully orchestrated with so much going on that even the basic structure and lack of pulled punches, songs like "Just War" (expertly sung by Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys, and an early favorite for the year) astound on sheer know-how the way a Phil Spector-produced tune rarely strays from formula, but still outclasss the competition.

Is it the ambitious instrumentation? Perhaps. The mock-orchestral flourishes, the carefully placed samples (so carefully that it's hard to tell what balking label BMG is taking issue with?) and the slowhanded grace with which each composition moves are all assistants in making this a career highlight for all involved. The only drawbacks are in the way that some of the vocalists handle their duties. Julian Casablancas sounds out of his league on "Little Girl," whose snappy beat and Strokes-like guitars make choosing him seem like a great idea, but he handles the role stiffly and without nuance. Sandwiched between Frank Black's abrasive"Angel's Harp" and Jason Lytle of Grandaddy's (finally an album that puts Wayne Coyne and Jason Lytle together!) first entry of two, "Jaykub" you barely have time to notice the insufficiency. Black's song will divide, but in the right mood, it hits the same buttons as Tom Waits' guest vocal on Sparklehorse's similar "Dog Door".

It's a shame if Dark Night of the Soul ends up relegated to a cult souvenir; it's truly exceptional as music. Rivaling the orchestral composition of works like Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin or Jim O'Rourke's Eureka, with more than enough of its own personality to make those references mere talking points, Dark Night of the Soul is a touchstone example of a sum greater than it parts.

Reviewed by Cory Tendering
No biographical information is currently available.

See other reviews by Cory Tendering

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