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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
Celebration
Celebration
4AD

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


January 26, 2006
If you were expecting cake, you're going to be disappointed. This isn't that kind of Celebration. In truth, it's more of a black ceremony, where goth-influenced post-punk mingles with voodoo or the occult. Enter the dark, mysterious world of Celebration's self-titled debut and you feel as if you've stumbled upon a meeting in the woods of true believers gone mad, cultists whose eyes roll back in their heads while chanting wild incantations. Scared and ignorant of their customs, you slink away, hoping no one noticed you because if they did, it might be you whose blood is let, not that of some animal.

Not surprisingly, Celebration is from Baltimore, the home of Edgar Allen Poe. Formerly of Lovelife and Jaks, singer and percussionist Katrina Ford and her multi-instrumentalist husband, Sean Antanaitis, seem to have channeled Poe's tortured soul on this freneticly paced, but often gorgeous and magical, record. Teaming with blustery drummer David Bergander, Ford and Antanaitis conjure up the ghosts of Souxsie and The Banshees and the Birthday Party, while working up a cold, sweaty dance-punk groove that bears some resemblance to Hot Hot Heat.

Oddly theatrical, Celebration's sound revolves around the synergy between Antanaitis' smoggy organ, classical piano and watery electric keyboards, and something called a guitorgan. This creation allows Antanaitis to push electric guitar sounds through an analog organ tone generator, as well as more conventional pickups. In the slightly skewed triple play of "Foxes," "New Skin" and "China" you hear wrist-slashing guitar chords and tangled, off-kilter phrasing, and there are short bursts of guitar in the starry, cabaret waltz of "Diamonds." But it's the expansive, night-sky atmospherics produced by Antanaitis that gives Celebration its sense of wonder and reverie. The brackish, shimmering beauty of "Holiday" and "Lost Souls" bears this out, as does the tension between huffing Hammond organ and irridescent keys in the haunting "Ancient Animals."

Working in concert, Antanaitis and Bergander create strange, stuttering dance rhythms - Bergander with his fluid, stampeding drum fills and Antanaitis with his percussive organ beating. And you do feel compelled by them to move, but only in the same way a marionette does. Forgive the potentially insulting analogy, but Celebration is like a pow-wow for the undead. The atmosphere is charged with powerful energy and otherworldly pyrotechnics.

And it's Ford who raises the corpses from their graves with a uniquely androgynous vocal performance that sends chills down your spine. She sounds like the bastard child of Robert Smith and Karen O or P.J. Harvey, and lets loose frightening whoops and moans and other hysterical emissions that make you question her state of mind. Ford intentionally set out to make her voice as manly as possible, as she says in press literature accompanying Celebration. She accomplishes that and more, artfully reflecting the inner turmoil of sinners and the worry of saints with the emotion of a blues singer who's been to the crossroads and back. In the propulsive, combustible single "War," she defiantly yells, "Got. More. Guns. Than. Anybody," and you give her a wide berth, but she's more vulnerable in "Holiday" when she confesses, "For this loss, Oh Lord I paid the costů for this pain, my gentle soul remains away on some paid holiday."

Celebration is pure ecstasy, a sexual, spellbinding listen that acts on you physically. It dances, but not with gaity. Embedded in its lyrics is fear - fear of the unknown, fear of reprisal in the afterlife, fear of the evil in men's hearts - and that makes Celebration a somewhat somber affair. Still, it crackles with punk electricity, delivering volts of body-shocking rhythms while enveloping you in gloom and diamond-like sparkles that shine through the mists. Now go and never speak of this place again.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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