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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
A Northern Chorus
The Millions Too Many
Sonic Unyon

Rating: 7.2/10 ?


April 4, 2007
The Millions Too Many's lead track is a fitful opener, serving up a taste of what the album as a whole entails with its explosive dynamic shifts, hushed vocals, austere cello and violin, and a plethora of swirling, spaced-out guitars. The track begins softly, bursts into an indie/pop orchestral wave, crashes back on itself, and then builds again. It is, as Mikel Jurgen might say, sweet.

This, the Ontarians' fourth album, is without a doubt most at home either on the headphones or with the volume knob turned at least seventy-percent of the way to 11. Although the kids from Hamilton do let things seriously unwind on tracks like "The Canadian Shield" in a way that is appreciable at any volume, a number of them, including the album's title track, are mixed too evenly to let anything stand out at conversational levels. That's one of the drawbacks to A Northern Chorus' all-or-nothing approach.

Throughout the course of The Millions Too Many things are often allowed to slow to an unfortunate crawl, such as on "Horse to Stable," where the acoustic guitar plucking and plaintive vocals are nice enough, but not really any more remarkable than the millions (too many) of other acoustic ballads heaved into the world each year. Thankfully the ensemble recovers quickly with "Remembrance Day," a gorgeous track with a perfect percussive cadence that finds Stuart Livingstone's vocal melodies beautifully balanced by Alex McMaster's cello and Erin Aurich's violin.

I hate to employ the ump-teen millionth Arcade Fire reference here, but for those eager consumers out there salivating over comparisons, the Montreal supernovas serve as a more than accurate nod for at least half of A Northern Chorus' math, with another highly touted indie juggernaut, Explosions In the Sky, filling in the second half of the equation. Those may feel like hollow comparisons, but without a doubt there is nothing more fitting than saying the Arcade Fire + Explosions In the Sky = A Northern Chorus. Actually, come to think of it, defunct space rockers Absinthe Blind (also a six-piece, three of whom now operate as Headlights) delivered something similar a few years back with their magnum opus Rings, but unfortunately for all of us that is a somewhat obscure reference.

For all of the gold star name-checking, however, the Ontario ensemble often come up a bit short. Perhaps they are simply unwilling to prop up an entire album on volume and dynamics alone and instead invest too much of themselves in a chamber-pop approach, but they do so with mixed results. I could listen to "The Canadian Shield" and "Remembrance Day" on repeat, but - especially given that there are six of them - several tracks, when referenced with those standouts, lack any real girth. A Northern Chorus can create intricate compositions to be sure, but without the cans on or the speakers rattling the windows, the more detailed tracks at times feel a little on the thin side, as if they've been ornamented to the point that they've lost some of their depth and weight. The Millions Too Many is assuredly more hits than misses, but it is far from batting a thousand.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth

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