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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
Shearwater
Winged Life
Misra Records

Rating: 9/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Sometimes love for a band can imitate love for a sports team. No, I'm serious. Let's use the Miami Dolphins for example. Every year you get really excited about the new season coming up, thinking to yourself, This is our year!, proclaiming your enthusiasm proudly to all your friends. The season starts with a bang, as the excitement keeps you pumped up, and although they might lose a game or two in the first month, you know it's OK, your excitement keeps you going. It's early, there's still a chance for this to be their year! Then, as the end of the season approaches, you realize that it is not your year after all. The Dolphins have blown it again, losing 4 or 5 of their last 6 games and, once again, missing the playoffs. While there were a few great wins along the way, overall the season amounts to a disapointment. Well, for me, over the years, Shearwater has kind of been like that.

The previous two Shearwater releases, like those Dolphins seasons, have started with excitement, but turned out to be disapointing in the end. How do you not expect greatness from Jonathan Meiburg (Kingfisher) and Will Robinson Sheff (Okkervil River)? Unfortunately, their albums have not quite lived up to the full potential that I know is there. Until now.

Winged Life is the third release from Shearwater and is by far the most complete, full, and overly enjoyable record of the three. Where the previous two albums collapsed, Winged Life shines. Shearwater have plunged themselves into new territory, with songs ranging all across the board, from sad ballads to upbeat indie-pop gems. Winged Life is brand new territory for Shearwater and it's nice to hear them come out of their shell. Songs like "Wedding Bells are Breaking Up that Old Gang of Mine," "A Makeover," and "The Convert" will have fans of Belle & Sebastian dancing in their Saucony's. Meiburg's usually tense, high-pitched voice explodes out from under the piano, especially on the tracks "Life In 1984" and "St. Mary's Walk" - both of which are in the running for my Best Song of the Tear list - bringing to mind Better Than Ezra at their most inspiring. (Remember when "That Time Of Year" was the best song you had ever heard?) "The water pulls around the pier/ dark and rusted/ and I know the kindest face with a sailor's eyes/ still can't be trusted/ But I feel the ocean swell," Meiburg bellows with what sounds like sincere conviction on "St. Mary's Walk."

It's nice to hear Shearwater finally live up to the potential that has been there all along. Hopefully, there will be more of the same from these guys in the future and, if my analogy stands up, hopefully the Dolphins will finally make it to the Super Bowl this year.

Reviewed by Stephen Smith
In a recent staff survey Stephen Smith included a picture of his cat, Nikolai, since he said he didn\'t have any of himself.

See other reviews by Stephen Smith

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