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 » 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!
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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]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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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
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Fat Possum
Murder By Death
Like the Exorcist, But More Breakdancing
Eyeball Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
There are certain rules in journalism that have come to be taken as gospel, and one of them is that personal involvement with your subject matter is a serious faux-pas. If you're intimate with your subject, don't write about it, and if you are writing about something don't become intimate with it. While I wouldn't say that Murder By Death and I are intimate, per se, I do have to admit that I've fallen seriously in love with them. But that love, however deep it runneth, is based in large part on one simple fact- that the band is phenomenal.

Like the Exorcist, But More Breakdancing is just about the most encompassing example of Murder By Death's versatility that I could ask for. It opens with "Those Who Stayed" and the gentle stroking of Sarah Balliet's cello, which gives the band both an eerie/dramatic and a beautiful/graceful quality. Vincent Edwards (sounds like the director of some B-rate horror flick, doesn't it?) sprinkles his keyboards and samples about the luscious cello, the drums rattle in and the guitar begins to flail about like one of those clay-mation dudes from a Tool video and then - cut, it's over. The hollowed out drum samples lead into "I'm Afraid of Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe" and from there its a fucked-up ride down the rabbit hole and into the great beyond on a wooden roller coaster. Someone once told me that "Virginia Wolfe" was the only reason to own the Foreign Nationals compilation that I put out earlier this year and- well, considering that the album version here is much better, that doesn't leave me in a very good spot, does it?

Recorded in glorious fashion by Tim Iseler, Like the Exorcist, But More Breakdancing continues through it's nine lengthy tracks (clocking in at three-quarters of an hour) with references to everything under the sun- from Sonic Youth to spaghetti westerns to Tim Burton films to mathy-post-prog alt-scene rock. Aside from the electronic revolution (although they do use samples), this album really does span everything worth mentioning in the last five years- from slow-core to piano-core to screamo-core to country-core. No matter how many times you listen to Like the Exorcist, But More Breakdancing you are guaranteed to crank the decibels when the guitar begins bouncing off the walls in "You Are the Last Dragon (You Possess the Power of the Glow)".

Murder By Death pop up at just the right time, when being a regular Joe (no pun intended, but its there) couldn't be more unhip. While most pose as ultra-cool, Murder By Death lighten the moment with song titles like "Holy Lord, Shawshank Redemption Is Such a Good Movie!", "Flamenco's Fuckin' Easy" and "Intergalactic Menopause". Like the Exorcist, But More Breakdancing is post-everything, a complete album of original ideas and valid musicianship and lyricism that circumnavigates any genre bullshit to return right to the heart of what music is supposed to be about: expressing something and eliciting an expression in response.

The difference between Like the Exorcist, But More Breakdancing and a lot of other albums you'll here this year- and this is important- is that Murder By Death combine references to other diverse, great bands and make something all their own out of it. If you know another band that sounds exactly like the Gould-sters, let me know 'cause I'd like to check them out. Yeah, I have albums by Slint, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Rachel's, Radiohead, June of 44, Explosions In the Sky, Pinetop Seven, et cetera. Murder By Death sounds similar to a lot of great bands like that, but they don't sound just like any other bands, at least none that I know of... to me they're sort of a mild example of a post-rock Avalanches, taking it all in and spitting it back out in little bits somehow held together. My jaw is open in response, and I fucking love this band.

Is Like the Exorcist, But More Breakdancing the best rock record of the year? Some serious arguments for other albums might be made, but an argument against this particular album might simply be impossible. Think I'm bullshitting? Let "Those Who Left" unravel its cathartic ball of sound in your headphones and I'm sure you'll agree.

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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