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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
Cloud Cult
Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus
Earthology

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


June 28, 2005
I remember being very young, walking through the flea market with my parents on random weekends. I was never quite sure why we were there, outside of the fact that the closest KarmelKorn store was next door, which I figured was probably reason enough. We never bought anything, and the items for sale seemed strange and out of place. There were random baubles, an excess of doilies and the strong, unmistakable smell of mothballs. Every once in a while, however, the eyes of a slow-moving passerby would widen like saucers and I'd watch as they'd become breathless, exclaiming, "I've been looking everywhere for this."

Cloud Cult's Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus feels much the same way. To many, it may be ignored as old, broken junk until someone realizes its true worth. It recalls very old Flaming Lips records - with a lo-fi groove but drifting in and out of theatrics - as well as the bizarre friendliness of Archers of Loaf and the strained folk mumblings of Modest Mouse, when so inclined. It jumbles these tendencies in scattered, complex patterns, leaving leftover parts on the counter and never thinking to clean them up; its disheveled nature adds to the band's appeal and clear ambition.

As such, Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus isn't meant to be tidied or sorted, it is best appreciated when sprawling out at its own leisure. Like a child who wants to become a farmer, a cowboy, a superhero, a spy and an astronaut, we can advise Cloud Cult to be anything they want to be and absolutely believe in their unlimited potential to do it all.

The list of the band's capabilities is long and varied, able to play perfectly to their every whim: there are atmospheric, foreboding electronics, pseudo-Native American chants, siren-like animal calls, jazzy flute solos, spontaneous living room jam sessions, childlike singalongs, political anthems, roaring post-rock guitars, tales of the afterlife, barebones trip-hop, boggling philosophies of morals and mortals, tender, spirited reunions and, not least in all, accessibly stringy indie pop songs.

The album would be interesting enough as an observation piece, yet it is so inviting and catchy, playing with a range of art from sparkle glitter to sculpture, it would take a hard heart not to be captivated. As you are drawn into their vibrant, multicolored world - where the unpredictable is exhilarating and adventure is best shared with new friends - unsuspecting listeners will likely begin to cherish Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus in a most heartfelt way. It may be a mess of chipped, reglued bits and pieces to an outsider, but to those who recognize its importance it is a beloved, irreplaceable memory, symbolized.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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