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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
Bobby Conn
King For A Day
Thrill Jockey

Rating: 8/10 ?


February 16, 2007
As the popular adage goes, you fear what you don't understand. Cliché, yes, but the words are empowered by the fact that they are true.

For the longest time I was frightened - or maybe just weirded out - by Bobby Conn. The whole glam rock thing always gave me the creeps. Eye makeup, strange glitzy costumes... what place did these items and practices have in the world of rock 'n' roll?? Little did I understand, they had everything to do with rock 'n' roll and its imagery.

Then one day while exchanging mp3s with a friend of mine, I came across a track that I liked but didn't have any information for - song title, artist name, et cetera were all missing. From what I heard - wah-wah guitars, tight/funky interaction of bass and drums, sexed-up falsetto male voice, and '70s soul ballad strings section - I imagined that this was a rare or new Prince song that I had never heard before. Turns out the funk-heavy jam was "Relax," from Bobby Conn and the Glass Gypsies. From that point forward, my bias against Conn and other glam rockers was quashed; in the place of those old prejudicial feelings emerged a newborn curiosity for what is under the surface. Granted, Bobby Conn might be a strange looking fella, but it is also important to know that he is an exceptional songwriter, musician, and performer. Those substantial musical attributes come through clearly when listening to his latest effort, King For A Day.

Conn's sixth album, and fourth straight for the venerable Thrill Jockey, is of the type that each listen brings through more appreciation for every song and layer of instrumentation. The two most striking characteristics of the record are the broad style palette and Conn's impressive instrumental and conceptual abilities. One thing to note is that although Conn composed all of the music, he also relies on the technical prowess of solid musicians - shredding guitarists, song-filling organ players, steady but aggressive drummers, classically trained string players, and more. Off the bat, in "Vanitas" the song feel is expansive but also conceptualized. In this song (as in the album as a whole), guitarists find equilibrium between plucking repetitive hooks on nylon-stringed classicals and chugging pedal-distorted Black Sabbath metal riffs on electric fretboards.

King For A Day is part-pop, part-prog rock, but all cultured and colorful. There are moments when fans of Don Caballero will raise their hands ("Sinking Ship"), and others in which David Bowie cronies will shake their hips ("Love Let Me Down"). The diverse platform allows for Conn's undeniable and far-reaching melodies, well-written lyrics, and a bevy of energy levels built up by a large cast of talented musicians. No matter which way you look at, the inner matter of Bobby Conn is pretty damn good here.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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