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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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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
Runner and the Thermodynamics
Runner and the Thermodynamics
Ace Fu Records

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Runner and the Thermodynamics' self-titled debut should be cued to start playing the second my Trans Am pulls into the parking lot of the liquor store on Friday night. That way, as I swagger to the counter with a handle of whiskey in my hand, the larger than life, screeching guitar sound of "So Sorry" will accompany my cocky strut.

Hell, I know I can't pull that off. When I hear "So Sorry" blaring, I imagine a guy that has a handlebar mustache and wears cowboy boots. I think of Matthew McConaughey's character in Dazed and Confused. I think of getting drunk; I think of 70's rock.

As the album starts, you get the feeling that a party's just about to break out. Play the riffing of "So Sorry" and the ladies will come out; all that's left are the drugs and alcohol. Its stomping drums and bass sound like a swamp boogie Skynard might have conjured up. The booze-fueled opener leads to "Damsels in Distress" - for its short explosiveness, the group can be forgiven the use of clanging bells in the background of the breakdown.

With the one-two punch of the openers, each clocking in around 2 and a half minutes, you might consider it an auspicious beginning. Yet, unfortunately somewhere in the third track, "Powerlines," Runner takes a shift of direction. The energy doesn't really diminish, but the urgency does. For the 9 remaining tracks, the group rarely caps its songs in under 4 minutes. It's all energetic, but you get the sense that the rest is less fun. Where at first you might want to party, now you'll just want to hang out. There's a lack of the bombastic riffs and hooks of the first two tracks.

While Runner and the Thermodynamics owe debts of gratitude to those who have come before, influence is not drawn exclusively from 70s rock. The prevalent grit of garage rock revival penetrates every track. Throw in some later 90s indie pop and you'll have a good idea of what the group sounds like. It's not entirely song length that trips up Runner and Thermodynamics. On it's own, the record fairs all right, but in the context of other artists, is this really better than the radio friendly riffs of Jet, or the deconstructed rock of The Constantines? Runner and the Thermodynamics shine occasionally on this debut, but they will have to consistently bring their A game to stand apart.

Reviewed by Dan Williams
A staff writer based in Brooklyn, New York, Dan Williams is a frequent contributor to LAS magazine. He once lived in Köln, Germany for a semester, is currently persuing his MBA in New York, and recently switched sides and began working as a publicist for Special Ops Media in New York.

See other reviews by Dan Williams



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