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 » 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
Alva Star
Escalator
Princess Records

Rating: 7/10 ?


March 15, 2005
Already stars - sort of - in their native Minnesota, Alva Star's latest record may raise their profile yet. Spurred on by the heart-on-sleeve repertoire of Death Cab for Cutie and the hooky sentimentality of The Shins (who they ape perfectly on the record's title track), Escalator is a record firmly entrenched in the school of songwriting that values diversity within the confines of a track sequence, as well as a knack for appearing to pour out innermost secrets within the span of a single song.

Vocalist John Hermanson's sincere and heartfelt emotive style definitely recalls the Thin White Duke at times, as vibrato quivers his word and theatricality bursts out from within. The band is happy to play along. Their brand of pop music is laced with tempo and instrumental changes, from the opening melodic pop incantation of the aforementioned title track to the airy, synth-infused easy listening of "Downsides," which pleasantly plods along under falsetto singing and harmonizing.

The album functions as a whole, which isn't always a common occurrence nowadays. This point is enthusiastically proven by the segue of the aforementioned "Downsides" into "The Level," which almost acts as a coda, building and rising over piano parts and urgent guitar strumming.

The vocals are layered on thick throughout the course of the record, which finds Hermanson singing over Hermanson singing over Hermanson, et al. At times, the effect is overwrought, bordering on the cheesier elements of this brand of song-craft, but Hermanson really does know how to carry a melody. This is good, because any lesser talent here would be a significant distraction.

Never heard of Alva Star? You're probably not alone. But here's a new band with almost no hype that is worth a second, third, and eighth listen. Minnesota's newest musical export may find their space in the pop music pantheon yet.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker

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