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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
Sam Roberts
Chemical City
Secret Brain

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


July 5, 2006
Sam Roberts' new album, Chemical City, sounds a lot like Spoon trying to record their version of Sgt. Peppers. The music and mood on this disc hang in the hashish smoke and incense haze of George Harrison's ashram of influence. The glowing image of some stylized Shangri-la on the album cover suggests that the Chemical City might only be accessed with a handful of psilocybin and a black light. Fortunately for listeners who hate that psychedelic-hippie kind of crap, there is a whole lot more to hear here.

The discs' opener, "The Gate," references the Shroud of Turin and is a merry pop tune that is insanely catchy. The next track, "Bridge to Nowhere," is a foot-stomping acoustic jam. The fourth track, "Mind Flood," utilizes a church organ and has a nice rolling bass line. All of these moments, and many more scattered throughout Chemical City, are referential to later-day Beatles. The Fab Four aren't Mr. Roberts' only influences though; other songs nod to Dylan and Exile-era Stones and even Neil Young. This disc is psychedelic rock homage of epic proportion. Organs and spacey guitar riffs propel this album onward.

Lyrically speaking, songs address war, poverty, longing, love and sentimentality. As stated before, Roberts' voice is a lot like Spoon's Britt Daniels - solid and with enough of an edge to make the lyrics believable. The band is tight and full sounding without any need for bullshit production tricks to fill the empty space. At any given moment there are five or more talented musicians playing their hearts out and enjoying the music on this disc.

This album is a rollicking and pleasant trip. The only intention here is to entertain. If you need a break from electro-pap and whatever Joy Division-meets-Crispy Ambulance band is the popular stream on hipster radio today, you might take comfort in Sam Roberts' new disc. This is a solid album and definitely worth a listen.

Reviewed by Jon Burke
A contributing writer and a Chicago resident who will not be goaded by LASís editor into revealing any more details about his potentially sordid affairs.

See other reviews by Jon Burke

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