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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]

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 » 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
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Some Loud Thunder
self-released

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


February 7, 2007
The title track from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's newest album, Some Loud Thunder, is a wrenching mess of distortion and enough cowbell hits to satisfy the Bruce Dickinson. The track is a disconcerting intro to an album that sonically moves CYHSY forward, albeit in a drunken stagger, from its eponymous predecessor. There is no way to describe the amount of pressure that bands like CYHSY and The Arcade Fire must feel after the out-of-nowhere successes of their previous efforts. For Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's part, Some Loud Thunder is a mostly successful attempt, by a talented band, to sidestep the sophomore slump while avoiding a rehash of their previous album.

Critics compared the sound of the first album by CYHSY to Talking Heads and that comparison still holds water on their second release. David Byrne's influence can be felt from the guitar riffs to the unique instrumentation that inundates Some Loud Thunder's eleven tracks with stabs of pizzicato strings and accordion. Even lead singer Alec Ounsworth's pleading vocals recall Byrne's post-apocalyptic preacher pose. There are also some beautiful similarities to The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Fortunately for CYHSY they know the difference between influence and imitation and none of the aforementioned nods override the band's own musical trajectory. I think most of the bad press that the album has received is due to the expectations game. Some people were ready for more of the same and some were ready for CYHSY to fall. What no one expected was for the album to head in this direction; markedly different from its predecessor and yet still intrinsically CYHSY.

If there is a problem with Some Loud Thunder it is the album's lack of consistency. There is little cohesion between the tracks and the sequence of the songs leaves much to be desired, but in the band's defense tt would be a Herculean task to try and figure out a way to properly order songs as musically dissimilar as the cloying "Satan Said Dance" and the brief, gorgeous waltz of "Upon Encountering The Crippled Elephant". While tracks like "Emily Jean Stock" and "Mama Won't You Keep Those Castles In The Air & Burning?" are amazing, they feel much more fleshed out than some of the album's less realized tracks.

The safe thing to do here would be to pan the album as incomplete or to give it a slightly above average rating to avoid any controversy or backlash. But the reality is that even the weakest songs on Some Loud Thunder are an enjoyable listen. The album may lurch all over the place sonically, but in this iPodding, playlist-dominated world where the idea of "an album" is becoming increasingly obsolete, that instability is no big deal. I thoroughly enjoyed six of the record's eleven tracks and the disc continues to grown on me with each listen. Right now as I type I am listening to the final track, "Five Easy Pieces," which begins with a jangling guitar and a Springsteen-esque harmonica playing to support Ounsworth's drawn out wails. The song slowly builds over six minutes into an insurmountable wall of distortion, behind which all the other instruments disappear, leaving only a the buzz of feedback. It's a great finish and leaves me wanting for more every time I hear it, and that can't be a bad thing.

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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