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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
Songs Of Green Pheasant
Aerial Days
Fatcat Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


January 23, 2007
The quiet serenity of an ocean beach in the dead of winter surrounds Aerial Days, a seven-song collection of monastic home recordings by Songs Of Green Pheasant's Duncan Sumpner. The covered bridge that connects Sumpner's debut and Songs Of Green Pheasant's upcoming full-length follow-up, Aerial Days is a series of soft collisions between pastoral British folk and the amorphous shoegazer dreaminess of Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, where there's no damage, nobody has to exchange insurance information and you can say, "We don't have to get the cops involved, do we?" without feeling even a twinge of guilt.

A choir of cloistered monks who have spent every day of their adult lives chanting clear-as-a-bell, moaning supplications to their maker couldn't produce more haunting vocal harmonies than the 4-track and 8-track symphonies - ephemera from the attic of Sumpner's mind, like old radio sessions, demos and unfinished tracks collecting dust - found on Aerial Days. Light as air, Sumpner's wafting, layered vocals seem to drift through the mist-shrouded melodies of this artist/teacher from Oughtibridge in Sheffield like a ghost. And when you think folk spirits from England, what name comes to mind? Hmmm... that of Nick Drake, perhaps? Jesus, that was easy.

And so it is with Sumpner, but this artist/teacher from Oughtibridge in Sheffield is slippery, an apparition experimenting with chimes, off-key piano tinkling, odd clattering percussion, light acoustic strum and ethereal effects. No showy poltergeist, Sumpner is content to haunt benignly, gently blowing out candles and whispering in your ear instead of throwing things across the room. "Wolves Against Snowman" feels like a message from across an ocean, with Sumpner's delicate acoustic breezes gliding over the water, his voice as distant as the past and little whirls of shoegazer sonics carrying the melody like it's precious cargo. Handled with even more care are the dreamy, folk-pop carousels "Wintered" and "Pink By White," a beautiful, swirling melange of Zombies-style songcraft and echoing Galaxie 500 atmosphere.

Gorgeous and sad throughout, with meditations on the loss of youthful ideology and our fleeting grasp on hope and belief, Aerial Days doesn't follow a thematic thread to its logical, or illogical, conclusion. It strays into a Radio One cover version of The Beatles' "Dear Prudence," which offers little variation on the same ghostly theme put forth by Siouxsie And The Banshees. And it dabbles in Eastern mysticism on "Stars Form Birds," going from a swirling mix of pretty piano touches and wintery, Kabuki rhythms to stark, dischordant minimalism in the blink of an eye, but remaining just as hynoptic as it was in the beginning. More surprising still is the slow flood of horns that wash over icy chimes in the instrumental finale "Brody Jacket," another stop on Sumpner's journey into the heart of the hereafter.

Inhabited by found sounds that are watery, natural and poignant, Aerial Days is adrift in melody and memory, lost in the past, but not blissfully ignorant of skeletons in the closet just waiting to come out. It reminds you of things you'd forgotten, as if it's a child wandering through the halls of your subconscious opening doors you thought you'd locked. Simply mesmerizing, Aerial Days is a throwback to The Dream Academy, but with more sophisticated arrangements and the occasional unexpected plot twist, though every track does bear Songs Of Green Pheasant's unmistakably astral stamp. Drake might have wished he'd lived to see this.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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