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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
Swords
Metropolis
Arena Rock Recording Company

Rating: 7/10 ?


November 2, 2005
Understanding that CD artwork doesn't wholly represent what a band is about, Metropolis seems to show Swords as a six-piece rock group of looks-first, uncomfortable, all-too-serious people. It's unfair to make these comments because I've only seen a few pictures and don't know a personal thing about any of these individuals - then again, neither does the average listener, and for that, this presentation is fairly important. Somebody fucking smile! Somebody try not wearing a blazer or a scarf; someone use a different shampoo/conditioner combo.

Metropolis also represents Swords third release and its second full length album. To be completely honest, this is a good album, in part because the group is serious and seemingly dedicated to creating good sounds and a cultured background for songs to grow from. Songs like "Land Speed Record" bloom out from ambient reverby guitar noises - akin to Dead Meadow's space-outs - to stomp/trotted drums and the airy singing style of Corey Ficken: if you didn't know better, you might think they were listening to early Death Cab for Cutie or even Stars. Swords balances its instrument components equally with this recording, even making the guitars sound powerful while also subtle and distant, an effect that helps to expand the sound realm of each of the ten tracks.

Further in common with Stars is Swords' ability to balance electronic instrumentation/effects with non-electronic instruments and their skill in balancing poppy flavors with an appealing, experimental and moody, dark songwriting style. A great example is "Family Photographs," which begins with a ticky, sterile drum machine effect, then leads into fog-moved, monotonous vocal harmonies. A live drum set kicks in, vocals progress to poppier-felt harmonies and electric guitars swell in and out of each other in the background blending as one wall of echoey and amplified sound.

One of the greatest sellers of Metropolis is a segment when Ficken sings, "Showcasing the high times/Blocking out the dark times/Though they so desperately wanted to creep in/I called you a liar/You are a liar/Showing on your face as you mask a grin." Especially at chorus-layered harmonies as this, Ficken sounds like a cross between DCFC singer Ben Gibbard and Shudder to Think's Craig Wedren. This similarity to previously established aesthetics makes Swords more appealing by very nature, rather than seeming as a rehash effort. This is another positive sign.

With more exposure from a bigger label and a couple additional pop-inflected tunes, Swords could become a mid-sized indie rock success, or certainly, at least, the next handmade button on your local hipster's lapel.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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