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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
Meredith Bragg and His Terminals
Vol. I
The Kora Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


August 24, 2005
There are days when you have nothing to do and it's a relief - enjoyable, relaxing, wonderfully slow - and then there are days when having nothing to do will drive you nuts. On those latter days, time crawls with great annoyance, impatience sizzles and pops and whatever you do have planned with your time seems eons away. Meredith Bragg and His Terminals are kings of the do-nothing days, but as such, they dote on both the time-frozen beauty and frustration that entails.

Vol. I is an album of inspired aesthetics and aching exquisiteness, easily enjoyable from every angle, and yet it moves with such a lack of urgency that its nihilism, albeit sweet, can boil the blood. It conjures beautiful memories of such luminaries as Built to Spill, Iron & Wine, Matt Pond PA, Elliott Smith and the very first, precious Death Cab for Cutie recordings, but does so with very little of the pluck or momentum these artists enjoy. There is great likeability found from the onset of these tracks, but also a nebulous quality that paints a great, disaffected picture, to be appreciated from an enforced distance.

…And that picture, when viewed, is indeed stunning. "Bitter at Best" has a druggy feel akin to Joy Zipper's tracks; it is bleached and slow, dangling in midair and swaying lightly with just the slightest breezes. It feels natural, even if mostly still. "Before the Storm," though short, employs a splendid string section and a melancholy spirit to confound its playing time. The closing "Shattering" depicts lovely ripples but never splashes, stopping short of overflowing. It creates a tidy movement in small scale, still quite naturally pleasing.

When this aesthetic formula is introduced to elements of tension and direction, it is even more potent. The steady drums of "My Only Enemy", the shambling optimism and complex turns of "Work and Winter" and the near angst of "Carolina" mark dramatic progress from their peers, effectively raising the stakes and threatening to emotionally burst.

In contrast to this, tracks like "I Won't Let You Down" recall The Photo Album, but without any of its rock inclinations, and with its seven minutes of non-epic immobility it feels too long. Like an extended stretch of rainy days, it can be cabin fever inducing, while counterparts like "Before the Storm", "Early Sign" and "Cindy's Song" show intent but halt before their ideas are fully formed.

There is much to be loved and cherished within Vol. I, but it is an unbalanced effort despite itself. If the pieces were rearranged, heightened, lengthened and shortened in particular order - stirring when it should, rambling less and acting more - it could be absolutely perfect. Then again, if it was manipulated in this way, it would not be as natural or representative of the restlessness it portrays. Perhaps, in that regard, it is perfect in and of itself: a work that delights in, and cautiously anticipates, all things looming on the horizon.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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