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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
The Clean Prophets
Praise Is Poison
self-released

Rating: 7/10 ?


October 9, 2006
Classic rock won't die. I'm not referring to the 70s and 80s resurgence personified by gel-haired throwbacks like the Strokes and Interpol; I'm talking British Invasion. If The Clean Prophets are clairvoyant, then my money is on the 3-minute song, low-fi production, obligatory short guitar solo and vocals that are sufficiently druggy to make the point that, yes, the 60s were heady times. You know, the stuff that sounds better on crackly vinyl.

With the release of their debut, Praise Is Poison, Los Angeles trio The Clean Prophets make a strong case for taking us back yet again. It is not surprising since all three musicians were formerly members of vintage-laced bands: Sunstorm, The Superbees and Brian Jonestown Massacre (which may or may not be the ultimate Rolling Stones homage band, depending on what one is inclined to believe). I'm not too familiar with the former pair of bands, but I have been on the BJM bandwagon for some time, and Clean Prophets draw their bucket from the same well. To simply label it retro reverence would be a cop out. Like the Massacre, the Prophets have their own distinct flair, and also happen to write some great songs to boot.

The sub-40 minute album opens strong and remains intact for the duration. "Tambourine Crown" instigates things with a metered kick drum before launching into a sly guitar riff lifted from "Another Brick in the Wall," the only real 80's nod to be found on Praise Is Poison. Lead vocalist Jerrold Balcom sings with confidence, subdued but determined. "More Than Enough" is where the late 60s Brit vibe really shows up. With lyrics like "And acid takes me up to dizzying heights," it doesn't take much imagination to see what era these guys are channeling. Shagadelic, baby.

For the most part the band backs up its swagger, although there are few missteps to be found. "Crime" is a fuzzed out slow-burner that illustrates the fine musicianship of all three players, smooth guitar leads over a tight rhythm section, with whiney vocals that enunciate "crime" into a four syllable word. Groovy touches, indeed. "Addiction" works in some nifty falsetto and echo, and would be right at home on The Who's classic rock opera Tommy. The standout track is "Instant Hustle," a beautiful vagabond of a song. Singing down a register Balcom shows great range and the instrumental accompaniment balances perfectly. The only thing missing are flower girls in turtlenecks on a TV with 5 split-screens. The album is not without its flaws: a few songs are on the weaker side, utilizing simple blues progressions without any real style of their own. And since this band is fundamentally about style such half-hearted efforts take away from the fun.

Like Scandinavian counterparts Mando Diao, The Clean Prophets are more than just throwbacks with a love of Ray Davies and his ilk. They've got chops, they know their hooks, and more importantly they know themselves. As with other revivalists, Clean Prophets are unabashed about their influences, and when they're the cream of the crop, why not? Whether the trio will have the mass appeal of a Strokes or Franz Ferdinand, only time will tell. But I will praise their debut, poison be damned, and many will find it a welcome addition to their 21st century retro rock collections.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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