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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
Iron & Wine/Calexico
In the Reins
Overcoat Records

Rating: 6/10 ?


September 16, 2005
As most of us know, though few will admit, Iron & Wine is on the very border of soft beauty and boringness at all times. It can be difficult to listen to any Iron & Wine album without being in a particular mood. I will say that I am surprised by this EP, but not in an overwhelmed or inspired way; I'm not certain if its my general indifference to the Calexico collection or my fairly high expectations of this collaboration that makes it unsettling, and yet it is.

Before I explain, I have a question: Would anyone put an actual Dali painting on the set of Hee-Haw? It obviously wouldn't belong there, and that is how this album feels. The beautiful, delicate songs of Iron & Wine get country-fried by Calexico, and on the whole it doesn't feel satisfying. These seven tracks, originally penned by Iron & Wine, were given to Calexico to complete, but apparently the way Calexico fleshes out soft, folksy tunes is to tune up the country and remove the beauty.

You get a sense of the disaster that's about to hit from the first song on the release: "He Lays In The Reins" begins like most Iron & Wine songs, as a full-sounding motion picture score with delicate vocals that reflect upon a mysterious man and his self-conscious lover. The first minute and a half of the song is great; it's exactly what one would expect from this combination of bands: a full band enriching Sam Beams delicate sensibilities. Then it takes a turn for the worst. Bizarre and ill-fitting background vocals make their way to the forefront, with a sound akin to Spanish opera; is an honestly out-of-place sample, one that ruins a great Iron & Wine song.

"Burn That Broken Bed" has, instead of countrified lackluster backings, a cool jazzy underscore which adds to the late night-last call feeling. It being both the longest track and the highlight track of the EP leaves one to wonder if this is the feeling the two bands were hoping for the entire album. For those who wish this project the best, we'd certainly like to think so. "Dead Man's Will" gets a tropical treatment which doesn't take anything away from Beam's original intentions, and as such we are treated with a pretty, graceful ending to an album that begins in disaster.

One should note that most of these tracks can be found on the Internet in their original Iron & Wine incarnations, and all but one sounds 100% better that way. Though Calexico are good at what they do, and Iron & Wine is good at what he does - and the two bands share friendships and subtle sensibilities - it does not mean they should work together. When comparing their separate works - or other, more successful collaboration albums - Calexico does not seem to complement the works of Sam Bean in the manner they intended; the result is just too bad.

Reviewed by Bob Ladewig
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he\'s afraid of really growing up.

See other reviews by Bob Ladewig

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