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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
The Chap
Mega Breakfast
Ghostly International

Rating: 8/10 ?


June 25, 2008
After a dutiful amount of research, I have discovered that there are no good words to describe a band like The Chap. Or at least none that are completely appropriate. Made up of four individuals - Claire Hope, Johannes von Weizsacker, Panos Ghikas and Keith Duncan - who reside somewhere between peculiar and insane in the cannon of music-making (physically, that's somewhere in North London), the band takes a view of the world so unique as to truly defy traditional categorization. It should also be said that The Chap possess an enormous sense of humor, which is an indispensable trait when making an album like Mega Breakfast and showing that, believe it or not, smushing together pop music and humor can work marvelously.

If there is one thing this collection of unique tunes has, other than the looming sense of humor, it is the overlaying sense of pop songwriting; but that's not what keeps the listener engaged. Though catchy hooks make for an enjoyable foundation, what propels Mega Breakfast are the weird bits found in each track. For instance, in place of a downbeat (and after a lyric referencing "suicide" no less) you get a sample of a deep masculine voice saying, "Belch." There is no context and no explanation; as the album's quirky charms sink in, it is clear that none is needed. There are also times when the playing is so unorthodox that it feels as if the quartet were figuring out their instruments in the recording studio while recording. That idiosyncrasy in itself keeps the songs sounding fresh and unique, while at the same time, as with the fun and interesting song, "Fun And Interesting," there are strange but purposeful electronic whizzes and buzzes swirling about under cello and violin strings, all of which is lathered on top of machine-like beats, with a chorus of people chanting "Come On Cloner/ Clone Me Another Me/ My Generation/ Needs Another Me." An attempt to make logical sense of such constructions would only decrease their value. My advice: accept the fact that Mega Breakfast is a heaping plate of oddities with some tasty garnishes of electronic pop.

These curious gentlemen and gentlelady do their best to stay on track throughout Mega Breakfast's 40-minute voyage through crazytown, as daunting as such a task is with the map they've drawn for themselves. Even on the most musically minimal songs, the group's sense of humor stands out. A song called "Caution Me" asks the listener to "Come Into My Bathroom Showroom/ Approach Me Slowly Visit My Body" - on top of a DFA-style bass line and electronic drumbeat. Throw in some synthesized handclaps and falsetto backup singing and you've got the beginnings of a song… but the continuity is broken at the track's midpoint, where coughing and strange blips (seemingly taking place in the studio as the song's being recorded) appear. Coughing directly into the microphone? It is certainly a different kind of distraction, but why not? People cough every day. Make it work in the studio.

You may have heard the song "Carlos, Walter, Wendy Stanley" on the downloadable Adult Swim/Ghostly International collaboration, Ghostly Swim, a few months ago (which is from where my interest in the band stemmed). That quick-tempo, minimalist song appears here and fits perfectly within the rest of Mega Breakfast's strange collage.

A look at the album art alone - an image of artist Jeff Koons' chrome display "Balloon Dog," unwrapped from the nose down to reveal what looks like a sprinkled donut under the metallic surface - will give any potential listener a small idea of what awaits within.

While an endearing sense of humor and an atmosphere of fun runs throughout Mega Breakfast, it is an album that lands far afield from the typical fun/funny pop band style of humor. It's not in the vein of those "hilarious" Canadian ex-frat boys Barenaked Ladies, nor is it similar to comedian-turned-novelty act Flight of the Conchords. The Chap manages to infuse their offbeat sense of humor into their electronic/chamber pop music, and the humor is often laced within the production as much as in the lyrics alone… though the lyrics play around with humor in every song. Fun through and through Mega Breakfast shows a band that enjoys making music that I enjoy listening to. Seems simple as that. Belch.

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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