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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
Jennifer Gentle
Valende
Sub Pop Records

Rating: 7/10 ?


March 22, 2005
In a sense, a number of successful indie rock acts in the last couple of years have made their marks by taking the Elephant Six template and making it more palatable. Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy spit-shined Jeff Mangum's nasal vocal delivery, obtuse lyrics and campfire chord progressions, The Shins wrote albums that play out like Apples and Stereos discs without any of the zany segues, and The Unicorns borrowed the entire collective's less psychedelic elements. While complete retreads would have been incredibly boring, I can't help but feel that most modern indie-pop records - even the ones by really great bands like the ones mentioned above - sound a tad pale and more than a bit restrained next to something as exuberantly indulgent as Dusk at Cubist Castle.

With their first widely distributed release, Jennifer Gentle take a stab at bringing Syd Barrett-esque ridiculousness back onto the college radio airwaves and the New Releases section at Borders. Shrouding their bountiful hooks in bong-hit percussion, loopy clattering, and helium-enhanced vocals, this Italian duo has created the soundtrack to a modern day HR Puffenstuff.

Jennifer Gentle is at their best when they're at their most hyper. The bouncy, handclap-driven "I Do Dream You" whizzes by so quickly that it might be easy to miss, but it proves to be the album's strongest cut. Underneath all of the druggy flotsam, and truly golden hook awaits - you'll just have to accept the song's sugar-rush quality if you ever hope to find it.

Like Dusk at Cubist Castle, Valende features an absolutely impenetrable midsection - but in this instance, it works to the album's detriment. "Circles of Sorrow," a chiming guitar lullaby, brings the record into a drowsy half-dream state, and the band spends the next few songs indulging in tribal percussion-laden mind-fucks and come close to losing the plot completely. Inaccessibility doesn't hurt these songs so much as the fact that the band's oddball antics work so much better when they're adorning a Zombies melody.

Its sagging middle aside, Valende may be one of the stronger psychedelic pop releases to come my way in the last couple of years. Like the genre's great works, it takes already great hooks and needlessly embellishes them with outlandish flourishes, all without becoming completely wanky. If every song's hooks were as infectious as their flourishes are glorious, we'd be looking at a future classic.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan

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