» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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]


 » 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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The American Analog Set
Set Free
Arts & Crafts

Rating: 8/10 ?

September 16, 2005
In contrast to contemporary music world's penchant for volatility and evolution, The American Analog Set, throughout their decade-spanning career, have changed very little. While they evaded bandwagons and poseur-dom, the Austin-based quintet had, to date, quietly churned out six full-lengths, numerous singles and EPs; given the addition of Set Free to their already impressive collection, it simply gets better.

Set Free gives 2001's Know by Heart - critically acclaimed and widely regarded as Amanset's masterpiece - a serious run for its money. Unlike the band's previous effort, the rather patchy and under-whelming Promise of Love, Set Free reverts to a format of consistency; while Amanset's subtleties reach certain depths, there is not a dud to be heard. Their qualities lie within, in their precision and abundant maturity: the simplicity in which the typical Amanset song takes root is what makes Set Free tick.

To strip Set Free down is to reveal the simplicity in its unvarnished nakedness. The guitar riffs that lace standout tracks "Born on the Cusp" and "The Green Green Grass" would sound unmistakably trite were they not interwoven with a small assemblage of layers. On the contrary, Set Free is far from panoramic; Amanset's lo-fi tendencies require that the instruments employed do not fight for space, and instead allow for the thread of the album to unravel and slowly expose its suitably flowing hooks.

The American Analog Set's reverence reaches a peak with "She's Half," during which a steady and unremarkable progression of chords provides a platform for Andrew Kenny's raspy whispers. Motionlessness aside, it is moving, duly matched by the hypnotic "Sharp Briar," which sees Sean Ripple's vibraphone move to center stage - if a stage were ever set.

Upon beholding Set Free, it is obvious that The American Analog Set are a band that have never been destined to move mountains; the band's long-running consistency suggests their lack of interest in doing so. Set Free is bound with sincerity, exemplifying the workings of a band absolutely content to continue writing subtly accessible indie-pop songs that both relax and conjure warmth. Although fans cannot be certain of Amanset's presence in a decade's time, they can be confident that, if still creating together, they will remain as cerebral, wistful and charming as ever.

Reviewed by Mike Wright
A staff writer based in London, England, Mike Wright is eternally troubled by the American bastardization of the English language.

See other reviews by Mike Wright



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