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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
Honorary Title
Anything Else but the Truth
Doghouse Records

Rating: 6/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Oh, those impish tricksters, The Honorary Title... They cloaked their CD in disturbing artwork: a panda bear tearing the legs off of a child, a snake's mouth at the end of an escalator... Yet, on the inside, it's all bunnies.

Yes, the cuddly, harmless rabbits found on the inner jewel case and the disc itself are more truly indicative of the sentiment on their album. There's nothing scary about them at all.

What we have here is a kind of light, country emo that can be best described in the same manner as those furry little creatures: pleasant, non-threatening and benign. Their style is somewhere between The Jayhawks and Dashboard Confessional. Anything Else but the Truth represents the populations of dusty rural areas that lie just outside of tranquil, suburban towns. Lives are enormously sheltered, skies are a little bluer, and even the most heartbreaking problems aren't all that bad.

Truly, this disc takes you back to a time in the mid to late 90s when Counting Crows and the Gin Blossoms were all over the airwaves. Many of the Honorary Title's songs sound as though they'd fit right next to "Mr. Jones" on a lovesick mix tape. They have minor hooks, delicately plucked acoustic guitars, and rock in a friendly enough manner as not to scare anyone away.

While the band is convincingly earnest, often recalling like the cracked yelps of Kind of Like Spitting, they do seem coddled by their protected lifestyle. Their expressions seem obligatory or a bit indifferent. As a result, they are hurt but not wounded, likeable but not loveable.

That's not to say the disc isn't enjoyable. On the contrary, the buoyancy of poppy numbers like "Bridge and Tunnel," "The Smoking Pose," and the lazy, sunny refrains of "Disengage" do wonders for one's outlook. These sorts of songs make you feel able to overcome anything. Likewise, there is a curious listlessness, or perhaps a sense of boredom, that underlies the album; despite its pleasantness, it yearns for something more.

In contrast, the bleakness of "Revealing Too Much" calls out to Conor Oberst in some regards, in that it comes the closest to drunken, raw depression. It feels quite drunk and distraught, maintaining a lower vocal register and a finally affected demeanor. While it is not a standout track in the sense of infectiousness, it holds the distinction of being prominently battered and bruised, and so aids the causes of sincerity.

The most enjoyable track follows closely on its heels: "Snow Day" bears attentive drumming punctuated by differing time signatures and a noteworthy spark. While still overtly amiable and somewhat disenchanted, it is an inspired outing that showcases the best of each of their musical leanings.

At their best, then, they are swept up in the moment with chiming guitars and hearts on their sleeves. At their most discouraging, they remain untouched, only skimming the surface or skinning their knees. Thankfully, there is enough of the former to make this album one of promise and likeability.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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