» 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
10 Songs
Perishable Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Having Tim Kinsella (s?, I forgot what he is going by these days)'s new project Friend/Enemy turn up in my review pile was met with about as much gusto as one of those forwarded joke emails that turn up in my inbox all too frequently. Alas, it was sent from a friend and I listened it knowing full well that it will at best, like those email forwards, be mildly funny and entertaining or, at worst, down right loathsome. Either way, it will be discarded immediately upon completion, and regrettably, it doesn't self-destruct in sixty seconds. No, that would be far too cool, and we wouldn't want any listener, much less a music reviewer, to get any joy out of this bad boy now would we?

The funny thing about Mr. Kinsella's career is that no matter how disparaging the critics are to his recorded output, someone must still be buying his records. How else could one explain the fact that he can still find a label to give a voice to his "artistic statements" every few months? Still, I have never heard anything positive about any of his previous bands other than Cap'N Jazz, and maybe the Owls record got by a few folks, but that still leaves The Sky Corvair, and most-notably Joan of Arc out of the loop. Not to mention how many other one off projects, guest appearances and miscellany I might be forgetting, or just plain overlooking. How many people would you say you know that count themselves as Joan of Arc fans? Right. I thought so.

Those Joan of Arc records were quite the curiosity though, weren't they? I imagine as many copies were sold due to interest being piqued by the music-listening populace generally regarding the albums as so experimental that they were unlistenable, as would have been sold by the albums getting a heaping helping of great reviews. I'll admit curiosity killed this cat, but at least I got to download those albums - remember those days when you could use this once fledgling internet thingy here to download albums you wanted, then decide if they merited a purchase - and promptly skip through the tracks, disposing of them when I was done. Now unfortunately, I have a bit more of an obligation to actually sit through, attempt to confine my attention to, and report back on what I hear of the current Kinsella incarnation. I may be fortune's fool.

Anyways, lets get on with the program before you channel-hopping monkeys' short attention spans get the best of you. Friend/Enemy falls somewhere between about How Memory Works-era Joan of Arc and the Owls album. Rather than dabbling in sampled sound a la The Gap, Kinsella has enlisted a plethora of musicians to aid in his rambling sonic diatribes, many of whom you would know from his previous efforts - such as Sam Zurick and Todd Mattei, - and others who are new to the fold - such as Nick Macri of C-Clamp and Euphone fame, Zac Hill of Hella, and Andy Lansangan of 90 Day Men just to name a few.

Regardless of the supporting cast or lack there-of, or the band name, Kinsella still blazes a path, pioneering his way into the uncharted lands of what I shall temporarily dub the Anti-Song. The contents of the Friend/Enemy oeuvre consist of - if you guessed you get an A+ - ten songs which range from seemingly structure-less multi-instrumental wankery that serves as aural accompaniment to the "poetry" found within tracks like "Do the Stand on One Foot Dance to the Radio Rodeo" to the more straightforward but still completely un-engaging "I'd Rather Be High than Fucked Any Day" or "I'd Rather Be High Than Get Laid Any Day of the Week" depending on whether you consult the track listing under the CD tray or the liner notes. There is also the mystery of whether track four would like to be called "Cough Soft Cock Rock" or "How Do You Explain Me To Your Mom" that needs a solution. So many titles, how is a man to decide? Only slightly less ambiguous is "Just Like Ann E. Fay's Blues", an aimless, somewhat country tinged track that is all the more frustrating for it's subtle hints at having a pretty melody lurking just underneath the surface.

As you can see, the pretentiousness level has been, once again, maximized for your listening dis-pleasure and while some may argue that rock' n' roll needs some haughty mockery, not only of itself, but also of it's listeners, there is a fine line between pandering to, challenging, or outright daring your audience to like your music. Either way, I have just spent nine hundred words telling almost everyone who will read this nothing that they didn't already know. Kinsella's yowl is either your worst nightmare, or your secret excitement, and I didn't even get around to quoting any of the lyrics. Many of you knew you would never buy, possibly never even hear this album, and were thankful for it, but there are those of you out there that pre-ordered this thing and huddled in your rooms to listen to it over and over again upon its arrival in your mailbox. Be warned. I'm hunting you. Now let's cut this thing here before I spill on over to 1000 words and find myself likened to the critical equivalent of the man himself.

Reviewed by Mark Skipper
Mark Skipper currently resides in Nashville, TN where he can be found skipping shows, drinking Guinness, making bad home recordings, and complaining about how much music sucks these days.

See other reviews by Mark Skipper



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