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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]

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
The Winter Blanket
Prescription Perils
Fractured Discs

Rating: 8/10 ?


September 13, 2004
I have to admit, when a band has complete and honest respect for its influences, and does what it can to honor them, it makes me smile. The Winter Blanket, who briefly appeared with the support of Low's Chairkickers Union label, has proven their humble adoration for their most kindred spirits - whether by creating a three song seven-inch tribute to the late Fred Neil, creator of "Everybody's Talking", by thanking Alan Sparhawk profusely at every opportunity, or by covering Bruce Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" for no other reason than love - they are the real and grateful deal... and it doesn't hurt that they make beautiful music on top of all this.

With two impeccable albums under their belt, Prescription Perils finds the Winter Blanket building on quite a formidable record. It's hard to say which is their best, because each is sincerely loveable, but know that this follows in the same trend of lively, modest, minimalist pop, made to rouse up ears and attitudes.

Prescription Perils is less stark than their first two records, and this change suits the band very nicely. The songs, having always been made to hit the heart, find new livelihood in layers of strings and harmonies. Right from the start, with "Four Tornados," we are treated to a more upbeat swing. With great warmth, intimacy, and comfortably grazed harmonicas, the track features a rousing rock pace and an abundance of renewed energy. In this first track, you'll be reminded of Ida or Low, but with a more colorful vision of the world.

From that first track, we are led to several other glistening stars, many of which should be recognized for their fantastic contrasts. Vocalists Stephanie Davila and Doug Miller have two very different approaches, and the intermeshing of their distinct sounds creates a sublime accord. While Stephanie has been blessed with somewhat sugary, somewhat pouty feminine pop vocals, Doug introduces a low register, rattling whisper of baritone to complete the scale. Likewise, the songs tend to fluctuate between darkness and light, dejection and hope, all with an awed, quiet resolve. The record is dynamic in that way, as it allows you to feel your way through it just as they do, and with the same heartfelt intimacy.

Their sound is absolutely sweet. "Last Resort," despite its title and initially retiring nature, features a rising, uplifting aesthetic and lovely vocal finesse. "Darkness Failed You" is wonderfully dense, jagged and craggy, functioning briefly like a protective smokescreen; there are moments of instrumental clarity and perfect acoustic picking when we see the true, hurt emotions embodied in the track, but the gauzy bitterness that resumes provides a cushion from that truth. "On My Own" starts with watery, loping strings that cry and dance, and as I am a sucker for orchestral sounds, it is an immediate favorite - with its whispered, disbelieving vocals, we not only get the feeling things were once brighter, we get a momentary glimpse of that brightness in its absence.

"Town of Talk" and "Wedding Vow" end the album with opposite takes on minimalism: the former revels in its small stature, as a dusty country tale of isolationism feels completely pure and honest while wanting to be left alone; the latter shows the same affectation, but allows itself to be overwhelmed by the simplest and sweetest sentiments of love, capturing the surreal and heavenly wonder of one's wedding day. Neither are grandiose productions by any means, and yet both have the power to relate to the audience in unassuming, sincere ways.

Of course, nothing but delight could come from hearing their rendition of "Darkness on the Edge of Town," and it performs just as one would expect. Covered with love and intimacy, like warm-hearted parents remembering a precious childhood song and singing it to their own children, it reiterates what the Winter Blanket has always been about: letting love and truth shine within what they truly love. This is a gorgeous record, one with the intent and ability to speak directly to the heart.

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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