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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
Concretes
Concretes
Astralwerks Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
You're hungry, but it's too dang hot outside. You want something filling that won't weigh you down. It's tricky to get exactly what you want on days like this - musically, the Concretes have pulled it off.

They are light, but never insubstantial. Merging equal parts Mazzy Star, Cat Power and the Velvet Underground, The Concretes is a quirky and inspired puzzle, perfect for those bored and blissed-out summer afternoons.

"You Can't Hurry Love" is not a cover, despite its title, but does have the same air of popularity about it: its go-go/surf inspired danceability echoes Pizzicato 5's pop culture fascination, bringing the frug and the monkey back to America's beach parties. This particular track ends up sounding like Mirah in a swimming cap, but is still enchanting.

Take this in contrast to the much more daunting "Chico," and you will see how soulful and complex their range really is. The song introduces a drugged, numbed kind of sadness that appears in several other places on the album. Overall, the track repeats its refrains like hurt memories that won't leave; more than that, it has a cradling, self-comforting sensation that becomes a theme of The Concretes. Arms folded, this gentle rocking is a stronghold, returned to in times of pain and medication.

Other instances of obscurity crop up in equally quirky places, equating idiosyncrasy with strength. "Diana Ross" is propelled by wonderfully pedantic drumming and repetitive guitars, soldiering on and wallowing until it bursts into a strung-along, sweeping chorus. It likens them the same girl groups referenced in its title, but takes this blueprint in such a straight-faced, serious way that it's almost uncomfortable. Luckily, discomfort frequently brings out the band's greatest and most ingenious moments.

"Foreign Country" is ideal in its short length and sing-songy disposition, like a breathy nursery rhyme or a terse, defensive reply. Despite the hopefulness and childlike nature of the track, it comes across as threatening and confusingly barbed. The Concretes' odd juxtapositions allow for wonderful unpredictability and surprising depth, through and through, bringing renewed energy at every turn.

By the time the closing "This One's For You" creeps in, the album is a certifiable experience, wearing you out with its peculiar ups and downs. Thankfully, the band is aware of this exhaustion, saving its dreamiest moment for the end. Recalling the Velvet Underground's lovely "Pale Blue Eyes," it uses scratching instruments to create a soothing fuzz. Harps and layered orchestral noise send the album to a heavenly, majestic dreamland, fading sweetly to its birthplace.

The willowy vocals that, on tracks like "Lonely as Can Be," kept the album grounded and dragging in the earth completely disappear, allowing The Concretes to float into the ether. An angelic album, blending incomprehensibility with beauty, this was its purpose all along.

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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