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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
Small Sails
Similar Anniversaries
Other Electricities

Rating: 7/10 ?


March 22, 2007
Half band, half film-making group, Small Sails is an intriguing venture. Not that half of the collective members are only interested in one or the other, but because they create both sides of the project with the other in mind. Composed like a score, the music is atmospheric and none too physical. The film element, which I have not witnessed, is described as real and gritty, with elements like a field of plowed dandelions and children jumping rope.

More descriptively classified, the music is indie rock at its base with roomy instrumental additions and electronic creaks. Some of the songs feature standard drum kit beats (often 4/4 but with plenty of break-y tendencies, e.g. "Corners"), while others utilize unconventional hand drums ("Somnambulist") or electronic programming ("Lawn Makers") to create rhythm. Other tunes meld the characteristics of live and synthetic sound -during "Earthbound With Parents" an organic drum set is being played with stick clicks and snare ghost notes, and at random points cymbal crashes or snare hits are smeared with glitchy electronic emulation. Overall this method of cleverly blending live and electronic recalls Midwest Product, a band that could certainly have been a strong influence to Small Sails.

Similar Anniversaries is unique in more ways than it is similar to pre-existing musical output. (Although it makes false mention of similarity to Animal Collective, The Books, and Caribou, the album's accompanying press kit does highlight an accurate likeness to Album Leaf.) What differentiates Small Sails from their contemporaries is that they don't feel a pressure to quickly identify with listeners through lyrical confessions or overtly hip-shaking grooves. Instead, the sound moods build around airy, breathing synth chords and stingy, cascading notes from a vibraphone and electric guitar, all complimented by the crunch of programmed drum mechanics. Likewise, vocals are introduced in the under-utilized manner of nonsensical, repetitive humming. After listening to a few bars of "la-la-la" or "wai-o wai-oooh" (not like '60s doo-wop, but more akin to the style of female Icelandic singer Kristin Anna Valtysdottir from Múm), the harmonized vocalizing almost becomes chant-like, and the infectiousness is undeniable.

Although their approach to this release may be, Small Sails is not an experimental band. At the same time, it is also not bubblegum for the pop masses. A clever coalescing of twinkling indie pop guitars and avant-affiliated production and electronic sounds makes this an intriguing band to check out. Certainly Similar Anniversaries is proof to something positive.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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