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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
Richard Buckner
Dents and Shells
Merge Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
A game of association: Rusty chains, acoustic guitars, cobwebs on countertops. Ghost town troubadours. Tom Waits, Simon Joyner and Neil Young. Sling Blade. Coal mining, and the slow smolder of a ritual, cathartic possession-burning. Appalachian evil. Just-clotted wounds run under water, soap foaming over blood. The warmness of nature and the breath of Matt Pond. The inevitable, oft-predicted sting. Chopping wood and other synchronized, acceptably antisocial behaviors; sharpness hacking through still air. A beautiful, familiar face bespeckled by sunlight across a coarse, wooden kitchen table. Optimism despite hardship; the lovely, softened memories of a widower. Honesty, extinguished lives and silence.

Richard Buckner.

It almost seems a crime to write a review of his work in anything other than images of rustic, true lives - hard work, character and storytelling. Dents and Shells follows in the grand tradition of Buckner's work by following his already-established, earnest tone. The highest highs have considerable joy, despite humble refinement, as felt in the dusty cool of "A Chance Council," the nature-abiding affection of "Her" and the simple, time-tested romance of "Fuse," but the lowest lows are in greater abundance, though they are no less natural in feel. There is a great sense of acceptance and inevitability throughout Dents and Shells that makes it a catalog of every day, ashes to ashes livelihood, inspired by the beauty of "the way things are."

The names dropped in the prelude - Waits, Joyner, Young and Pond - are affixed in his style of folk-revival, but more in Buckner's plaintive, preordained storytelling. After all, the darkness of Tom Waits' world isn't so much sinister as it is recognizable, and the two are kin in that perspective. In the begrudging hope of "Rafters" and the scattered grieving of "As the Waves Will Always Roll," we're met with the same underlying, inviting honesty that assures Buckner such high regard. Despite the complexity of each emotion he invokes, none are underestimated or misrepresented; he hits the most uncomfortable and engrossing feelings very squarely on the head. Dents and Shells is human in the best and truest kind of way: it is the work of a man, appreciative of feeling and progress, warts and all.

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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