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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]

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 » 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
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
The Swell Season
Overcoat

Rating: 9/10 ?


June 6, 2007
Songs from Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's album The Swell Season may sound familiar. Some of the songs have appeared on The Frames' latest release, The Cost, as well as on the soundtrack to the indie film Once, and just like that film's characters The Swell Season unravels like a platonic love affair between two lonely friends. The album was released by Overcoat last year, but as Once has garnered more attention, so have the songs.

Hansard is best known as the vocalist/guitarist/songwriter for The Frames while Irglova is a lesser known Czech pianist. The songs could be succinctly described as simple acoustic ballads; as boring and cliché as that may sound for some people, the songs are also powerful vignettes. They are full of intertwining melodies, thoughtful hooks and delicate playing for nearly every instrument - vocals (Hansard and Irglova), piano (Irglova), acoustic guitar (Hansard), violin (Marja Tuhkanen) and cello (Bertrand Galen).

Compared to Hansard's work with The Frames, The Swell Season's songs are quieter and less theatrical - often times Hansard and Irglova's voices rarely rise above a whisper - but no less emotional.

"Falling Slowly" (which also appears slightly altered on The Cost) is the album's instant single. It has a simple guitar and piano melody just barely overpowered by Hansard and Irglova singing, "take this sinking boat and point it home/we've still got time."

Being lost and struggling to find direction is a theme throughout The Swell Season. In "Drown Out," they sing amid a pretty cello riff, "and we drive away and head for south/ we found our way and blocked it out."

The quiet songs often build to emotional climaxes, such as when Hansard insists "you're moving too fast for me/and I can't keep up with you" in "Lies," and the beautiful cacophony that ends "When Your Minds Made Up."

In the final song, "Alone Apart," Irglova quietly sings, "We're sailing, sailing every night/ We're drifting, drifting alone apart." Contrary to Irglova's lyrical assertions to the contrary, The Swell Season is hardly aimless, and if you allow yourself to get lost with Hansard and Irglova as your guides, you're bound to hear something special.

Reviewed by Sheila Burt
A contributing writer for LAS based near Chicago, Illinois.

See other reviews by Sheila Burt

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