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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
L'altra
In the Afternoon
Aesthetics Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


March 16, 2004
L'altra has fashioned their work into the form of an unassuming soul meandering into Mass after a long period of doubt. As the first sounds chime in, you are addressed with a clearly picked guitar line, as a soft trumpet meets with whispers and a pretty sort of unease. Pianos trickle in, and you are left at full attention to receive the good word. All breath stands still, and you realize that you have mistakenly fallen asleep in a warm bath, and it has all been a serene yet chilling dream.

In the Afternoon, the newest release from this Chicago-based chamber-pop phenomenon, is full of sweeping, lustrous, and graceful moments, carefully painted atmospheres, and implied empathy. It's as if they can make all time stand still for those moments when they have your attention; not letting you know where they're going, but urging you to be taken along. As such, it serves as a quiet epic for a captive audience, not only meeting their audience, but pulling them closer.

To compare them to the dreaminess of early 4AD releases or the minimalist instrumental efforts of bands like Stars would not be a far stretch. In some ways, it picks up where Ida's Will You Find Me? left off, with dulcet tones and underlying drive, but with more refinement and emotion. The intricate pieces swell and swarm with an urgency that suggests they are not only out of breath, but out of voice - that they want only to be heard, and will not be denied, though their efforts remain eminently hushed. 

At their more dangerous moments (see "Certainty"), they recall the darker tones of Low or Helium, with the sweeping movements of a haunted orchestra. Upbeat moments continue to wash over, while the music remains insistently spare and artful.

As a perfect final touch, the album notes thank anyone who has ever felt forgotten. In the Afternoon pointedly speaks to lost souls in voices that stir and insist, but do not frighten. The pleading vocals of "Traffic" might be only for desperate attention. On "Moth in Rain," the same feeling surrounds, as the vocals insist, "I'll Wait For You," as if denying the crush of abandonment. The pace remains slow but urgent, and the ending tones recede once more like a call to prayer, in that we are left where we began, but subtly and vulnerably changed.

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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