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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
Lou Barlow
Emoh
Merge Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


February 20, 2005
Lou Barlow's recent album, Emoh, which is also his third proper solo release, is a personal memoir of concepts, sounds and lyrics. The journeyman songwriter uses his style of lo-fi folk pop to tell all about brooding desires and inconsequential life experiences, both together exclusively character defining and soul baring.

One of the biggest concerns of Barlow is about a woman. As expressed through many songs, having a good lady is something to cherish, but the desiring and inevitable relationship insecurities are what have the greatest effect on an individual. Although several lyrics create imagery of problematic endings and unparalleled emotional attachments, it is all real and personal. Perhaps this is the motto over all of Emoh.

"Real" and "personal" don't always mean "emo" though, which is freakishly close to the spelling of this album. In fact, the name was the idea of Barlow's friend Adam Harding and is actually the word "home" spelled backwards. The symbol of a personal place of meaning is consistent throughout the album and each track sounds as if it was recorded or conceived in the bedroom of a warm, wooden home.

All these ideas together mean that the album is not going to blow you away after first listen. Natural sounds gently drift towards the ear like sweet smells off a piping hot apple pie. Barlow plays the acoustic guitar with no intense urgency, an off-beat heavy accent strumming pattern always close at hand.

Other textures creep in to make the songs more lively and rhythmically pressing - electronically altered drum beats, foot stomps, knee slapping, piano, and beautiful cello sounds - but at the base of it all is Barlow's voice and knee-rested acoustic.

Together, these two essences craft 14 songs focused intently on melody and chord progressions, not licks or repetitive riffs or tricky drumbeats. Barlow has already had time enough with Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr to realize that the aforementioned rock fortitude has a proper place. This is not it.

Much of the current strength in writing comes forth in crafty, gripping lyrics. "Mary" is a track that speaks the mind of an individual who was raised Christian but questions principles within the faith from the standpoint of an ousted lover character: "Immaculate conception, yeah right/Crazy Mary it's good that you lied/A test tube baby, seed of the Lord/Breaking the law with the man next door." Other lyrics don't hit on such heavy topics but instead represent an individual who ponders about himself as much as he is pondering about the other person.

Lou Barlow seeks a simple yet higher truth throughout song and you hope, but never truly know, if he gets his peace. One thing is for sure: this inexhaustible songwriter will roll on.

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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