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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
Xiu Xiu
A Promise
5 Rue Christine

Rating: 7/10 ?


May 3, 2004
The cover of Xiu Xiu's latest release, A Promise, is a photo of a naked man kneeling on a bed holding a plastic doll upside down in front of him. Honestly, the first thing that popped into my head was, this looks like evidence confiscated from the home of a pervert that lures young boys there only to photograph them and then do them in. I imagined this disc to be the backdrop for that scenario. Prior to receiving it I was unfamiliar with the band Xiu Xiu, I only knew of the film, which I've never actually seen, but has been described to me as beautiful but extremely sad and depressing (I later learned the film ends in a double suicide.)

After listening to A Promise, my observations are as follows: it very well could be the soundtrack for the above mentioned scenario of self erasure, and while I'm not certain that the name was inspired by the film [It is -ed], it's highly probable. In short, this disc is beautifully fucked up, teetering on the edge of atrociously pretentious, throughout leaning in both directions.

Vocalist Jaime Stewart writes and sings with a conviction that is bleak and laughable; and on A Promise it's difficult to discern at which points he's being serious; right down to the somewhat mocking press release that at one point describes the album in an outlined bulleted form; one description stating that the songs "are open about suicide and what a relief it could be," another mentioning "there is a cover of "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman," (which is a song that I've always secretly enjoyed and found somewhat redeeming and uplifting - with their version it's been turned it into a flat, affected caricature of loneliness.)

The opening track "Sad Pony Guerilla Girl" has a delicate acoustic feel that I like, until it is abruptly perforated by what sounds like a tape being eaten by a tape deck. The next track "Apistat Commander" starts off with indefinable static and leads into a persistent, machined dance beat - all of this accompanied by vocals that are borderline prophetic. It culminates with an all out industrial dance party (which is actually one of my favorite parts on this disc). The album continues with a mix of fragmented new-wave, and experimental pieces that are interesting to hear but not particularly notable. Although it has it's highlights, the moments of interest dissolve into an abstraction that I find somewhat regretful and irritating (but maybe that's the point). Despite all of that, they've sparked my interest enough, and I am curious to see how they make it all come together live - where perhaps their facial expressions will give some indication of if this is the ridiculous, self deprecating aspect of depression at work, or something that is beyond me and smarter than most of us.

Reviewed by Danielle Marusa
A resident of Malvern, Pennsylvania, Danielle is an occasional contributor to LAS.

See other reviews by Danielle Marusa

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