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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]

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
Hopewell
The Notbirds
South Cherry Records/Sunny Lane Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


December 5, 2006
Their Birds Of Appetite sated, Hopewell returns with a six-song EP of blissful psych-rock ruminations on survival and redemption. The second in as many bird-themed releases for the band fronted by former Mercury Rev member Jason Russo is not quite as turbulent or dramatic as its full-length predecessor. Russo and company had a lot to get off their collective chests at the time Birds Of Appetite was recorded. Infighting and substance abuse had nearly torn them apart, but they had come through it alive - scarred, but grateful for second chances.

Still, residual tensions did manage to manifest themselves in bold, emotionally expressive music - with just a touch of garage-rock grit - that brought on an explosion of primary colors and energy, the likes of which psychedelic rock hadn't seen since Mercury Rev's salad days. Now comes the relative calm after the storm, and the sunny 60s-style psych-pop of tracks like "True Blue." A circus of happy organs, breezy background vocal harmonies, marching rhythms, Entwhistle-style bass runs and the occasional wild guitar salvo, "True Blue" is Donovan on acid. Russo talks about waking up in an anaesthetic fog during the middle of an operation to see his insides on display, and how he "...went looking for my darkness" and when he found it, it left him "...bloody and scratched/crawling through the needles and the glass." In the present, Russo find that "the opposite of everything is true blue," and as cryptic as that sounds, it also makes perfect sense for someone in recovery.

Though Hopewell dismisses the notion that this is one of those spring cleaning projects - a nonsensical purging of material that's sitting around just collecting dust in the band's closets - it is a somewhat disparate collection of songs. But they are really strong, compelling songs. Even the 1:17 song fragment "Silent Interlude" is a piece of beautifully bruised distortion, fragile piano and soaring sonics, and the lonely acoustic number "Sadness" offers intricacy and oddly warped vocals harmonies that are pretty and pained. A more complete expression of Hopewell's vision is "Beautiful Targets." With help from Mercury Rev, "Beautiful Targets," an outtake of the band's Tarbox Road Studio sessions, throws together the majestic balladry of The Verve with the Flaming Lips' optimistic mix of acoustic strumming and subtle electric guitar leads, creaky but full, rich harmonies, and a bed of gently whirring keyboards. The stinging title track shows that Hopewell hasn't lost the ability to rock, as does the big chorus of Hopewell's Dark Side Of The Moon-meets-The Beach Boys revision of Gene Clark's "With Tomorrow."

Not just a teaser meant to keep Hopewell's name in the public consciousness until the band's anticipated 2007 recordings, The Notbirds EP is a portfolio of a band's evolving tastes and attitudes. It reveals a different direction, one that leans more to pop subtlety and the underlying psychedelic weirdness of trippy bands from the past. But it isn't a complete 180-degree turning away from the studio inventiveness and arena-sized aspirations of Birds Of Appetite. These are heady times for Hopewell in terms of creativity and the highs that used to be chemically induced are now a product of work and imagination. Hooray for sobriety, or at least, moderation.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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