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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
The Ladies
They Mean Us
Temporary Residence Ltd.

Rating: 8/10 ?


April 26, 2006
When the energies of prolific musicians come together there is always the potential for a top-of-the-pyramid moment of triumph that blocks the sun and casts shadows over the valley of slop below. That, unfortunately, is not always the case; just looking at the curious weave of the respective careers of Rob Crow and Zack Hill, a good tracker can see footprints all over the place, leading off into territories both good and bad.

Crow, who helms indie icons Pinback, and Hill, who mans the drums in Hella, are both important outsider artists with specific ideas that set them apart from the herd. Beyond the work of their primary projects, Crow and Hill have huge catalogs. Crow didn't start his career with Pinback, and has a number of projects to show for it, including Optiganally Yours, Heavy Vegetable, and Thingy. He also has the cheeky, costumed homage to Black Sabbath called Goblin Cock. Hill's projects are even more scattered, a disjointed pattern of dots spread all over an interesting map. They range from noise albums like Tough Guy Fantasy, to abstract improv sessions with Kid 606 (Flossin), members of Deerhoof and Joanna Newsom (Nervous Cop), Tim Kinsella (Friend/Enemy) and Crime In Choir, as well as Twiggy Ramirez's mediocre Goon Moon effort. Crow and Hill came together musically when they collaborated on Deftones' frontman Chino Moreno's extracurricular Team Sleep album. Now, with The Ladies' first album, that meeting between Crow and Hill seems positive and fortuitous.

If any (or all) of those side projects scream vanity, then The Ladies is like a boy band super-group. That's not meant as a put down so much as a challenge. The act of collaboration can undoubtedly come as a challenge to any artist who thinks they have enough relevant ideas for countless projects, but fortunately for us They Mean Us takes the challenge and captures what's best about Crow (his gentle voice and just-beneath-the-surface lyrics) and Hill (his drumming). Then, as if the album were a high-quality interrogation, it reveals new talents of both artists. Crow, who has been historically great with unexpected chord structures, turns out to be a fantastic guitarist, showing off his grasp of mathematics on the Hella-esque masterwork "Empathy On A Stick" and the Deerhoof-esque anti-rhythmic weirdo chords of "Non-Threatening." Meanwhile Hill reveals how his spasmodic drum fills can be tempered down and carefully employed without threatening the pop sensibility.

In the end, it is unclear whether Crow's tendency towards pop is simplifying Hill or Hill's tendency towards polyrhythmic insanity is complicating Crow, but the combination of these two equates to an extra value meal. Prolific as they are, Crow and Hill link up, rock out, and have fun. Whatever you may think of the duo's individual resumes, They Mean Us is a collaboration that matters.

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