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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
Micah Blue Smaldone
The Red River
Immune

Rating: 7.3/10 ?


November 24, 2008
With an artist's stylistic shift from abrasive hardcore to even-tempered folk often comes a slew of misconceptions. Does a career in the latter become more viable as a result of the former? Is the transition more telling of age than talent or creative inclination? Though seemingly connecting opposite ends of the musical spectrum, this particular genre crossover from screams to strums is more organic than naysayers would like to admit. With hardcore and folk music both rooted in and reactions to rock and roll, they are also equally defined by intricacies that are often misunderstood or spurned by the mainstream.

A founder of the politi-punk outfit The Pinkerton Thugs and fixture of the Maine music scene that has been home to the likes of Cerberus Shoal, these days Micah Blue Smaldone's music has taken a turn toward neo-traditional folk and blues-inspired warbling. On his third full length album, The Red River, the imaginative songwriter revisits a time when songwriting was regarded as a genuine craft, more closely resembling storytelling than solipsism. As a result, he can passably sing about "wind" and "forests," call something that's red "crimson," and introduce a world where guys who drink too much are "drunkards." In the spirit of the album, the romanticized language and delicate quaver adds a hint of blues, R&B, gospel, and decades-old folk.

The Red River is rustic Americana through and through, a dirt-under-the-nails world lived through the wordy narrative of a wandering soul. The hazy, muted horns of "Pale Light" earn the album its loneliest moments. Even-toned and repetitious, Smalldone infuses elements of the blues, a particular heaviness, to his arrangements. Sounding vaguely bayou, "A Guest" delivers soul in its somber backing vocals. Moving westward, "The Clearing" mixes banjo, fiddle, and picking guitar with an epic feel.

While his instrumentals are interestingly mashed, the overall temperament of the album ultimately drags. Smalldone's solemn and controlled croon, though subtly emotive, amounts to dismal verbosity. The Red River is a serious, introspective project that, like the narrating wanderer, shows no signs of its roots. That's not a bad thing. But Smalldone channeling a degree of his past, a hint of something angsty and jarring, might not have been a bad thing either.

Reviewed by Lara Longo
Lara Longo is a writer and photographer from Brooklyn, NY. In 1989, Lara received her first CD player and album, Appetite for Destruction; ever since, music is something she has fawned over, hated on, and played loudly. Her work has also appeared in Relix and New York Cool. Lara’s interests include sharks, European television, and the Hammond B3 organ.

See other reviews by Lara Longo

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