» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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]


 » 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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Residents
River of Crime

Rating: 4/10 ?

June 19, 2006
Man, I don't know... The Residents are complicated. These guys(?) have been around since the early 1970's and remain an enigma. They avoid the public eye by performing and appearing in scary eyeball shaped masks. No one even knows how many people are in the group. They associate themselves with entertainers like Penn Jillette (a.k.a. the Libertarian answer to Michael Moore) and Matt Groening. Some have credited The Residents with the invention of the music video and, in fact, their music is usually accompanied with some type of visual, interactive or multimedia art. With an expansive catalog that includes not only music but also graphic novels, CD-ROMs, art installations and DVDs, no one could accuse the band(?) of being lazy.

Or uncomplicated. River of Crime, the ensemble's latest release, is being issued first in limited-edition CD-R subscription packages available at Virgin, the MoMA store and through the Cordless website, in installments each with its own artwork. However, the cover art for the full production issue of the album features an image of an elephant strapped into the electric chair and another showing an alligator with a young woman in its jaws. These images help to set the stage for an album of dramatized "Crimecasts" featuring mostly minimalist music backing up a kind of old-timey, spoken-word audio play. The dramatic 15-minute episodes included with the River of Crime promo attempted to bring to life grisly stories of murder and death. I won't go into too much detail about the content but suffice to say that the first five minutes contain a disturbing description of Thomas Edison electrocuting an elephant named Topsy. Apparently Edison was involved in the creation of the electric chair, going so far as to document the elephant's execution on film. The rest of the Residents' story is fictional, but still equally disturbing. They really pack as much shock as possible into the stories.

Back to the limited edition CD-R copies of River of Crime. Inside each hard to obtain package is a code that, once entered into a special website, will grant listeners access to awesome freebies like ringtones and scripts of the "Crimecasts." Are you noticing a trend here? Lots of "extras" and an added difficulty in obtaining the product plus shocking content... It may occur to some, as it has to this listener, that the Residents are trying to compensate for something with all of the bells and whistles.

While the stories are somewhat entertaining and the extras abound, the whole thing amounts to very little. After listening to the first story, I had no desire to listen to the second. Audio plays, like those attempted on River of Crime, can be incredibly compelling and entertaining - but War of the Worlds this ain't. The whole project has the feel of one of those "made for the Sci-fi Channel" films that has some semi-neat computer animated monsters for garnish, but has little meat, starring a former playmate and Lorenzo Lamas. Everything is very slick, very clichéd and very hollow. It's all too bad because had The Residents spent more time on the story and music and less time on which mobile phone wallpapers to offer, I think this project could have been a really sweet concept album.

Reviewed by Jon Burke
A contributing writer and a Chicago resident who will not be goaded by LAS’s editor into revealing any more details about his potentially sordid affairs.

See other reviews by Jon Burke



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