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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
Greycoats
Setting Fire to the Great Unknown
self-released

Rating: 9/10 ?


May 7, 2009
We live in revolutionary times. The world, so much smaller than it has ever been, is under assault from global warming, poverty, starvation, war, and epidemic diseases. Radical ideologies continue to threaten peace throughout the world. The global economy has been shaken to its core. These are, indeed, trying times to be alive. Yet there remains room for optimistic waves of change. One of those swells comes from the twin cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota, in the form of the Greycoats, one of the most intriguing new acts in America.

"With a photographic memory/ it's getting harder to forget," Jon Reine sings on "Learning to Remain," the opening anthem of Greycoats' self-released Setting Fire to the Great Unknown. This album, like the times we live in, is also hard to forget. Reine and his bandmates, Titus Decker, Mike Smith, and Matt Patrick, have fashioned Greycoats as a faux revolutionary movement; "speed the ashes of a darkened Rome/ history's lessons are the devil's throne/ we'll find a revolution we can call our own." While the theatrics may be a little overboard, the album is a refreshing, eye-opening squall in a so-far lackluster year of releases.

Setting Fire to the Great Unknown is the album that U2's underwhelming No Line on the Horizon could have been. Here we find hints of Bono and the Edge (falsetto crooning and ringing guitars), Coldplay (more falsetto crooning and a drum beat on "La Résistance" remarkably similar to "Clocks"), the Arcade Fire (thoughtful and often foreboding lyrics along with lush instrumentation) and Keane (remarkably choirboy-like vocals from Reine). Greaycoats have also received comparisons to Sigur Rós, but there is little to resemble the Icelandic post-rock behemoths here, other than occasional otherworldly atmospherics to introduce a few songs.

The musicianship on Setting Fire to the Great Unknown is consistently compelling. There are, in addition to the standard guitars, sounds of piano, organs, strings, and woodwinds, along with the occasional electronic tinges of white noise. This is a lush, beautiful album that I was, honestly, sad to have finished. "La Résistance" is the album's best, a stunning anthemic rocker that begins with quiet ambient sounds before exploding into what I am confident is a fantastic live song. It's contemplative, believing: "Can't stop the hands of time/ from taking what we've known/ there are a lot of things/ I don't understand." Other standouts include "An Echo in the Dark," "Monarch Wings," and "Watchman, What is Left of the Night?"

There is little doubt in my mind that Setting Fire to the Great Unknown is one the best releases of the year thus far, and will stack up sizably come December. This is bold musicianship in a time of timidity amongst mainstream artists. Greycoats do not need a label to soar above the competition; their revolution is here.

Reviewed by Eric J. Morgan
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Eric J. Morgan is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Colorado. He has an orange cat named Nelson and longs for the day when men and women will again dress in three-piece suits and pretty dresses to indulge in three-martini lunches and afternoon affairs.

See other reviews by Eric J. Morgan

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