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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
A Fine Frenzy
One Cell In The Sea
Virgin

Rating: 6.9/10 ?


July 30, 2007
Let's just get this out of the way: A Fine Frenzy sounds so close to Tori Amos that a blind taste test of audio streams from each would be a tough call. Now that the Amos comparison is out of the way, allow me to address the little earthquakes of One Cell In The Sea, the new album by the nom de plume of 22-year old Alison Sudol. The folks at Virgin have been touting the album not only Ms. Sudol's "musical skills and creative spirit" but also her "beguiling good looks." Having surfed the web in an effort to validate the latter statement, several LAS staffers have indicated a willingness to vouch for Sudol's appearance, and I will certify that One Cell In The Sea contains several instances of creative musical spirit.

A rather young songwriter, Sudol has obviously caught the ear of those in-the-know, having inked an early deal with space cowboy Richard Branson's Virgin label. Moreover, Sudol has recently announced tours with singer-songwriter A-listers Rufus Wainwright, Neko Case, Magic Numbers And Sean Lennon. All of those are indeed CV-worthy credentials, but nothing quite tops Selma Blair's letter to Interview magazine:

--
Dear Interview,
I found out about a band that you should know about. It is called A Fine Frenzy, but is really a young beauty named Alison who plays in her garage, and her mom brings out milk and cookies when people come to listen. I think her music is haunting.
Love, Selma Blair
,
--

It's certainly easy to see why folks get infatuated with artists like Sudol. We love our strong female singers, and rightfully so, since they are typically underrepresented. The voices of greats such as Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Liz Phair, and Aimee Mann may not be as omnipresent as their XY chromosomed counterparts, but they are no less crucial. And speaking of voices, it cannot be more plainly stated that Alison Sudol possesses one of the most beautiful. It is dominant yet delicate; and as it bellows out the uniformly melodic numbers on One Cell, it washes over the listener like a soft summer rain.

The album has a few shortcomings, the primary one being the overly ambitious playing time of one hour. With fourteen songs, at an average of four and half minutes, the record would have greatly benefited from tactful editing. After a while the piano driven tunes begin to meld together, which is a shame, since there are some real standouts. "Ashes and Wine" belies the singer's youth, coming off mature and timeless, highlighting Sudol's impressive vocal range, as registers change effortlessly with the flowing melody. The six-minute "Liar Liar" starts out with whimsical accordion before jumping into whispery sung lines "Sick and tired/ of this mad desire." The cut that really displays the promise of A Fine Frenzy is "Hope for the Hopeless." Switching it up from piano to guitar is a welcome move, and the touching song almost feels like a personal anthem.

A Fine Frenzy's offering has placed her in the category of "singer-songwriters to watch". One Cell In The Sea is a colorful, nicely arranged album, if a bit on the mild side. Unlike the delightfully melodramatic artist I'm not supposed to mention again, I don't foresee Ms. Sudol covering Nirvana anytime soon. No doubt about it, this young woman has skill, and would probably win American Idol in a landslide, if only they would let you sing your own songs (oh, the Idiocracy). For now we'll just settle for some milk and cookies, thanks Mom.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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