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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 Long Winters
Ultimatum
Barsuk Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


October 20, 2005
For John Roderick, the mission is almost over. Sometime in 2006, his band The Long Winters will release a full-length follow-up to 2003's astonishing guitar-driven pop album, When I Pretend To Fall, and when they do, he'll likely feel that a sort of homecoming is in order. In a way, it's like he's returning to Earth after spending months in space, much like the homesick astronaut of "The Commander Thinks Aloud" who longs to see "Boys and girls in cars" and "Dogs and birds on the lawn."

Does the commander make it? Roderick isn't telling. All he'll say is, "The crew compartment's breaking up" as you shield your eyes from the blinding kaleidoscope of lights and colors emitted by Roderick's synthesizers. You hope beyond hope that he does, but you get the impression Houston knows the ship has a problem - a big one - and there is nothing Mission Control can do.

It's a sad, unexpected ending to one of the most beautiful works of psychedelic, orchestral pop in recent memory. All around, Roderick's brave vocals fall heat tiles of echo-laden drums, and light piano chords pound on the walls of the spacecraft as you go shooting through the dazzling keyboard fire of re-entry; you suddenly want to wish Roderick Godspeed on whatever journey he's on and pray for his safety.

To lose a songwriter of his talent would be tragic. Even on this EP of Long Winters' ephemera, Roderick proves himself a brilliant metaphorical poet and composer, writing lush, string-washed folk ballads like the title track and warm, mellow pop songs like "Everything Is Talking." Truly, though, Roderick is at his best when he's melting your heart with lovely piano-based pop brandy like "Delicate Hands": elegant and full of hooks, it's The Pernice Brothers without the depression; delicate and gentle, it makes you believe Roderick can actually do what he says he can in "Ultimate" - that is, "I can make myself into rain/You'll feel me on your cheek."

Two acoustic solo live cuts close out the EP, including a sparse folk interpretation of "Ultimatum." After hearing "Delicate Hands" and "The Commander Thinks Aloud" - which was originally released on the Barsuk Records' compilation Future Soundtrack for America - you'll pine for the full orchestral treatment of the rest of the EP.

Whether or not Roderick continues his experiments with Flaming Lips-style psychedelia or dabbles in more sophisticated pop arrangements, he is the only one who knows - and that's the way it should be. Songwriters that play close to the vest are infinitely more interesting than those who can't wait to show you their cards.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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