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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
Xiu Xiu
La Foret
5 Rue Christine

Rating: 8/10 ?


July 14, 2005
What happens if you feel like you know you're going to die at your own hands? Is that even a bad thing? Couldn't that just mean that you and only you are in complete control?

So much is made of Xiu Xiu being a completely polarizing force amongst the masses: either you're completely down with Jamie Stewart's brink-of-sanity tales of sodomy, love, abuse, depression and life, or it's just too histrionic for you, mister! Much of the artwork of his first three records (and a handful of EPs) centered around knives, arms, knives on arms and blood; between Knifeplay and A Promise, Jamie's father killed himself. So, even if you're not always feeling the screeching yelps and distorted synths, maybe just maybe, you might know where this guy is coming from.

La Foret is Xiu Xiu's fourth LP for Kill Rock Stars' 5RC imprint. Sonically, there aren't a whole lot of unexpected turns away from the first three records; it sounds a whole lot like you'd expect the new Xiu Xiu album to sound. The song "Fabulous Muscles," from their last LP was a standout track, with its whispery cooing and barely-strummed acoustic guitar shining amongst the sequenced loudness of most of the record. Jamie tends to take advantage of this dichotomy on La Foret, where there's more of an emphasis placed on his quiet-as-quiet-can-be songs.

The album opener, "Clover," plays this hushed position perfectly before leading into the breakout pop single contender, "Muppet Face," which harkens back to "I Broke Up" or "Apistat Commander" - actually, now that I think of it, add "I luv the valley OH!" to that list - marking the second track of every Xiu Xiu album 'the single.' Therein lies the small beef I do have with this great record from this great man/band: after you've shocked your way to the hearts of the disaffected youth, where is there left to go by the fourth turn?

Aside from that analysis, there are some sweet tunes presented on La Foret. "Baby Captain" serves as a "familial love note to my brother and a hope to mend his broken heart and offer encouragement," and, once the wall of synths kick in, it is just about the most upbeat song we've heard from Xiu Xiu. Reflecting the changes in their live show over the past year, harmonium and autoharp are pushed to the front of the mix on tracks like "Rose of Sharon" and "Bog People". In contrast, with only clarinet and minimal percussion, the three chord "Ale" reaches "Clowne Towne"-like depth and despair with lines like "you want to go to bed every second/and wrap your arms around your kitty/she won't cuddle up to your disgusting feet/she's not the only one who won't."

Live, there is a very noticeable division within Xiu Xiu's catalog, between the loud and insane and the barely audible and completely gentle. There is simply no in-between. It seems like that sort of clear line is more of what Jamie was going for on this, the year's Xiu Xiu record; accordingly, it falls between last year's and next year's, and seems like Jamie's getting better.

So what's the tradeoff? Knifeplay will likely be near the top of some best-of-the-decade lists; La Foret probably won't, but the person who made the latter is probably healthier than the person who made the former. The worth of each is sure.

Reviewed by Jeremy Keller
A staff writer for LAS, Jeremy Keller uses his uncanny ability to intellectualize sports for the greater good of mankind.

See other reviews by Jeremy Keller

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