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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
Canyon
Empty Rooms
Gern Blandsten Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Having been a long time fan of Brandon Butler's musical endeavors and having seen his latest working class ensemble Canyon perform live, it wasn't a very long fall into love with Empty Rooms. To put it bluntly, this is one of the best soul-searching albums of recent memory, let alone 2003. Empty Rooms falls into that realm of pure sonic art, having sat in permanent rotation in my stereo for the bulk of this year, eluding critical analysis. The album is dark, lush and sweepingly melodic- everything great music should be. Why bother reviewing it when all you want to do is play it, get lost in it?

Having finally found a warm bed of straw to call their own in the dusty stalls of the Gern Blandsten stable (Gern having also just re-released their slightly less stellar but equally worthy self-titled debut), Canyon waste no time in getting down to brass tacks, unleashing their dark, brooding wall of guitars full force in the opening "Sleepwalker". Anyone who appreciates great music of any variety will find themselves fully immersed in the swirling steel guitar, ebbed too and fro with firm percussion and enticing keyboards. Imagine the bitter desolation of wind-swept prairie on Butler's second Boys Life album pumped through the whisky-soaked speakers in the back of a roughneck bar somewhere out in Western America on the wedding night your best friend and the most beautiful woman you never danced with, and you'd be close. Imagine a song on the soundtrack to the film "Hi-Lo Country" by a higher-pitched Ryan Adams fronting a lap-steel led Absinthe Blind cover band from Enid, Oklahoma and you'd be a little closer.

With so much dense, swirling melodic power and an uncanny knack for when to let the vocal tracks fade into the din and when to let them slap you in the face, Empty Rooms is hard to describe to someone who hasn't heard it- at the same time completely psychedelic and completely raw country & western- but one catch all description is breath-taking. From the quiet, removed bitterness of the beautiful "Lights of Town" to the robust, detailed corners of the following "Ten Good Eyes" with Butler and Clair Packer's vocal duet.

Canyon continues Butler's mastery of describing the indescribable, the conveyance of a blue collar life where all anyone wants to do is find an answer somewhere other than the bottom of the bottle before life deals them another bust hand. If your life is in the gutter and the only person you ever loved just stabbed you in the back and shot your dog in the head, this album is for you. Perhaps the purest of Empty Rooms' genius is that it's also for anyone who's found all the answers, put their cards on the table and walked off into the sunset with a pocket full of diamonds. If you are a serious fan of music and the art of the melodic hook, buy this record today and put it on repeat forever.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth

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