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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
Je Ne Sais Quoi
We Make Beginnings
Coalition Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Globalization is often thought of in mostly negative terms, particularly by the young and those on the political left. Granted, the spread of big business across borders can open the door for potential exploitation of poor populations. And yes, the pursuit of international profit can indeed come at the expense of various environmental concerns.

But, by focusing on only the negative aspects, many positive things can be overlooked. Ask the burgeoning and newly prosperous middle class in India if they'd like globalization to go away, for example. No, one shouldn't allow themselves to become too pessimistic about the shrinking of the world.

To cheer up a bit, take The Je Ne Sais Quois. This is a Swedish band with a French name on a Dutch label singing in English. Their sound is a mixture of early British post-punk and American art-rock. Only in the age of globalization could such a band exist!

We Make Beginnings is their first full length album, and its appeals blur all artificial boundaries like borders and sovereign nations. The bass and drums drive ever forward, threatening to get full-on funky. The guitars and organ jerk around; the vocals come in coherent, nasal bursts. The songs are tightly constructed, with no wasted motions and unnecessary clutter. It all comes together as really top notch post-punk/art-rock in the vein of early Wire, Blonde Redhead and even Pretty Girls Make Graves.

The point here is that it doesn't matter where this band comes from, or what the language barriers or physical barriers are. The only thing that matters is the product, the music, and if it's any good or not. Based on the evidence here, The Je Nai Sais Quoi put out a terrific product. And, if it takes a Swedish band with a French name on a Dutch label singing in English to make a record as high-quality as We Make Beginnings, then I think even the political left would have to concede that globalization works sometimes, doesn't it?

It is a symptom of the George W Bush era that we look for such simplistic Manichean things like the glass being half empty or half full. The truth is, the glass is both half empty and half full all at the same time. So with globalization we have some exploited Cambodian workers but also newly prosperous Indian workers. We have deteriorating air quality in industrial China but better quality of life in large sections of South Korea. We also get some Swedish band with a French name on a Dutch label singing in English, putting out records in America that raise the quality of noise coming out of our speakers, presumably without any environmental trade-offs or massive exploitation of the poor. What's so bad about that?

Reviewed by Dan Filowitz
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.

See other reviews by Dan Filowitz

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