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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
Red Animal War
Black Phantom Crusades
Deep Elm Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
There is a definite tenor to a CD that, from the moment it arrives, it announces its critical intentions. Red Animal War has clung to the very essence of livelihood in Black Phantom Crusades, burning a hole through all false pretense, presenting something viciously energized.

"Still" begins by descending to the surface of the ocean, traveling leagues to somewhere stunningly deep and alive with rare creatures. Echoing, sonar-like guitars ring while crashing abounds and thin, wavering vocals double up and deliver great power with their intensity.

"When Fat Pigs Fly" matches Archers of Loaf with a heart of math rock repetition. The synthesis is completely fulfilling - engaging and punchy - with a wry smirk and intelligent, menacing lyrics. The last-minute addition of a xylophone adds an element of surprise before an onslaught of guitars closes the track in images of fear.

"Straight Lines for Construction Workers" delivers something as architecturally sound as it promises: the pace is swift, unmerciful, and off-signature. The call of busy hands and bracing time is what makes this sort of rock so enjoyable, and Red Animal War conjures up such delicious threat.

On their less mathy tracks, like "The Day After Yesterday," they show that their pop sensibilities can be as straight as they are crooked elsewhere. Unfortunately, this borders on slightly brash pop-punk, and loses a bit of its effectiveness in bubbly harmonies and bouncy structures.

"Mouse" picks up with more J. Robbins-styled vocals, spoken to the tone of guitar klaxons and breathless abandon. As the pattern continues, it's plain that if there is anything to learn from Red Animal War, it is that they are a force to be taken quite seriously. An effort to be enjoyed for its own sake, Black Phantom Crusades fights cleanly and hits its target with total precision.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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