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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 Books
Lost and Safe
Tomlab Recordings

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


July 18, 2005
On Lost and Safe, The Books' third work, their Rube Goldberg folk pastiche has evolved past the imaginative use of quirky samples - in other words, beyond the 'these are songs' technique that has succeeded for the band on most levels. The found artiness of The Books expands on their inchoate vagaries, but even more than in their earlier releases, the samples, tapes and effects are folded neatly into the songs, emphasizing, echoing or finishing phrases for the band.

Here more than ever, the songs come before the samples; while the samples and sounds still accompany everything, they are now more like a third band member than leading player. This gives The Books a newfound depth of subtlety, the likes of which was always present but has been amplified to suit their new approach.

Organic, curious sounds are still key: at times, stringed instruments - as soothing as comfort food - are met with tuned plastic pipes (without the Intel-sponsored Blue Man Group to thank) and the clever addition of a subwoofer-laden, cheap file cabinet. Like the radiant ping of a well-inflated playground ball, your mind may feel nourished trying to pinpoint the origins of the beat on "Be Good to Them Always."

Likewise, the protean lyrics, sung by Nick Zammuto, offer permeation, like if Pinback were remixed by Negativland. Namedrops notwithstanding, the record rewards repeated listens as subtleties reveal themselves. There is a little less chaos to be heard, as The Books did their first tour in 2005 - shows with Keith Fullerton Whitman, Mia Todd and others brought fodder for various necessary plotlines. Now, these tracks rightfully need to be performed live, and only so many backing tapes (of tapes, natch) can be expected. However, it seems there's more to cling to - more to follow and make personal - as each whole song steals the spotlight from its parts.

The band's deft subtlety is best shown in the work, "Be God to Them Always," where amidst the clatter a dry voice explains, "This great society is going smash"; while the noise about him subsides, The Books skip the obvious, letting the words hang. They have learned to approach each of their works holistically and with natural emphasis; now all that's left is to profess their discoveries to the world.

Reviewed by Barry Prickett
Failed musician, scurrilous writer and enjoyer of all things that go glitch in the night, Barry Prickett is almost obsessed with his music obsession.

See other reviews by Barry Prickett

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