» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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]


 » 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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Tenement Halls
Knitting Needles & Bicycle Bells
Merge Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

August 22, 2005
The setting of Chris Lopez's songs for Tenement Halls remains unknown. Perhaps he's singing from Area 51, or even from the airless confinement of space. Maybe he's in a mildew-ridden cave or a smoke-filled elementary school cafeteria. Perhaps he's on Mary Timony's pirate ship or in Bob Mould's dog and pony pen or Nick Cave's abattoir. Most likely, he's standing in front of a green screen with the sights of these locales behind him; the real importance of the location is that it is secluded, detached and vacuum-like. Knitting Needles & Bicycle Bells is a remote broadcast with stale, scary sounds that still somehow points to hope for its survivors. It is a transmission assuring everything is all right for Lopez, despite the darkness that has passed. The gothic perspective of the Rock*A*Teens, while lingering in our collective memories, has been proven brightly amiss with age.

Though smoke still bubbles in the lungs of Chris Lopez like pneumonia, his outlook is victorious, open-eyed and clear. The electric din has moved to a plane of plucky acoustics, and the inevitability of sorrow has been confirmed as an illusion. Cracked, bloodied lips slip to a sideways grin; the world is ugly and it is beautiful.

The new terrain opens up to "Silver from the Silt", showing itself to be majestic, shambling, clear and lofty. It is a rising song to begin anew, earning its wings while it sings, "It's the best you will find," and rallying momentum with uncontrolled, upward-moving "la"s. Its companion, the instantly loveable "Up & Over Thee Turnstiles", is far more contained but not claustrophobic - it is cacophonous, triumphant pop for the winning parties, of which Lopez is now one.

Happiness is also found in the unlikely 60s pop of "As Long as It Takes" - with its renewed lease on childhood - as well as in the wise, hopeful advice and knowing smiles of the Archers of Loaf-inspired "Charlemagne". Likewise, Lopez plays the yelping prom troubadour in powder blue on the milky "Now She Knows", and the stunted barroom philosopher on "When the Swifts Come Home", which so passionately warbles, "Wake me when the trees explode," we feel the joy and urgency of its intended meaning.

While the best tracks are the most uneasy and strung-out - like when bearing the deranged, astral colors of the Of Montreal kin, "Marry Me" or relishing the fabulous debauchery of the Pixieish devil's waltz, "My Wicked Wicked Ways" - it can never be denied how honestly happy Lopez sounds on Knitting Needles & Bicycle Bells. While, like Sugar, his tracks are always messy, the final statement, "Promise a Place" sounds absolutely revived, like a weight has been lifted from his very soul. As Chris Lopez slurps the words "all right" with such profound conviction on "Starless Night", its' surprising how fervently he means them. He wants you to know, believe, and be reborn in optimism, just as he has. His conversion is a skewed, human, and ultimately convincing testimonial for the forces of good in the world; it is also an inescapable batch of exultant pop classics.

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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