» 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
Circuit Breaking Silence / Simplicity and Style [Reissue]
Princehouse Records

Rating: 3.5/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Remember when the 80's were laughable? Remember when those fashions and artistic conventions were looked upon as excessive, garish, and stupid? It seems like only a few years ago we were able to look back on the 80's with pity and promises to never repeat our mistakes. Now, however, the 80's are, like, totally back. People will gladly pay 80 dollars to have a haircut like Flock of Seagulls. Silly and trite new wave elements have weaseled themselves into music's underground complete with shitty sound effects, tin can electronics, and keytars.

The Calculators are a band that can proudly claim the distinction that they were retro-crappy before it was cool to be retro-crappy. This 1997-1999 retrospective CD is a true "before they were stars" glimpse as this group features members of Paradise Boys, and shit hot dance-punkers The Rapture. Whereas the Rapture have found a balance between attitude and songwriting, The Calculators is a group that seems to have spent more time designing matching stage outfits and finding out new ways to be pretentious than actually writing decent songs.

The lead singer delivers his lines in a detached and monotonous style owing his entire existence to Ian Curtis. Yet if Curtis was able to muster some real feeling in his haunted affectation, The Calculators' frontman sounds like nothing more than a parody of his hero, complete with faux English cadence.

The Calculators had plenty of influences from which to mold their sound. The most prevailing of these is Gary Numan. As the disjointed rhythms and synths rattle on, you'll be tempted more than once to sing out: "Here in My Car/ Where the Image Breaks Down". And if the calculators were still around they would certainly find like minded bands such as The Faint and Interpol to tour with, ensuring that an emergency can of mousse was always within reach. However those groups have flair and spark that is completely missing from the Calculators' sound. There is little of the energy that makes the Faint so unpredictable, nor is there the tension and tightness of Interpol. Instead we get insipid lyrics, and paper thin production.

If the Calculators were to have stuck around perhaps their fortunes could have changed or, at the very least, they could have gotten excited about what they were doing. This seems unlikely though, as in the course of 13 tracks the group spends more time being arty than interesting. Taking their sound out of the context of then and rating their discography between "trite" and "a disappointment" is only appropriate in the context of now, half a decade after their peak. That is one of the drawbacks of cashing in later on, when the trail they blazed has been cleared, paved, painted and gridlocked.

Reviewed by Dan Williams
A staff writer based in Brooklyn, New York, Dan Williams is a frequent contributor to LAS magazine. He once lived in Köln, Germany for a semester, is currently persuing his MBA in New York, and recently switched sides and began working as a publicist for Special Ops Media in New York.

See other reviews by Dan Williams



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