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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
Embarrassment
Blister Pop
My Pal God Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Formed in Wichita, Kansas back when skinny leather ties were all the rage, the Embarrassment are firmly nestled within a unique niche in punk history. They were rocking like motherfuckers in the heartland amongst what I can only imagine to be fields of corn and wheat and tractors and a main strip drag in the middle of town and maybe one or two bars where they could play their noodley art-pop-punk music. As a partial result of that situation and the music world in general, not too many folks had a chance to hear them. With the release of Blister Pop, My Pal God does what it can to remedy that.

This release features live and previously unavailable cuts spanning the years 1978 through around 1983, when the band first broke up (they played on and off again in '88, recorded another record in '90, and got together for the occasional tour throughout the last decade.) Patched together from lo-fi cassette deck recordings at live shows and studio sessions, Blister Pop is what would be considered an "official" bootleg, live Embarrassment album, and as such it catches the band in all its moments of filth and fury and experimental bliss. Covers abound and the vocals shine on cuts like "No Reply", "Oh Pretty Woman", and "Maybe Baby". The Embarrassment also run through versions of Iggy Pop and David Bowie tunes ("I wanna be your dog", and "Funtime"), and a smwaltzy-punked out cover of "On Broadway" (you know, "You say the neon lights are bright on Broadway, you say there's always magic in the air..."), so you immediately get a feel for the ground that this band was covering while gigging in obscurity for years in small venues and bars throughout the US (yeah, they made it to Danceteria in New York, as well as the Lake Afton Reform School and the Blue Grotto in Tulsa, OK, of all places).

Not quite straight ahead punk, the Embarrassment were blending new wave, angsty art-pop with, at times, almost gothic Joy Division style rhythms like on their churning, sludgey "You're Not You Anymore", mixing plaintive, clean vocals with crunchy, herky-jerky, guitar lines and a driving low end. Straddling the line between depressive subject matter and wry, sarcastic wit, they sang about girls half the time, so they really have more in common with Jonathan Richman, than, say Joe Strummer or D. Boone. No matter what style they bounce between, one thing that's a constant on this record and coming through at every point is the live energy, and that's the punkest thing about these recordings - you don't know if their playing to a roomful of 250 screaming white kids in the middle of bumblefuck Kansas or just playing for their girfriends in a garage, and it doesn't matter because you just know they were having a fucking blast.

Reviewed by James Hoey
A long-time contributing writer for LAS, Jim lives in North Carolina and drives an early 70s model mustard yellow Chevrolet Blazer.

See other reviews by James Hoey

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