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 » 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
Califone
Roomsound
Perishable Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
There are thousands of bands working in America that will not be "heard". Most of them deserve it. This one doesn't.

A band that rose from the ashes of Red Red Meat, Califone contains most of the same members and retains the principal singer/songwriter Tim Rutili. They also retain most of the sound, which is very good, and in the past very frustrating. Red Red Meat reached an artistic peak in 1995 with Bunny Gets Paid, one of the best albums you may have never heard. Then they released an album that started off with three very good songs and then fell into the toilet. Basically, they got a little too experimental and the last fifty minutes of the album were filled with various distorted drum noises, interspersed with some quality guitar work and vocals that got lost in the mix. It's is not that I was especially mad at them for trying this, I was more mad at myself for buying it. To make a long story short, I wanted to know before my next purchase if they would continue to experiment with noises or if they would they go back to the slightly off kilter music that made them great. They decided on neither and broke up. Happily, along came Califone. Roomsound is the band's first official album. They have previously released two EP's that are pretty strong, containing very good songs and also noises (a guy moving a box across a floor as drums, for example) which were later combined for a full-length. On Roomsound, it seems that restraint has found them and they have found the perfect mix.

To be honest, I disliked this album the first time I heard it, I was going to throw it out. But I kept listening, and a funny thing happened- eventually I could not stop listening to it. I was hypnotized. Here we have a band that absolutely does not sound like anyone else. From the fuzzy first strums of the acoustic guitar on the opening song "Trout Silk", you are in the land of Tim Rutili. A mix of slow rock, country, blues, and even strains of the electronic, Califone amazingly retains none of these qualities. Often two sets of the vocals by Rutili will come at you from different directions, one ethereal, the other strained and reluctant. Just as often a piece of distorted guitar will chop out of the layers of sound like an axe. A banjo will play a simple, but perfect melody to counter act the sporadic piano lines. Lyrics freely flow from anywhere about cataracts, satellites that grow vines, porno starlets, and a charcoal mother. Violins come in and out so easily, you wouldn't even notice if they were not included in the linear notes. Electronic noises and loops smooth the edges just enough. This is brave music from a band that does this because they like to do it.

It's hard to pick out songs on an album like this, because they flow so well together you hardly feel the next song come. Certainly "Bottles & Bones (shade & sympathy)" stands out. With its changing rhythms and its catchy despite itself chorus, this song can not be heard enough. Another highlight is "Tayzee Nubb", a song that slowly drifts away from sanity at the end. Don't forget "Wade in the Water" which contains the classic line "Hydroplane like a sailor, across the tar, along the lake" To be honest, I could honestly say something good about every song on the album.

Look, if you are sick and tired of listening to the same old crappy albums repeated by bands from everywhere over and over again, be my guest. I do it too often myself. If you want to listen to an album that is different, but very high in quality, buy this. You should play this album once and if you like it keep listening. If you don't, keep listening anyway. This is an album you have to peel to get to layer after layer of grit and beauty.

Reviewed by John Steinbacher
The last we heard, Steinbacher was living in Minneapolis.

See other reviews by John Steinbacher

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