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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
Del Cielo
Us vs. Them
Lovitt Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


March 21, 2005
This is usually a bad sign. Before plugging Del Cielo's sophomore effort, Us vs. Them into my Winamp playlist, I downed an entire dose of cherry-flavored sugar from a packet of Fun Dip. Here's hoping this one lives up to hyper, oversugared expectations!

As I remembered from their debut, Wish and Wait, Del Cielo reminded me of Sarge and Sleater-Kinney in great, raw form. "This ought to work," I thought, as I chewed on the leftover stick, which for some Valentines-related reason read, quite aptly, "Hi Sugar". "Let's burn off some of this energy, shall we, girls?"

Del Cielo certainly did not disappoint, picking up exactly where they left off, only this time with a bit more edge. As evidence of this, the opener, "Too Scared," is downright moody - a jagged mix of Sleater-Kinney and Jejune, sharp but kinetic. Still present is the propulsive quality that made them so likeable in the first place, as many of their peers have slowed down in the interest of creating "more mature albums." I, for one, like the punchier sound, and Del Cielo seems to be in solidarity with me, even as they progress.

It's not all blistering perfection, though, as some tracks even feel a little regressive, the second time around. The primary example of sonic backpedaling comes with "Three More," which still champions an overall sharpness, like broken ceramic pieces shaking in a burlap sack, and maintains its loveable Sarge-like sound, but is so over-the-top that it moves into overdone emo territory, the likes of which made it a "three-letter-word" for this generation. Also, "Scream" has a spoken monologue, accusing the heroine of "acting ridiculous," which admittedly, she sounds on the momentary, cheesy sidestep.

On the whole, however, Us vs. Them rarely stumbles; it upholds its high level of energetic girlie-rock throughout. There are far more instances where they handle emotion capably than "Three More" would have you believe - Us vs. Them is at times sly, and often immensely believable. This is best heard on "Second Chance to Think," where helplessness gives way to angry empowerment, rising to fight. While vulnerability can still be heard on the charging title track, as well as the spurned lover's tale, "Joe Goth" and the stinging "Wreck," it never returns to the maudlin, instead employing anthemic, post-rock instrumentalism and angular bass lines to enhance their edge. The dynamic keeps Us vs. Them from being another unlistenable contribution to the emo junk pile - instead, Del Cielo is fairly insightful, capable of expressing themselves with great emotional honesty, but able to balance out feelings with action.

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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