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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
Trilobite
Trilobite
self-released

Rating: 7/10 ?


July 3, 2007
Toss me a jubilant day, an open-window car ride filled with laughter in the sunniest weather, and half these songs will put the trip in slow motion. Mark Ray Lewis, the lead singer and songwriter behind Albuquerque's Trilobite, sees life through this sort of dirt-flecked windshield; the words and music are the sound of rushing safely and quietly through tranquility.

The best of Trilobite's musical touches are so subtle that their weight can't be appreciated until taken away. Contrary to your typical anthemic pop song structure, Lewis likes to end his songs with the same stuff he started them with, rather than triumphant and conclusive choruses. Final words and notes that might otherwise blend in are suddenly suspended in the emptiness before the subsequent track. This has the added effect of rendering those extra peppered parts as diversions rather than destinations. No matter how altered the pace or unsettled the tone of sections like the pleading "What are the odds?" in "A Man of God," they still always feel like just that: a plea. They come off as strangely awkward in fighting the context of the rest of the song, but it's dually comforting and tearjerking that their audacity rarely wins out.

The arrangements sometimes steep would-be intimate and insecure moments in all the contented chemistry of traditional folk or bluegrass, owing in large part to Lewis' eight talented but humble prairie home companions. The tumbling banjo line of "Caves of Burgundy" takes the words of a seductress, "I will dip my cloth in a pool of ice and wipe the pain from thee," and liberates them from near-inevitable stasis. Less paradoxical is the uncharacteristically adolescent "Let's Hope for Esperanza," in which the narrator falls in love with his family's maid, and of course his mind and body is enslaved. So too is the music, whose Spanish licks are the furthest out of its serene folk comfort zone of anything on the album.

For the most part, however, the music itself is meaningless without the lyrics. And for Lewis, nothing puts his aching heart in a nutshell better than nutshells themselves. Which is to say, nature is the vessel for what he's really trying to convey. Loss, regret, and a sort of bittersweet numbness to the hubris of man are all encapsulated in his delicate imagery, which makes them convenient to conjure and unlock in one's mind. Lewis' language is a sponge for his fluid emotions; the words pull it all together and exemplify it without losing the weighty sense of uniformity. This makes his hazy enunciation a bit of a handicap; I found the music almost frustratingly more relatable with the adorable little "Songbook" open in front of me.

The emotions buried within the rivers, roads, rocks and caves are rarely much more than implicit: though Lewis sings outright "I've got forty acres of regret to see/ my profit loss has been on show for free," in "The Pumpkin Farmer," it's the bow across that standup bass, ever rising and falling, that casts that sundown shadow of retrospect on the opening lines of "Charlemagne the Great":

We were divided right down the middle/
By a man with a bone in his fingers/
I waved goodbye to my wife and my daughters/
As they were held by a bow-legged soldier


More often, his words dance somewhere in between, beautiful and painlessly ambiguous. In "Snakeriver," when told his life seems "dull as river stones," the married man replies to the single man, "it's deep and quiet like a braided stream." Perhaps this is more an album for the "married man," or equivalent mindset; not every listener can tolerate something that branches away from itself, reacts to the cruel and arbitrary world around it yet never loses its essence, destination or quiet motion.

Reviewed by Collin Anderson
Originally from Trumansburg, NY, Collin contributes to LAS from the comfort of his sheltered ivory dorm in Oberlin, Ohio.

See other reviews by Collin Anderson

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