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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
My Latest Novel
Wolves
Worker's Institute

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


October 31, 2006
A fairy tale world of theatrical chamber-rock that's not warm and fuzzy like a Disney movie or as PG-13 scary as that of the Brothers Grimm awaits you in Wolves, the auspicious debut of My Latest Novel. Not so easy to peg, Wolves flows easily between eras and settings, dealing with universal issues like vanity, weakness and misfortune. And it does so with equal parts bombast and tenderness, falling from great heights and rising from the ashes, as people - from great leaders to janitors - do.

Already drawing comparisons to The Arcade Fire, the Scottish quintet weds sweeping orchestral pop to the misty folk of the British Isles in utterly captivating, stage-ready compositions that beg to be introduced on big stages, with elaborate sets of ships and angry oceans, bleak orphanages and rundown country manors, and intimate, modern apartments. Full of magic and wonder, Wolves is tailor-made for epic storytelling, but My Latest Novel would rather relate to you contemporary fables and cautionary tales with a Dickensian sensibility. And yet there's the fear that something menacing - whether it be poverty, misfortune, the ravages of time or unexpected loss - is always lurking around the corner, waiting to steal your childlike innocence. These Wolves are wearing sheep's clothing.

Do not be afraid, though. My Latest Novel comes to woo you with a romanticism that harkens back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Their entreaties are earnest, imbued with a mood-swinging mix of melancholy and optimism. It's fallen humanity and fate that you must treat with caution. Dramatic, but not over the top, Wolves opens with the quietly cinematic "Ghost In The Gutter," intermingling haunted baritone and twinkling guitar notes, the spaces gradually filled in with pounding drums and mournful violin that whip up instrumental tantrums. The buildup is heroic, but before it walks off into an Ennio Morricone sunset, it devolves into a lovely elegy for the dear departed, its broad movements echoing Murder By Death.

Bittersweet and wounded, "Pretty In A Panic," with its heartbreaking string arrangements, is a pained portrayal of an abusive home life, with an elegant spoken-word piece delivered in a female Scottish brogue and brimming with evocative language. Its tender beauty is remarkable, almost overwhelming the star-kissed, sparse folk of "Learning Lego." More filled out, with handclaps and sandy, knocking percussion, "The Hope Edition" is marked by delicate male-female vocal interaction that sounds like a duet between Nick Drake and former Belle And Sebastian chanteuse Isobel Campbell. The breezy folk-pop of "The Job Mr. Kurtz Done" is a jazzier take on Belle And Sebastian's well-worn formula of quietude and dreamy atmospheres, while "Sister Sneaker, Sister Soul" swells with an unexpected pop vibrancy and electricity that runs up against the noisy post-rock clamor of "When We Were Wolves."

Inspired choices, like the ragamuffin children's chorus in "Learning Lego" and the watery xylophones of "The Job Mr. Kurtz Done," abound and everything is so well plotted - from the ballet of violin movements, consisting of dancing pizzacatos and long, elongated swan dives, to the glistening acoustic guitar parts - that it glides from episode to episode with a rare grace. Transitions from soft interludes to monolithic crests of sonic abandon are smoothly executed, lending an emotional heft to the proceedings. There are elements of The Decemberists and Sufjan Stevens that collide in Wolves, their pop intuitions channeled into post-rock that's perhaps even more powerful than what either band apire to, and yet, there's no mistaking that My Latest Novel is inherently British. Forgive the emo nature of the band's name and just listen. It'll overwhelm you with its passion and emotion.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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