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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
Envy Corps
Soviet Reuinion
Bi-Fi Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


October 1, 2004
These days, musically speaking, it's getting tough to weed out the good from the bad. After all, how are we, as listeners, supposed to be able to tell if the band we are listening to is something fresh, or if they are just rehashed Coldplay/Radiohead copycats?

It seems that every other band that puts out a debut album these days is "the next Coldplay." It's getting really difficult to distinguish between the Elbows, Phasers, and Cooper Temple Clauses of the world nowadays.

That being said, I'm pretty sure that The Envy Corps, despite acquiring many of said comparisons, is not just one of those copycat bands. Yes, they sound like Coldplay making sweet love to Radiohead while Beck and Bjork make out on the floor beside the bed (With Wayne Coyne recording it all), but they have a voice of their own. You can definitely hear them in there, hiding in the closet, watching and hoping no one catches them and makes them leave. There is greater evidence that they are of a special breed:

First, they are convincing because of their vocals. Luke Pettipoole's voice is quite a powerful one. "Did I ask too many questions/do I ask too many questions/for you?", he begs on "Prisoners Of War," one of the best songs on the album. It is an orchestral, spacey slow pop tune about the feeling of being trapped. The vocals don't carry the high-pitched, trembling feeling of the average Brit-Rock single. They sound unique, and emit something fresh in somewhat redundant territory.

Second, the band is from Ames, Iowa, where the LAS main office has just relocated to. Hearing this record, I would never have expected to learn that they were from the Midwest, of all places. I could fathom New York, or England, of course, but... Iowa?

Third, the track "M. Gatewood" is a statement on its own. It is an upbeat romp, filled with fuzzy bass, pounding drums and lyrics about growing up and finding your place: "Everyone's growing happier/Jessica's leaving soon/Can I go with her?/You know I would..."

The result is fantastic. Should it end up on your best songs of the year list? Most assuredly. Go back and listen to the last 2 Radiohead albums, or any Coldplay album-do you hear any "upbeat romps" on there? Fuzzy bass? Thank you. This style is much needed and much appreciated.

Lastly, the liner notes contain a quote from V.I. Lenin about art belonging to the people. With a brief nod, again, that they are from Iowa, it's clear they know what they're talking about.

Overall, this is a thoroughly enjoyable record, and after listening to it a few times, I'm not even sure if the Radiohead/Coldplay/Flaming Lips comparisons are fair to these guys. It's a shame to have them lumped immediately into that listing when there is definitely so much more to be explored here.

They definitely do take their influences by bands of that nature, but carry them in so many different directions, it's hard to pinpoint a derivative origin. If you're looking for a really great atmospheric pop record, and you're looking for a change, skip over that new Flaming Lips EP and go for The Envy Corps. You'll thank me later.

Reviewed by Stephen Smith
In a recent staff survey Stephen Smith included a picture of his cat, Nikolai, since he said he didn\'t have any of himself.

See other reviews by Stephen Smith

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