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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
Once a Hero
Stealing Street Signs
Acutest Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
The activity of stealing street signs is a teenage rite of passage. It's a rebellion against authority. It's something exciting when everything else reeks of monotony. It's a keepsake. It's a memory. It's a part of growing up.

And it's something you leave behind in return for greater maturity and responsibility. Such a theme of moving on and letting go is woven throughout Once A Hero's first full-length, Stealing Street Signs. The Ann Arbor based, University of Michigan attending foursome craft solid, emo-veined post-punk songs with indie flair, along the lines of Before Braille and early Jimmy Eat World. Also present is an ability to tackle subjects with sensitivity, but also maturity beyond their years.

Once A Hero surprisingly fail to fall prey to the many trappings for the emo sub-genre. Gone are the laments of unpopularity and not getting the girls. Once A Hero replaces them with songs of introspection that are filled, both sonically and lyrically with optimism-and regret. However, Once A Hero rarely slips into a mode of complete self-degradation and woe, and attempt to stray from the placidity currently plaguing the genre with well-placed screams and anger. On Stealing Street Signs, Once A Hero caters to an audience who has already passed many milestones of youth-and survived with the scars to prove it. This band's aim isn't to aggravate open wounds.

"Losing the War" is the track on which Once A Hero prove what they're capable of. Assaulting, yet melodic guitar plays behind a balance of vocal melodies and anguished shouts: "You've won the fight/ but lost the war/ Never knew how much it meant." However, it's the closing ballad "Broken English" where Once A Hero shines brightest. Alex Robbins sings, "Lets agree on something/ there's no looking back," over layered and harmonizing backing vocals, soaring guitar, and elegant piano which all accentuate the feeling of the compromise between what you're leaving behind and what you've yet to encounter.

And if I was having any doubts about this band's musical potential, the hidden track assuaged them. Out of nowhere comes a beautiful, near twenty-minute piano solo performed by rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Doug Swarts. It blew my mind, only furthering my opinion that these guys have ability and potential greater than their years. Once A Hero might fit nicely into the clump of young emo/post-punk acts, however unlike most of their peers, they're searching for an audience that's already passed puberty. Here's to hoping they succeed.

Reviewed by Natalie B. David
A fresh graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, in her spare time she can be found clumsily manipulating words and phrases for LAS and Beautiful/Decay magazine, hungering for sushi, naming inanimate objects or pondering the existence of stiletto heels. If you see her, you should buy her a cup of coffee because, chances are, she probably needs it.

See other reviews by Natalie B. David

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