» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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]


 » 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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Fin Fang Foom
With the Gift Comes the Curse
Lovitt Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
In my experience- and as with anything this generalized there are notable exceptions- I have come across two types of serious music listeners whom we will call for lack of better terms diehards and dabblers. Diehards tend to fall head over heels in love with certain sound aesthetics, be it your D.C. sound, your pop punk, your hardcore, your hip-hop, your jazz or whatever scatters your hash browns. Dabblers, a group I would say I identify more closely with, hopefully, intend to seek out the best music in each genre and appreciate it for what it is, while simultaneously seeking out new sonic territory to keep the palate diverse. Keep in mind that while this blatant, and admittedly unappetizing, recipe for stereotyping music junkies could use a little zest, a bit of panache, or some heartfelt vim and vigor to steady its sea legs, it is not intended to demean members of either group; rather it's just a subtle disclaimer for myself, a dabbler who is continually finding it increasingly difficult to pass fair and accurate judgment on albums that my ear tells me are strong and technically solid- an album that would surely make a diehard need to only take his coffee black as tar for awhile- but that my heart wont become invested in, such as Fin Fang Foom's second long player, With the Gift Comes the Curse.

With the Gift Comes the Curse revels in the dark. Driven by drone, and basking in a moonlight glow as it does its minor key dance, the album is chock full eerie, melodic piano, guitars drenched in distortion, and drums pounded by some unholy creature of the night. While the band- comprised of Michael Triplett on guitar and keys, Michael Glass on drums, and Edwin Sanchez on bass, vocals and keys- can thank Andy Baker, whose worked with such notables as The Mercury Program and Japancakes, for a fine engineering job, and Chad Clark of Smart Went Crazy and Beauty Pill fame for the mastering work, the record still has a few shortcomings in spite of the often excellent musicianship. The album's weaker tracks sit right up front, bogged down by their tendency to use the bass or guitar to strike a repeated chord or note, creating a pedal point against the piano melody and driving home a static harmony that tends to bore and wear down the listener. It's these droning techniques and the tendency to arrange the songs in a repetitive manner- repeat the first two sections then allow the third section to stretch its feet out to the songs end- that hinder their effectiveness.

Elsewhere the bass playing improves, most often when the songs go sans voce- the vocals and lyrics have a hard time staving off the afterthought adjective. They're often an addendum at best, a bouillon cube in an already palate tingling broth. The instrumentals, "Lifted" in particular, along with the creative and fluid drumming, are easily the highlights of the album. Without having to make room for the vocals, the bass playing becomes more technical- locking in with the kick drum more often, creating engaging rhythms and setting the antelope harmonies free to roam about the open prairie. It's then that the arrangements seem to grow and evolve rather than just change.

Stirring in a bit of post-punk leanings on latter tracks like "Yesterday" and "Plastic Fang", where the guitars are brought to the forefront, sheds light on the bands influences with nice results, but it's hard not to get the sense that these tracks are the roots. A place where the band, and to a large extent the listener, can stay grounded; a look at where Fin Fang Foom has been, but probably not where they are going. Obviously, the band is a group of talented musicians who have a clear vision for successfully creating a dark, creepy, and often violent mood. With the Gift Comes the Curse is a step in the right direction for a band that, with a little more practice at their craft, will create a top-notch album sometime soon, but for now it may only be a prized possession of the diehards.

Reviewed by Mark Skipper
Mark Skipper currently resides in Nashville, TN where he can be found skipping shows, drinking Guinness, making bad home recordings, and complaining about how much music sucks these days.

See other reviews by Mark Skipper



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