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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
The Extraordinaires
Ribbons of War
Punk Rock Payroll

Rating: 9/10 ?


July 12, 2006
I know that concept albums are not for everyone. I am a big fan of the WHO but I have yet to sit through Tommy in its entirety. The story of a handicapped boy who excels at playing pinball just doesn't float my boat. The same thing can be said about Pink Floyd and Styx and any other band that has a far-too-complex story-arc as the concept for their album. Give me simple. Give me a story. Give me something I will want to pay attention to - and keep it moving for crying out loud.

The Decemeberists released a concept EP a little while ago called The Tain and I fell in love with that. Based on an Irish folktale, The Tain is simple enough to keep you engaged, yet the story that's told is in constant motion. Being an EP also helped, because who wants to pay attention to an entire story for longer than five or six songs?

I do.

The Extraordinaires will get a lot of comparisons to the Decemeberists simply because of their great songwriting, nautical themes and fun instrumentation, however the Extraordinaires never come across as snobbish librarians or gentleman scholars the way Colin Meloy does. The Extraordinaires are an indie rock band to the core. Lead singer Jay Purdy has a voice that is somewhere between Stephen Malkmus and Davey Von Bohlen - typical indie rock boys who have a fascination with storytelling. While at times the songs in this collection are shanty-esque ("A Proud Salute," "Ribbons of War Parts I and II") the overall label is indie pop. There is a good amount of piano to be had from this guitar/bass/drum band, but you can also hear some harmonica, a mandolin and other stringed instruments that belong in an orchestra. It's full-to-the-brim instrumentation, but it never gets carried away. The musical ability of the band only adds to the story being told. Never does it takes over.

Over the course of the album we hear the tale of the Captain of a ship full of men and how he longs for the bedside manner of a lady. We hear how a pilot of a single-engine plane gets intrigued by a man she's never met. Eventually they fall in love and marry. For a year they live happily together, until the woman starts to miss her former life as a pilot and returns to the air. The Captain gets jealous and thus begins the makings of a war, which as everybody knows can never lead to happiness.

Seems trite when I boil it down that much, but the story plays out beautifully over the course of fourteen songs.

"The Captain's Overture" kicks things off and is the introduction to the ship and her crew. Beginning with the sounds of a ship at sea, an acoustic guitar, drums and an upright piano comes in to set a perfect tone for this story. The wordplay used to describe each member of the ship's crew is fantastic.

Track two, "Wings Over Siros Island," is our introduction to our lovely pilot. The somber tone of a single guitar and drums (which later flourishes out to a full bass and drums and trumpet) gives the listener the sense of loneliness this woman experiences in her life. She meets the captain and soon gets smitten with the power he has.

Like every good story, it ebbs and flows with emotions all the way through. The climax of war between lovers serves the story perfectly (if not a little early). We get different perspectives of the story all the way through. This is an amazing piece of work.

Not only is the music beautiful, but also the packaging the band has put into this album is unbelievable. Search this album out and buy yourself a copy. The book this album comes in (complete with lyrics and liner notes) makes this album all the more enjoyable.

Reviewed by Bob Ladewig
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he\'s afraid of really growing up.

See other reviews by Bob Ladewig

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