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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]

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 » 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
Far
Water and Solutions [reissue]
Immortal Records

Rating: 7/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Though I never actually purchased any of their records or went to any of their concerts, I always felt like Far were "around" during the formative years of my music-loving life. Having developed an early affinity for guitars thanks to Dire Straits, Stone Temple Pilots, and whoever else I heard on mainstream rock radio, it was only a matter of time before riffy post-hardcore would catch my adventurous young ears' attention; this being the sort of music that Far played, I was often recommended their two full-lengths, Tin Cans with Strings To You and this one.

I heard "Mother Mary" and "Man Overboard", and thought that both rocked pretty thoroughly, but for one reason or another, I would always find something else in the music store that absolutely blew my mind. I can specifically recall passing over Far records to buy albums by Hum, Fugazi, Quicksand, Burning Airlines and Sunny Day Real Estate - granted, none of those bands are all too far from Far (no pun intended, I swear) in their general approach, but something about them resonated a bit deeper within me.

And here we are, six years after Water and Solutions originally hit the shelves and a mere five after Jonah Martanga, John Gutenberger, Shaun Lopez and Chris Robyn parted ways, and the album I always thought about buying but never did is being given the royal reissue treatment - expanded liner notes, enhanced CD material, a bonus DVD with interviews and live performances, and a fancy schmancy slipcase (which prevents it from properly fitting in my CD tower, might I add).

I could launch into a lengthy diatribe about how this record has never once gone out of print, and that it's the year's most pointless reissue this side of the re-mastered Moon and Antarctica, but this is sort of a nostalgic disc for me, so I'll let all of that slide.

By the same token, though, I won't be getting too sentimental, because my first listens to Water and Solutions in at least three years - three years marked by personal journeys into post-punk, post-rock, post-modernism and anything else that could be considered nebulous or difficult - have made me realize something: I made the right choice when I bought Downward Is Heavenward and Manic Compression instead.

Now, I don't mean to suggest that Far are a bad band by any stretch, or that my copy of this album would have ended up in the used CD store by now if I had purchased it in high school, but I am saying that they are far (again, I promise I ain't punnin') from an essential act. Whereas Hum and Quicksand took brash, big money-backed soft/loud guitar rawk aesthetics and twisted them to create songs that have withstood the shifting of tides and the fading of trends quite well, Far don't assert themselves as great songwriters. Granted, they're more nuanced than, say, Days of the New, but their tunes still sound like they were scientifically configured to sit well with angsty fifteen year-olds who need to let out a little steam because Mom won't drop them off at the movie theatre. This is the stuff of all black bedrooms and rotten poetry diaries; fortunately, it just so happens to groove a little harder and kick in a little more intelligently. It is solid melodic metal, but so short-sighted and calculated that I fail to see how bands like Thursday and Funeral for a Friend can view it as some unapproachable plateau. It's a wonder I even saw anything here to begin with...

But you know, "Nestle" is a pretty fine piece of hard candy, dude, and damned if the title track hasn't been cycling through my head for a few days now. In fact, pretty much every track on here, with the exception of the woefully overproduced "In 2 Again", is too taut and catchy to deny.

It just wouldn't be proper to write these guys off completely. Indeed, for all of their emo posturing and nü-metal overtones, Far actually came pretty close to creating an Americanized version of Catherine Wheel's Chrome - both bands wrote uncomfortably accessible, too-sweeping-for-their-own-good, almost-radio-friendly-but-not-quite anthems. Yet, while Catherine Wheel get namedropped alongside some of the greatest bands of the '90s, Far have been virtually ignored by anyone outside of some odd cultish faction of the hardcore community. Just because Far's sensitive dude cock rock is inherently less cool than shoegazing - or going all Elephant6 and psychedelic, or ripping off Pavement, or doing anything else that '90s college radio staples were apt to do - doesn't make them any less of an enjoyable, quirky piece of the '90s rock landscape than some of those middling Matador and Sub Pop bands that you'll more readily admit to liking - When you think about things that way, maybe Far haven't quite gotten their due yet.

So what do you say to this? Those of us who cut our teeth on grunge and post-hardcore can stick our nostalgia back into the closet, any of you who have preconceived biases against populist-bent hard rock can junk them, and we can all agree to love this album for the collection of sugary, delightfully juvenile jams that it is - nothing more, nothing less. Or, you can just respectfully tip your hat in this album's general direction and go on with your business of acquiring the more important stuff. Either way, I think I'm going to listen to "Nestle" again and call it a night.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan

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