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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
Josephine Foster
Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You
Locust Music

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


August 4, 2005
She doesn't mic an amplifier and remix its infernal drone or squawk on a saxophone until she's explored every inch of its range, but Josephine Foster's music is still pure sound. Foster sings and accompanies herself with a host of acoustic instruments, from guitar to harp to ukulele and wooden spoons, always going light on the musical backing; she gives her siren's calls as much of the sonic spectrum as possible. Some would argue that Foster's music is unbridled voice rather than unadulterated sound, but voices have bodies and serve as means of conveyance, and I'm not sure that there are any people or ideas in Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You's obfuscating thicket.

But Foster's a folk musician, right? And folk's all about the voice of the populace and the narrative, isn't it? These are difficult questions. Foster is primarily interested in folk music, yes, but her relationship with the form is rife with give and take - she doesn't just passively participate in a genre. In "Good News," for instance, Foster's lyrics smack of convention. The titular phrase connects the song to gospel traditions; she implements a commonly used parallel construction ("Give to the east/give to the west") and concludes the quatrain with an expected turn ("Give to the boy/Who treats you the best") as she employs longstanding rustic colloquialisms such as "hankertissue."

Her voice, however, does not play into our expectations about traditional Southern folk music; Foster's is an eerie presence at once ghastly and godly, floating free from the instrumentation but also anchoring the song with melody. It's a voice that takes pleasure in its own sound, forsaking the narrative's meaning for a tonal one. Though not as virtuosic, Foster falls closer to Diamanda Galas or Bjork as a vocalist and is perhaps even more versatile than those women because her arsenal includes a homey, honey-soaked coo. Her voice positions her closer to pagan free-folk than the American traditions to which her lyrics, instrumentation and structures adhere.

"Crackerjack Fool" is Foster at her most comfortable: its bird call chorus is pure nonsense, pure singing and pure sound. With interests so divorced from the conventional folk song, Foster makes for a more difficult listen than her fellow American folk revivalists. The melodies, though, make it all worthwhile.

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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