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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
Icarus Line
Penance Soiree
V2 Records

Rating: 5/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Say all the Hail Mary's you want, boys. Take a week off and go to the desert to fast or spend a day lashing your backs with a cat-o'-nine-tails, 'til the blood streams down your legs. It won't save Penance Soiree from serving out the rest of its miserable life in music store purgatory, better known as the cutout bin. So make room Orange 9mm, and tell Local H to slide down the racks a bit. You are about to get some new cellmates.

Such predictions can come back to bite a reviewer in the ass. I'm aware of that. What I see as a clumsy foray into the world of nihilistic, art-damaged sleaze rock could be taken as the second coming of Guns 'N Roses by others, and maybe album sales will go through the roof. I don't think that's going to happen, and I'll try to explain why with an analogy.

Here goes: Have you ever tried to sort out a tangled mess of electrical cords left strewn about on a floor? Try as you might, it's impossible to find the plugs where the cords end. You pick up one end and follow it for feet at a time, only to find it intertwined with another one that you think is the same one you've had in your hands the whole time, but it isn't. And all your work's been for naught. This happens a few more times until you decide it's not worth the aggravation and you drop what you're doing and walk out.

That's what it's like listening to Penance Soiree. It's a frustrating jumble of aimless, turgid riffing that spray paints illegible, noisy graffiti on steel-girded rhythm section walls that'll meet rock's building codes, but ultimately sound dull and uninspired.

"Spit On It" is The Icarus Line at its most abrasive, with screeching guitars swallowing vocalist Joe Cardamone's distorted wailing as the drums and bass wander off, hopelessly out of step with each other. "Up Against The Wall Motherfuckers" is a promising opener, a cock-rock sidewinder that slithers around a big, loping bass line lifted from Spinal Tap's "Big Bottoms." Then streaking guitars fly over Cardamone's leering vocals and you think you're in for a display of aerial power on par with the Blue Angels. But the song spins out and crashes in a trash heap of smashed drums and broken guitar strings. No fireworks, no explosions - just a pile of twisted metal. If only we could find the black box to hear what was happening in the recording studio when everything went haywire.

The bait-and-switch continues with "On The Lash", with its low-end snarl, its wah-wah guitars searing flesh and foundation-shaking drums offering hope that The Icarus Line has changed its ways. They don't see the light, and by the song's end, the formula grows stale.

Speaking of which, have you pulled out those old Soundgarden albums lately? Sound pretty dated, don't they? The Icarus Line isn't giving up on grunge just yet, though. They fly the flannel on "Kiss Like Lizards", which stomps through Black Sabbath-like sludge only to get caught in the tar pits of "Getting Bright At Night" and "Big Sleep" and pass out in a fog of toxic fumes.

I'll give The Icarus Line this, though: they're ambitious, and they're willing to experiment. In "Caviar", they adopt the industrial sneer of Darklands-era Jesus And Mary Chain, and they almost pull it off. What's missing is that battery-acid pop sensibility that makes the JAMC catalog indispensable. The Icarus Line is content to just let the song corrode.

"Spike Island" is something altogether different for The Icarus Line. Swimming in a dark, shimmering pool of gothic psychedelia, "Spike Island" rises up out of the water to bite the neck of The Cult's early work and drain its blood like a vampire.

And that's exactly what The Icarus Line is, a hungry night stalker feeding off rock's corpses - watch as they feast on The Stooges in "Party The Baby Off" - only to discover their veins have been sucked dry. Hell, they even broke open Stevie Ray Vaughn's old guitar cases looking for a fresh source. All they got were crosses thrust in their faces by Vaughn's torch-carrying followers.

When you're as smug and arrogant as The Icarus Line, you'd better be able to deliver the goods. On Penance Soiree they fall abominably short. Apparently, V2 signed these hellcats with visions of Queens Of The Stone Age or ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead dancing in their heads. What they got instead was warmed over Verbena that leaves you uncomfortably numb.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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