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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
Heartless Bastards
Stairs and Elevators
Fat Possum Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

April 27, 2005
I am very loyal to certain records, listening to the same bands and songwriters over and over. In the stacks of CDs, there are few that really mean something to me; among those few are albums that get played on a regular basis, but are not so heavily or comfortably cemented as cornerstones in my collection. Sometimes I find a record that can break into such an ingrained play list, and that feat is pretty special. Stairs and Elevators is just that special.

At the center of this album, and the band itself, is singer/songwriter/guitarist, Erika Wennerstrom. Her bluesy, powerful voice dominates each song - as well it should. It's not very often that someone comes along with such a strong, distinctive sound. Wennerstrom's approach is solid; she sounds natural and sings from her gut. It's wonderful to listen to a woman stand apart from the riot grrl punk posturing and hyper-feminine, indie rock cooing - each stereotypical in their own right. Wennerstrom sounds like herself, which is a credit to her striking individuality.

The first five songs of this album could easily put Stairs and Elevators in the running for the "Best of 2005" list sluggishly approaching. Each of these songs is memorable, with strong, catchy melodies and skeletal rhythms. The simplicity of the music suits the gruff inflection in Wennerstrom's voice. Bass and drum rhythms don't overpower the central pinning of Heartless Bastard's music. Instead, the drums slow and aggressively quicken when needed, serving as moody counterpoints to the vocals on such songs as "New Resolution." On the track, the barebones drumbeat drives things, cymbals crash between Wennerstrom's guttural wailings, and the greater picture is distinct.

Despite the typical mid-album sag, more than a few melodies on Stairs and Elevators are instantly memorable. For the most part, the songs are aggressive in their blues-punk oriented guitars and rhythm; the songs are sharp and to the point. The high mark of the record is the slow paced "Runnin," in which Wennerstrom delivers her lyrics with honest fervor. The slow drive of guitars and the tension in her voice gives way to a personal ballad of sorts - not about love, but about life in general.

There is a mature familiarity to these songs. Tied together by the intensity of Wennerstrom's vocals and her knack for writing slow burning, catchy rock songs, Stairs and Elevators is worthy of knocking some of those old reliable-types from their turntable pedestals.

Reviewed by Abbie Amadio
The last we heard Abbie Amadio, a former contributor to LAS, was based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

See other reviews by Abbie Amadio



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