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LITERATURE

 » 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
Franklin Delano
Like A Smoking Gun In Front Of Me
File-13 Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


February 1, 2005
Morphine drips into your arm via a tube plugged into a vein. The pain subsides and you breathe easy, drifting off to sleep on hospital bed that's hard and antiseptic. It's a deep sleep, but your dreams are... well, unsettling. You find yourself on a boat going upriver into the dark unknown. You might be dying for all you know. What's hiding in that tangled brush or in the shadows of hanging trees, god only knows. You think you hear leaves rustling. Were those eyes you saw peering out of the blackness? Damn it, why can't I wake up?

Oh yeah ... the drugs. And, playing off in the distance, Franklin Delano, a dark, narcoleptic country-folk quartet from Bologna, Italy, by way of Appalachia with New Deal ideas to lead us out of the No Depression era and into a spacious, more atmospheric alt-country universe. Note the science fiction theremin sounds in "Call It A Day", the drowsy Knife In The Water opener that falls into a black pit of echoing guitar and weary male-female vocals, before a slow-building storm of noise washes over you and then gives way to an annoying stretch of power-line drone.

If you guessed that Califone and Tim Rutilli had a hand in this, you'd be right. They built layer upon layer of guitars, keyboards and general noise over loose melodies that tend to wander off into the ether. That's not a bad thing, mind you. It's a matter of taste, to be sure, but I love music like this. It unfolds slowly, flowering like an orchid and revealing something new every time you listen to it. Perhaps it's something you don't want to see, like your own black heart and the shameful desires that make you blush a little at the thought of them. But it's important that you do see them.

And in "Please Remember Me", you do come face to face with the awful truth. Twisting in dusty, acoustic pop melodic winds blowing in from Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, it dips into the brackish dirges of Slint before rising up out of the water to feel the sun and hear the sparkle of reverbed guitar ripples. The mood swings are unexpected and the instrumentation is breathtaking.

The plinking piano of "Sounds Like Rain" falls like water dripping from the gutters of weather beaten old country house. Paolo Iocca weaves slide guitar in and out of Marcella Riccardi's lap steel bends like a woman who's been working a loom for years. On "Matter Of Time", you feel like you're walking to your execution, with minor chords delicately pounded out on the piano, the band taking every pained step with you.

Franklin Delano experiment with howling, discordant strings and glassy-eyed feedback on "We Don't Care", spreading ghostly tendrils of noise out over achingly beautiful acoustic guitar textures. Iocca's flat, almost buried vocals take on a pathos that swells with emotion, however inarticulate. It takes a while to get to the heart of the matter, but the wait is worth it. When Iocca sings, "We're like soldiers in a field... with no shields", his guard is down and so are our defenses. And it feels like we're World War I veterans having a drink in remembrance of fallen comrades and lost youth.

You could spend hours breaking down the parts of every song on Like A Smoking Gun In Front Of Me and wake up the next day and do it all again. There are conceits that trick you, leading you on paths with hardly any traffic. "Travel In Space" seems like its lost in space, but the sly, Morphine-inspired double-bass, delicately brushed drums and the jazzy plucked guitar keep its feet on terra firma. "Me And My Dreams", with its yearning, country-tinged violins sawing away, tricks you into believing that Nashville is close, but you're a million miles away in some dingy, desert motel room contemplating suicide.

Not the most uplifting thought that's ever crossed my mind, but Franklin Delano isn't trying to pick up your spirits. There is misery in the band's voice, especially the glazed vocal drone of Iocca and Riccardi harmonizing on "All Your Body Broken Clues", the one track that fails to deliver anything but sheer boredom and repetition. Say, the morphine is starting to work. Could you shut off the lights on your way out? I may have bad dreams after this, but any rest I can get in this life is good. Tell the nurse I need my bed pan changed too, would you?

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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