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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
Mission of Burma
OnOffOn
Matador Records

Rating: 9/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Going out on top takes a wealth of class, as any Star Wars or HBO franchise can attest. Making sure every release you put out is fantastic, then bidding a fond adieu before going stale is quite a virtue, and one many other bands, admittedly, should acquire. Choosing the same elegant move then ending a two-decade dormancy takes guts; reclaiming your seminal, undisputed place... well, that takes something special.

The cleverness of the title isn't lost on anyone, Mission of Burma, while once "off" are definitely on again. One has to know that if it weren't good enough to release, they wouldn't have done it at all - this fact is greatly heartening, as a long-delayed follow-up to Vs. is as much needed as it is brilliant. We expect no less.

When a band like Mission of Burma looks out on the current musical climate and says, "We did this first, and we did it better than all of you," there's little room to argue. Upon their return, they show up any number of their followers who, in comparison, look indefinitely more generic in the shadows.

Putting this disc in is almost overwhelming, and undoubtedly enchanting for any rabid-mouthed fan; the insatiable musical appetite is matched by the madness that ensues. In throes of excitability from skewed drums and teeth-chattering punk attacks, this will play with your heartbeat. Since you're all going to rush out and buy this anyway, or at least you should, I feel as though I should at least make some points of distinction about OnOffOn:

For starters (and it's a monumental accomplishment), whether recorded twenty years ago or in 2004, it's still ahead of its time - in fact, even though it sounds as if they picked up directly from the Vs. sessions and never skipped a day for release; its freshness and innovation counter its classicism to almost maddening degrees.

While they are as brash and abrasive as their time-honored legend goes, there are also some sly bits of experimentalism and even poppiness that show they've never wanted to make the same album twice. "Hunt Again" could even be a lost, spindly Guided by Voices track, along with the dark and weirdly poppy "Falling" and the steely, upbeat "Nicotine Bomb." Like scratching a razorblade across negative film, sometimes damage and wear makes a greater effect. What's more, Mission of Burma prove concretely they can take pop and make it strange - itchy, uncomfortable, skewed and yet heartened and harmonious - it never comes easily; like most great art, it is meant to be challenging.

Favored tracks will vary from person to person, and each has right to that claim. "The Setup" assures immediate excitement at first chair; "Max Ernst's Chair" pounds the formula into our collective heads and reminds us they created it in the first place. "Absent Mind" ranks among their very best, howling and punching, ending the album in blazes. Truth be told, the tracks that sound most like their past catalog are easiest to devour, if only because fans have been waiting so long for more. Their pained, feel-good anthems and otherworldly dalliances remain unmatched, though there was little doubt the importance of this album. OnOffOn assures the legend will continue, of course, but rightfully stronger from here.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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