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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]

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 » 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
A Light Sleeper
Amicability
Another New Calligraphy

Rating: 9/10 ?


May 21, 2009
A) Electric guitar set to the clean channel, B) saxophone, C) wire brush-played drum kit, D) vocals unadulterated by audio filterings, and E) loop affectation that would make Steve Reich feel like a proud indie papa.

Any guesses on the band? I bet you'd be wrong.

Without the convenience of a review heading, any reader with some idea for how instruments work might associate the band described in the previous list with music that is clean, safe, and light/contemporary; maybe something new age-y, singer songwriter-ish, or otherwise jazzy. Although A Light Sleeper's newest offering, Amicability, does utilize a basic set of instrumentation and songwriting methods, it is also an album with a deceptive sonic heft and dark, avant/indie styled, uber-catchy, intricate parts. The album is simultaneously raw and polished. The fact that you likely weren't in the know on the band before this review (unless of course you'd read our feature on them last year) is not a deal breaker for appreciating A Light Sleeper, as this new recording will help stragglers make up for lost time.

A Light Sleeper hails from Chicago and, even for those paying attention to the underground indie music scene of that city, Amicability might still be considered a shot out of nowhere. The group, having risen from the ashes of underappreciated bands Re:Rec and Bargos Steeler, has been kicking around the Windy City for a few years but sporadically tours, doesn't always play the traditional local indie rock venues, and to date have only two self-released, hand-packaged releases -- an EP entitled No Sudden Movements, and a full-length, …And Your Eyes Before You -- to prove their worth.

Amicability is an eight-song collection lasting 40 minutes and, as the premier catalog piece from promising venture Another New Calligraphy, is the band's first release with a formal record label. As hinted at through the intro list of instrumentation, the album's songs are composed of breezy saxophone lines, backbeat exploring drum beats, and often repetitious, mantra-like vocals, all surrounding the de-/constructions of cleverly written, looping electric guitar parts. Additionally lobbed into the mix are electronic flourishes, usually in the form of brief keyboard twinkles that outline a melody already taking form between the push and pull of notes played on guitar and saxophone.

Of the eight album tracks, five have already been released or represented in some other form. "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been," "A Curious Preoccupation, " and "Everything As You and I Know It" are three of the strongest previously released A Light Sleeper songs to make a reappearance here. Two others - "Senseless Sentiments" and "Diazepam" - have been reworked to the point that they are either totally new versions of the song or almost new songs altogether, respectively. Those songs that are newly composed - lead track "For Lovers, All is Beauteous," "In Praise of 4-Letter Words," and "To Be Too Good For One's Own Good" - are the strongest, most attractive points of all. "For Lovers…" brightly brings together all the best parts of Amicability and the band, with intersecting sweeping keyboard/reverby guitar parts, beautiful vocals from sax player Maria Hernandez, and a drum beat that is equal parts rock as it is hip-hop sample-able. Overall, the music moves between repetitive looping explorations, raw and dark indie rock, and a warm and bright jazzy sound (albeit mostly from the saxophone contributions).

If it feels as though I'm complementing this record a lot, it's because I intentionally am. In being objective you also find your favorites, and Amicability is certainly one of mine (at least the excessive iTunes play counts would tell me so). Check it.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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