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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
Roué
Upward Heroic Motive
Exit Stencil Recordings

Rating: 9/10 ?


June 6, 2005
Something akin to a sonic backdraft occurs in "March Of The Bonfire", one of the most ferocious tracks off the thrilling art-punk atom bomb, Upward Heroic Motive, recently dropped by Cleveland's Roué. In a flat, monotone voice, Justin Coulter gives the order to attack as if he's the leader of a guerrilla unit surprising an enemy camp in the middle of the night. As the word echoes through the air, the guitars suck all the oxygen out of the room and engulf Coulter in an amazing conflagration of chords - only instead of crouching low and crawling to his escape, he simply walks upright through the flames and out of danger, a dark figure oblivious to the fiery destruction going on behind him.

Not since the Monorchid broke up has a band gone on an aural arson spree of this magnitude. Upward Heroic Motive has the sheer bombast and black artistry of ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, especially on the towering, meticulously sculpted epic "Speaking Of Hair." The peeling feedback and screeching skree of Roué's guitar squalls - "32 Hike" is downright scary - is reminiscent of early Sonic Youth, before they reached that dreaded state of maturity that's brought out their softer, more melodic side.

On Upward Heroic Motive, Roué makes music that throws garbage cans through storefront windows and takes baseball bats to parked cars. There's a riot going on and not a cop in sight. You might expect this sort of anarchy from a band with a drummer who's been a member of both Pere Ubu and Rocket from the Tombs; having played with Cleveland's finest, Steve Mehlman gives Roué more than just street cred. His drumming is frenzied and rugged, reigning in the chaos when called upon to do so - see "Speaking Of Hair" - and jumping in the fray when he isn't, like on "Rockin' This Disaster." Lasting 2:04, it seethes with anger as gas-guzzling guitars and an impossibly heavy low-end groove established by bassist John Kalman get caught up in Mehlman's cyclonic fury. "To The Click" is more like Q and Not U - at least in the racing, hyper-speed chorus. When it slows, Roué takes on the messy, slack quality of Pavement's finger-painted interpretations of The Fall.

Then board up your house and take cover. Moving menacingly across the weather radar screen is the perfect storm of "Danger! On Fire." A harrowing lightning display of scratchy, distorted guitars rages then stops and an urgent fuzz-toned bass line ratchets up the tension as Coulter sneers, "Don't walk away yet little man 'cause I told you I ain't so tired/I got this bag of tricks right here little fucker and I'm looking to set the place on fire." And Roué does just that, erupting with tornadic guitar, quaking bass and drum gales. It's jaw-droppingly brilliant, as is "March of the Bonfire." Both songs swell with brooding intensity and roiling rhythms. For that matter so does "Your Name On It", where the wall of guitar sound created by Coulter and partner Jeff Harris is so huge it makes you feel small and insignificant.

Why there hasn't been more of a buzz in the indie rock press about Roué is a complete mystery to me; it's been a long time since I've heard a record that's so spacey and brutal. There's evil and guile in Coulter's smirking, almost shrill vocals and behind the door to every song is madness and violence.

In French, Roué means a debauchee and Coulter fits the bill. He plays the role of the rogue to perfection. His voice is that of the serpent that tempted Eve to eat the apple and when he sings, "So where you going, do you want to go with me?" in "Rockin' This Disaster" you wonder what malice he has in mind for that poor girl.

As a guitarist, Coulter is just as wicked. As great as Mehlman is and as agile and muscular a bassist as Kalman can be, it's Coulter and Harris who steal the show. They whip up blizzards of guitar sounds so dense that they cause you to lose your bearings - yet they also can also sneak up behind you and slash your throat with their sharp, cutting finger work, or work the post-punk staccato puppet strings of Gang Of Four, like in "Bender Season."

Upward Heroic Motive is a record that gives you goose bumps. It's unpredictable and frightening, and as a band, Roué plays with precision, yet sounds so feral and untamed you wonder if the band was raised by wolves. This will be on my year's Top Ten list. Bank on it.

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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