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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
The Foundry Field Recordings
Prompts/Miscues
Emergency Umbrella

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


June 2, 2006
A muted siren pierces the gloaming that envelops a factory town in the Midwest. The sound of footsteps walking down a hallway can be heard, a door opens, typewriter clatter ceases and then a radio comes to life. Scanning back and forth through an analog dial, gloomy economic forecasts, shrill political talk radio rants, rote sports updates and bland commercials blare from the antiquated reciever. It's quitting time at the plant, but Billy Shuh, the indie-pop everyman behind The Foundry Field Recordings, is putting in overtime.

Before shutting off the lights on Prompts/Miscues, Shuh performs an unlisted track consisting of quiet acoustic strum and sighing vocals that are almost swallowed by industrial field recordings spewing gray noise pollution into the album's skies. A sense of rust-belt futility and resignation hangs over Prompts/Miscues; it comes with the territory of Shuh's Midwestern upbringing, but Shuh's lyrical scope and musical ambition extends well beyond the daily grind of factory work in America's dirty breadbasket. Themese of war imagery and the failure of the Russian Revolution to lift workers above their bleak lives are explored in the lyrics of "Battle Brigades Part II," preceeded by the feedback drenched, Godspeed You! Black Emperor-inspired instrumental meltdown of "Battle Brigades Part I." As wistful as Grandaddy, "Battle Brigades Part II" has a starry twinkle in its eye that belies the gathering storm of distortion in its head, while "Buried Beneath The Winter Frames" enshrouds the dead California Dream of Jason Lytle in a foot of snow and dirty slush. Shuh knows his history yet seems powerless to stop it from repeating.

Indie rock landmarks crop up everywhere on Prompts/Miscues. The slack melody and almost disinterested strumming of "Warning Raids Over Kiev" - again with Russia and bombed-out cities? - evoke the bored pop genius of Pavement. The slow ballad "Broken Strings" combines desolate strings, hopeful acoustic guitar and depressed piano in a dusty elegy worthy of Damien Jurado or Pedro The Lion. More lush and ready for its O.C. close-up is the Death Cab For Cutie fallout of "Spain Never Made It," though the lone Mariachi horn is probably too "ethnic" for that crowd. Going back a ways, "Circuits On Board" meets Neil Young On The Beach and together, they drown their wheat-textured melancholy in fervant riffs and the corrosive, controlled noise of Crazy Horse.

With Prompts/Miscues, Shuh earns his union card with loosely constructed, nostalgic melodies that coalesce beautifully into fitful dream-core that warns of the End of Days while reminiscing about little triumphs and quickly dissipating happiness. Behind him, bassist Becky Baxter, drummer Benjamin Hook and guitarist Daniel Stegall walk in concert with every ponderous, thoughtful step Shuh takes, meticulously building multi-layered, slowcore walls of sound without resorting to electronic mortor to fill the gaps and seal up the loose, raggedy elements. Over the years, Shuh and his co-conspirators have gone by a lot of names, including Frankenfish, Archivists, Optimist Club, Law Firm, Go-Bots, Savings And Loan ... basically, anything you've ever seen on a business sign or billboard. With Prompts/Miscues, perhaps they've found an identity, even if it's not entirely their own.

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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