» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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]


 » 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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Skyscraper National Park
Badman Recording Co.

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
For being what many consider a musical novelty, Canadian musicians sure to pop up a lot. Hayden Desser's raspy falsetto and burly growl, although oddly emanating from Toronto, speak out to us of the Great White North's humbling solitude, as filtered through the basement sensibilities of Sebadoh. The low key, alt-folk musings of Haden first surfaced to a wide audience with 1995's Everything I Long For, a young, intimate score of despair, longing and the occasional sliver of hope piercing through the bleak landscape. The album's subdued power evidently wasn't subdued enough, however, as MTV, Spin and even Jerry Seinfeld were soon singing the praises of Hayden. As a result, Hayden moved from his own Hardwood imprint to the Geffen subsidiary Outpost, toured the world with the likes of Guided By Voices, and unraveled into a cult icon, culminating with the title track to Steve Buscemi's 1996 indie film Trees Lounge. As the story goes, Outpost folded, Geffen gave Hayden the boot, and Toronto swallowed up the disgruntled acoustic punkster without a sound.

Fast forward to 2001, where Hayden, seemingly out of the blue, resurfaces with a limited edition album entitled Skyscraper National Park and a short, sold-out Canadian tour. After a bit of prompting, Hayden released the eleven-track album through his Hardwood imprint and the Badman Recording Company. The album is a throwback to the more morose, acoustic material of his early years, with Hayden expanding on the warm, coarse tones and subjects upon which he had developed his craft. Seven summers have passed since Hayden's birth as we know it, as have seven winters of 4-track confessions, lost sleep and bitter, lonely nights. With the passage of time, age quiets old fires. The flames burn less bright, and the blaze turns to smoldering cinders. Corners loose their edge and the pain falls away to a distance. "Street Car" opens the album, with a faint voice squeaking out a return to greatness that is completely realized on the following track, "Dynamite Walls". The brilliance of poignant, subdued melodies and a persistent driving instrumentation. Hayden sings "Miles away, just up ahead/It doesn't matter just what/Any of us is looking for/ We'll never find it because/It's not even there" in a perfect pitch, riding out the dusty day in a dented pickup as the dreams of a million broken lives litter the side of the road. As life disappears over the horizon, the sun dropping completely out of a hazy pink sky, the melodies infused with static, crescendo and break over our heads.

The brilliance of "Dynamite Walls" bathes the remainder of the album in a slightly tainted light, but everything up to and including the closing "Lullaby" is solidly written, constructed and arranged. Hayden's burly voice and touching twelve-string are ample, but when backed by slide guitar, percussion and multiple strings, they are capable of greatness. Skyscraper National Park is the natural progression of life and maturation, of the daylight slipping away and the evenings of reflection. It is also an album that bridges the gaps between the more acoustic Everything I Long For and the more full bodied The Closer I Get and ties the ends together with the convincing perspective that age affords.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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