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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.
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 » 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!
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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
Weight Of The Sun
Penguin Recording Company

Rating: 4/10 ?

November 4, 2005
Ever try dragging a corpse up a flight of stairs? It's slow going with all that dead weight, I can tell you that - or so I hear. On second thought, forget I said that. I only mention it because I think the Boston emo-core outfit Ellipsis knows what it's like. There's a turgid, butter-churning bridge in "Manichaeism," a winding mountain pass of a song off the Boston emo-core pups' wintry new LP Weight of the Sun, that stumbles awkwardly, as if performing that same awful act mentioned above. The rhythm section is stuck in quicksand and the guitars trudge on, trying to gain some momentum, all to no avail. It's the story of brave Ellipsis, an Icarus-type creature that couldn't get off the ground but still got burned by the Weight of the Sun.

It's almost unfair to review this effort, because this band is clearly not ready for the recording studio - at least not yet. The harsh reality is, at this point they're just not very good musicians, or at least, they don't seem to mesh well together. Though capable of producing snaking, hook-filled melodies that captivate, if only briefly, Ellipsis can't seem to get its timing down. It starts with a fumbling, repetitive bass line in the prog-metal opener "Parallex," and the climbing, masturbatory guitar scales that follow feel elementary and unpolished. And junior-high journal entry lyrics like "The summer dark of quiet moons/illuminates these moss cocoons," from "Candor," don't help.

Taking cues from Hum, Ellipsis tries to whip up meteor showers of space-rock riffs on "Manichaeism" and "Well Ocean Sleep," and sometimes they succeed, but they lack the sonic heft and core meltdown implosions of You'd Prefer An Astronaut?. Making matters worse, the vocals can be dreadful at times, maintaining notes well beyond the manufacturer's guidelines and suffocating the already weak Sunny Day Real Estate-style loud-soft dynamics. Strained to the breaking point, they drift off-key in a number of places and the screaming in "Altar Apollo" is horribly misplaced. It all comes crashing down in "Well Ocean Sleep." A slow-building number with plenty of dead spots, "Well Ocean Sleep" has herky-jerky tempo shifts that are just plain badly executed and boring. And then there's "Penguin," a noisy instrumental paean to Sonic Youth that, for all its wild abandon, falls flat thanks to tinny production.

There are a lot of misconceptions about Ellipsis, ones the band itself seems happy to perpetuate. Let me dispel a few of them for you, starting with their influences: if we're to believe the band, they draw inspiration from such unlikely sources as post-rock instrumentalists Godspeed You Black Emperor, Canadian pop deconstructionists Do Make Say Think and epic art-rockers ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. There's more. In its press materials, Ellipsis also invoke Radiohead, Slint, Tool and, of course, Hum, along with Incubus. Come to think of it, that last one sort of fits, given Ellipsis' weakness for overwrought, melodramatic arrangements and head-scratching, inane lyrics about planets, tides, girls "falling into [the] sky" and rains of fire and god knows what else.

I'm not calling Ellipsis liars. For all I know, they do listen intently to all those bands and try to incorporate the best elements of each into their own sound, but I don't hear any of them - except for Hum - in Weight of the Sun, a formulaic work that comes off as cartoonish, predictable and insipid. What I hear is a poorly produced mix of prog and melodic hardcore that's closely aligned to Coheed and Cambria or Thursday, without the power or the precision. The loud-soft dynamics often simply go limp, left exposed by tinny production that makes the guitars sound almost wheezy when the distortion pedals are hit as Ellipsis goes for the big climax. Instead of a numerical grade, I'd give Weight of the Sun an incomplete and hand it back to them. That way, with a little more tutoring, and a stronger producer, they might turn in homework that shows more than just a spark of potential.

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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