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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
Northern State
Dying in Stereo
Startime International

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Long Island is a place where skinny white guys who wear Fubu and listen to 50 Cent race their parents' Mercedeses against beefy, Abercrombie and Fitch-wearing jocks down the Long Island Expressway. It is home to all of the signature aspects of a suburban wonderland, with everything from manicured lawns to huge shopping malls. Something like one in fifteen people knows who David Byrne is; classic rock and mainstream hip hop are king. It's been referred to, like many suburbs, as a cultural wasteland, most often by its resentful ex-residents (mostly pseudo-hipsters), usually as an excuse for why they arrived "late" in the underground scene. This is where Northern State comes in. The fact that this group of three girls from Long Island have expanded their cultural horizons across the Long Island Sound while still embracing "Long Island, where the sun's always shining," is a refreshing change from kids in bands like My Favorite who give themselves props for having a few musical references up their collective sleeve "in spite of their environment." In other words, Northern State is keeping it real.

The fact that girls aren't distancing themselves from the suburb in which they grew up is the most innovative thing about Northern State. Though their music may be a bit elementary, from beats to many of their rhymes ("I'm lean I'm mean I'm clean I'm not seventeen" from "A Thousand Words" is a fitting example), the fact that the girls are making inventive music (a typical feature of bands in the city, not on Long Island, which is full of Led Zeppelin cover bands) with little prior musical experience except a love of music without separating themselves from the cultural wasteland that they have moved out of, might just be inspiring to likeminded kids from the suburbs, however cheesy that may sound.

Dying in Stereo is poorly crafted and thinks it's smarter than it is- those are its obvious pitfalls. The girls claim to be more complex than the Beastie Boys because of lyrics like "the country's getting ugly and there's more in store/ but don't blame me cause I voted for Gore," yet any message they rap about on the record has been said before, and better. Pretense aside, they sound like a female Beastie Boys without as good of an ear for the catchiness that made the Beastie Boys' earlier stuff fun to listen to. But some people love it, and that's what's important in Northern State's case. As they get more popular, (they played Columbia University very recently opening for Dilated Peoples and have opened for the Roots), and still talk about how "Long Island" they are, their smart Long Island girl shtick might just inspire a more talented Long Island girl (or three) to make something brilliant.

Reviewed by Jeanette Samyn
A contributing writer for LAS and a former music director WBAR at Barnard College.

See other reviews by Jeanette Samyn

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