» 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
Stop! Look! Sing Songs of Revolutions!
Metropolis Records

Rating: 6/10 ?

February 17, 2006
The Orwellian rise of "indie rock" feels like junior-high peer pressure to music fans less often than it does to critics, truth be told. The amount of "thumbs way up"/"best such-and-so band ever" raves from the big three pretenders to hip-omniscience (Rolling Stone, the New York Times and Bitchforkmedia.com) blurbed in the band press kits that pour into smaller publications are surreal in number, and after a while one gets the feeling that the big Media-zillas are about as in synch with the real world as that absurdist Republican Congress that keeps rubber-stamping cuts to welfare programs to pay for Bill Gates' tax breaks. Actually, a better analogy would be that these media kingpins have become the rock and roll versions of Newsweek, Time and the Washington Post, forever failing to expose crap for what it is so that they'll stay on the press lists, too busy putting their exclusive scoops in front of eyeballs to do any real fact-checking. Be honest: how many times have you been disappointed after listening to an album that was described by some Rolling Stone hack as "frighteningly cool" or written up to appear to be exactly the kind of tuneage you've been awaiting all your life?

Hopefully you're in the habit of downloading samples first, or checking things out at your local independent music store (or at the very least, Barnes & Noble). The emptor has never had more caveats than in this age of too many strictly personal opinions given widespread voice in an Information Age that's pure wild west. The cleverest critics are often far beyond the burnout stage, tossing out the most obscure comparative references possible when describing records - it's like getting your baseball play-by-play reporting from stats-obsessed trading card collectors.

This isn't to infer that the aforementioned billions-of-copies-sold authoritarians and their groupthink junta are always wrong. Once you become an honest-to-gawd open-minded fan of a genre, you'll eventually end up simpatico with one information source above all the others - perhaps one particular Spin or Pitchfork writer, or maybe it'll just end up being the guy who runs the downtown record store (with me it was a now-long-forgotten writer at Suburban Voice, who spazzed over Wire, Big Black and Skinny Puppy, and I never looked back). Until you find that one source, however, trust no one, Mr. Mulder.

All of this editorializing brings us to our point, this release from Metropolis, the Wal-Mart of techno/EBM/gothwave. Ken is a major departure for the label, incorporating the scattershot mix of minor-league influences that has now become as commonplace in the independent-label world as half-assed spoiled-brat metal bands ripping off Pantera. Ken relies on Queens of the Stone Age-style buzz-fuzz ("Black Phantom"), Spoon-influenced nu-mod ("Paniciss"), near-decent Alarm-meets-Beatles-ish ATV-cruising stuff with Davy Jones vocals ("If"), and so on. On first listen it's completely devoid of hooks, and a second run-through would have been pure drudgery, really. The sick part is what is sure to come next: several writers - who, like me, are overjoyed every time a Metropolis promo shows up - will be forcing this aimless poppycock into their ears for days, desperately trying to find something to latch on to, soemthing to like about it for old time's sake. Just Say No.

Reviewed by Eric Saeger
An LAS staff writer based in New Hampshire, Eric Saeger was named alt.flame\'s Newbie of the Year in 2000.

See other reviews by Eric Saeger



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