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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
Single Frame
Body/End/Basement
Volcom Entertainment

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


September 7, 2005
As far as I can remember, I'd never before seen a record described as a "psychological thriller." That sort of language is left to hyperbolic advertising for horror movies and paperback novels. Considering the level of fear and paranoia here, however, I'd say an exception should be made for Single Frame's creepy, unsettling third album, Body/End/Basement.

Impossible to categorize - like all of Single Frame's works - Body/End/Basement is nervous and twitchy, bearing a likeness to the dark, edgy dance-punk of The Faint or Q and Not U. It's a descent into the kind of madness that plagues those who wear tin foil underneath their hats. Left untreated, Single Frame's condition goes from mere indie rock eccentricity to absolute lunacy on Body/End/Basement.

"And the sickness has set in/with words that I can't comprehend," they sing at the beginning of "The Flying Circus." How true that is. A noir-tinged song of betrayal that sounds like Clinic and is carried along by martial drums and off-kilter, fragmented guitars, "The Flying Circus" smothers you with spooky, fuzz-toned keyboards that could only originate from warped minds. Underneath psychotic vocals and slashing electronic beats is heard a murmur of bass drums that feels like a faint heart beat.

Weirder still is "People Are Germs". A snippet of a monologue from an agitated female germophobe introduces the song by screaming, "Did you know that the germs can come through the wires? I never call and I never answer. That's a good way to get sicků very, very sick. That's how I got so sick, someone called me on the telephone!" In a way, "People Are Germs" sounds like a continuation of "The Flying Circus": there's the same eerie keyboard drone and the vocals are grotesquely distorted into an unearthly paroxysm. Did I mention you might want to listen to this with the lights on?

In the skewed, oddball indie-pop tradition of Brainiac, Single Frame is as tense and surreal as a bus station at 3 a.m., especially on "Slum Pioneer," "Facts About Doors" and "Second Handshake." The skittering guitar dissonance, the freaky Casio keyboards, the squelch of the synthesizers and the blast-cap drums of "Culture Medium" combine to lend a post-punk tautness to the proceedings. Nerves are frayed to the breaking point when the Danse Macabre-style fat synthesizers of "Exact Copy of the In the Basement" overwhelm you like a wave and the sharp piano - cribbed from The Paper Chase - of "I'll Lose Your Balance" crashes like a rock thrown through a window.

Less frightening and more melodic are "Digital Witness" and "Underground @ Noon." By far the two best songs on Body/End/Basement, they tap that vein of gorgeous pop mania that Q and Not U discovered on Different Damage. The subdued vocals of "Digital Witness" recall those of Spent, and the keyboards explode and fall like fireworks. More urgent and hook-filled, "Underground @ Noon" makes use of clattering handclaps, dissonant piano, tight bass lines that strain at the leash and sinister and reverberating guitars that create black pools of shimmering atmosphere to soothe and provide contrast to the manic mood that prevails.

People are strange and so is Single Frame. Much like Kill Me Tomorrow, the Austin trio of keyboardist Jason Schleter, guitarist and bassist Brenden Reilly and keyboardist/percussionist Adreon Henry take a Jackson Pollack approach to sequencing. Songs are fueled by chaos and seem to be splattered all over a blank canvas like gobs and streaks of different colored paint. Though at times Body/End/Basement suffers from ADD, its lack of focus and unhinged creativity prove to be its greatest strengths. As the world teeters on the brink of the apocalypse, Body/End/Basement seems to capture that sense of anarchy, the feeling that all is lost. Yet Single Frame don't leave you wandering in the wilderness; just as misery loves company, so, it seems, does insanity.

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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