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

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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.
[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
Unwed Sailor
Little Wars
Burnt Toast Vinyl

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


April 18, 2008
Little Wars, the latest offering from Unwed Sailor, is one of those albums best reserved for long early morning runs, or contemplative musings over tea or coffee on the porch while the sun rises. The album is languid and thoughtful, and perfect as background to the thoughts of dawn. Though it is not easily ignored Little Wars is an album that isn't meant for the foreground either, rather as a soundtrack to enhance and provoke. The album follows two recent EPs, Circles and The White Ox, and is Unwed Sailor's best release since The Faithful Anchor of 2001.

Finding a rival in Unwed Sailor's catalog requires going back seven years because Little Wars is such an improvement over the last full-length of 2003, The Marionette and the Music Box. That album was an interesting concept - a musical and visual fairy tale - that despite its moments of beauty felt lost when not accompanied by the gorgeous artwork of Jamie Hunt to help move the story along. The Marionette and the Music Box's individual tracks were far too fleeting to work on their own, yet didn't really add up to much either. Little Wars, in contrast, works well both on an individual track level and as a cohesive whole.

The new album also expands on Unwed Sailor's established sound, as founder Jonathan Ford meanders into progressive rock elements, most notably on "Copper Islands" and "Aurora." Though in scope it is more adventurous than past albums, Little Wars also has a feeling of familiarity. Strong bass rhythms and metronomic guitars dominate the album, and are highlighted on tracks like "The Garden," which would have felt right at home on The Faithful Anchor. Cutting a broader sonic swath could be a function of the album's recording, which was done over several stints in 2002, 2004, and 2007, in both Oklahoma and Arkansas. Adding to the album's texture, as always Ford collaborated with a large cast of musicians in the studio, including James McAllister and Jeff Shoop of Ester Drang. The instruments and musicians are a focus in Ford's work and as with nearly all of Unwed Sailor's releases, no vocals appear on Little Wars. Instrumental doesn't necessarily mean dark and foreboding though; the album's feel is mildly uplifting, especially on tracks like "Echo Roads," and at times sounds like material from The Appleseed Cast's Low Level Owl volumes. The more ambient pieces recall Hammock and The Album Leaf.

Although its name may suggest otherwise, Little Wars is a nice, peaceful album. It's not a complete departure from the majority of Unwed Sailor's catalogue, though the expansion into prog rock on several tracks is welcome. Save this one for a long commute or a drive through the country - its introspective mood will get you thinking about things past and future, an admirable accomplishment for a piece of art in our modern world.

Reviewed by Eric J. Morgan
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Eric J. Morgan is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Colorado. He has an orange cat named Nelson and longs for the day when men and women will again dress in three-piece suits and pretty dresses to indulge in three-martini lunches and afternoon affairs.

See other reviews by Eric J. Morgan

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