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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
Q And Not U
No Kill No Beep Beep
Dischord Records

Rating: 9/10 ?

October 1, 2004
It amazes me how few people have picked up on the brilliance of this album. This is something that will prove monumental on several layers, an album with an importance at a time and place that is almost impossible to over-estimate. The relevance to greatness is apparent on a number of levels.

First of all, this album is a wakeup call to the state of punk rock. There is an urgency in Q And Not U's brand of progressive retro punk art that has all but been lost in music that shows up on the masses' radar scope. Where bands like Jawbreaker and, later, to an arguable extent, Braid and the Promise Ring once parted the waters of obscurity for middle-class white kids with guitars to say something loudly there are now emotionally untiring indie-pop machines like Jets to Brazil, Hey Mercedes and well, the Promise Ring. Hey Mercedes craft solid and sound collegiate rock gems but there isn't anything about the music making any fists clench, any blonde heads go black, any empty canvases get painted. And lets face it, Jets to Brazil and the Promise Ring have turned out to be lame as a dehydrated camel, on an energetic level. Punk rock - the punk rock that actually reaches people, that is - has been pushed back into the crusty basements and the VFW halls where it was ten years ago. Magazines are full of interviews with artsy-fartsy types who are expressing nothing at all. The chords are planned, plotted from the minds of guitar players rather than from the hands of artists. Q And Not U, on the other hand, are overflowing with expression, a sonic wall of art and release that has been unseen for far too long.

Secondly, this album, alongside Faraquet's The View From This Tower, is an intravenous line of credibility in the arm of Dischord records. Long hailed as the label that brought post-punk and emotional hardcore into its own, Dischord could only be seen, on a scale representing the world outside of Washington DC, as sputtering. This album is Dischord #123 - 22 albums have been released since Bluetip's Dischord 101 and I probably couldn't name more than nine of them. Fugazi are widely assumed to be on their death bed, performances few and far between and albums becoming even more rare. Bluetip, for all of their bravado, aren't going anywhere fast. The Make-Up, Smart Went Crazy, the Warmers - all gone. Lungfish is sporadic at best. They have released praiseworthy splits with bands like All Scars and Bald Rapunzel, but few took notice. Provided the masses have their eyes open, Q And Not U will turn heads.

In the interest of brevity I will forgo delving much deeper into the matter and will simply say that this album is brilliant. It arrived in our postal box mid-November and was played at least once per day for 40 days in succession after that. The high points blend together to form one glossy mass of extremely engaging, always interactive high-wire expressionism. From the opening moments of "A Line In the Sand" your attention belongs to Q And Not U. Guitars call and respond in muted chords, the snare pops like a ruler on a math teacher's desktop, Chris Richards calls out "the first time, the second time, can't stop this clock from starting" and VOILA! - you are theirs. Around the two minute mark the pace slows, the hand claps come in and your feet begin shuffling in time with your swaying ass, more hand claps sound out in stereo and before you know it "End the Washington Monument (Blinks) Goodnight" is spread out before you like the song you've been waiting to hear all year. And so it goes, the album reels on through eleven tracks each maintaining an identity all its own while spiraling around a common thread. "Kiss Distinctly American" follows the plodding of "Hooray For Humans" in sharp contrast but retains the same bloodline. Song after song after song this album simply will not let go, half an hour later "Sleeping the Terror Code" punctuates No Kill No Beep Beep with an exclamation point. Some bands spend years experimenting with dynamics and volume contrast, chorus and verse, light and dark to create an identity outside of their love of Fugazi. Q And Not U do it in just under forty minutes, and they do it with genius. This album is on par with Radiohead's Kid A, but on an entirely different level. The best part of it all? Q And Not U have only begun.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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