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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]

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
The Spoils of War
II
Shadoks Music

Rating: 8/10 ?


December 7, 2005
The Spoils of War were a rock band who roamed Middle America's non-conventional venues for the better part of the late '60s proffering an audio-visual experience that was inarguably psychedelic. As its title implies, II was their second LP; originally released in 1970, it compiles leftover studio cuts and freewheeling live tracks from the group's ephemeral existence. Unlike many Nuggets-era reissues, however, II isn't just another multi-hued swirl in the cosmic paisley spiral; instead of merely providing context for groups like Love and The Soft Machine and thereby enhancing those bands' myths by demonstrating how far and wide the zeitgeist they embodied extended, The Spoils of War demand attention in their own right. This music doesn't just shade in the psych era's background - it's interested in serving as its own portrait altogether.

While the vivid sugary/swirly polarities in "Big Sugar Plantation" cast the band as just another group of acid-dropping weirdoes enchanted by Magical Mystery Tour's zanier tangents, most of II portrays The Spoils of War as first degree pop crafters. Lavish arrangements in "Morning Be Merciful" and Completely" nod to Forever Changes while also predicting '70s soft rock tapestries, while "Missed Opportunity" and "Bomb Song" bounce like schoolyard chants. Instead of venturing into skronky territory, the group uses reeds to lend their jangly guitar riffs a sense of elegance, providing ornate clarinet parts and some delightfully well-formed sax solos. Trance-inducing organ and fuzzy tonalities keep these songs anchored in the psych underground, but these cosmetic flourishes feel more like youthful indiscretion than anything else in light of the band's formal preoccupations with pop.

In fact, The Spoils of War don't fare very well when they whip themselves into a druggy deluge. The five live instrumentals that close the disc explore the band's latent Zappa-isms, stretching out anywhere from five to ten minutes and eschewing the tautness that characterizes the studio material. "Big City Frank's Drum Solo" is particularly mind-numbing; it opens as a promising organ-fueled romp, but putt-putts its way through a feeble mid-section of lackadaisical drums and fuzz bass before reaching its disappointing destination. Instead of dazzling dynamics, these instrumentals hinge on meditations for which the band is ill-equipped.

Filler material aside, II still stands as a compelling document. The Spoils of War's appeal doesn't lie in offering another glimpse at '60s underground rock aesthetics; it instead lies in how distinctly alien they were to their own time - or any other time, for that matter.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan

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