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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 National Splits
Fontana
Mr. Whiggs/Recordhead

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
I've never been a fan of Woody Guthrie, Tom Petty's acoustica, or most 60's style folk/pop for that matter. However, judging by the sound of the National Splits' new album, Fontana, I'd venture a guess that Mike Downey is.

Fontana is an acoustic romp through a thrift store within the confines of simple pop structures. It is a collection of low-fidelity, living room style recordings with enough '60s and '70s kitsch to make Cornershop raise an impressed but unconcerned eyebrow.

The lyrical content of Fontana swings between emo-country and off-the-cuff verses written after pounding a six-pack in the garage. Keeping with the tradition of this style of Americana music, Mr. Downey tries to tell us a story in his songs. However, his haphazard track arrangements keep the listener off balance, and impart an uncomfortable inconsistency to the album. "Hills and Fog" is a tale of a married couple on the lam after robbing and killing a man. While in the course of their flight from the law, they become enamored with the smoky and steep countryside of West Virginia. Their reluctance to press on allows the authorities to catch up to them, thus they meet a Bonnie and Clyde-like end. To show the strange juxtaposition, however, note that this track is immediately preceded by "Get Loose", a "there's a party goin' on" anthem and you'll get the idea.

Mike Downey has taken some of the lessons in pop learned from his time spent with Wolfie, and has applied them to his own favorite style of music. Though there are a lot of bands out there that do what he is doing (and many of them are admittedly doing it better), this album is nevertheless the summer soundtrack it sets out to be. The album conjures up images of lazy, star-filled nights around a campfire with your friends, drinking beer and complaining about that bitch that stole your favorite CDs and broke your heart.

The National Splits still have a lot of work to do, but they are well on their way to being a very respectable band. Fontana on its own is a decent album, but I believe that one day it could be viewed as an evolutionary piece for them - a pencil line on the growth chart of the National Splits.

Reviewed by John Peters
A former contributing writer for LAS, John married former music editor Sarah Iddings. That\'s the last we heard from him.

See other reviews by John Peters

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