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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
Higher Burning Fire
In Plain Song
Second Nature Recordings

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Twelve tracks of aural modernism that fit equally as well alongside the Faint as they do next to your Sea and Cake albums, the Higher Burning Fire's debut album is surprisingly full and ornate for a first time effort. While everything from the artwork to the almost psychadelic "free-love" overtone of songs like "I Got Into the Car With Them" gives these "plain-songs" a dusty film of 70's Americana, there is a decidedly forward thinking intrinsic to this sextet's thinking, albeit a seriously paradoxical one. Strings, brass, percussion and vocal harmonies combine across lengthy arrangements to create a sound with as many things in common with David Bowie as with the Make Up.

The term "plain-song" itself, used liberally throughout the half-sheet that accompanies the album as well as the obvious title, is almost smugly two-faced. Each song is thoughtfully arranged and progressively structured, with very modern progressions and a shimmering production, but there is an undeniable retroactivity going on throughout. The inspiration and infiltration of everything from world music to pure pop makes such a muddy mess of things that songs begin to take on multiple identities. Songs like the constructive "Aren't All Parades Free? and the closing track "Year" are indicative of the grandiose Beatles-ism that pervades the album, continually building with horns, vocals and an encompassing energy that, when coupled with the ever steady cadence of the drums create a massive sounds full of brightness and sparkle that we can only suspect are masking very dark corners. Although it is nothing like what I usually enjoy listening to, I find this album irresistible. A compelling album to say the least.

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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