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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
David Shultz and the Skyline
Sinner\'s Gold
Triple Stamp

Rating: 8.3/10 ?


June 19, 2007
When listening to Sinner's Gold, David Shultz's second album, one realises from the very beginning that he is a gifted songwriter. His lyrics, devoid of any impenetrable or abstract ambiguousness, are frequently immediate and straightforward, yet manage to retain a sense of tender, innocent poetry. His melodies are simple and balanced, yet instantly catchy and with laudable pop nuances (unlike his sparse debut, released in 2005, Sinner's Gold contains a fine band backing up Shultz's songs). There is a pervading sense of familiarity and nostalgia in the album that makes it seem as though Shultz is having an intimate conversation with the listener. No, his music is not innovative, nor is it daring in the strictest sense of the word. But these are not issues to take into account when listening to Sinner's Gold, as its simplicity and homey feel are what turn it into such a warm and endearing listen.

The folk genre is certainly no stranger in today's indie world. Be it folk-pop (in the vein of, say, Sufjan Stevens) or freak-folk, a style that's somewhat inexplicably risen from nowhere (think Devendra Banhart, Akron/Family, Islaja, et cetera), folk and all of its varied-incarnations are ever-present, in one form or another, in the independent community. It is no surprise, then, that such a vast array of artists are choosing said genre as their vehicle for expressing emotions in the art of music. And this is where David Shultz - a songwriter from Richmond, VA - and his band come in.

I hate classifications of these sort, though; according to my iTunes this is country music, but I personally would be reluctant to give it that label, for it is much more than that. Country music is, for the most part, a weary and overwrought genre by today's standards, and Shultz' earnest and amiable vocals and his penchant for writing pop hooks really do distance it from said classification. Regardless of whatever influences he may have, and sounding at times like Bob Dylan, Josh Rouse or pre-Summerteeth Wilco, it is undeniable that Shultz does a good job at combining different styles into a varied and cohesive work. Be it folk, country, or "other," Sinner's Gold is a highly recommended work, the stride of an artist with a distinctive ear for pop showmanship and commendable words who aims undeniably high.

On the leaflet that accompanied the album, there's a spot-on definition of the album: "This is an album of songs stemming from a vast array of emotional and philosophical outlets and dead ends. There are songs with such a clear sense of pop craftsmanship that they could fine their way to popular radio. Conversely, there are songs so intimate that you may want to claim them for yourself..." Sinner's Gold, then, is an album of contrasts, but it all works wonderfully, forming a coherent whole.

The first three songs are rather representative of the album as a whole, which consists of eleven tracks. Beginning with "Free," a rousing and immediately appealing number in which Shultz starts with the lines "If you asked me to change my shape/ The best that I could do is shave my face and put on weight," the record is rather consistent throughout. "Can't Can't" sounds like it could be a definite radio-hit, whilst "Natural" is a mellow and benevolent affair, with Shultz stating that "We are the cameras documenting the earth." "Wooden Floors," however, manages to stick out like a sore thumb because of its poor and forgettable melody - yes, in spite of its good lyrics. "Albino Crow" ends with a bittersweet harmonica solo, reminiscent of '60s Dylan, whereas "Already There" is a great love story where Shultz tells the female protagonist that she can "swim where the sinners spend sinner's gold." Saving the best for last, Shultz finishes the album with the evocative "Apples," whose main line dictates "If you got apples to give/ Well that's what growing them is for." On "Doctor Mother Mirror," Shultz sings "I'm not good at listening but I try"; it is mighty clear that he tries, but I would heartily disagree with the first part, given that his ability for writing songs is quite praiseworthy.

Were Sinner's Gold less passionate (its passion due, of course, to Shultz himself), things would be different, as its internal passion and the fact that Shultz believes in his music are partly what make this such an attractive work. This is a record that should be heard; it is honest and, even if it's not anything new or the most original thing in ages, it is made with passion and care - two elements sadly lacking in much of today's music - by a committed and thoughtful artist deserving of much more recognition. Here's to hoping that Shultz and his band not only find a way to communicate with a wider audience, but keep on making music this inspired.

Reviewed by Pabs Hernandez
A staff writer for LAS, Pablo Hernandez keeps up pretty well with the ever-changing \'indie scene\' from his home in Madrid, Spain.

See other reviews by Pabs Hernandez

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