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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
P:ano
The Den
Zum Media

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Have you ever gotten a CD recommendation from a friend who claimed, very succinctly, "Check it out, it's good," only to be thoroughly floored by the understatement? Ever had one of those instances where an off the shoulder "decent" equates to fantastic, immediately clinging to your consciousness as part of your current stylistic tirade?

This, my initial experience with P:ano, was so much more than I had prepared for. Having been told by said friend that they were solid chamber pop, it felt like a "get-out-of-my-CD-collection" brush-off. While still curious, I had average hopes - all of which were blown straight away.

Combining the articulate, backwoods charm of Andrew Bird with the simmering, deep folk of Low, and scraps of the adventurous and zany Elephant 6 collective, this is a rolling Circus Folk album that paces through with melodious instrumentation and subtle sensibilities. Embodying the sound of originality and passion hitting their stride, The Den will almost assuredly be the hallmark of P:ano's catalog.

The opening "Fucking Ugly Bouffant" sounds just as sweet and inviting as a barefoot picnic with Bird and O'Connor. The complementary vocals of Nick Krgovich and Larissa Loyva are unsurpassed, sounding as harmonious and easy as if they breathe in tune.

The result of their craft is as stunning as it is beautifully mundane, with a range from field sounds, door hinges, wooden chairs and thumb tacks to bells, melodica, double bass and acetone. It is, at once, overwhelming and intimate. Indebted to the Canada Music Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, this sounds as if the project of an entire nation can be housed inside a cozy, rustic cottage.

Many tracks paint lovely, quaint pictures of quiet introspection, wrapped in the lush surroundings of untainted natural space. "Working" harbors the menacing clown piano of Of Montreal or All-Time Quarterback! in a shielded narrative, accompanied by a cloying gentlemen's barbershop choir. "We'll Go in Character Together" finds the croaking, dulcet country of the Mountain Goats in the face of too many unanswered questions, then warms with unexpectedly tropical guitars in surprise festivity.

On my chosen favorite, "Arguing," the band recreates morning tea at the Historical Society, elegant but not stately. It captures high class in a moment of casual whimsy: a swirl of flutes chimes amid lace and rare flowers, pinkies out; in the warm ray of sunshine, an informal waltz breaks out, ready for fond remembrance. The song exudes class without an ounce of pretension, and is a loving symbol for the entire album in that regard.

The Den, in addition to being a collaboration of artists and convictions, is a gentle communion of opposites. Tracks waver between easily pushed reaction and spirited, bristling resolve. There are milky lullabies that replicate the quiet strength of a mother's arms as well as daring, capricious western themes and the echoes of shimmering dream pop. For every reference to wintry abandonment, we find self-made hopefulness and a renewed lease on life.

P:ano's crowning achievement through all of this is that every ounce of love poured into the project moves infinitely outward. There is a sense of true artistry and ardor that drives the release to its graceful, brilliant resting place. Having done all of the work, and felt a breadth of honest, relatable emotion, all that is missing is our worthy appreciation.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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