» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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]


 » 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!
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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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
United State of Electronica
United State of Electronica
Sonic Boom Recordings

Rating: 7/10 ?

June 3, 2005
Some bands really are big in Japan; it's not just a way of making their lack of stateside popularity palatable to themselves or their would-be audience. Case in point: the lead track on U.S.E.'s debut album for Seattle's Sonic Boom Recordings, "It's On," has reached the number two spot on the Japanese pop charts and the band had sold over 10,000 albums before signing with the label. This is no small feat for an otherwise unknown band that started off as something of a joke. According to their bio, several members made up an imaginary electronic band called Mannheim and started writing songs as if it really existed. The result? Daft Punk with guitars, obnoxiously overused vocoder vocals and charming female vocal interjections.

Besides the vocoder fixation, U.S.E. is actually on to something here, as simple and one-track minded as it is. Hugely melodramatic hooks, riffs and choruses are the name of the game, but the band pulls it off with finesse and character. From the opening hooks of their Japanese-loved single to the phase-shifted start of "Climb the Walls" to the gigantic "Hey-Hey!" intro of "Open Your Eyes," U.S.E. manage to take songs that should be cringe-worthy throwaways and inject them with feel-good melodies and simplistically cheerful and uplifting themes. All of the songs on their self-titled debut are based on straightforward house-influenced dance beats, dashed with distorted guitar power chords, and firmly thrust into your frontal lobe with craftily assembled sing-along hooks that make them impossible to hate on - even if that was your intention from the get-go. These are songs that are just begging to be remixed by "real" electronic music producers and several already have been by the likes of Bobby Karate and DJ Tripp.

U.S.E. certainly hasn't left the tongue-in-cheek mentality of their inception behind. This album must be consumed in the context that it was created, as an in-joke, a calculated genre clusterfuck and an attempt to play with the rules of what makes something popular - what makes something a success. Of course, that may be reading far too into the thought process; the members may just be trying to have fun making music that turned out to be good. Either way, U.S.E. is a good time, and that's seems to have been the intention from the start.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker



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