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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
Belle and Sebastian
The Life Pursuit
Matador Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


February 13, 2006
Earth's de facto wimp-rock champs have returned to the cosmic ring armed to the teeth with Nerf balls, prepared to mano a mano it up with My Morning Jacket or anyone who looks like them. Bunny-prolific pushers of novo twee rock (the Barney-dinosaur-like 4-chord folk-punk that put Josef K on the, ah, map), this year's studio release (the first, for those keeping track, since 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitress) from the Scottish something-tet is an unremarkable exercise in their airy pop rock, visually articulated with the usual album cover artwork that bellows its 60s Columbia House wannabe-ism from the highest mountaintop. Undergrad nu-folkies will thrill and kick up their crook-legs to the gelded Creedence chords of "Another Sunny Day" and its near-Death-Cab experiential Fleetwood Mac 8-track patter, while "Act of the Apostle" isn't much more than an excuse to ghoul up the old "Day in the Life" reverb knob that's become so pivotal to the sustenance of Belle's retro creampuff imitators, whose importance to the music world can't be understated enough.

The real black belt songwriting comes into earshot later, in "White Collar Boy" for instance. Here we have what sounds like Norman Greenbaum invading a Mamas and the Papas session, the unabashedly pretty coed vocal harmonies doing battle with a synth imitating a Flying V straight out of "Spiirit in the Sky" as it drones away in the manner of a dentist's XXL molar-drill. In an alternate Bushworld, tuneage like this would chart a lot higher than the #80 or so that the band has found to be its glass ceiling in the United States (they've consistently found themselves squatting in the UK top twenty since 1998).

While we're beating that horsie, chances for larger US successes have been accelerated by references to the band in overly clever TV shows. A 2002 Gilmore Girls episode found Rory's egghead buddy Lane Kim pining for their latest single (thereby bolstering Lane's terminal geek characterization, since Belle and Sebastian didn't start including singles on their albums until the following year's Dear Catastrophe Waitress), and their colors were raised again last year in the middle of some How I Met Your Mother dialog. It's a nice switch to see stuck-up mind control experimentation like that benefiting someone other than the latest OC "alt" balderdash, not that it's something worth encouraging.

There's no great shortage of dogs on hand - "The Blues Are Still Blue" is drearily self-explanatory, and "Dress Up In You" could have been a Bob Saget media exploit - but it's material that'll nevertheless be stolen soon enough by the best and worst.

Reviewed by Eric Saeger
An LAS staff writer based in New Hampshire, Eric Saeger was named alt.flame\'s Newbie of the Year in 2000.

See other reviews by Eric Saeger

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