» LATEST FEATURES

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
Sea Wolf
Leaves In The River
Dangerbird

Rating: 7.9/10 ?


September 24, 2007
Much like bird names a while back, there has been a surplus of bands names of the Canis genus as of late. What's that, you ask? Breaking into the indie scene last year was Wolf Parade, their Canadian take on the modern world, divorce, and ghosts making for one of the most compelling statements of the year. On the return to the rock roots side of things is Wolfmother, whose single "Woman" is a howlin' punch of testosterone, more cat-call than bar-crawl. And then there's even Patrick Wolf (born Patrick Apps), an eccentric troubadour, one part thrift-store and two parts Stardust.

Yep... wolf bands. So what makes Sea Wolf's debut album, Leaves in the River -- the latest in a long line -- so special? A native Californian, Alex Brown Church's songs speak of experience, not that of a trained instrumentalist (although the album's complex orchestration could help build a case for that, too) but rather the kind indicative of places lived and lives shared. Church, in short, carries the outdoors in his songs. But one cannot easily pinpoint those moments of naturalism in Church's compositions, nor can one intuit any layer of high-minded egalitarianism in the messages of a guy who spent his formative years in the Bay Area; yet, his songs carry the individualism that only comes with owning one's experience and reflecting upon it (as Thoreau, Whitman, Muir, and London can attest).

"Even though I've always returned to California, I don't feel like the music has much of a connection to one particular place," Church explains. "The songs are often about places I've been or experiences I've had out in the world, including and away from California." Church attests to the fact that the songs are not stuck in a single place or common mindset. They move from the soft and subtle ("Leaves In The River") to the devastatingly beautiful ("Black Leaf Falls") without feeling contrived or forced to do so.

Bright Eyes and the Shins are nearby references for Leaves In the River's sound, but in composing the album Church likely considered such tangential acts momentarily and the proceeded to make extra efforts to avoid such comparisons. Jack London's The Sea-Wolf is the album's adjoining reference, a novel in which the title character, Wolf Larsen, embodies all the qualities that stifle a consistent estimation of character, and with this, his debut album, Church lives up to that enigmatic namesake.

Leaves in the River is built upon arrangements that some may find reminiscent of Elliot Smith, who years before wrought structures that would be noted and followed by contemporaries Earlimart, Nada Surf, and Youth Group. Atop Church's arrangements are strewn wind-tossed folk ballads, such as "Middle Distance Runner," and larger anthemic statements, most notably the early single "You're A Wolf," but also the first-rate "Winter Windows."

Extremely strong in the early going, the latter half of the album drags a bit. "Song For The Dead" and "The Cold, The Dark & The Silence" are aptly titled, the former a gloomy rejoinder to "You're A Wolf"'s carefree gait, and the latter not fully hitting its mark. However, the album's misses are noble attempts at capturing a moment, which -- in an endless sea of contrived singer-songwriters -- is an admirable approach in itself.

Leaves In The River is the perfect album to capture the turning of summer's foliage to autumn's colors and the leaves' eventual descent from the canopy to the earth. It is a rare occurrence when autumnal beauty is aptly captured on the back of an autobiographical quilt of ideas; Church has proven that, once again, the individual pursuit is a noble one, if not a necessary step in the greater quest for the (often inconsistent) mystery of self.

Reviewed by Patrick Gill
In in a state of suspended adolescence, Patrick Gill can be found hiding away in northwest Ohio, where he spends most of his time rediscovering shoegaze, noise pop, britpop, slowcore, sadcore, lo-fi, neo-psychedelia, post-rock, trad rock, and trip-hop music. In his spare time he teaches college English.

See other reviews by Patrick Gill

» MEDIA DOWNLOADS

» GOT STICKERS?

If you'd like to help spread the word about LAS, or simply want to outfit yourself with some adhesive coolness, our 4" circle LAS stickers are sure to hit the spot, and here is how to get them:

--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.

» WORLDWIDE DOMINATION

LAS has staff and freelance writers spread across North and South America, Europe, and a few in Southeast Asia as well. As such, we have no central mailing adress for unsolicited promotional material. If you are interested in having your project considered for coverage, please contact us before sending any promotional materials - save yourself time and postage!