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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
The Breeders
Mountain Battles
4AD

Rating: 8.7/10 ?


April 3, 2008
Kim Deal's idea of what a record should sound like has always been confusing. She wrote a straight song once, "Gigantic," for her famous, now-reunited first band, and from there only became sloppier, marginalizing her songs with odd knickknacks and slight enough turns of melody that you may or may not ever notice them, no matter how familiar you get or how much you decide to love them/her.

No one knew what sense to make of the last Breeders album, Title TK, which arrived (count 'em) six years ago and (count 'em) nine years after she enjoyed the pop charts in a very different universe with the indelible stoner classic "Cannonball." Title TK was also a stoner classic, only no one noticed, and when she disappeared again this time, who only knew when she was expected to return.

Because the Deal twins make such strange records, anticipating the new Mountain Battles was a crapshoot as always. Almost twenty years after she left the Pixies, it's her "mature" album, whatever that means. It's as spare as the Kills and twice as powerful in its tiny attack; every ballad's such a naked piece of string that not one falls to the ether. It's a cool trick, setting up one dirge after another and lighting each one with just the right amount of glint to hear every clarion thread: the squashed drums on "Bang On," the Hawaiian guitar plinks of "Spark." Of the few implements on display, many stray from business-as-usual guitar, bass and drums. The cute-creepy synth riff of "Istanbul" could charm a cobra, and it's juxtaposed against an unusual metronome... chopsticks? Or an egg-timer, perhaps? Two are sung in (allegedly butchered) non-English. And as usual, only a couple tracks strive to form wholes betwixt all the beautiful inconsequence. One of them, "We're Gonna Rise," is a killer. Later, "Walk It Off" actually sounds like a single, though if 4AD is making eyes, I wouldn't recommend leading with their wallets in this climate.

Beautiful inconsequence, indeed. In a career full of perfect miniatures, Mountain Battles might actually be the Deals' best. It's certainly their most even-flowing, and the brilliant sense of space allows for the couple heavy ones - divebombing starter "Overglazed" and crunchy, Pixies-like "German Studies" - to gain depth and dynamics that benefit a sometimes painfully static group. Kim Deal's echo on the former really does sound as if she's been pushed off a cliff... onto a trampoline. That wide openness really makes the difference, not that the songs don't merit themselves: near-hymn "Here No More" would sound like sweet air in a canyon. What a wonderful thing for the Breeders to keep on spinning slightness into magic as they continue spelunking a phase of their career that most fuller-realized bands never even reach.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss

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