» 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
The Sand And The Stars
Drag City Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
As an avid fan of MTV2, I'm bombarded by shows featuring bands talking about their music and the influences in creating that music. My sometime annoyance with the familiar topic of influences is a love/hate relationship though, as I get equally irritated when a sub-par band talks about the classic albums that they credit for spawning their rubbish. I'm sure bands like Good Charlotte listened to the almighty Smiths during those formative years, but it just seems disrespectful to put the two in the same sentence. On the other hand, nothing is more rewarding when a band cites its influences and actually lives up to the lofty ideas they claim to be inspired by. Movietone, who mention The Velvet Underground as one of their primary influences, have a new album that would make John Cale, and maybe even Lou Reed, proud.

The similarities begin with Kate Wright's voice. If you heard the opening title track of The Sand And The Stars without the benefit of knowing in advance who was playing, you would probably mistake it for a Velvet Underground B-side with Moe Tucker on vocals, a la "After Hours" from the Black Album. Wright's vocals have the same sing-songy quality as Tucker's, but they also maintain all the sexiness of Nico's vocals. It's hard not to be seduced by these songs, which are not only about the beach at night but were recorded there, too. The album's finest moment, "We Rode On," is a virtual walk- a long walk- on the beach without the sandy flip-flops, or a date. Don't be discouraged by the thought of ocean-side loneliness though- Wright's voice has enough romance to last through a week of lounging around in your tighty-whiteys eating microwaveable hamburgers.

To make full use of the comparison, it should be noted that the arrangements on The Sand And The Stars owe much to the Velvet Underground as well; they have all the charm of free-flowing, heroin-induced jams, yet seem controlled and thoughtful. Movietone has gone to great lengths to find just the right sound, combining instruments that would never find themselves keeping each other company. On "Ocean Song" the list of instruments employed reads like a sixth-grade jazz combo: banjo, trumpet, tenor saxophone, et cetera. The result of such arrangements is an amiable folk sound that is polyphonic, yet never cluttered.

Take Movietone seriously when they mention their influences because they mean it. The Sand And The Stars might not exist if not for cello-rock innovators The Velvet Underground, but the album is by no means dismissible as a knock-off. Like all good post-modern artists, they have taken bits and pieces from their favorite records and reassembled them into something original. If you think long walks on the beach are cliché, Movietone will have you convinced of the luxury and romance of The Sand And The Stars.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown



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