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

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 » 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
Gravenhurst
Fires in Distant Buildings
Warp Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


November 7, 2005
The United Nations of Neo-Psychedelia has met and elected Gravenhurst its chief speaker; a recent outpouring of distinctly stylized psychedelic indie rock bands has made it possible to regularly draw reference to older classics of Pink Floyd and Can. These oft-mentioned predecessors are surely The Founders of the style - those that wrote the rules so that bands such as Dead Meadow, Innaway and Gravenhurst could be guided in some way by them. The contributions of forefathers are undeniably paramount, and in some ways this also makes the effect of neo-psychedelic bands less original to some degree. The sound aesthetic is borrowed from the past, but deep down so is the style of each and every band, even the most influential ones.

Under the umbrella of 'neo-psychedelia' are several extensions of the original 'psychedelia' genre. Most people who hear the latter term think lava lamps, sitars and purple smoke. The original term 'psychedelic' was meant to describe a more freely formed brand of rock music, one that was not held strictly to patterns, but instead allowed to explore different instruments, time signatures and overall creative ideas. The contemporary form is more indie rock- or British folk-inspired, complying to a stricter form, but still offering many details that were inherent of 1960s-70s psychedelic rock music.

Fires in Distant Buildings is an album of exemplary neo-psychedelia. The overall musical texture is of patient, waiting-to-lurch, flowing curtains of dreamy rock sound. A typical Gravenhurst song has a very straight, dry style; descriptive details include clean-channeled, reverby, echoey electric guitars, slow shoegaze drum beats and atmospheric sounds such as jazz organs and electronic samples and effects. There are hooks present, but the melodies aren't as intentionally catchy or cutting as those sometimes presented in other rock forms such as post-punk, new wave, metal and the like.

Gravenhurst is the namesake of British songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nick Talbot. Already impressively epic sounding, Fires in Distant Buildings becomes more extraordinary as the notions of one mind, the contrasting stages of music - sans lyrical context consideration - feeling like their moods were removed from a depressed ex-lover (the Iron & Wine-ish "Nicole") to the excitement of a sprinting teen ("The Velvet Cell"). Throughout Talbot's arrangements are a series of mood stages: during lead track "Down River," a jammy guitar bashfully dances until the end of the phrase when it grows from bashful to dark to aggressive. Throughout this album there are spans such as these that one is reminded of Pink Floyd a little bit, Dead Meadow a lot, and then some notions of Slint.

Fires in Distant Buildings is, for the most part, a slow burner. If you are looking for something to knock you off your feet from the get-go, this will disappoint you; but know that it is on Warp Records for a good reason: it's creative, somewhat original and meets a standard of musical quality.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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