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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
Raising the Fawn
By the Warmth of Your Flame
Sonic Unyon Recording Company

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
It sounds crazy, I know. But I think this record is haunted. I thought I heard a creaky screen door swing open at the beginning of the spooky, Spaghetti Western instrumental "Intro." Could have sworn I heard footsteps. But when I went to check on it, nobody was there. Must be the wind, I thought. Then I heard this voice, this incandescent falsetto. You'd swear it was Jeff Buckley, or perhaps his ghost.

Actually, it's only John Crossingham. If the name sounds familiar, it should. He's a card-carrying member of Broken Social Scene, the experimental pop collective that stunned the indie world in 2003 with the sublime You Forgot It In People. While Broken Social Scene was basking in almost universal critical acclaim, Crossingham's side project, Raising The Fawn, was being torn apart. The band finished a full-length album called The North Sea last spring. Shortly after, half the group departed. With Raising The Fawn in limbo, The North Sea was indefinitely shelved and Crossingham spent the summer touring with the Scene. But he couldn't get Raising The Fawn off his mind. Unable to detach himself from so personal a project, he returned to the studio with original bassist Scott Remila. The result of that reunion was By The Warmth Of Your Flame, a lovely five-song slow-core EP that sounds less like Broken Social Scene and more like Low.

After the mournful bended notes and whispered acoustic guitar of "Intro" fade away, the ominous storm clouds of "Into Ashes White" blow in. Ghostly tendrils of distortion float over strummed electric guitar chrome, malevolent drums and tender crooning that wavers but never falters. Light banjo and guitar plucking interrupt the quiet stillness at the beginning of "The Chicago World Expo"; then, Raising The Fawn pipes in Procol Harum-style organ as Crossingham's voice soars. The effect is operatic. "Country Home" is more quiet, comprised of nothing more than sparse banjo and chilling Buckley-esque vocals. This is what Iron and Wine would sound like if Sam Beam had listened to Joy Division growing up, instead of Bob Dylan.

But never mind all that. The real jewel on By The Warmth Of Your Flame is "The Common Cold," 7:37 of gorgeous dream pop that tells of a couple "fighting for belief and faith/ nothing more" as they try to ward off an everyday malady that'll just make their humdrum lives more unbearable should they succumb. The song starts out with rippling pools of guitar reverb that brush gently against electronic sound manipulation laced with static. As the melody slowly builds, cymbals begin to softly crash and violins swoon behind the gorgeous vocal harmonies of Crossingham and Remila. Melancholy and optimism rarely mix. Here, they do so beautifully.

Comparisons to Broken Social Scene are inevitable, but Raising The Fawn is a different animal altogether. The sunny 60's pop sounds that lighten You Forget It In People never break through By The Warmth Of Your Flame's black clouds. The music is less eclectic, the mood far darker and more rustic. The places Raising The Fawn inhabits are mostly dank and remote, where the slightest sound - the squeaking of a loose floorboard or a broken shutter hinge - that disturbs the peace brings suspicion and fear. Faith in something, whether it's home, a higher power or love, gives the Fawn courage. Considering the band's turbulent history, it's hard to believe they still put so much stock in it.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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