» 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!
[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
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 Divorce
The Gifted Program
Made In Mexico Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

September 12, 2005
If The Divorce were to collectively pee in a cup right now, would a urine test reveal steroids? A positive result seems likely, considering how much sonic muscle the band packed on for The Gifted Program, the slickly produced second release from these 80s-obsessed upstarts. Juiced with impassioned anthemic rock that remains true to the band's neon-colored New Wave roots, The Gifted Program is incredibly buff and, at the same time, fairly lean.

How does The Divorce account for such a transformation? For one thing, the Seattle trio added a new guitarist, Garrett Lunceford. Together with Shane Berry - also the lead singer - the two trade careening, searing hot leads and sleek, crunchy power chords that almost seem to growl. They're like Formula One cars drafting off each other and fighting for position on a narrow track with many turns. Add in the tight, Superball bounce of Jimmy Curran's bass and drummer Kyle Risan's controlled post-punk fury, and you've got a band that amplified to the gills. The guitars jump out of the speakers as if they were on fire; they set a jet-propelled tempo, especially on the infectious, powerhouse rocker "Deny! Deny! Deny!" As Berry demands The Divorce "take this pony for a ride," there's shouting in the background and the guitars grind the chorus into mulch.

Throughout The Gifted Program there's an electrically charged atmosphere: feel your wrist for a pulse when the driving opener, "Yes" comes on. Got it? Good. Now, keep your thumb pressed there and see if it doesn't beat like a jackrabbit when the chorus explodes and the strident guitars erupt, spilling lava down the sides of your stereo. It's as if the Foo Fighters and The Killers are engaged in a scream therapy session and the psychologist has left the room.

The great thing about The Gifted Program is that you absolutely cannot wait for the next track. After "Yes" comes "Cash Machine," which mixes Hot Hot Heat's dance-punk hooks with Bloc Party's bristling post-punk energy. "Birds=Magic" is just as catchy with wild-blue-yonder guitar and a blinding fusillade of hi-hat needles shooting at your face. Here's where comparisons to The Killers are most apt, although you get the idea The Divorce would rather be compared with the likes of Echo And The Bunnymen or pre-The Unforgettable Fire U2. Then there's Berry and Lunceford paying homage to the Edge with inspired bell-like guitar in the unfortunately titled "Houses In Hurricanes." For a night-cap, The Divorce let it all hang out with "Fishing with the Party Sharks," a furious rocker with guitar chords and notes that seem to fly like pieces of wood shot out of a chipper.

Whip in hand, The Divorce push The Gifted Program hard to the finish. There's a bump in the road called "Be Quiet" - a cliche-riddled ballad that slows The Gifted Program's momentum. And, unfair or not, The Gifted Program is beset by lyrical misadventures, like "I get enough empty promises from way up on high/here's some good advice: nothing down here is free/except a heart attack". Though lines such as these take some of the bloom off the rose, The Divorce has more than enough youthful energy and exuberance - as well as a wealth of musical chops - to make up for them. The Gifted Program is a potent arena-rock force that grabs you by the short hairs and rips them out by the roots. Make sure your fly is zipped.

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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