» 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
Steve Barton
Charm Offensive
Sleepless Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

February 8, 2005
If you're like most people, when you think "power pop," you undoubtedly think of sweetness and light… and more sweetness. And, if you're in the half of those folks whose stomach turns a little with the notion of so much sugar, you scrounge for something else.

Personally, I like power pop, but even my sweet tooth needs a little break. Steve Barton understands; his brand of invigorating power pop, filtered through the devil may care attitude of the Ramones and the Kinks is enjoyable to hear. This is pop, duly amped to high, bounding levels, and it's really satisfying to find someone who fairly well forgoes the usual sweetness and isn't afraid to get a bit salty.

While still courting pop mistresses, Barton plainly flips the bird - and his sneer is outright shining. While some tracks do teeter on the sugary side (see "Yours to Lose"), we know from the get-go he's having a ton of fun at everyone's expense. "Bertha Jane," an outlandish surf party, is trite in the best way: flippant and tongue-in-cheek. "Kiss This" and "Tina Finds the Silences" are gloriously crass retorts, sung with bitter glee, and even on the simple, reverbing pop singalongs "When You're Gone," "Shy" and the misleadingly sunny, "Hold a Shadow Down," we know that Barton's playing offense and he's clearly winning.

Past all the barbs, he reluctantly shows his vulnerable side. "What Treasures I May Find" is swimming and luckless, but achingly hopeful that there is more to life than all the biting. We hear in closing that some of the reactive jabs could be a coping mechanism - that he might long to let his guard down.

While all along, Barton has seemed more relatable than many of his pop counterparts in that his world isn't coated in a high-gloss sheen, he takes on added depth with his realization that even getting the last laugh isn't enough. Charm Offensive goes far beyond the surface skimmed by most power pop affairs, and because of that, it is a deeply rewarding find.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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