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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
Magik Markers
BOSS
Ecstatic Peace!

Rating: 8.6/10 ?


September 21, 2007
Man, this is a great year for Lee Ranaldo to take other bands to Sonic Youth Fantasy Camp, isn't it? First, he gave the starstruck Cribs a taste of how real indie cred feels, beknighting their crossover breakthrough with his disjunct beat poetry on the avant-anchor "Be Safe." Now he's helping noisy protégés Magik Markers live the opposite fantasy, an album of songs and melodies, the forbidden dream of the noise-rock scene, I always suspected. Heed, theologians of Merzbow: accessibility warning. Even with a nine-minute spoken dirge, the duo's first official album, BOSS, won't be hard to take for anyone who's been softened up by PJ Harvey's Rid of Me or Ranaldo's own band's A Thousand Leaves, the two landmarks BOSS recalls instantaneously. A nice little pipebomb to indie's current obsession with billowing lanes of sugar and safe orchestral watercolors.

Not that BOSS rocks or anything. It creeps along like one long feedback-swollen hymn, always noising up denser and denser but rarely exploding into punk or anything you could describe as a wall of something. It rather gorgeously hums low and disturbing, hiding in the grass like some kind of jungle cat. You know its there, you see the yellow glow of its eyes, but the entirety of the beast is camouflaged in shrouds of thickery.

Itchy drummer Pete Nolan tries his damnedest to go against everything I just said. He doesn't peel off petals, he tears the flower's whole damn head off. Guided missile "Body Rot" isn't totally unlike the work of spastic labelmates Be Your Own Pet, and you can tell it was just what Nolan needed after picking at the scabs of "Axis Mundi" for six minutes. His contributions (and lack of contributions: piano ballad "Empty Bottles" is just the perfect relief between the tough stuff) craft the perfect negative space throughout a thrash-and-release album to make the noise beat harder and the quiet ring all the more shakily.

Frontwomen don't come more arresting than Elisa Ambrogio, either, who wraps dark abstractions like "My wet youth just made me queasy" around electrical malfunctions in "Circle," with birdlike effects a la "Tomorrow Never Knows," and weary pleas like "I gotta decay" in "Body Rot." Her voice is captivating and full of theater, brimming with icy, sexy evil in the bluesy "Taste." The ballads are especially surprising, with not just "Empty Bottles," but "Bad Dream/Hartford's Beat Suite," all chiming acoustics and beating Chan Marshall at her own game. And if Cat Power ever came in contact with the John Updike character Harry Angstrom, as Ambroglio does, it was probably just to snort a line off a jaundiced copy of Rabbit At Rest. Nice to have a noise band that lets a little light into their cave now and then. You know, literary references, proof of some relation to melody, linear song structures. It's just more human.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss

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