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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
A is Jump
My Ice-Fingered Ghost
Future Appletree Records

Rating: 7/10 ?


October 1, 2004
The word beauty, according to my trusty dictionary, is defined in one of four ways:

1. The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality.

2. One that is beautiful, especially a beautiful woman.

3. A quality or feature that is most effective, gratifying, or telling: The beauty of the venture is that we stand to lose nothing.

4. An outstanding or conspicuous example: "Hammett's gun went off. The shot was a beauty, just slightly behind the eyes" (Lillian Hellman).

It can be agreed upon that "beauty," in some form or another, is to be strived for in many aspects of life - especially when it comes to art (specifically music). But with four different incarnations of the word, how does one focus on beauty itself without falling into the trap of just one of these definitions?

I believe we are all (at least us males) familiar with definition number two, and that it can sometimes (at least once for all of us, I bet) get us into trouble. If that's all you're looking for, you aren't going to have your needs fulfilled (At least, not for the long haul).

I think you have to set out with number three as your goal, and try to produce numbers one, two and four, and hopefully come up with at least one of them.

This is exactly what Iowa's A Is Jump have done. The songs on My Ice-Fingered Ghost come across like a windstorm disguised as a summer breeze. They are sonically beautiful, but you can feel an urgency and power just underneath the surface.

The first track, "Peeling Space," sounds a bit like early Police mixed with the lighter bits of Of Montreal's Satanic Panic In the Attic. This is the same formula that the rest of the album has - just throw in some Smashing Pumpkins, Guided By Voices, and even Pinback likenesses and you've got it covered.

Sonically, this is one of the more inspiring records of the year. A lot of bands putting out records these days are nothing more than Coldplay clones, trying to cash in on that oh-so-in Brit Rock sound. Yes, the music is beautiful... but that's not its defining characteristic. There are moments where you can hear A is Jump taking chances. Instead of following the bread crumbs of others, they are content to forge their own path, and we're all the luckier for it.

Reviewed by Stephen Smith
In a recent staff survey Stephen Smith included a picture of his cat, Nikolai, since he said he didn\'t have any of himself.

See other reviews by Stephen Smith

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