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 » 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
Taylor Hollingsworth
Tragic City
Brash Music

Rating: 6.5/10 ?


February 21, 2006
Hair unkempt, with sunglasses dangling from his fingertips and looking disheveled in his dark thrift store pinstripe suit, Taylor Hollingsworth could easily pass for Ryan Adams. He might even be able to buy beer with the bratty alt.-country superstar's I.D. if Adams was cool with letting him use it. Which would be a magnanimous gesture on Adams' part, a way of giving something back to the impressionable youth that look to him for guidance and wisdom.

Hollingsworth obviously does. In photographs, the Birmingham, Alabama guitar slinger has Adams' press poses down pat. Look rebellious and bored with it all, as if all this media hype weighs heavily on your troubled mind. Part your lips just a bit for that jaded pout. Don't look at the camera - look through it, as if trying to peer through the haze of a barroom and the bottom of a shot glass to see what transpired the night before that left you with such a beast of a hangover. That's the stuff. Now go, and write about drinking and carousing, about running away to New Orleans, about settling gambling disputes with a gun and falling for careless women who'll always leave you for the next swinging dick that walks by. Of course, you've got to live it first, man. That's where the alcohol comes in.

I'm not convinced Hollingsworth has experienced any of it first hand, which doesn't really matter in the end. This is fiction, after all. Still, that sense that Hollingsworth's lyrics lack any sort of credibility gnaws at you all the way through Tragic City, and what's worse is that you get the feeling you've already heard all these tales of drunken gunplay, of hearts broken beyond repair, of false bravado in the face of danger, of romantic outlaws on the lam, et cetera.

Why be so hard on the boy, you ask? Because it's good for him. Because he's got obvious talent as a guitar player and as a songwriter, and the youthful swagger and nasty Rolling Stones-inspired blues-rock of Tragic City will attest to his potential. But Hollingsworth doesn't bring his A-game. There is great rock 'n roll here, with an infectious Southern rebel attitude to match. Lo-fi and heartfelt, Tragic City is full of the kind of bluesy, churning riffs that drive "When I Get Around," "Duct-taped Heart" and the distortion-fried "In From The Storm," and Hollingsworth isn't afraid to tastefully accent his 18-wheelers of sound with soulful, Memphis-style horns, like in "Heartattack" and "Little Queenie." The raw energy, insistent riffs and stripped-down attack of "How Could You Be So Cold" are reminiscent of Paul Westerberg's Stereo/Mono in that the hooks stand on their own, clear and unadulterated. You can hear a little bit of Hank Williams in the honky-tonk twang of "Bonnie And Clyde," a real deal, ramshackle country ballad with a gritty, authentic sound that even Adams would kill for. You hear the glittery, gutteral glam-rock stomp of the New York Dolls in "Take The Money" and it sounds as wild and uninhibited as youth itself.

Offsetting that is a tendency Hollingsworth has to be too careful and calculating in his songwriting, as evidenced by the dragging simplicity of "I'm A Runaway (New Orleans)" and the overly somber, almost anemic tones of "Gambling Barroom Blues." More bland, with uninspired vocals and a sort of comatose melody, is "Head On Collision." At times it seems Hollingsworth's songs have trouble gaining momentum. Even when he's plowing seemingly rich fields of guitar riffs, he gets stuck in the mud and spins its wheels. Ultimately this album is a good start for Hollingsworth and if you want to go back in time to when Adams was still in the embryonic stage of development, Tragic City will show you a rough sketch of an artist trying to grow. In the meantime, if you enjoy rock that's as greasy as grits with tough, meaty hooks, you can do a whole lot worse than this.

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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