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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]

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 » 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
Hello, Blue Roses
The Portrait is Finished and I Have Failed to Capture Your Beauty
Locust Music

Rating: 6.5/10 ?


April 14, 2008
As if Dan Bejar needed yet another musical side project. The prolific troubadour already fronts the impeccable Destroyer, partakes in the intriguing Swan Lake, and loans his wily skills to A.C. Newman's uber-collective, the New Pornographers. Now, the musical vagabond pulls a Captain to his Tennille: he records a charming little record with his romantic interest, Sydney Vermont, under the hackneyed moniker Hello, Blue Roses. And not that Ms. Vermont is any slouch herself; after growing out of the Toronto Children's Choir, she now bides her time as a visual artist, flautist and Bonaparte vocalist (don't ask, maybe it means she sings short vocal segments).

Aside from being the front-runner for the year's most lugubriously titled album, The Portrait is Finished and I Have Failed to Capture Your Beauty… delivers an innocuous array of softly strummed nuggets. The songwriting is simple enough, but the real hitch is the intertwining voices of Vermont and Bejar. On the standout "Shadow Falls," their mingling vocal lines bring out the best in the alternating currents of male/female harmonies. Vermont possesses the kind of voice one would expect from a former choir singer: top of the range, operatic, and lovely. When mixed with the gruffer chords of Bejar, the resultant blend is at once both disorienting and enticing. The pairing works especially well when, placed right beside the ever-flowing lines of Vermont, Bejar sings in a half-spoken manner and both vocalists bring a relaxed method to melody.

The songs themselves vary stylistically, and the changeups help to keep the album feeling fresh throughout its forty minute run. "Golden Fruit," "Come Darkness" and "Coming Through Imposture" recall pastoral canticles like "Greensleeves" (I dare you to find another recent review that name-checks that song). "Scarecrow" and "Sunny Skies" are lifted right from the playbook of 1980's AOR. "Heron Song" and "Skeleton Aim" pay unabashed homage to femme folks heroines from the 1970's, like Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. Most of the fourteen tracks have a palpable restraint to them, but the better ones are the songs that let the two lovebirds fly free. "St. Angela" gets pretty close to Rod Stewart's classic "Maggie Mae," but the track's brisk pace offers a welcome change to the album's cadence, and another notable is the delightfully playful closing composition "Hymn."

Sydney Vermont gets credit for the writing on The Portrait is Finished and I Have Failed to Capture Your Beauty…, and Dan Bejar for the arrangements which, by and large, are content to use acoustic guitar, some piano and flute. The pair accomplished what they set out to do, but by no means are they causing any whiplash with the results. Twice in one review is enough for such a garrulous title, so let's just say that you can file Bejar and Vermont's album under: first or second date dinner music, especially a home cooked meal by candlelight, preferably a nice ravioli with red sauce, accompanied by a bottle of Merlot. And of course, an arrangement of whatever color roses would be enchanting.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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