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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.
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 » 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!
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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
Brass Castle
Brass Castle
Velocette Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

September 26, 2006
What goes well with shot-gunning cheap beer, chain-smoking pack after pack of Marlboros and watching Jerry Springer in a backwoods mobile home while your gearhead buddy fixes that junky Impala sitting up on blocks in your yard? If you answered, "Pickled eggs" then, well, you're half right.

In a blind test that's never been, and probably never will be, performed, five out of 10 derelict rednecks who may or may not exist and were never asked anything about Brass Castle still said they'd prefer sucking the tailpipe of an '82 Buick to Brass Castle's loud, awesomely obnoxious noise-rawk. But what the fuck do they know? The only thing on their minds is scoring prescription drugs with a forged doctor's signature, and because of that, they're missing out on one hell of a ride.

If the dirty underworld of cockfighting needed a soundtrack, this is it. A hairy, tangled mess of drums and guitar, Brass Castle is not meant for those who bruise easily or tight-ass elitists who aren't happy unless they get "finished" compositions or "seamless" songcraft. Scattered about Brass Castle are abrupt endings, half-formed ideas, dense thickets of hair-raising noise, unpredictable, almost senseless shifts in tempo and riffs ... oh my god, the riffs. From menacing, boogie-rock chicken fat like "Freon Nights" to the Black Keys-meets-Fu Manchu bluesy brawl of "Angelfights" or "Shark Alley Shag" to the visceral, boilermaker-fueled juggernaut "We Burn," Brass Castle exhausts the standard catalog of chord structures and adds a few new entries on this, its sophomore effort.

Blessed, or cursed - take your pick - with a short attention span, the instrument-swapping duo of Chris Strawn and Christian Gordy sort of latch onto meaty hooks and mean, nasty riffs by accident and then, perhaps feeling guilty about how they came by them, they release them back into the rock 'n roll wild. The buzzard-circling guitar of "Pure Pink Eye" gets dropped like a bad habit and in "Give What You Got," when cracks in the solid rhythmic foundation Brass Castle's built start to show, it devolves into nothing more than slacker racket. But Brass Castle does color within the lines with the car-crash crunch and sidewinder rhythms of "Dance Between The Raindrops" and the laid-back, tiki-torch grooves of "The Hawaiian."

And that's when Brass Castle is at its best, when they stay on task. "Dinosaur Lips" is deconstructed blues that for a brief moment finds its distortion-fried groove, but then looses it just as fast. The same gripe can be dropped into the complaint box for "Due Right." But the chicken-coop nastiness of "Rude Duke" never gets cleaned up, and trust me, that's a good thing. And the Jesus Lizard-style juggernaut "We Burn," the best of the lot here, never drops the ball. Constructed around a thick, richly toned riff copped from Duane Denison, "We Burn" does switch tracks, but the sludgy, Melvins-like low-gear dirge that drives on as Strawn and Gordy scream "And we burn" over and over like Vikings anticipating a big pillaging is just as thrilling.

An exhausting listen, but a rewarding one for undesirables and grizzled malcontents, Brass Castle cannibalizes the classic rock machismo and frenzied fretwork of Ted Nugent, who'd be cowering in a corner if he heard this, and then haphazardly welds the parts to punk noise just a few decibels lower than the thunder The Locust crap out. The musicianship is startling and its got cocksure attitude - from more than a few shots of courage and a case of Old Milwaukee, no doubt - to spare, but Brass Castle frustratingly throw structure and melody out the window onto the neighbor's lawn time and time again. It's not perfect. It's not trendy. And it damn sure isn't very coherent. But as it screams at you like a losing high school football coach trying unsuccessfully to cope with impotency and a nagging wife, you just go on eating riffs as tasty as an entire breakfast fried in butter after a night of heavy drinking. Brass Castle would make a great last meal for someone on death row.

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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