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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
Ester Drang
Goldenwest
Burnt Toast Vinyl

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
I remember once in Junior High I was listening to Dark Side of the Moon with my friend Tim Johnson, who walked like a penguin, listing from side to side. We were in his room in a recently built suburb, staying up late to sneak a couple of teaspoons of his dad's liquor to drown in Hi-C. I guess I was falling asleep while listening to the music or something, but I began to feel like I was floating out into the music. It freaked me out and I started as if I were awakening from a nightmare.

Years later, under the effects of mushrooms I was driving to West Virginia to go camping with some kids I worked with and that lame Steve Miller song "Fly Like an Eagle" was on the radio. Slightly hallucinatory, I thought to myself - Oh, that's why those hippy bands use all those effects.

Ester Drang aren't going to go parade naked in the mud sporting painted cheeks under dilated eyes or anything, but they are definitely in the tradition descended from Pink Floyd, which has most recently been re-ignited by Spiritualized and Radiohead and spawned numerous in-the-wake-of bands, from Lenola to Cave In. The Drang (as I imagine they would not like to be called) have the atmospheric sound down pat. This is really a beautiful album to listen to: the keyboards and echoing guitars flange all over the place like lightning bugs, the guitars build from texture to texture, sounds wheedle and noodle through each other like those weird walking guys in the Escher drawing of the castle. The vocals sound particularly like a higher pitched version of Meddle-era Pink Floyd, laid back with slow melodies. I think if I were still dabbling in the illicit stuff, I might hunker down and listen to this on headphones and feel all floaty and pleasant.

My only complaint with this album is that the laid back, atmospheric quality of it gets in the way of me getting into a song. By that vague phrase 'getting into' I mean the way a song becomes a part of my life, the way I hum the melody and think about the lyrics and get excited about how the song works as a single creative piece. I think my favorite song is "Words That Cure Part 2," which is an instrumental exploration of the first part, which is sort of telling about The Drang. Most of the lyrics on the album are obscured by effects or guitar layers, while the ones I do hear aren't all that good: "I'd like to see your words flowing freely." Layered instruments seem to be added simply because they're there.

I know this is kind of nit picky, but it's only because this is a good album, but not quite great, you know? I feel like Ester Drang are great at building the beautiful cloudbanks for me to float on, but they don't let me see what the cloud is shaped like. Or something like that.

Reviewed by Mathias Svalina
Living in Lincoln, Nebraska, Mathias Svalina is pursuing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Nebraska and also co-curates The Clean Part Reading Series and co-edits Octopus Magazine.

See other reviews by Mathias Svalina

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