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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
Imperial Teen
On
Merge Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
It could be said that Kindercore records and other such labels have really ruined music in a lot of ways. They seem to promote a very amatuerish arena for bedroom pop hopefuls to create badly recorded tapes with out-of-tune vocals and songs about kitty cats, candy, and bubble-tape. The twee-pop phenomenon has almost made it possible for anybody to become a musician and have some kind of built in audience, with very little effort put into the process at all. While some people would say that this is totally a good thing, I tend to disagree. While I'm all about people giving the music thing a shot, do we really need another Apples in Stereo-obsessed baffoon with a drum machine, a synthesizer, and the inability to tune a guitar mucking up the already mucked music world? To that I say, I think not!

Some bands, though, avoid the pigeonholing, and come out on top due to pure talent and creativity. A band like Kings of Convenience, who started out on Kindercore, had enough creative integrity to jump ship to the more respectable Astralworks, and release some of the best music 2001 (and early 2002) could ask for.

The band that I see very capable of transcending the twee-pop pitfalls right now is San Francisco's new-wave revivalists Imperial Teen. With On, the band creates an almost unassuming collection of simply played pop songs, so hook filled you could buy it at a bait-and-tackle store. What separates Imperial Teen from every other Hello-Kitty tote bag carrying, Athens-living, candy-necklace-collecting twee-god-wannabe, though, is pure craftsmanship.

Exuding an unmistakable sassiness, Imperial Teen may be the only band old enough right now to actually have lived through new-wave (singer/guitarist Roddy Bottum played keyboards in late 80s, early 90s metal-pop legends Faith No More), as they pay homage to that era's sound with precision. Guitars pop and keyboards bop all over On, giving genteel nods to everything from the OMD, the Go-Go's and the Cars to more contemporary new-wavers like Belle and Sebastian and That Dog.

Speaking of That Dog, On scores with crisp production work by Anna Waronkner, said band's former guitar player and singer. Rather than going for an over the top "Yay 80's!" vibe, Waronkner (along with Steven McDonald) and the band go for a very smooth and tight approach. Songs like "Baby" and "Teacher's Pet" jump out of the speakers in a burst of pink, neon green, and electric blue with such youthful exuberance, you'd forget the band members are all over 30. Slower songs like "My Spy" and "The First" glide along on simple yet effective melodies, and give a fitting climax to the sexually charged romp that is On.

Though after listening to On it may be hard to argue how they are different than any other twee-pop ensemble, there is unmistakable charm, wit, and over-all tightness as a band that pushes the album past the Wolfies and Marshmallow Coasts of the world. Give it a listen, and see if you can't get these songs out of your head.

Fuck twee! Go Imperial Teen!

Reviewed by Ryan Allen
A former staff writer with fabulous hair, Ryan Allen once fronted Red Shirt Brigade with his brother, Scott. He currently fronts the art/fashion punk band Thunderbirds Are Now!, with is brother, Scott.

See other reviews by Ryan Allen

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