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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
Plate Six
Operation: Chair Sit
Bent Rail Foundation

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
I've seen Plate Six play live more times than I can count. This makes sense, seeing as how they originate from my hometown, but I have to admit that I have never been able to wrap my head around their music. Of course, this may have a lot to do with my lack of having ever heard the band on record, coupled with my general intoxication level when in attendance at one of their live performances - but that is a personal issue we won't deal with right now. To their credit, I can say that the live show is always intense, but there was always something that kept them from being a personal favorite of mine. Having missed the CD release party for Operation: Chair Sit, I jumped at the opportunity to finally listen to this record when it arrived in the gigantor mail intake terminal at the LAS mansion (see the message board if you have no clue of what the hell I am talking about. Woons, when the game room opens back up your ass is grass!).

I hate to use one record as a springboard for developing a whole platform in which to aim criticism against the independent rock community- oh, how I loathe you, but oh, how I need you when the scope of the music of pop culture looks the most bleak - but here it goes. Upon this sad occasion we, as a proud, often boastful, vastly elitist, and quite demanding listening audience, must lament the lost talent of singing that seems to have forsaken even the most talented artists in the independent music scene who, admittedly, are woefully underpaid and under appreciated. Still, it begs the questions, could this lack of vocal talent be why? Let us examine further.

The reason independent music is, and presumably always will be, deserving of more respect, when the question of the validity of the art produced is compared to that of validity of the art produced by major label popular music is that it is primarily driven by musicians, not by eighteen year old girls with large breast and even bigger lungs, who have no real knowledge of music or songwriting. The flip side of this, and what is becoming a bit too cliché within this community is that these musicians spend so much time honing their chops/songs/structures/styles that it comes to a point where they forget an essential element of writing pop songs, the vocals.

I can just picture the scenario in my head:
"Hey man, this songs sounds great, I think we're done."
"Yeah, me too."
"So, what about lyrics?"
"Well, I guess I could write some."
"Cool. So who's gonna sing 'em?"
"Well, I guess I could sing them too."

And at that moment all the little unborn babies cried…

So to move this diatribe onto a specific subject, we can now discuss Plate Six's Operation: Chair Sit, as case study #1 for the promotion of this platform. Example No. 1, a track entitled "Reeling". Notice what I would term as nothing short of caterwauling on, what, I am sure, was once a perfectly good P.J. Harvey song which makes this track a real effort to listen to. This motif occurs intermittently throughout the record, and what really irks me, what really aggravates the deepest depths of my soul, is that there are plenty of occasions - like one section of opening barn burner "Summer of 03", and on the closing track, "Metal Pilgrim" - in which these guys manage to sing rather passably. It's this tease; this hint of what could be there, that ultimately makes this album so engaging and so equally frustrating.

But you still need to know how the music sounds right? To say the least, it rocks. Blending equal parts of propulsive drumming that sits high in the mix with the right balance of dynamics and tempo to match the interplay of the dual guitars - one slung low to cover the bottom end of the sound spectrum - that fight the good fight between dissonance and melodic consonance. "The Horse" sounds damn near identical to Pearl Jam's "Rearviewmirror" - coincidentally both this CD label and the Vs. CD label are orange, and both bands have a song called "Crop Duster", just to provide some fodder for all you conspiracy theorists out there - though the band itself sounds nothing like Pearl Jam. Elsewhere, "Floating Digits" features a beautiful arpeggio and natural harmonics riff that forms the centerpiece and high point of an album that lilts, sway, veers off course and then hits the interstate off ramp at 90 mph in just the perfect amount of timing to keep the listener on his toes.

So the moral of the story is: make the world a better place by spending as much time - and by all means, please be as critical and conscientious about who you get to be the voice of your band as possible - as you would finding the fellow musicians that you decide to make music with, and check out Plate Six's album Operation: Chair Sit, because beside the vocal shortcomings it makes a pretty damn good listen.

Reviewed by Mark Skipper
Mark Skipper currently resides in Nashville, TN where he can be found skipping shows, drinking Guinness, making bad home recordings, and complaining about how much music sucks these days.

See other reviews by Mark Skipper

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