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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
Blake Miller
Together With Cats
Exit Stencil

Rating: NR/10 ?


March 15, 2007
To paraphrase the wonderfully acerbic Cracker, the world needs another folk singer like I need a hole in my head. Fifteen years later, this sentiment somehow still sings true, with all due respect to the burgeoning freak-folk movement. Something about an acoustic guitar and whispery voice lamenting about earthly woes makes me want to drown the drone with some Fugazi cranked up to eleven. That's not to say that every folk singer-songwriter is a sad-sack in need of sympathy. Quite the contrary, and even after this opening tirade I will readily admit to loving everything by Sufjan Stevens, Elliot Smith, Iron & Wine, Will Oldham, et cetera ad nauseum. Forget the classification "folk" - the primary element these songwriters possess is an uncanny talent for writing deceptively simple songs about far-reaching themes. The arrangements may span a short range, but the depth of the chasms are profound.

Which brings me to 19 year old Blake Miller, who has released an album of 12 songs called Together With Cats. The entire record has fairly low production values, which can sometimes be a good thing when it allows the raw soul of an artist to come through. Unfortunately for Miller, such is not the case here, as almost every one of the tracks is straightforward folk subject matter: sinners, nature, cutting one's hair, more nature, and more sinners. One can always sidestep the obvious by claiming metaphor, but that can be a thin veil. Musically the arrangements are almost entirely voice and bluesy acoustic guitar.

Together With Cats simply suffers from lack of originality and the absence of weighty dynamics, two requisites for such a simple approach to work. The green songwriter may have an honest calling, and that is respectable in its own right. Yet to stand out in the increasingly crowded field, among fellow young artists like Zach Condon of Beirut, there needs to be more going on. Perhaps all is not lost, as I do hear an occasional spark; maybe Blake Miller can evolve into something further than this album suggests. Time is indeed on his side.

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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