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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
Beach House
S/T
Carpark Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 2, 2006
Summer's glow has faded and that has the Baltimore duo known as Beach House depressed enough to binge drink cold medicine. Pulling blankets of soft, glowing reverb and warm, fuzzy organ tones over their swimming heads, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally concoct a gauzy, dream-like world of Indian summer slow-core where grainy home movies of vacations at the lake or the ocean run forever and postcards from resort towns say, "Wish you were here" and mean it. They're dated July, but it's October, the perfect month for a wistful collection of softly spun melodies and distant vocals that puts you in a codeine fog.

The timing of Beach House's self-titled release is perfect. Caught up in the change of seasons, the album sounds both summery and autumnal, its delicately framed indie-pop made for gray days indoors or late August afternoons spent lying in golden fields staring at blue skies. It's a neat trick that Beach House pulls off, one that even Yo La Tengo, Beach House's older, more versatile indie-pop siblings, can't lay claim to, though they tried hard with Summer Sun. Darker colors seem to suit Yo La Tengo, as the shoegazer textures and drone-pop of Painful or I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One bear out. Even the inviting, porch-swing charm of ... And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out has more of a nighttime feel to it, but despite all that, ... And Then Nothing ... is the album Beach House resembles most. And if you're going to try to pattern yourself after someone else, you could do a lot worse than Yo La Tengo.

What the two share is a love of drawn-out, timeless melodies and a gentle touch with elements that in lesser hands might produce abrasive ugliness or have that dreaded tacked-on feel. Analog to the core, Beach House opens with the twinkling "Saltwater," a lazy, drifting song built on scratchy, low-key synthetic beats - not from drum machines, as Scally and Legrand point out on their MySpace site - that get flooded with softly spreading guitar distortion and incandescent organ. "Love you all the time, even though you are not mine," sings Legrand sweetly, her airy voice imbued with melancholy. Just before the song ends abruptly and segues into the lovely Lost In Translation ether of "Tokyo Witch," she echoes, "You couldn't lose me if you tried."

That's because she's a witch - a good witch mind you, but a witch none the less. Legrand's spellbinding vocals almost seem to materialize from the past like a ghost instead of making a physical entrance. Hypnotic and otherworldly, her style lacks the weathered nuance of Nico, but Legrand could sing for Lou Reed anytime. Coming from another place entirely, Beach House lives nowhere near the Velvet Underground's bohemian art space. Theirs is a universe populated by transvestites and junkies, while Beach House, though similar sonically in some respects, is a cottage by the seashore. Slide guitar from a ghostly luau invades the hazy, humming "Apple Orchard" and in "Childhood," Beach House goes to Canada to visit the quiet, empty church where the Cowboy Junkies held The Trinity Session. Vaguely country, with spare drum thuds, a lonely tambourine and wheeling keyboards, "Childhood" is the most upbeat song on Beach House and it's one of the warmest.

More aloof, but coldly beautiful, is the waltzing "Auburn And Ivory," a siren-song of 60s psychedelia and classical influences that's a duller, more stoney take on The Rolling Stones' "Play With Fire." Going back further in time, Beach House gets a visit from a spectral Patsy Cline as Legrand and Scally go night-swimming in the swirling, shimmering pop pool of "Lovelier Girl."

Getting used to the lethargic pace of Beach House takes some doing, but it's well worth the effort. One of the most beguiling releases of 2006, Beach House is a welcome respite from metal chest-thumpers like Wolfmother and it takes the edge off the many tense post-punk listens critics have to endure these days. Legrand might be a masseuse with cold hands, but the muscle relaxation techniques practiced by Beach House are therapeutic. I'll have that happy ending now.

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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