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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
The Firebird Band
Archives
Lucid Records

Rating: 6/10 ?


October 1, 2004
One of the most painful things a fan can experience is discovering what his or her favorite band used to sound like. For me it hearkens back to discovering Radiohead with the release of OK Computer, only to find a copy of Pablo Honey months later and becoming severely and thoroughly disappointed. Another painful item of note is when a band reissues older recordings and touts them, dangling them as a treat in front of the nose of persistently patient fans who await the newest recordings. With some artists it can be a necessity, as is the case with older bands like Mission of Burma, or perhaps even more recent offerings, such as the re-release of the New Pornographers' seminal Mass Romantic. With this thought in mind, which category does the Firebird Suite/Project/Band's Archives fall into? Is this a must-have for every collector, or should it be lost among the sea of unnecessary anthologies for all time? The truth is that this collection lands right in the middle, neither necessity nor pure chaff to be burned off.

To clear confusion I will hereafter refer to this project as the band they are known as now; the Firebird Band. Over the course of its existence they have been known as the Firebird Suite, and then shortly thereafter as the Firebird Project, ultimately deciding on the Firebird Band as the appropriate moniker. All the listener really needs to know is one name, and that is the name of one Chris Broach. Braid fans will recognize this name, as he is the lone member who struck out on his own, leaving the three members behind to forge a new path as Hey Mercedes. In all fairness the initial idea and recordings existed before Braid called it quits, and the early songs follow as logical continuations of Chris's writing in Braid, maintaining the mid-tempo emo sensibility that Braid and their brethren championed throughout the late nineties. The first recordings were finished in 1997, at the height of Braid's popularity, with Hum mastermind Matt Talbot at the boards. These comprise the first eleven songs of the Archives, while the next six, tracks 12-17 fall under the alias of the Firebird Project, leaving one remaining tune from the Firebird Band sessions that produced their debut record, The Setting Sun and Its Satellites, a stand-alone wonder and crowning achievement.

The Setting Sun and Its Satellites broke new ground for Broach as layers of synths augmented strong songwriting ability, an ability that sees evolution on the beginning tracks. "Where I Lived and Who I Lived For" demonstrates an earnestness, a strong companion to Braid's "Divers", while "September" becomes an early favorite for rocker-of-the-album, pleasantly surprising me with the passion exuding itself through the straightforward guitar strums. If anything these early recordings serve to mark Chris Broach down as the heart behind one of the most influential bands of our time.

As the CD segues into the Firebird Project portion of the album it begins a shift in sound to give the listener an idea of why the Firebird Band garnered wide-spread attention for The Setting Sun and Its Satellites. Driving bass lines and a more upbeat tempo, a shift away from the mid-tempo sounds of the Midwest emo bands, fall into place with a groove guaranteed to bring even my middle-aged parents out onto the dance floor, as evidenced on "Nothing to Blame But Your Fame" and "The Fall of the West". While all of these songs remain memorable, catching in your head with classics like "Baby Got Back", the few cannot salvage the many. Most of the songs found within the vault should have remained there, bleeding one into the other with very little distinction, which is why Archives falls in the middle ground, neither classic nor pure crap, but a mediocre band evolving with one final beautiful product, but this is not it. For the newest inductees, go find The Setting Sun and Its Satellites, and true fans like myself will wait for the new album set to be released this summer, defining and showcasing a band that has grown beyond its roots and beyond these Archives.

Reviewed by Jake M. Rizy
A contributing writer for LAS who lives in Arlington, Texas.

See other reviews by Jake M. Rizy

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