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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]

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 » 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
Explosions In The Sky
All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone
Temporary Residence Ltd.

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


February 19, 2007
It's pretty difficult to evaluate bands like Explosions In The Sky. The Texas band's early albums, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever (whew) and The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, along with score work for the film Friday Night Lights, have all been heralded as exceptional without much audible counterpoint.

When you break it down, though, what are we lauding? Listeners have no lyrics to evaluate, nor are there conventional "hooks" to elicit spontaneous outbreaks of humming. You will not find bumpin' beats, drum or guitar solos, intriguing samples, or amusing/cursing/sexy personalities. No, it seems that, as a group, EITS are refined to the point of near indistinguishability.

Although I don't support the earlier posed counterpoint, it is important to present the thought -- If a band that is not flashy, easily describable, and inherently catchy can become well regarded, what specifically is it that makes them 'good' and 'popular'? Because honestly, nowadays attention spans are all too short and some people don't understand how to swallow a band that weighs substance above all else.

For EITS, the "substance" in question relies heavily on dynamics, mutating segments, and moods. In their music, dynamics refer to the cymbal/snare punctuations that pop out from the rest of the jam and add rhythmically curious changes to the composition, and varying sound levels that can either build from quiet to loud or the opposite. Mutating segments are heard when - combined with dynamic shifts - instrumental parts change little by little so that eventually, the song sounds like a different one. Melodic layers are also used to construct (and later deconstruct) an intense depth. Mood lies as a blanket over these other two components, like the theory that leads them to whatever direction they might take next, a case in point being "The Birth and Death of the Day," where searing overlaid guitar notes wake up the album, but immediately following, trickling high tones make the song's flowing mood more pensive and reposed.

Further adding to their sound mutating skill is the band's exploration of pedal effects. During the dying seconds of "It's Natural To Be Afraid" electric guitars are filtered through an echo effect and give off an eerie resonance. As the natural - and oft used - form of each instrument is a pure, clean-channeled electric sound, each time distortion is added the newly applied frantic energy creates a powerful contrast. Also engaging is the variance between distorted sounds: for "The Birth and Death of the Day" the leading guitar part sounds hopeless lost in a gravelly, dark sort of way; two minutes later there is a guitar part that is only mildly distorted and used to nicely layer with other guitar tracks.

Through such turns of creativity, the band makes compositions and not concise pop tracks. Consistent with the past work of EITS, All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone is an album of a collective theme, and most tracks are better when listened to as part of the batch. That said, there are songs (and segments) that stand out from the rest. At the 1:30 mark of "Welcome, Ghosts" the signature pingy reverb is turned up on the twinkling electric guitars and a snarly distorted bass punctuation combines with the snare/floor tom pounding of the drummer. Directly after, the energy drops off like a plunging cliff diver and all that is left is the sunrise-potential silent strumming of a few guitar notes. Within several bars heavier layers are being added to the mix-louder more distorted guitars, more energy behind the drums, and a deeper more intense bass outline.

All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone is an intensely atmospheric album, and stands as one of the band's stronger releases. But to toss out another counterpoint, with a presently different musical context and many more bands becoming indie-renowned through a similar style (see Mono, Mogwai, and the entire drone/metal nation), it is difficult to say how exceptional this album is in the context of its own genre. However, it is safe to say that Explosions In The Sky is a pack leader and comes with another instrumentally solid, exploratory, and emotionally varied album.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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