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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
Peel
Peel
Peek-A-Boo

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


April 12, 2007
In a recent review on this very site I posited that perhaps rock-n-roll's grip on song structure has run its 50 year course. Well, just as quick as I can type 1-4-5, I find myself questioning those words. The stimulus comes in the form of a Texas spur called Peel and their self-titled debut, an album which deftly proves that rock has at least 35 more minutes to live, and moreover, it is alive and kicking.

Austin's Peel have the boozey bar-band chops of a Hold Steady, and the alt-county twang of any number of their fellow Lone Star Statesmen. But they have something else up their sleeves as well; hidden in the recesses of the record, a slight echo of Euro-Brit sway seeps in. On the first track, "Oxford," a standard opening chord progression quickly collapses into a vocal line that's sung like something off of a Madness record, with the phrasing and wry humor to boot: "If I had my way I'd demolish/ Every building of rock polished/ To shine so bright/ Like headlights in the day time." It's a playful way to begin a record of eleven quick tracks, each one trying to be the perfect 3-minute pop nugget.

Peel get style points for creative instruments, including multiple keyboards and horns, and for switching up male/female vocals. But the most endearing element the band employs is a copious amount of oh-so-slightly off-key guitars and voice. Normally this could be grating, but it works here, due to the sloppy sound that reeks off this digital pressing. You can almost feel the band slumbering into the studio after a hard night playing in one of Austin's many great clubs, and "inadvertently" tuning their axes a half-tone down. The best example is "Sliding Doors," a ditty that sounds as dusty as the Texas plains, sung and played in a total lackadaisical manner, until the tender and hopeful refrain of barflies everywhere: "I'm going start living the right way/ And setting my mind on someday." The one-two punch that catapults this album into "buy-now" turf are back-to-back "Love Soaked In Blood" and "Someone's Cousin." The former sounds like Stereolab, if they were stripped of their silky electronics and playing in your living room. The latter calls up the don't-give-a-turd attitude of the Sex Pistols, complete with drunken punk yelps and an ending that simply falls to pieces. The record closes with "Navy Waves," a slight rip of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but at this point, who cares?

So there you have it: Peel are great at peeling away multiple influences and exposing the damn fun part of rock. They may not be the most original band coming from Spoon territory, but they get props for keeping it really entertaining. Every time their debut album ends, I find myself taking it for another half-hour joyride. Perhaps I was wrong and Neil Young had it right: "Rock-and-roll can never die."

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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