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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
The Red Thread
Tension Pins
Badman Recording Co.

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
The simple, swaying manner of the Red Thread's debut, After the Last, fashioned Jason Lakis as an anomaly of sorts. He could take syrupy genres, like spaghetti western traipsing and thick AM showmanship and distill them to their most appealing forms, devoid of heavy-handedness. What's more, he made it seem effortless, like the subtlety was always there, and we had just missed it in all the commotion.

On Tension Pins, he takes this gift a step further, making his choices even more subtle, and in doing so raises the bar in new and unexpected ways. To be certain, he has started a revival, that we should all believe the philosophy of taking a step back.

Truer to his self-admitted influences of Pinback and heartrending Americana, the album meshes these arguably more likeable genres into something strikingly similar to his first effort, but less. His motions are like shaking silt to the bottom of a bottle, allowing us all to see a layer of purity. He has reduced the solution once again, to something refreshingly clear and anti-dramatic.

Tension Pins begins with the stinging guitars and plaintive vocals of "The Getaway", and states its purpose as a charming alternative to sap. Threading in more post-rock and a dustier class of country, he begins by taking his work to a contemporary plane. While admitting rural roots may lead to unfortunate pigeonholing, he proves that the labels cannot limit him, as he makes rolling, hard working Southwest rock any way he sees fit.

His best tracks rival many other critical favorites, and are impressive in number. "New Watch" struts with only a hint of western aesthetic, with a good dose of dark indie rock and surprising touches of sadcore. "From the Divide" is a ringing, superb number, like Songs: Ohia's "Hot Black Silk," but with the melodic undertones of Aloha evident in good measure. "The Dinner Party" is jangly, but still up to mischief - like a spy novel drafted by Elliott Smith, meticulously hollow and tense. "Postcards" is a mostly instrumental effort, conjuring thoughts of Belly's Star or Stereo Total's take on "Moviestar," awash in slowed, tropical imagery.

Throughout this striking list of comparisons, however, Lakis remains fittingly humble and self-assured in his restraint, inspiration and tremendous hope. On the concluding "Close Quarters", we get the intimacy of eye contact across a crowded, leaky bar. This mix of sludgy, Califone inspired balladry and the bookish dodging of the Talking Heads winds up being the most telling track. As loose, classic rock guitars and staccato cues move it along, decaying, dense organs bleed to the form of a man. The smoke refuses to clear, obscuring all but his face as a lone drum signals its location. Again, we are left with what is clear: the stirrings of a gentleman among friends, reveling in the eloquence of simplicity.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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