» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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]


 » 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!
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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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Past Lives
Strange Symmetry
Suicide Squeeze

Rating: 6.1/10 ?

December 16, 2008
Fans mourning the demise of The Blood Brothers, and those left unfulfilled by the ensuing Johnny Whitney-led ensemble, Jaguar Love, need not fret any longer. Among the curious amount of side-projects and spin-offs, Past Lives best encapsulates the spirit of the said former fraternity. Soldiering on with their frenzied brand of post-hardcore screamo, the Seattle-based quartet venture into familiar territory on their debut EP, Strange Symmetry.

For better or worse, The Blood Brothers became noticed for their structured dissonance, their cacophonous fits of percussion and chaotic breakdowns. At the forefront, an unlikely pair - the twitchy, midrange Jordan Billie and the shrill, flamboyant Johnny Whitney - contributed a rawness and an effeminacy, respectively, to give the band their signature heavy rock, glam-punk sound. Ten years and quite a few side collaborations later (Head Wound City, Neon Blonde, Waxwing, to name a few), the band unceremoniously called it quits. As evidenced by their last album, Young Machetes, and it's supporting tour, it seemed the group had grown tired of the speed and the screaming.

Past Lives - composed of Billie, former bandmates Morgan Henderson and Mark Gajadhar, and Shoplifting's Devin Welch - certainly live up to their self-referential name. Drawing inspiration from their not-so-distant-histories, the group strives to rebuild on a foundation already laid. Clocking in at a whopping 15 minutes, Strange Symmetry emphasizes sonic discord, expressing a macabre tenor without, for the most part, echoes of aggression. Consequently, Past Lives delivers an album less dynamic and cathartic than hoped.

Though it might be an odd thing to note for a hardcore rock record, Strange Symmetry achieves clearer, more discernable sound than one might expect. Billie's vocals, closer to singing than screaming, cut through the distortion of the album's solid opener, "Beyond Gone." Straying from the avant-garde and producing a sound slightly more accessible, Past Lives has potential to pick up steam with their newly broadened appeal.

Still, the album has its bursts of eerily tweaking guitars and crashing symbols. The jumbled "Skull Lender" features a thunderstorm of snare and "Reverse the Curse," short surges of frenetic shrieking. Thankfully, the songwriting has matured, veering away from the seemingly nonsensical, sometimes cringe-inducing lyrics of past collaborations. Although Billie's vocals alone can carry the band, there is still want for something more: perhaps a dual vocal, a pinched femme compliment to his guttural croak.

Where Whitney has since experimented with indie-rock and art-punk, the guys of Past Lives have maintained and validated their position as a post-hardcore punk outfit. Unfortunately, their career, at least until they better differentiate themselves, will be in constant juxtaposition to their former incarnations. And this is fair, considering the band's roots and current direction are so similar. Comparatively, however, Past Lives doesn't present anything groundbreaking; it's déjà entendu. To use an irritating albeit relevant pun, it might be time to stop living in the past.

Reviewed by Lara Longo
Lara Longo is a writer and photographer from Brooklyn, NY. In 1989, Lara received her first CD player and album, Appetite for Destruction; ever since, music is something she has fawned over, hated on, and played loudly. Her work has also appeared in Relix and New York Cool. Lara’s interests include sharks, European television, and the Hammond B3 organ.

See other reviews by Lara Longo



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