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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
Minmae
835
Greyday Productions

Rating: 7/10 ?


March 14, 2007
Minmae can aptly be summed up with one word; prolific. The Portland-based band have released a whopping nine albums since this millennium began. I cannot say I've heard anything from them prior to their latest release 835, which arrived with no press release save a list of tour dates. Further research online led to numerous music sites which offered strikingly few details about the band. To say Minmae is flying under the radar would be am understatement. Which is fine, appropriate even, since their music has an engaging, understated quality to it. In fact, the songs of 835 almost feel under the sonar; an old-school stereo, with its charming speakers and amp, is the appropriate setup to experience the simple production and detailed arrangements of the album.

The band's focus on 835 is slow and low, along the lines of perfectly-named masters Low and maybe-perfectly-named Lambchop. The band lays claim to territory at a crossroads of pop, noise, and rhythm, of chaos and order. This may be a bit ambitious, but the music does have a certain tentativeness to it, much like one would experience at a fork in the road. But rather than feeling stalled, the album actually breezes through its seventy (yes, seventy) minutes without much pause. Partly this is due to the style of songs, subtle and innocuous that they occasionally drift into background music. But more importantly, the effortless listen is due to the peppering of some very strong tracks throughout.

Most songs are based around singer Sean Brooks' appealing voice, which generally comes to rest somewhere between a whisper and baritone. Instruments are traditional, and songs proceed at a measured pace. The album's highlights come at the moments when the band clearly experiments outside this sparse model. "Capitals and Caliphs" finds Brooks vocalizing in a faintly distorted spoken word, over sweet guitar and twee keyboards, and the result is not only unique, but terrific too. "Classification Blues" picks up the pace with a marching beat and country flavor that would be at home on a Billy Bragg record. "He's Not My Man (He's Not My Jackal)", sung in a higher register and accompanied by a perfectly placed horn riff, has a smoky cabaret aura that reminds me of Antony and the Johnsons.

835's liner notes state that Minmae's songs face west, toward the land of the dead, so that "when the excavators pry open the tombs and hear the disparate sounds of this prolific band/concept, they will know that there was at least some pattern, some meaning to it all." I'm not exactly sure what this entails, but even if I did, I doubt I could say whether this release accomplishes that goal. But I will give kudos for some pretty unique imagery, and an album that has texture without the need to be contextual.

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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