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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 Race
If You Can
Flameshovel Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
If You Can is the Race's little album that could: a brief, half-hour LP that, after hearing its predecessor, The Perfect Gift, most would bet against versus its Chicago competition in the same class - Tortoise, Joan of Arc, L'Altra, Boas, et cetera.

Two years is a long span between efforts, though, and that time along with If You Can's producers, electronic duo Telefon Tel Aviv, has put the Race in the best shape of their careers. You would be wise to follow my lead and bet for the Race in their next run.

The opening title track progresses seamlessly from the April-released Rose EP, offering a simple, lazy, deep groove below singer Craig Klein's Thom Yorke-esque croon and a balance of melody and noise created by the rest of the band.

Virtually, the same formula applies to the next eight tracks as well; however, what keeps If You Can from falling prey to its own laziness and simplicity is the fact that it never fails to catch its listener by surprise.

Don't expect to be caught off guard by the Race's songs like a pedestrian who fails to notice an oncoming semi-truck traveling at 70 mph; listening to a song by the Race is more comparable to witnessing an ice cube slowly melt in water. You become so lulled by its subtle change in shape that you fail to recognize the exact moment when it disappears.

"Seed" provides the best illustration of such a sensation, waiting two and a half minutes to morph from acoustic, downbeat trip-hop to nothing but Klein's words, "Breaking down/ Gone to seed," repeated to infinity, floating in melodic atmosphere.

Though the subtlety and placidity of songs like "Ark Again," "Seed" and "Out Like a Lamb" are breathtaking in their execution, the true standout moments occur when the Race let loose (Even Klein must admit in "Can Get Home," "I can't rest/ another minute/ another moment/ in silence.").

Both carry-overs from the Rose EP, "Rose" and "Sinking Feeling," place guitars before grooves at moments, providing the album enough oxygen to sustain life, while "The Hours Eat the Flowers" even contains a verse where Klein abandons the comfort of his croon for a freestyle moment a la Isaac Brock's vocal styling on Good News For People Who Love Bad News's "Bukowski."

If You Can, concerned with suffocation, loss and decay, is an atypical summer classic. Then again, an animated toaster with a cord but nowhere to plug into was an unlikely hero. Sometimes, choosing a winner requires you to belie all logic. If you can, of course.

Reviewed by Brian Sutherland
The last we heard, Brian Sutherland lived in Chicago. He\'s a friend of Sarah Peters. That is about all we know about him.

See other reviews by Brian Sutherland

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