» 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!
[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
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
Another Blue Door
Stinky Records

Rating: 5.5/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Usually, a multi-faceted album will make critics like me ooh and ahh over its "complexity." In fact, I'm notorious for loving that word with my rock and roll. I like albums that try to trick me, thinking they're one thing and leaving me with a whole other level; so that I can sit at my spinny-chair and scratch my pretty little head. One wouldn't think it'd be so fun to be outsmarted, but I've led a good life.

Normally, I would love an album like Haulers, but its varying faces and styles seem more disjointed and inconsistent than complex. It's not so much that they're trying to stump me, but that their momentum - and identity - stops and starts.

The first two tracks are immediately confusing. "Nova Scotia" is a seven minute, drudging and tense post-rock opener, which doesn't reveal the band's true sound at all. Morose and labored, it points to a follow-up that never comes. "Christmas '98," then, is an apologetically whiny emo tangent, turning the disc fully around. From these preliminary openers, Haulers becomes more of a compilation than a work of continuity - it is like putting Chavez next to Kind of Like Spitting on a mix tape, but somehow the lead vocals never change. This is a fairly divisive tactic.

We find from listening to the whole of the ten tracks that their sound leans closer to the plodding, country-tinged heartbreak of Ben Barnett. Despondent and aching, they are mostly introspective, hindered by an overemphasized, warbly singer with a perpetual lump in his throat. Many of the songs could be considered slow-core, but the intermittent sparks of momentum only make those halting moments more uncomfortable.

This may sound worse when it is, though, because when they get it right, they absolutely soar. "American Guitars" is a rollicking, bright and inspired bit of obtuse pop, likening them, for the better, to Pavement. "How're Things?" is similarly poppy, meshing the squeaking, crazed vocals of an Archers of Loaf song with the jangly ease of the Gin Blossoms. Through many tracks, a lovely addition of lap steel brings a pure, dusty country sound to somewhat soften any edges.

The instrumental passion of Another Blue Door really saves the album - the disc's best track comes with "Clean Times," which unleashes an unbridled guitar fetish and roaring intensity, as if the band had listened to "Cortez the Killer" for years on end. If this were their deciding factor, Another Blue Door would be undoubtedly fantastic, and it is my hope that they steer their next effort toward this particular inclination.

By the time the dense, hazy lament of "Ithaca, N.Y." rolls the album to a close, however, its split personality has fairly well done it in. There's a whole lot of potential on Haulers; it only needs more focus.

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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