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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
Chemical Brothers
Push the Button
Astralwerks

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


March 17, 2005
There is a grey area in the realm of quality music. Great and good can be separated by slight deviations in songwriting decision-making - i.e., using a crash cymbal instead of hi hat for tempo keeping during a specific phase of mood. Subtle differences can draw out biases just as resolute as those drawn from bigger discrepancies between music and listener.

The Chemical Brothers' latest effort, Push the Button, walks this line between merely respectable and fucking exceptional. None of the included 11 tracks will turn listeners away citing general dislike, however, it is often something that you cannot put your finger on for why a track does not grow on you. The signature Chemical Brothers style is in full stride - thumping club-friendly beats behind vocal samples from guest contributors and repetitive catchy sample hooks - sometimes, though, it is what Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons fail to lay down that becomes more important.

The opener, "Galvanize," is Rowlands and Simons jumping into the pool with all their clothes still on. The duo couldn't have picked a better voice (Q-Tip) or a better hook sample (Middle Eastern stringed instrument) or beat (stomping 4/4 strident break beat) to start things off with. Sounds appear and disappear in typical DJ layering fashion, and Q-Tip nasally brings about the song's climax, "The time has come to…galvanize." Then it's right back into the same beat, voice, and sample that started the song off. Six minutes after the track's launch, the listener is still looking for something beyond knob turning and volume controlling to take the song to a new level - maybe a tricky beat or a start/stop segment - but it never comes.

Many other tracks play out the same way: one tempo, one group of sounds, one overall texture. "Believe" is one of the examples of how subtle differences can translate into exaggerated responses. A beat sustains through the end of "The Boxer" (leading into "Believe") and gives way to a grumbling electronic curtain of sound and Kele Okereke's vocal samplings. The drumbeat is reminiscent of the disco-rock-dance stylings of Okereke's band, Bloc Party, and sounds most like a remix effort of Brit indie rocker's full group style.

An exceptional moment that shows the potential of this album is "The Boxer," which flashes RotoTiller glitchy electronics with wavy solo segments and playground hip hop break beats, alongside harmonized singing parts (from Tim Burgess of the Charlatans UK) and expands more into the full depths of what the compiled parts are capable.

While the album is based around the repetitive choppy hook and big beat, some quiet building moments of the heavy songs lack a sense of creativity and movement towards a real climactic edge. Where the strengths of Push the Button lie in the compositions that aim for something more intense and divergent, and eventually get there (such as "Surface to Air," "Shake Break Bounce," and the hip-hop carrie,r "Left Right"). Altogether, this is not the group's finest work, it lines up to be a high peak in the range of mountainous releases.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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