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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]

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 » 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
Dirty Three
She Has No Strings Apollo
Touch & Go Records

Rating: 7/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Fully instrumental music is extremely tricky. On one hand, if you plan on going the distance as a band, you have to keep it sounding fresh and appealing, and continue growing in each release. Another factor lies in interest and storytelling, as the best tracks can hold your attention in excess minutes and repeat listens, and allow dreams to fill in where words are absent. In fact, it should feel like there's nothing missing at all.

A band like the Dirty Three possesses all those talents, having thrived as a band for ten years, garnered a lifetime's worth of critical praise, and spellbound countless admirers. While She Has No Strings Apollo will doubtlessly be compared to other favorite albums in their catalog, it is a fitting note to leave on (if rumors of the band's closure are true), and a perfect springboard into other ventures.

It's best to approach She Has No Strings Apollo with virgin ears and allow yourself to get swept up in it. As is true with all epic storytelling, there are fluid-but-separate beginnings, middles and ends in every song and throughout the album. Being caught in the narrative only adds to the record's spark, at times feeling cold and windy or heated in intrigue. At the same time, there are quieter moments that can be the most affecting of all, nervously tied down in a bunker until the storm passes over.

"Alice Wading" begins matters with a riverside lament, leaves piling atop stagnant water as a mother says goodbye. As always, the visions each listener will equate are highly interpretive, but there is definitely the tense tone of regret to begin the tapestry. As the eight minutes play through, the pace quickens and the defensive adrenaline builds in what might be suspicion or guilt.

This bleeds into the strained and clanging title track, framed like a bell tower doubling as a murder scene. As the strings wail in insanity, and breaths slow in drugged compliance, it taps into an artificial contentment that crawls uncomfortably in the forefront. There is a sense of duty and motion as the quiet is left behind for steadfast military beats, and still a grave sense that something is misaligned.

"Long Way to Go with No Punch" continues with a bleak eulogy, sad for the sake of expectations and keenly torch-like, as if played for rapt audience in a pitch-black bar. There is definitely a feeling of overt performance, which is ever conscious that it's just going through the motions of sadness while revisiting an old song.

"No Stranger Than That" moves from there to a track with the most real emotion: the mews of a crying orchestra, the shivering breathlessness of grief hitting all at once. It is a smashed mirror thrown by shaking hands, and perhaps the most potent track on the album.

"Sister Let Them Try and Follow" is a forced smile that leaves an ill feeling in the pit of your stomach for all its dishonesty. It screams into the honest and menacing smile of fury, as the tempo hurls forward and the intense release pines for comfort.

"She Lifted the Net" attempts to provide that comfort, but in the bizarre setting of a stranger's house, the melody winding to unknown paths and the well-hidden drum abandoning its mates. The track feels lonely, deserted, and on edge.

"Rude (and Then some Slight Return)" closes the experiment in a beaten, slow-healing calm. Between the band's three members, the violin being the voice of the album, it is evident that its squeals have been muted by the preceding experience. The track still fidgets in motions of anger and destruction; languid, bluesy, and rough snippets of guitar rolling around momentarily, but returns to lick its open wounds in closing.

It is amazing that so much could be inspired in less than an hour's time, and by so few contributions. She Has No Strings Apollo is a journey, and satisfying fodder for those rich in imagination and empathy. It is a therapy session complete with a sense of accomplishment, and another notch on the belt of these worthy veterans.

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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