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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 Warlocks
Surgery
Mute Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


August 30, 2005
Walls of sound don't get any thicker than the monolith The Warlocks constructed for Phoenix. To scale its sheer immensity, you need grappling hooks and a Sherpa guide. In fact, the word "wall" doesn't do The Warlocks' second album justice. What we're talking about on Phoenix is an impregnable fortress of sound with ramparts of Velvet Underground-inspired drone and steely sheets of noise. It would take a battering ram to break through the din. Inside, hidden away in a den with long velvet drapes covering the windows, you'd find The Warlocks in various stages of disrepair and debauchery, drinking blood out of jewel-encrusted goblets and mixing psyche-rock potions for Timothy Leary.

With Surgery, Phoenix's follow-up, the Warlocks come out of seclusion and tear down that imposing sonic structure brick by brick, then rebuild it into something that beckons and embraces rather than acting as a barrier between artist and audience. While there are walls of guitar on Surgery, here they are pushed into the background and act as more of a tripped-out, graffiti-splattered curtain that billows as The Warlocks' sonic winds blow. There are gates that lead into another dimension of acid-laced shoegazer rock - the kind that makes you think that paintings are coming alive or distorts the faces of those nearest you into grotesque caricatures. It's a world the Warlocks' leader Bobby Hecksher knows well.

Having interned with the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Hecksher is well acquainted with madness, of both a musical and personal nature - which might explain why he says he's been listening to a lot of Phil Spector-produced stuff of late. You will hear it in the Deadman's Curve doo-wop of "Evil Eyes" and "Gypsy Nightmare", which come up slow and drift along on a variety of guitar sounds ranging from jangly and bell-like to distorted and fried. When "Gypsy Nightmare" is over, a stoned carnie starts up the fuzz-toned carousel of evil "Angels In Heaven, Angels In Hell", and the Jesus And Mary Chain hop on for a ride.

A dark carnival for pale shoegazers who burn up when the sun hits their papery skin, Surgery is acid rock cloaked in leather jackets and chains. There's a grinding, drug-induced lethargy to rockers like "It's Just Like Surgery" and the stomping opener "Come Save Us", with their lead-footed drums and ringing guitars. Electrical storms like "Thursday's Radiation" appear out of nowhere, beginning quietly enough with dreamy melodies that explode into Sonic Youth-style freak-outs. When Thurston Moore sleeps, this is what his nightmares sound like.

Watch out for the sharp shards of broken feedback glass spread throughout Surgery's grounds, and be sure not to sip the cough syrup of "Above The Earth", "Bleed Without You Babe" and "Suicide Note." The three songs that close Surgery, though pretty, feel slow and dull your senses to the point where your eyelids can't help but close.

Still, a full three-quarters of Surgery is wild, swaggering rock, bursting with heartache and insanity. Along with sweetly corroded melodies, there's density and heft to Surgery which you'd expect from a band that boasts seven members, including Hecksher, guitar maulers JC Rees and Corey Lee Granit, mad scientist Laura Grigsby on tambourine and organ, bassist Jenny Fraser and heavy-as-fuck drummers Jason Anchondo and Bob Mustachio. Often beautiful and seldom boring, Surgery alternately pounds and anesthetizes your brain. It's not something your insurance plan covers, but when you get the doctor's bill, you won't mind paying it.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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