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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
Cex
Maryland Mansions
Jade Tree

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Rjyan Kidwell and Sarah Allison are a pairing of Odd Couple proportions. One's a smart, glitch-hop answer to Eminem, with an affection for Aphex Twin and Nine Inch Nails and a curiously huge live following. The other is a goody-two-shoes indie rock girl who does a lot of foot shuffling at shows because she's too lazy to stand for that long.

The ballad of Rjyan and Sarah began when he opened for the Dismemberment Plan, and she giggled along with songs about bicycles. "Thumb shift, gears click, can you dig it?" To be honest, she didn't. She was too impatient for the Plan to come on.

Then, she happened to be sitting (surprise!) behind a merchandise table when Cex opened for the Postal Service. A friend had made her a Peter Gabriel mix, which she politely accepted and laid on the table.

Rjyan sat next to her right after she'd mentioned her edginess at the Plan show. He didn't hear all that. He did, however, attempt a friendly chat with her; she felt bad she'd been so harsh. He eyed the mix and said he loved Peter Gabriel. Later, in the middle of his set, he broke out into "Sledgehammer." She laughed a bit at the gawky, thoughtful kid who happened to draw an amazing crowd. As teenybopper after teenybopper rose to the table to snag his autograph- promptly filing out before the Postal Service even set foot on the stage- she realized what a phenomenon Cex had become.

Maryland Mansions feels special, and as sharp as the pun in its title. While it doesn't completely capture Cex's vivacious, highly interactive live show, it does display a gifted rapper without pretense. While Rjyan Kidwell may not be the sole harbinger of great music to come, his talent shines through telling lyrics and young philosophical standpoints. Cex is singing about himself. His voice is refreshingly true, and his ability to merge electronic, industrial, hip-hop and rap music is astounding.

"Drive Off a Mountain" sounds like Beck collaborating with Brainiac. If the prospect of that teaming makes you salivate, this album should quell cravings and imagination. On one end of the album, "Kill Me" is dark-toned and menacing, writhing with threats of spite and suicide. "My Head" then counters with lightness, trumpeting music's ability to bring hope and renewal. Each track wavers expertly between genres and emotions with biting humor. His ability to be direct and cutting is matched by the strength and diversity of his sampling choices. Maryland Mansions is thoroughly impressive, though many before me wouldn't be surprised at that claim.

As someone who doesn't swear (insert reader eye roll here), there's something to be said about my coming away with "Food is disgusting/It's what they make shit from" on the tip of my bitten tongue. "Stop Eating" is a favorite among many, and only one indication of Rjyan's brilliance; another is that I'll actually admit it in print. It may have taken me a while to warm up to Cex, but I will humbly wait for his next set instead of through it.

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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