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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]

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
John Vanderslice
Pixel Revolt
Barsuk Records

Rating: 9/10 ?


September 30, 2005
In 1992, my family relocated from Layton, Utah to a Chicago suburb called Oak Forest. I had spent the previous five years in a house in Layton with my family and friends. At the time, I was a fifteen year old skateboarder who hung out with the cool, older kids and had a lot of great friends (as well as girlfriends) in the small town of Layton. I was very heartbroken to be moving from the place I had finally felt like I fit. Before this point in my life, my family moved from town to town every three years and I never felt settled; I had just begun my first year of high school when we had to pull up our stakes and move to Illinois. Up until then, I had no idea growing up could be difficult - I had it easy with all my friends and my life that I created for myself.

Oak Forest, Illinois was a different story altogether. Filled with sports fans and stoners, my new high school was a shock to me. These new surroundings were not a place I could get used to. Soon after the move, my parents got divorced and I had to live my own life for the first time; it was hard.

If becoming an adult is filled with such pains, Pixel Revolt is a grown up album for John Vanderslice. Looking over his catalog, you can trace the progression and maturity in every album. Cellar Door was very transitional, containing a few more 'premature' (upbeat) moments while still hinting at a more slowed down, grown up side of Mr. Vanderslice.

Pixel Revolt has grown to adulthood. The most interesting songs on the album don't contain the youthful experimentalism so prominent in past Vanderslice albums, instead, where Cellar Door began with a song containing the chorus "We are many and they are few" - almost trying to incite rage in the youth of today - Pixel Revolt's opener is a memoir from an old film star. Pixel Revolt is a look back at the golden days, as well as a fearful look to the impending death of the future.

It's apparent that this album was made with particular care, as most of John Vanderslice's works are, but there are many cases where a more mature display of music appreciation is taken; previously, when met with such dogged emotional complexity, Vandersilce would rely on experimentation. Here, he stares straight on.

"Plymouth Rock", like a lot of Vanderslice music, belongs in a movie. I've said it many times before: John Vanderslice truly has a cinematic view when it comes to making music. Here, a truly moving guitar strum backed with Radiohead-esque computer blips as strings sway under beautiful vocals; all the while, the track tells the story of a soldier in the Middle East. That's a pretty tough, pretty adult topic to tackle.

"Exodus Damage" sings "Dance Dance Revolution" in the chorus, but it's not a song about an immature Japanese video games: it is about world domination through war. As he laments, "No one ever says a word about so much that happens in the world", we know our little Johnny V is growing up right before our eyes and ears. The one problem I have with the near hour of music is that it runs a little too long. The first half of it is strong; from the opening track through the seventh, "Radiant With Terror," the course runs a bit slow, but retains its right to become a perfect album. Somewhere soon after the halfway point, the songs begin to drag but are no less beautiful. It is perhaps because they are so unflinching that they wear a bit on the soul.

There are points of creativity and intrigue, as well, as one can expect from John Vanderslice. "Continuation" is a small step into the hip-hop world, springing from the songwriter's very center. The last time I talked with John Vanderslice, he told me his favorite album of the moment with Ghostface's Pretty Toney album. The influence comes out clearly in this song. Though its repetitive beat causes it to drag a bit, it is, over all, a strong hip-hop/indie rock collaboration with a great deal of personal insight. From there, "Farewell Transmission" should rightfully be the album's closing track: a slow piano riff and a heartbreaking torch-like song pulls on your heart. Still, there are four tracks to go until we reach the anticlimactic ending of the song "CRC7173, Affectionately". While it shows its imperfections in this way, it also exemplifies the uncertainty that results with age.

I appreciate hearing someone growing up and using influences in their music to the best of their ability. John Vanderslice will forever be someone I look up to when it comes to the creation of music. Easily one of the most creative people in the music world today, I sincerely believe this man should score movies. Now that I'm a grown up, as is he, I can say with absolute certainty that I will always be - and have reason to be - a fan of John Vanderslice.

Reviewed by Bob Ladewig
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he\'s afraid of really growing up.

See other reviews by Bob Ladewig

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