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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
Billy Mahonie
What Comes Before
Southern

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
I remember Billy Mahonie being one of the most pleasant surprises of my entire record-reviewing career. Countless carbon copies of the same lame albums come through our Post Office box, leading half of us to eventually abandon rock journalism and the other half to a cynicism so thick that nothing can permeate it. If it weren't for albums like The Big Dig I might have been a casualty long ago and you'd all be missing my wordsmithery right now. But I'm still here, and you can thank bands like Billy Mahonie for that.

What Comes Before is warm, inviting, stern and incredibly credible, all at once. The album opens with the Karate-esque intro of "Fishing With a Man For a Shark", winding through two minutes of hazy, laid back, jazzy trumpet work before the gloves come off and the low end drops, the guitars are removed from their protective sheathes. For the next hour Billy Mahonie own your ears and your mind, no doubt about it.

Much like their previous album, What Comes Before sprouts from the intersections of the most popular in unpopular music. There are plenty of jazzy moments, plenty of coarse and rollicking transitions, a smattering of jam-based rehearsed improvisations (if that makes any sense) and a peppering of all the right experimental and concrete moments from all of your greatest albums. Its stop-start jammy breakdowns one minute (such as the Karate-esque "Dusseldorf") and teeth-grinding, fist-clenching chugga-chugga the next (such as the Dianoga-esque "Dusseldorf") and then right back again. The gamut is run with this album, and in record time. What Comes Before spans more than an hour yet it simply screams by, even when meandering languidly between nods at Neptunes, Slowdive, Shellac and even some AC/DC. The Allmusic.com site lists them as being similar to Tortoise, Trans Am, Aerial M, and Seafood as well and damn if they're not right for once.

What Comes Before is the perfect follow-up to The Big Dig and it continues to showcase the Londonites' ability to mimic every great band you've ever heard in their own way. The album rocks, rolls, charms and bludgeons the listener to death all in the same instance, such as the Radiohead-esque "Dusseldorf" which uncoils over seven minutes.

I've said before that In my mind, a good 90% of instrumental bands sound alike. Billy Mahonie is still not one of them but, oddly, they call to mind the handful of other instrumental bands that you simply cannot deny. They have all of the bases covered, from an insistence on letting the music speak for itself (nary a vocal is heard for the duration of the album) to clever song titles ("Nacho Steals From Work", "Simple Solutions Seldom Are", "A Warning to the Curious") to the ball-busting raw technicality and talent that are mandatory to make an album of this diversity work flawlessly.

What Comes Before will engage you, lift you up, slam you down, dust you off, spit in your face and hold you close, over and over again. You know that track "Dusseldorf" that I've been referencing - they do the same thing over the course of the 8 minutes and 40 seconds of "Keeper's Drive". A non-stop combination of all of the most intense moments that post-everything rock and roll has to offer, What Comes Before is a study in the art of being prolific.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth

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