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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
Sick Passengers
Your Words, Bought and Sold
Stubblebunny Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


March 21, 2005
The janitor's got a bag of that minty fresh sawdust at the ready, just in case you need it. Trust me, it's just a precautionary measure. Though Your Words, Bought and Sold is a bumpy power-pop ride with lots of melodic twists and turns, even the queasiest stomachs can digest the driving, candy-coated anthems of the Sick Passengers without losing their lunch.

Bill Kennedy and Mark Ladov started the Brooklyn-based quartet after meeting up at their 10-year high school reunion. My guess is they had a few too many drinks, slobbered all over each other saying "I love you, man," and concocted some crazy scheme to start a band the next day. Alcohol has a way of doing that. Remember that time you and your friends talked about opening up a bar together while tying one on? Seemed like a dumb idea the morning after, didn't it? Ladov and Kennedy followed through, though. And it's a good thing they did. The world of power-pop needs new heroes, what with Superdrag and The Posies on permanent sabbatical.

When they saw the bat signal go up, the Sick Passengers answered the call. Attached to their utility belts are rich Posies-style harmonies, canisters of Sugar's jagged guitar jangle and the lo-fi barbed-pop grappling hooks of The Wrens. "Kickstand" and "TV Ads For Paxil" lick the vocal icing off Frosting On The Beater and get their tongues pricked by off-kilter, chiming guitars. "All The Ex-Boyfriends Love Nick Drake" has the barely restrained rage and corroded pop melody of Husker Du's "Celebrated Summer", while "Decending" is a sugar rush of Superdrag-sized guitars.

The Sick Passengers go trick or treating on "The Hitch" and "If on a Winter's Night." And the mean old woman down the street, the one the neighborhood always suspected of being a witch, drops apples filled with razor guitar lines into your bag on the latter track. Not content with slashing up your mouth, she injects a poison into "The Hitch" that causes brief rhythmic spasms, like you'd hear from the early backing bands of Joe Jackson or Elvis Costello.

Years removed from those halcyon days of high school, the Sick Passengers are clearly enjoying their mid-life crises, even if past relationships have left them a little jaded. The thorny, Warehouse: Stories And Songs pop bramble of "Your Patience Bores Me" lets go of the painful recollections of a relationship that died because of a partner's reluctance to take it to a level of emotional intimacy past sex. The line, "You pay for mistakes you never wanted to make" from the aching pop splendor of "Better That She Knows" shows the writer wringing out regret from his conscience for his part in a love affair gone sour.

Not since Regretfully Yours has there been a more assured power-pop debut than Your Words, Bought and Sold. The songwriting is clever and unpretentious. And the hooks are irresistible.

Since Your Words, Bought and Sold was recorded, the Sick Passengers' lineup has been altered. Ladov left to pursue a law degree and was replaced by Jason Das. Here's hoping it won't affect their chemistry. The Sick Passengers had been honing their sound for five years before the release of Your Words, Bought and Sold. Add to that the classical training of guitarist Chris Meeder - albeit as a tuba player of all things - and you've got a band that's got great chops, but doesn't flaunt them.

Tight as a hair metal singer's leather pants, the Sick Passengers are a working-class rock band that'll make you well. In "TV Ads For Paxil" they talk about "a momentary panic" you feel when "you might get what you want." It's not panic I feel here - it's more a sense of giddy satisfaction. It's not snake oil they're selling; rather, it's a record of smart, impossibly catchy songs that'll stick in your head well past your next stop.

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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