» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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]


 » 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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Tilly and the Wall
Team Love

Rating: 6.7/10 ?

October 22, 2008
I can only eat about five bites of Coldstone ice cream or chocolate cake before admitting defeat. It's just too sweet, too dense, too much of one flavor in one direction, every iota of grain targeting the same tastebud. Yuck. Add some peanut butter or something salty to bounce off of, however, and we're getting somewhere. Add something savory and my palate makes itself available for extended engagements.

Tilly and the Wall leaves me a bit caught, I must admit. Usually, hyperactive twee run amok leaves me as sugarhigh and nauseous as the aforementioned desserts. No thanks, the Boy Least Likely To, Mates of State, Islands. Hard as these bands are to take, I can't write them off either; there's just too much craft and wit apparent, though fuck if I have the attention span to parse it. Los Campesinos! betray a wicked sense of humor and politics (and gender relations, not to mention songwriting) that gives them a free pass to the front of the line, but even they are tough to stomach for a whole album at a time.

To their credit, these bands seem sick of eating cake themselves. The execrable Nick Thorburn (formerly Diamonds) put out his first halfway-tolerable record this year by infusing it with a bit of minor-chord drama to augment his high-end annoyances. Architecture in Helsinki tried their hands (all ten of them) at Talking Heads jack-in-the-box funk. Los Campesinos! appear to be downplaying glockenspiels in favor of higher-wattage riffs. And even goddamn Kevin Barnes warped his last Beatles vinyl to hell and started on his Prince collection.

But on their third album O, the day-glo Omaha quintet Tilly and the Wall spoons some peanut butter into my mouth. After an initial scare with the typically saccharine, non-album single "Beat Control," they diversify after all, which doesn't mean more overdubs. Thinning out the density of a sonic stamp that includes tap shoes as their premier percussion choice, they begin with an acoustic guitar and piano choogle called "Tall Tall Grass," a track that seems normal enough. A catchy, half-familiar tune with twin female harmonies that name-checks hearts and snow, yep. But just before it closes, a streak of guitar feedback, like nails across a chalkboard, previews the twists to come.

"Pot Kettle Black" is a stomper (literally, so it happens) that appeals to my riot grrl side by sounding just like the Donnas, down to the invocations of "bitch," "ho" and "slut" all in the same bridge. Even the sugary stuff here has garage-y propulsion, like the clap-happy "Jumbler," that I'm not ashamed to admit benefits from just minimizing to three chords, mostly minor-keyed. "Too Excited" sure is, an encore that's likely to earn the band their only Sleater-Kinney comparisons ever. Of course it "kicks" off with a tap solo, but what do you expect? "You wanna shed some blood," they threaten, well "fuck you!" The one regret is that nothing here is as memorable as their previous great single, Bottoms of Barrels' "Bad Education," a cut both darker and catchier than anything on O. But you can't fault them for trying.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss



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