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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
Grizzly Bear
Veckatimest
Warp

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


June 25, 2009
As I walk down a Paris side-street, a couple glasses of wine circulating throughout my body and my headphones blaring Grizzly Bear's "While You Wait for the Others", I realize that life may not get much more pleasant. The sweeping lyrical harmony corresponds well with Paris streets, as the rush of traffic mimics the song's chorus. I stroll leisurely about the city, making my way to the Eiffel Tower for the first time, as dusk patiently settles in. The last two tracks on Veckatimest, "I Live With You" and "Foreground", continue the barrage of enjoyment, as they both softly penetrate my senses, paralyzing my disdain for some of the surrounding tourists. I grab my spot on the lawn, ready to immerse myself in some short stories by Jonathan Franzen. I have to backtrack on my tunes as the disc is now finished, and I set my dial mid-way through the album, starting at "Ready, Able"; partially because of time constraints, and partially because I enjoy the second half of the disc a bit more than the first. Sipping a glass of Bordeaux red wine and attempting to take in this picturesque yet excessively saturated cultural scene, the music corresponds well with the spectacle. And as the tower begins to sparkle, I see the delicate and seductive piano notes of "Foreground" dancing up and down the monumental structure. Altogether it was a splendid night, thanks in a large part to the fitting music.

Grizzly Bear's third full-length studio album has already produced much acclaim throughout the music world. But widespread acclaim is nothing new for the band, as the group has been making waves ever since their first album, Horn of Plenty, was released back in 2004. Since that time they have toured with Radiohead, TV on the Radio and Feist, even performed with Paul Simon at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Currently composed of Daniel Rossen, Ed Droste, Chris Taylor and Christopher Bear, Rossen and Droste do a majority of the writing and composing. The former is also a member of the Department of Eagles, which garnered much acclaim with their latest album, In Ear Park. In fact, Department of Eagles preceded Grizzly Bear for Rossen, as he didn't join Grizzly until the second album. Taylor, bassist and multi-instrumentalist for the band, produced Veckatimest, as he has done previously on the Friend EP and their second full-length album, Yellow House.

Veckatimest is an altogether poppy album, very crisp and clean throughout, and somewhat less "experimental" than the other records. And while there are certainly still many elements that are quite innovative, overall the record boils down to well-composed and near perfectly-executed folk rock. The first song, "Southern Point," sets the tone, skillfully constructed with elements of Latin music. Its finest bits are the interludes, though, as the band unearths creative ways to cross between their various layered components. The catchiest track and unsurprisingly, the first single, "Two Weeks", is simpler in structure, yet majestic in execution. The melancholy, drawn-out lyrics provide a delightful contrast to the airy beat throughout.

Perhaps the most somber track is "Cheerleader", which explores the unpleasant task (for some) of promoting oneself. The lyrics make it seem as if there was an opportunity missed, yet not altogether squandered, as it was not likely to change things drastically anyhow. The faint guitar resonates well with the simple drum beat, as the vocal harmonies take center stage. A good chunk of the rest, "All We Ask", "Fine for Now", "Dory" and "About Face" stand as exemplars of perfectly engineered, clever tracks that will entice larger audiences than much of the band's previous material.

But while Veckatimest contains just over fifty-two minutes of some exceptional music, it lacks one critical component that's essential to any form of art: emotion. And maybe it's the Paris air that I'm breathing in that's enhanced my necessity to feel something, but neither the record's music nor the vocals convey any kind of deep-seeded affective elements. And therein lies the fatal flaw of this otherwise melodic machine; while Veckatimest is an altogether impressive collection of music, the craft feels at times too calculating and impassive.

Reviewed by Brian Christopher Jones
A student living in Scotland and working toward a PhD in law.

See other reviews by Brian Christopher Jones

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