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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
Archer Avenue
I Was an Astronaut
Mariel Recordings

Rating: 7/10 ?


October 1, 2004
"Talking to myself and feeling low… sometimes, I'd like to quit, but nothing ever comes of it. Walking around, nothing to do but frown; rainy days and Mondays always get me down."

As innocuous as her music seemed to most of her squeaky clean radio audience at the time, we know Karen Carpenter really felt her depression. Still, her tragic story should never surpass the simplicity and indelibility of her songs, or the greater value of their sincerity.

While his music sounds more like Oberst than Carpenter, Karen's lack of pretension has found a mate in Archer Avenue. Richard Edwards, with his clear-eyed expression, holds the same simple, resounding eloquence. His self-released debut is intoxicating, enjoyable and unapologetically honest.

His music has been dubbed "emo," by many, but there are nuances soon understood after putting the disc in: only a couple tracks delve into the self-cloistered bedroom pop of Bright Eyes, and there are only traces of Dashboard Confessional observance here and there. The more prominent note, surprisingly, is the Gin Blossoms and their style of rootsy, propulsive, easy-feeling pop. In fact, if comparing vocals, Edwards has a lot on Jesse Valenzuela - and consequently, is a heck of a lot more pleasing to listen to than a screeching Conor Oberst.

Even then, though, the specter of Bright Eyes does make an impression - the album's opening and closing tracks, "Open Your Eyes" and "Lost as a Lamb," ensure that the first and last thoughts you have of Edwards are that he could give Oberst a run for his money, and with less of the mess. The acoustic, basement-dwelling lament, light guitar picking and subtle, crushed mentality showcase Archer Avenue's accessibility - both musically and emotionally. Likewise, his melodious tendencies, perfect high notes and knowingly pretty song structures prove delightfully easy to swallow.

Between, there are some saccharine, electric rock tracks ("Butterball"), twangy bar room pop ("Jolene, We Almost Never Met") sensibly tempered keyboard rock (the unforgettable "Kim") and power pop distilled to its very essence ("Piglet"). Each of these tracks pulls from the Gin Blossoms touchstone in style and versatility. There's rarely a song on here that couldn't fit into the 90s college radio repertoire; to his credit, there are also few songs that wouldn't find a place there today.

In another strength, Edwards' vocal range hits every note perfectly, giving I Was an Astronaut a lofty quality similar to the band Steadman. There are many layers here - from pleasant vocals to remarkable hooks - all effectively designed to draw the listener in. For those reasons, and his open-hearted sincerity, I Was an Astronaut is a debut to be savored.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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