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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
Slow Jets
Remain in Ether
Morphius Records

Rating: 5/10 ?


February 18, 2000
Send in the Striped White Jets... er... Slow Jets.

It's no secret that I love Guided by Voices' old, lo-fi material more than their fully produced, contemporary sound. Slow Jets, however, with their third album, make a definitive case for studio remodeling: if GbV kept making album after album of the same music without any progression, it would get stale, even boring.

That's not to say Slow Jets are without merit (or that I'm not still pining for another Alien Lanes), but that their sound is somewhat behind the times. Blending a heavy dose of Pollard with thick, unnerving slabs of 70s stoner rock, it's as though you turned the dial to a different era. The bulk of the album is so dated and familiar; it's a bit unnerving to think of the material as new. Calling up big name influences like Television, Floyd, the Doors and the Who, it captures plenty of the same ethic as those forefathers, but offers little argument for staying with Remain in Ether instead of putting on Marquee Moon.

Unfortunately, while it's a decent album, it can't hold up to logic such as that.

On its most winning efforts, it is unabashedly poppy: "Famous Flaws of King Ubu" is a peppy, harmonic return to the 60s, akin to "Man Called Aerodynamics" - the fact that many of these songs have a direct GbV relative only makes them seem more maddeningly familiar. "Last Lights" is like a jingle for Carpet Fresh, self-consciously jolly and indelible. "Dreams Come Out" reaps the benefit of trippy surf intentions, and outdated, cosmic electric sounds. It is out of time with narcotic harmonies inspired by the likes of Strawberry Alarm Clock.

By the time "Make It Sound" rolls around with its chugging, three chord baptism of fire, and the concluding title track rolls to a jovial halt, their strength is turned into more confusion - the album feels inconclusive, like a point that has already been proven and taken for granted by all. Remain in Ether is a fact already stated by so many, it hardly seems necessary repeating.

Other tracks waver between threatening, ambitious and elliptical, but are likewise out of context in the current musical climate. In a similar context, Pollard sounded unmistakably self-assured and kept things fresh with a wicked sense of humor or a split-second ending. Slow Jets, in contrast, immediately remind you of the people they are trying to emulate, then withdraw as they are almost assuredly trumped by the masters and those who have innovated from there. It's tough enough to be sound alikes; it's even tougher thirty years after the fact.

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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