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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
Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death
Helpless
Make Break

Rating: 9/10 ?


March 13, 2006
"I'm going back to following out of chairs/ and puking on lampposts". These lines, taken from the Murder City Devils song "That's What You Get," can attest to the obscure leads Spencer Moody was trailing a few years ago. That he would now record a version of Neil Young's "Helpless" (with lyrics that read "There is a town in North Ontario/ with dream comfort memory to spare") only proves that an artist may eventually spot in his work qualities that he later rebels against.

Following the demise of the Murder City Devils on Halloween night 2001, frontman Spencer Moody (ex-MCD and ex-Dead Low Tide) asked Corey Brewer if he'd like to start a new thing. The invitation came after Moody saw Brewer performing live with Bright Shiny Objects, but the press release also quotes Moody as saying: "I wanted some one to drink PBR with in my basement". Whatever the reason was, Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death is a fine treat.

For someone like me, who loved the Devils and respected Dead Low Tide and Pretty Girls Make Graves (the two projects that ensued after they called it quits), Triumph of Lethargy may sound too arty and disassembled. As a matter of fact, Helpless' opener "Demolition Man" is the only track that vaguely resembles the cadence of the Devils' songs, and it's the only one that has any formal structure at all.

"The Morning Trumpets Failure" feels like a drug jerking through one's body, with its initial dense voiceover and what appears to be a sampling Neil Young's words "there is a town". Then comes a sobbing pre-climax dissolving into a lone, aching guitar sound around which a final laugh slowly builds. The guitar parts in Helpless, mostly done by Brewer, fulfil Moody's initial appeal: to make this "the loneliest sounding record in the world".

Tracked on its own orbit, Triumph of Lethargy is a sterling stew of riffs all bleeding into a sparse, dawdling seizure of audio paintings. "The Salted Ones, Into the Mud" begins with austere, pounding beats and a cavernous male voice, only to penetrate a horror movie-like swirl of demands and laments. To aggravate things further, there's a contemplative leakage between tracks: as I stated before, "The Morning..." contains a sample of Young's voice, then comes a song appropriately titled "There Is a Town" and, after a filler called "Intro," the reworking of "Helpless" finally comes.

The choking, imprisoning kicks of "Svevo Bandini" stroll into the pitch-levelled "Salt," which in turn builds into the droning depths of "Sincerely, L. Cohen," a track Mr. Cohen would never pen without a gun to his head. Even after depicting Helpless's attributes and flaws - and I didn't find any of the latter - this record remains weird even by anything-is-possible arty standards. Some of the bruised, shattering blips present here sound like the clanks you hear when you pick up a record and settle the needle down. What appears to be technical failure is indeed the bread and butter of this record. And prepare to be shocked: the final track, "The Pleasures of My Life," at times reminds me of the heartbeat heard throughout Sigur Rós' Ágaetis Byrjun.

Aside from the violin, superb on "I Made a List" and played exclusively by Brewer, the duo that comprise Triumph of Lethargy worked together in a true musical collaboration. To be fair, Brewer is also solely responsible for the sober cover art, which they claim was designed to remind people of the books put out by Black Sparrow Press. For nerds' pleasure, Triumph of Lethargy recorded and mixed Helpless (which is their third album but the first to be widely available) on a Tascam 4-track and a Yamaha digital 16-track. All things considered, Helpless is one of the most intriguing records ever made by someone schooled in the punk/metal tradition.

Reviewed by Helder Gomes
Currently living on the south bank of the Tagus river, in Portugal, Helder Gomes is a working class hero. He is a journalist for the local radio station Rádio Nova Anten. In his spare time, he skates and watches many odd movies. He is in love with the French nouvelle vague, and the Danish/Swedish invasion. He writes for a number of publications, on the Internet or otherwise, notably the underground Portuguese magazine Mondo Bizarre, and the Jazz Review website. He is also the news collector and a staff witer for the adorable Lost at Sea. Oh, and there is also the Coffee Breakz radio show that he tries to host every Saturday.

See other reviews by Helder Gomes

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