» 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
The Deadly Syndrome
The Ortolan
Dim Mak

Rating: 4.9/10 ?

September 5, 2007
While they're certainly adept at emulating plenty of others', the Deadly Syndrome could use a sound of their own. The opening trifecta on The Ortolan strives for meaningful indiedom, with a cut that sounds like Tapes'n Tapes covering the Velvets' classic "Stephanie Says," one that's a dead ringer for an Arcade Fire joint, and one that sounds like the singer of Tourmaline yelping Modest Mouse's "Bukowski."

That last one's really good. "I Hope I Become A Ghost" flaunts its whomping piano/drum/squeaky guitar line for two minutes until it runs out of variation, then becomes "Now I've Become A Ghost" and double-times it. The chorus is presumably singer Chris Richard's rendition of what he might sound like as a ghost, haunting someone with ghoulish "whooooooooos." All great ideas, and for once all in the same song. Ideas are what this band comes up with more than they do songs, a predicament that might not be so daunting for Win Butler or Isaac Brock, but in the case of the Deadly Syndrome there simply aren't enough ideas to skate by on. There are a few great Deadly Syndrome ideas though, such as mimicking Win Butler's wounded yowl at the start of "Winter in You." Those moments are unfortunately offset by plenty of not-so-great ones, such as turning into Snow Patrol when the Arcade Fire ambulance runs out of gas ("Your heart beats cold," blah).

Therein lies the problem: the Deadly Syndrome remind us of their limited palette all too often. Take for instance the aforementioned highlight track "Ghost," which has the band on their grind but then melts into the sodden Donovan folk of "Wolves In The Garden." Then again, even that track can't be fully dismissed, what with the cute little xylophone bridge that could amount to a hook if they had faith in running with it rather than pulling up stakes and chanting the title to fadeout.

When Jeff Weiss describes the band as "almost punk" and they classify themselves "folk," the reviewer realizes the group is just another halfway decent, accidentally eclectic batch of up-and-comers in search of the right two words to snag them a profile Rolling Stone. "Compare us to the Arcade Fire, we beg you!," they might cry, or "No, Tapes 'n Tapes is more contemporary!" But in trying so hard to diversify a hit machine, the Deadly Syndrome come off sounding like a combination of anything and everything. A pretty song here ("Eucalyptus"), a catchy one there (the synth-giddy "Emily Pants"), and one really good one do not an album make. The best thing I can say is that they're hands down better than Cold War Kids, but we should all hope that a piano-friendly indie quartet would aspire to something a little more substantial.

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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