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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
Argo
Attack of the Firebots
Ana-them

Rating: 5/10 ?


December 11, 2006
Perhaps it's an age thing, but I've never heard of the 70's animated series Star Blazers. The fact that there exists a band named in honor of said series is a surprise. The fact that this band has released an entire album inspired by an envisioned battle between two spaceships from said series leaves me flabbergasted. But hey, inspiration for concept albums comes in all ships, er, shapes and sizes. Seattle's Argo seem to have a penchant for space themes, a previous record was titled Jet Packs for Everyone. Their latest release is Attack of the Firebots, a Firebot being the entity that battles the ship.

If the plot is getting too thick, fear not, it's time to talk about the darn music. I am always weary of concept records, and since this one is so obvious about its scheme it becomes difficult to separate the two. The best overall classification would be pop electronica-lite. The songs are short, heavy on the synths, and sound like thematic material for animation. This produces decidedly mixed results. A band like Flaming Lips can produce ersatz soundtracks and wholly succeed because the subject matter is metaphor for a deeper awareness; that and they are hugely talented musicians. Conversely, Argo are playing it completely straight, while the songwriting and musicianship are respectable but undistinguished.

On the bright side the songs are catchy and melodic. Alternating between slower ballads and quicker tunes, the record is all about snap, crackle and pop. It moves very quickly through the exact 32 minutes, and is ultimately a fun listen, in that cartoon sort of way. One can hear distant reverberation of other wormhole rockers like Absinthe Blind. The best part of the album are the middle three consecutive tracks. "Alternate Ending" has a bubbly feel with its keyboard jingles fluttering into space. "The Fall" starts out softly before building into a nice ending of beats and harmony. "Time Away" is the standout, a pleasant ballad that is the calm after all this spaceship battling.

I'm sure that fans of the Star Blazers series will find this appealing in many ways that I can't appreciate. As for the rest of the listening public, it remains a nifty record that probably won't launch you into orbit. Argo, ergo, have made an entirely literal concept record about an amazingly narrow niche. That in itself is an accomplishment.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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