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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
The Capstan Shafts
Environ Maiden
Rainbow Quartz

Rating: 7.8/10 ?


October 24, 2007
Lo-fi underground wonder Dean Wells, a.k.a., The Capstan Shafts, has finally released a properly distributed album with Environ Maiden. With a hefty amount of material already available online, spread in 21st century form by digital word of mouth, The Capstan Shafts may already be a familiar name for indie enthusiasts. For those who don't know, Wells has been churning out albums at a prolific pace since 2004 - 17 of them to be exact - and they contain spur of the moment tracks, an assortment of gems and trinkets, all of which are prompt even if they are not always to the point.

Wells' music sounds like it is being written as it is playing over the speakers. Environ Maiden only contains one track that exceeds two minutes, the charming "My Family Was Welsh, I'm Just Tired," but makes its mark with quirky titles and spontaneous motifs. There is an eco-theme running through the work, but it's difficult to find a full-fledged concept playing out. "The Origin of Rain," "The Earth Giving Her Oils Of Love," "Elected Head of Her Anarchist Group," and "Favorite Eco-Terrorist" suggest a progression of tree-loving protagonist turned civil disobedient saboteur, but, in the vein of Guided By Voices, many of the tracks come across as arbitrarily titled.

On the other hand, I don't want to question, or flat out disregard, Wells' methodology. There remains a good possibility that all of the tracks are carefully thought out, falling together as a grand, fractured masterpiece. Clearly, the work is indebted to Guided By Voices, and when hints of Bee Thousand come through, it's obvious that Wells is working on a level deeper than perception will allow.

What one will take away from Environ Maiden is Wells' at times shaky, at times shrill circumflexical range on songs that range from the serene ("Sincere As A Windchime") to the turbulent ("Trouble Peddling"). Wells' work is not for the passive listener. He is never consistent, and pinning him down as a disciple of Robert Pollard or Lou Barlow runs the risk of passing him off as another humdrum lo-fi enthusiast. But he's not, and after you let Environ Maiden properly sink in, these musical snippets will begin clouding your thoughts, perhaps even allowing you to see a new world of lo-fi possibilities.

Reviewed by Patrick Gill
In in a state of suspended adolescence, Patrick Gill can be found hiding away in northwest Ohio, where he spends most of his time rediscovering shoegaze, noise pop, britpop, slowcore, sadcore, lo-fi, neo-psychedelia, post-rock, trad rock, and trip-hop music. In his spare time he teaches college English.

See other reviews by Patrick Gill

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