» 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
Where Did the Night Fall
Surrender All

Rating: 6.8/10 ?

June 21, 2010
Hard to believe that it's been a dozen years since UNKLE released Psyence Fiction (arguably one of the best records of the 90s), which laid the foundation for eclectic-collectives like Gorillaz to blow up the mainstream with trip-hop/rock/electro/dub soundclashing.

But despite losing his greatest collaborator, DJ Shadow, right after Fiction, sole UNKLE mainstay James Lavelle has continued to persevere, thanks to a worthy Shadow successor in Richard File and a brave array of guests on subsequent albums, from the Cult's Ian Astbury to the Stone Roses' Ian Brown.

While Lavelle's cameo-wrangling remains the program on UNKLE's fourth proper full-length, the shifts both internally and musically tell a whole different story. Gone is Richard File and in his place Pablo Clements and at times a full studio band, resulting in a new chapter for the act whose new affect depends less on dour electronic atmosphere than grooving psych-rock.

The stylistic changeup is most evident on tracks like "Natural Selection," which features contributions from Austin-based band the Black Angels and could be construed as UNKLE's answer to "Route 66." Meanwhile, "The Answer," starring Big in Japan (a/k/a the Baltimore blokes in UNKLE's touring band) is perhaps Lavelle and Clements' paean to Britpop's glory days. It's just too bad that these two tunes are the low points in UNKLE's best set of new material since 2004's Never, Never Land.

UNKLE Mach 4 reminds why Lavelle still has that spark when the group channels early 80s Cure on the brilliant "On a Wire" or when returning L.A. space-rockers Autolux enter the "Joy Factory," which shuffles along with classic Mo' Wax-style beats and droplets of synth sequencing. Even grumpy ol' Mark Lanegan, a longtime cohort, waxes torch hero on closer "Another Night Out" as his rasp finds a warm friend in the moody orchestration and quiet guitars.

While it's easier to chide Lavelle for trying to carry the UNKLE torch in name only than it is to praise him for it, you have to give the man credit for probably knowing that he's never going to top his first work, but soldiering on anyways. The end results in UNKLE's later years have been rather mixed, but Lavelle always miraculously pulls some new sonic trick to keep his pet project from falling completely out of favor.

Reviewed by Kiran Aditham
When not contributing to LAS and other music/film publications, Kiran Aditham toils away during the day in Manhattan as a reporter for an advertising magazine…though he’d rather not say which one.

See other reviews by Kiran Aditham



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