» 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
Jolie Holland
The Living and the Dead

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 27, 2008
Ah, the new Jolie Holland album. I'm sure some of you have been waiting for the newest release from America's great outsider poet/boho troubadour for some time. So there's good news and bad news… The good news is that the album is downright delightful. The bad news is that if you've followed Holland since her first release, you're probably not looking for an album that's merely consistent singer/songwriter fare: no, you want the highs and the lows.

Those who endured the warts-and-all demos that made up Holland's first "album," Catalpa, and delved into the jazz-inflected poet folk of Escondida and the conceptual siren song of Springtime Will Kill You, have weathered her misfires and savored the truly transcendent moments. Such determined souls will probably find plenty to like on this album; Holland's sweet and sour twang still fills every note, and there is plenty of atmosphere to go around. The Jack Kerouac-inspired "Mexico City" will fill your every waking moment, a song so catchy in its simplicity and endearing in its "I-knew-she-could-deliver" attributes that it is hard to shake.

But the next two songs ("Corridor Por Buddy," which is getting inexplicably great reviews despite its boho-junkie-coulda-been-a-great-guy theme that's more annoying than memorable, and "Palmyra" with which it's hard to gripe, but still!) mirror "Mexico City" and all of a sudden the singer/songwriter disease that has infected so many durable and unpredictable singer/songwriters is noticeable. Neko Case not withstanding (who can argue that her pulling it together to make a solid solo effort with Fox Confessor Brings the Flood was a misstep?), you see artists like Ryan Adams lose their shit over this kind of thing. Sure, Easy Tiger was listenable, but the things that made Ryan Adams a unique talent were, unfortunately, absent.

So for those of you that are waiting for Jolie Holland to make that "pull-it-all-together" album that Case pulled off with Fox Confessor, you'll be pleased. By the middle of "Palmyra" you'll already have been doused in witty wordplay and jangly guitar rock, and lulled into contentment. You're not going to have the wild highs or lows that made Escondida or Springtime Will Kill You so alternately frustrating and thrilling. There's no "Crush in the Ghetto" or "Mad Tom of Bedlam" or "Littlest Birds." Maybe that's just fine, maybe it's not; the point is that when the gritty guitars kick in on "Your Big Hands," you'll all of a sudden start seeing in color and find yourself longing for the Holland of yore. But if you were waiting for the "pull-it-all-together" sensibility that made an album like Easy Tiger or Fox Confessor so digestible, you're in luck. You get an 8. For those of us willing to ride the roller coaster through its dizzying highs and hair-pulling lows, we'll just have to wait some more. We get a six.

Reviewed by Cory Tendering
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See other reviews by Cory Tendering



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