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 » 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
Broken Bells
Broken Bells
Sony

Rating: 8/10 ?


April 21, 2010
In the weeks leading up to Broken Bells' debut, early buzz deemed the pairing of musicians--James Mercer, of the Shins, and Brian Burton, prominently known as Danger Mouse--"unlikely." Yet, consider both and where they flourish: Burton is architectural, keen on structure and cut-up drumbeats, and Mercer is textural, building layers of atmospheric texture on the Shins' hazy indie-pop. The two, in theory, should fit puzzle-like together; by and large, Broken Bells is this seamless integration.

The eponymous album marks the duo's first official existence as a band: Mercer, post-Garden State shout-out/Shins member-changing turmoil, and Burton, post-Grey Album/internationally renowned Gnarls Barkley burner "Crazy." Of course, their respective successes invite comparisons to their previous work ("they're like the Shins but psychedelic" or "an indie rock Gnarls Barkley") but that would assume Broken Bells is resting on collective laurels. It's not.

Actually these two have collaborated on projects since 2004, so it makes sense that Broken Bells is as fleshed out as it is. Their apparent experimentation in post-production lends a dreamy overall quality, with plenty of woozy reverb stretched over these tunes without seeming contrived. Mercer opens up his usual vocal range to a falsetto on "Sailing to Nowhere" and "The Ghost Inside," and classic soul-like inflections on opener, "The High Road," and "Vaporize" (the latter with a backup Hammond B3). Only the synth-heavy "Mongrel Heart" doesn't quite fit the body of work, however expansive it might be.

Broken Bells is the breath of fresh air both Mercer and Burton needed. Smartly avoiding the urge to point to one overarching sound, the project feels less gimmicky and harder to typecast, opting for a course that's equal parts Moon Safari, …The Dandy Warhols Come Down, and Pet Sounds.

Reviewed by Lara Longo
Lara Longo is a writer and photographer from Brooklyn, NY. In 1989, Lara received her first CD player and album, Appetite for Destruction; ever since, music is something she has fawned over, hated on, and played loudly. Her work has also appeared in Relix and New York Cool. Lara’s interests include sharks, European television, and the Hammond B3 organ.

See other reviews by Lara Longo

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