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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
Dirty Projectors
Rise Above
Dead Oceans

Rating: 7.4/10 ?


January 7, 2008
Art-rock has been such a lucrative racket ever since drugs became synonymous with rock and roll that it only makes sense its practitioners finally wanted in on themselves. Enter meta ol' 2007, in which we were treated to a goof-pop album from primordial adolescents Animal Collective, a wildly entertaining arena cartoon named Battles, and this strange collective recasting Black Flag's most well-known album as the stuff of drum circles, if not of Xiu Xiu.

The little I know about Dirty Projectors is that I'd scarcely heard their name in four albums before this well-cheered experiment lit up the nerds. I'll take those earlier albums now. This is pretty wondrous.

For those who actually care, the novelty factor begins and ends with "What I See," because if you thought "I wanna live/ I wish I was dead" was a funny mantra for three-chord punk, just wait 'til you hear it cooed by double-tracked and ultra-harmonized females. For the most part, resemblance to Black Flag's Damaged is barely acknowledged beyond Rise Above's lyrics, as the influential punk band was hardly known for structures shifting with the weight of plate tectonics, or for razor-thin guitar wirings that evoke an imagined midpoint between Les Savy Fav and Ali Farka Toure. And then there are the surprisingly well-controlled calisthenics of linchpin Dave Longstreth, whose vocal ululations are so hard to pin down you might hear Ted Leo and Antony in the same melisma.

None of this cheeky paint-splattering ever settles into so much as a mesa before dialing up the next scene, which makes for a fascinating experience. Marvel at the slow fade of "No More" from violin-sunsoak to a flutter of voices scraped by bone-dry cymbals. Compared to the rest of Rise Above, "Six Pack" is almost danceable, albeit transformed as a Malian desert blues, utilizing basic tricks of call-and-response and identifiable riffage ironically approached like an actual punk band. The resulting crud-wrapped-in-art-wrapped-in-crud is at least as funny as "Peacebone."

One coup this unexpectedly friendly record makes me miss is when my favorite records used to have a string of highlights as moments rather than memorable refrains. The glistening prettiness that opens "Thirsty and Miserable" deserves its psychedelic breakdown, and the overflowing sweetness when Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian mind-meld on "Rise Above" is too gorgeous. Everything really comes to a head on the stunning Afropop re-imagining of "Gimme Gimme Gimme," which promptly switches to a raga and then ultimately a Steve Reich-inspired voice circle. I didn't expect to write any of this crazy shit about an art-rock collection of Black Flag covers, much less enjoy it, but there you have it. The art-rockers will have the last laugh, at least as long as Panda Bear makes it onto year-end polls.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss

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