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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
Our Brother the Native
Sacred Psalms
Fat Cat

Rating: 7/10 ?


July 7, 2009
The story behind this eclectic FatCat Records group is fairly interesting and spells out the unlikely tale that often starts with teenage bands taking a chance on careers in music. A briefly detailed account on Allmusic.com tells of two young musicians - John-Michael Foss and Joshua Bertram - meeting in high school and forming an eccentric, multi-instrument band. Along the way the bandmates discovered Delude Records, run by Chaz Knapp, and immediately formed a kinship through several releases under different monikers like JSP and Moses Grandy. Eventually, Foss left the band while Bertram and Knapp continued on, now currently releasing their third full length album Sacred Psalms.

The current album is definitely a culmination of these years of experience and exposure to new musical ideas and an ensuing brewing process. The result is ten songs of a creeping, chant-like venture, with music taking deep root in organic rhythmic trances, repetitive vocal harmonies, and panoramic auxiliary flourishes. Although the album's whole creative direction seems maybe a little too subcultural for the greater amount of people to get down with, this is a recording of profound textures and musicality that rewards those who listen to the piece as a whole.

On the surface Sacred Psalms comes together in three distinct parts: realized, vocal-centric, structured introduction; a dark, exploratory instrumental body; and Eastern world tinged, jam-out ending. Much like these three distinct identities come together throughout the course of the entire album, they also play out during the course of many, if not most, of the songs. Tracks are reminiscent of avant-folksiness found in Devendra Banhart while simultaneously channeling the ingenious, experimental smatterings of a collective like Skeletons. Nearly always leading the musical direction is the vocalist (who I swore was female, but I can't find any information about a woman being on the recording) with some jagged(lazy?) and distressed harmonies, as if he/she was singing from the perspective of a soul both spurned and still fiery enough to recount its deepest passions. I'm not usually one for recounting lyrics, but a desperate plea during "Manes" hit me in both expression and idea: "Lovely little manes/ Please just let down your guard/ We'll be/ It'll be alright/ We'll be tame/ We'll be tame tonight."

With influence being taken from all sorts of places - including a Middle Eastern sounding hand drum, steel drums, shakers, various exotic percussion pieces, weird samples, electronic drones, electronic bass that sounds like a Chapman stick, bells, and maybe even a whistle or two - this is an album that, on paper, seems like a mess. But the overall feel pulls off a perfectly variegated mix to make it interesting, but not being too patchy so that it comes off like it was recorded by ten different bands. Sacred Psalms is definitely worth a few listens, and now I'm even more intrigued to catch these two guys (and girl?) make all this noise when they next roll through town.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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