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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
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Before Today
4AD

Rating: 9/10 ?


July 9, 2010
A funny thing happened to Ariel Pink on the way to permanent obscurity, namely finally getting the recognition he deserved. With up-and-coming DIY-ers severely name-dropping him as a major influence lately, he's gathered an unlikely second (maybe even first?) wind. Now he's being heralded as a home-taped visionary and lo-fi genius, even by those who dismissed his previous output. A little PR can do wonders, no doubt, but really, the leap forward isn't as great as it would seem. Pink's still Pink whether he's a visionary genius or not, and Before Today tightly showcases unique talent at the height of his craft.

This latest release marks the realization of the reclusive 4-track whiz kid as a fully-fledged studio artist with songwriting skills in the spotlight and a band with the chance to shed the 'lo-fi' label impeding greater appreciation. The dull, high-pitched hum of previous records has been replaced with clear studio quality, allowing for more subtle sonic details, though it turns out there wasn't much to hide. Haunted Graffiti is plenty skilled (especially bassist Tim Koh), and their chops are required for these dynamics: most of these tunes defy loop-based conventions, progressing in and out of movements with varying tempos and rhythms in the same song. The result sounds organic and real in spite of the fact that it simultaneously evokes A.M. radio nostalgia. It's a strange mix that works both technically and stylistically.

Certainly, this is a more accessible Ariel Pink and not only in production values. Tracks like "Round and Round" and "Fright Night" are some of the most straightforward and enjoyable work he's has ever produced. These tracks would stand on their own had they been recorded in classic Pink tape hiss as well. And it flows between easy hits reeling listeners in before quickly exposing them to some genuinely weird shit. "Butt-House Blondies", "Little Wig", and "Menopause Man" are absurd, yacht-rock tranny anthems that are both perplexing and amusing-with a creeping, undetectable sadness beneath. It's hard to tell what to make of Ariel Pink lyrically, as his verses are soaked in layers of irony just as his music is dipped in layers of fuzz and flange. It's strange second-hand pop, deconstructed and represented as something entirely new, augmented by a range of melodies and affectations. Good for him and good for the world for the opportunity to be exposed to his music: pop music in its purest form, pop informed by pop.

Reviewed by Eric Collin Wedgewood


See other reviews by Eric Collin Wedgewood

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