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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
School of Seven Bells
Alpinisms
Ghostly International

Rating: 7.9/10 ?


November 12, 2008
Gone are the days when female vocalists are obliged to define their sound as "pretty." Janis Joplin enabled a sound both harsh and pained; Courtney Love, a dead girl snarl; Björk, a full-bodied Icelandic yodel. Breaking out of the "pretty" standard has become the norm in non-mainstream music circles. Ironically enough, the challenge now is how to reinvent the "pretty" vocal in a way that is novel and compelling. At first listen, the stoic multi-part harmonies of School of Seven Bells' siblings, Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, are jarringly poignant. Perhaps "pretty" isn't dead.

Formed in 2007, School of Seven Bells features former Secret Machines' guitarist Benjamin Curtis and the Deheza twins of On! Air! Library! Named after a fictitious South American pickpocket school, the trio melds the surreality of dream-pop with the wooziness of contemporary psychodelia. Their debut, Alpinisms, pairs electro-infused drone with a pop sensibility; add the twins' unwavering angelic harmonies and the album glows.

Spacey, ambient, and vaguely tribal, Alpinisms creates a landscape to get lost in. Despite their differing musical backgrounds, the band has a cohesive sound. Similar to the midrange vocalists of Jem and Azure Ray, Seven Bells brings airy authoritativeness even in falsetto. The album opens with the liturgical "lamundernodisguise" and easily transitions to the eerie "Wired For Light," a track that operates on equally striking ominous dissonance. Later, mysticism meets technology on the sonar-like pulse of "Prince of Peace," but not before the 11-minute "Sempiternal/Amaranth" offers a minimalist start that builds to muddled mash of sound. Somewhat disappointing is the auto-tune processed "Chain"; its robotic effect unnecessarily distracts from an otherwise organic feel.

Alpinisms is a sensory experience, like downing a few tumblers of foreign liquor: too much will leave you lightheaded. Then again, everything is a better with a buzz.

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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