» LATEST FEATURES

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
Serj Tankian
Elect the Dead
Serjical Strike

Rating: 3.6/10 ?


December 5, 2007
I originally planned to expound on the frustrations of Serj Tankian's first true solo record in this review, except it's actually more boring than frustrating. Look, I'm a kid of the 90s. I lived through nü-metal, and I'd do it again in a pinch if it meant another band as brilliant and creative as System of a Down would come to exist. Would I wade through countless Static-X and Drowning Pool clones for another Toxicity? Oh, yeah. The same way 80s children clung tightly to their Faith No More records to ward off all things Aquanet, I viewed System of a Down (SOAD for brevity's sake) as a rare exception for the "I hate everything and long to sport vinyl pants" set that inverted expectations with so much surprise genre-splicing that pop accidentally took notice. The songwriting was so tight and half their audience so readymade (remember, they bought the Scream 3 soundtrack!) that breaking pop was only a matter of time. I mean, the hit was called "Chop Suey!" - punctuation intact. This was clearly fanbase-bumrushing-the-mainstream territory, as opposed to a fluke smash.

Then the expert guitarist got a little power-mad and grabbed himself more and more parts on SOAD's records. No longer content with quirky interjections or the occasional harmony vocal, we witnessed the nadir of Daron Malakian's tyranny on the unfortunately Grammy-nodded ballad "Lonely Day," probably the last hit SOAD will ever record together.

So I was kind of looking forward to a SOAD album without the annoying little imp by the time word of Elect the Dead went around, when the single "Empty Walls" stopped me. It would almost be pretty or epic if Tankian hadn't done this sort of thing ten times over already: nonsensical title, half-time verses balladeered in a faux-operatic style before rushing into the "unpredictable" chorus, which is uncomfortably wordier than ever I might add. This was the same guy who made "War?" - a harrowing portrait of a third world gone mad that staked the whole of its power on one perfect declamation, "we will fight the heathens." The coda was an intense contrast of palm-muted dexterity with Tankian shouting war cries over an imagined podium. The coda of "Empty Walls" relies on the addition of one "fucking" and one "goddamn" to get his point across about "bodies burning" (rhymes with "full of yearning"). It's a silly song that half gets by on the comforts of familiar noise, an advantage shared by Jimmy Eat World's recent "Big Casino," and it's fucking sad that it's the best thing Elect the Dead has to offer.

When he's not bashing the listener over the head with political truths the average American realized after Katrina hit ("The Unthinking Majority") and forgot again by the time Saddam Hussein went on trial six weeks later, Tankian is channeling the revenge fantasies of fresh roadkill ("Honking Antelope"), and those are Elect the Dead's good songs. Everything else merely speeds up, slows down and injects less genre exercises than expected (the R&B on System's "Vicinity of Obscenity," the last great thing he did, must have been the final frontier). Then there's predictable attempt to lighten the hyper-obviousness with the "random" and "humorous" aside of titling a track "Beethoven's Cunt." Then there's the four-years-late title tune, a piano ballad. Tankian beams that this is the best stuff he's ever done. Daron Malakian, come back, all is forgiven.

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

» MEDIA DOWNLOADS

» GOT STICKERS?

If you'd like to help spread the word about LAS, or simply want to outfit yourself with some adhesive coolness, our 4" circle LAS stickers are sure to hit the spot, and here is how to get them:

--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.

» WORLDWIDE DOMINATION

LAS has staff and freelance writers spread across North and South America, Europe, and a few in Southeast Asia as well. As such, we have no central mailing adress for unsolicited promotional material. If you are interested in having your project considered for coverage, please contact us before sending any promotional materials - save yourself time and postage!