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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
The O's
We Are the O's
Idol

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


September 4, 2009
Most current musicians are obsessed with the evolution and progression of the craft, constantly exploring innovative and distorted sounds, novel ways to incorporate lyrics into the instrumental fabric, and using computers to synthesize it all into (sometimes) cohesive songs and subsequent albums. The O's incorporate a different strategy on their debut album We are the O's: unplug everything, grab the guitar, banjo, tambourine. Utilize simplicity, emotion and raw talent to attract listeners. It works.

Consistently layered with wholesome, breathable tracks, We are the O's takes on an earthy tone. The Dallas duo of Taylor Young and John Pedigo combines elements of folk, bluegrass, and country on their debut. This is quite a departure from both artists' (mainly Young's) historical and current associations, including far-cry groups such as Polyphonic Spree, Young Heart Attack, and the Backsliders, who all lean more toward experimental/alternative rock.

The refreshing and unpretentious nature of the record is its most obvious strength. Musically the O's have stripped everything off and interact with listeners at the most intimate level possible, using fresh and clean strings, unadulterated lyrics, and songs about personal tragedies and triumphs. The band hits theirs stride on the back-to-back "I Still Wait" and "The O's California," which stand out clearly as the album's best. The former displays exceptional composition, as the song gradually builds from soft lullaby to perhaps the highest musical and emotional peak on the record, enticing the listener throughout. Over a soft banjo riff, the track starts with Pedigo describing how he was stood up at a train station, and the dreary, melancholy moments that followed. Over crashing guitar chords and cutting bass drum, Pedigo fearlessly belts out "I Still Wait", each time sustaining the blistering chorus long enough for you to feel his angst. Similarly, "The O's California" is an early career high for the band. The banjo, guitar and tambourine exquisitely accompany one another throughout the track. At times the song appears to be a competition between the talented musicians, as the duo consistently attempts to one-up each other throughout the track on their respective instruments. Eventually the song breaks into a charming jam session, and then finishes with some of Young's optimistic lyrics ("I can't wait to get to California/ And our love will never grow old"), which are a pleasant contrast to "I Still Wait's" somber tone.

In their short lifespan, the O's have already gained some decent publicity playing SXSW and being named in Alternative Press' top 100 bands to know in 2009. But regardless of the growing attention, their website maintains "It's all about the song." Judging by this set, those are what they do best.

Reviewed by Brian Christopher Jones
A student living in Scotland and working toward a PhD in law.

See other reviews by Brian Christopher Jones

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