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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
Beach House
Devotion
Carpark

Rating: 6.4/10 ?


May 8, 2008
It's intriguing, in that chicken versus egg kind of way, when a band's name reflects their musical leanings. To wit: Led Zeppelin's output was as heavy as the image their name invoked; The Rolling Stones are rock and roll defined; Pavement unfurled the genre of sardonic lit-rock like all those beautiful freeways dotting the California landscape. (Of course the converse can be true, when a band name deflects the sound - see Nirvana, the Pixies, Blur.) The Baltimore duo of Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand make the kind of music that one might find pleasing whilst cozying up on the front porch of a salty seaside cottage, the sound of the sea washing upon the sand. They nabbed a gem of a moniker with Beach House, although a fine second choice may have been Mates of Sedate.

Beach House's second album, Devotion, is a measured affair that takes some patience. Compared to other male/female pairings - the alluded to Mates of State, The Fiery Furnaces, or Viva Voce, for a few examples - Beach House are not the most dynamic duo. Perhaps the fact that Scally and Legrand are not related, married, or even dating, keeps the musical sizzle to a minimum, although Dan Savage would be more of an expert in this arena than yours truly. Regardless, the carpenter and bartender comprising the band have solid musical chemistry and the stealthily-titled Devotion is the lazy, daydreamy result of their common ground.

The album starts with the maraca-shaking "Wedding Bells," a fuzzy, psychedelia-flavored track that immediately brings to mind that other seashore-named group of towering influence, The Beach Boys. The Wilson brothers' harmonic stylings hover over the entirety of Devotion; it's a nuanced sway, as with fellow mellow gazers Grizzly Bear. Indeed, the hazy drone without the pop spark can be quite boring at stretches, and that's the fault line that runs through the length of the 44-minute LP. Too many slow-burning 4/4 tracks in a row make even lounging on the deck feel lackluster and unproductive.

The elements that save Devotion from simply fading into pure background music are the sultry voice of Paris-born Legrand, and the musical charm buried in the boredom. Both Legrand and co-conspirator Scally are lifelong musicians, trained classically, and they write and play on solid footing. To their credit, the pair does manage to wring a lot out of amazingly simple structures and arrangements. When they hit even small strides, like the album's murky single "Gila," the relief is like a breath of ocean air. Otherwise, for the most part, the admittedly pretty songs simply fade away, like footprints in the sand.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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