The Books: The Way Out

Artist: The Books

Title: The Way Out
Release date: July 20
Label: Temporary Residence Limited

I left work early yesterday because I realized I'd taken only one day off so far this year, and that was back in February. I came home and turned on a baseball game (TV volume down, because the Cubs announcers can be real annoying) and warily popped in the new Books CD, with the intention of nodding off. 

No dice. Yeah, the game was boring enough to induce sleep, but The Way Out was too cool to ignore. Essentially an electronic album with processed and manipulated found tapes (of children, of self-help recordings, of evangelists) serving in the role of lead vocals.

Sampled recordings of people talking certainly have been done before, but The Books' serious approach to their source material sets these recordings apart. Used not for novelty or, worse, cheap laughs (though one song, featuring a recording of a child threatening to kill another child is darkly amusing), this New York duo (one guy plays guitar, one plays cello, both must play around a lot on computers) seems to be using these recordings to create a concept record about stretching one's mental capacity. I don't know, maybe it's too high-concept, but it makes for a compelling listen.

And what's more, they include a "lyric sheet" of the transcribed dialogues and monologues. All in all, it's pretty effective package. 

The Books - Beautiful People

Best song: "We Bought the Flood" 

Rotation: Medium 
Deja Vu: Beats me. I've never heard anything like The Books. 
I'd rather listen to: I wouldn't listen to The Way Out a ton, but I'm glad I have a copy -- especially during baseball season. 
Grade: B+


"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment 
here.


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