Music News

Liars: Sisterworld, in "Nothing Not New"

Artist: Liars

Title: Sisterworld
Release date: March 9
Label: Mute

The liner notes to Liars new album indicates the trio recorded these 11 songs at 11 different locations. Ten spots in the Los Angeles area, the remaining song set to wax in Prague. The concept is kinda contrived, but whatever: They got a good record out of it.

I imagine Liars' music falls under the "post-punk" label. The "art-punk" label could probably apply. It certainly is unconventional and -- I really hate to use this word -- arty. But it rocks in places, too. It also grooves in places. All in all, it's a compelling listen.

One of the best things about Sisterworld is the tension. It's in nearly every song, whether the band is pounding out some bombastic riffs or creating with textured sounds in the quieter moments. Along with the tension I hear immediacy -- some of this stuff sounds almost improvised. Liars are a standard power trio set-up (guitar, bass, drums), the band also employs violin, viola, bassoon, cello, and trombone. Given that it's essentially a noise-rock band, you'd think they'd go all skronky with such decidedly non-rock instrumentation. Instead, they use them tastefully to create more great layers of sound. 

I didn't pick up many of the lyrics in my three listens to Sisterworld. I'm guessing they're an after-thought for Liars fans. I could be wrong, but I have to assume this band's all about pushing themselves sonically before they attempt to convey anything meaningful in the words.

Like I said, it's challenging music and some of it teeters on being abrasive. For me, it stays on the right side of the line. It's noise rock but it's still music. In lesser hands, it would simply be in-your-face, clear-the-room noise.

Best song: "Proud Evolution," a five-minute straight-up dance song with a cool, hiccuping drum beat.
Rotation: Heavy
Deja Vu: Confusion Is Sex-era Sonic Youth
I'd rather listen to: Scratch Acid
Grade: A-

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-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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Jay Bennett
Contact: Jay Bennett