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Lunch tonight was: Carnitas, carnne asada and pollo tacos from the place by the Harley Davidson store. Washed down with a half litre Mexican coke!

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Alex V. Cook is an author, journalist and music critic living Baton Rouge, LA. His work has appeared in The Believer, The Oxford American, DownBeat, Paste Magazine, Hails and Horns and The Wire, and his first collection of essays Darkness, Racket and Twang: Essential Listening from the Fringes of Popular and Unpopular Culture was published by Side Cartel in 2006.

He is the music editor for, editor for Sweet Tooth, and a frequent contributor to 225 Magazine, OffBeat and Country Roads.

He is a founding contributor to the Badasses of Contemporary Composition blog.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

x-post facto: originally posted at

I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness
Fear is on Our Side (Secretly Canadian)

There is a tendency toward obtuseness and loquaciousness in indie band names, something I will blame on emo along with mosquitoes, gas prices and the public persistence of Morgan Spurlock, but no one on my radar can touch Austin’s I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness in the awesome name department*. Match that gigantic name with a sound mission statement (or perhaps Mission UK statement) of phoenixing the shoegazing majesty of my youth, coming up with a splendid logo I’m tempted to scrawl on my Chuck Taylors, ILYBICD has proven to be more than the sum of their syllables.

Fear on Your Side is a mix of the big three shoegazer factions: the cold bombast of The Mighty Lemon Drops, where the hope is swapped for ennui at any given moment; The Chameleons, whom to me, were the real shoegazer poets, mixing intricate guitar lines and sad powerful exultations extracted inbetween wedgies and toilet-dippings; and finally, Black Celebration era Depeche Mode where a landscape of sonic texture is slowly filled with ink, blotting and obscuring everything the longer you sit.

I’m not saying this is THE MOST DEPRESSING THING EVER, especially since I have outed myself as a Black Metal listener in these pages, but none of that pesky Red Hot Chili Peppers idiot positivity is bobbing to the surface to ruin the mood here. The songs flow into each other like blackbirds skittering from tree to tree at twilight. My favorites on here are the opener ‘The Ghost” whose slight guitar strums and encroaching synthetic strings bring on the dark in under 10 seconds, “According to Plan” which has all the retro hooks, the quasi funk bass line, the robot beat, the swoon under the singer’s whisper, “The Last Ride Together” which is like an out-take from my album of the year last year by The National and the perfectly untitled slab of despondency at track 10. It’s got just enough of everything to it without going overboard, and that going overboard killed the great shoegazer bands back in the day.

And maybe this is all a little too retro for me to look at it objectively, but I want to be transported momentarily back to 1988, listening to this on my trusty busted walkman held together with duct tape, wearing the baggy grey sweater my senior year girlfriend’s mother made for me, sitting in the quad as a college freshman pretending I am a real smoker, and spitting disdain at all the “popular people” who I feared most becoming.

I Love You But I haven't Chosen a Title for the Darkness

*unless …And You Will Know Us By the Trail Of Dead is still in operation


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