While you're out reading about Muggles and inhaling the latest softcore beach book, The Winter Sounds - the Athens, Ga., five-piece - is polishing off time-honored classic novels about old sea dogs and pirates and truly learning something by keeping their eyes on the International Herald Tribune for extensive pieces about the effects of globalization. You throw your life away on smut, but don't drag the band into. The Winter Sounds must find ways to tuck these bigger ideas into some hidden passageways on their latest, Porcelain Empire, for the bulk of the material is of the inclination to pass you a cold beer and split the difference between letting the girl get the best of you at the breaking point and becoming surer that there are millions of hearts and millions of songs. In fact, that may just be a paraphrasing of something I've heard lead singer Patrick Keenan sing about in a way that mysteriously sounds like the very definition of what the British blokes cream themselves over. Yet, there's this very subtle American emotionalism to it that savors - oddly enough - the fragility of a thousand compressed feelings, once all strewn about, but now collected and focused upon specific loves of tragic consequence and dimensions. For all things that need explaining, they can be best summarized through the guise of love, the hardened hills of love. Love can be a vehicle to explain the pains of globalization. It can convey the motives of an oceanic captain who wants for nothing but whiskey and bacon and eggs. - Sean Moeller
Readings by Patrick Keenan, Tim Lilly and Joseph Kass tackling "Globalization's Double Edge" by Robert J. Samuelson, and excerpt from the International Herald Tribune (January 4, 2000), Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky edited by Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel.