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 » 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.
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 » 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!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Trouble In Dreams

Rating: 7.6/10 ?

March 25, 2008
In the context of the esteemed New Pornographers, many view Dan Bejar as the weird little brother to Carl Newman. Although he has written such classics as "Jackie" and "Falling Through Your Clothes," Bejar is only afforded limited time to shine in what is primarily Newman's power pop hobbyhorse. On the other hand, as a number of critics acknowledge (LAS writer Ari Shapiro included), The New Pornographers are a supergroup, and much of the reason for such is the presence of the Destroyer frontman himself.

Having emerged as Destroyer more than a decade ago and now eight albums into his own critically acclaimed career, Bejar shows no signs of letting up with Trouble In Dreams. The album is less halcyon than Destroyer's Rubies (2006), but that does not mean Bejar has lost his unruffled cool. When he intones "You in white/ and me in grey go well tonight/ So let's linger here/ This used to be my favourite palm tree/ I was starving in that shithouse, the world" in "My Favourite Year," one can't help but succumb to the contagiousness of Bejar's bigger-picture optimism.

But while Bejar's observations transmit wonderment, don't let the rosy outlook fool you - he can be pragmatic to the point of cynicism. "Shooting Rockets (From The Desk Of Night's Ape)" acts as the centerpiece of Trouble In Dreams, quivering with melancholic minor chord piano and sparse guitar lines. Remarkably confessional in its foreboding disintegration, Bejar sings, "It's a terrible feast we've been stuffing our faces on/ A terrible breeze from the east coming on/ Bearing the scent of our one hundred first kills." If this wasn't already as dark as we've heard him, Destroyer's eight-minute opus ends with a line that bears repeating: "We live in darkness/ The light is a dream you see."

Though some are stronger than others, each song on Trouble In Dreams has its merits. Bejar continues to showcase more turn of phrase than melody, his cryptic lyrical delivery essentially creating melody where there is none. Destroyer's supporting cast is likewise, as one would expect, spot-on, guitarist Nicholas Bragg still working the double-edged sword of stabbing riffs by way of jazz-guitar, and the whole ensemble showing its penchant for moving effortlessly from lazy afternoon bardery to epic, brimming arrangements.

Yet for its numerous high points, all told, Trouble In Dreams lacks an album-wide level of consistency. Even as they unfold, one wonders how the placid "Blue Flower/Blue Flames," the evocative "Foam Hands," and the celebratory "Introducing Angels" relate to the album's centerpiece. The trouble is that they don't, at least not unambiguously, and though none of the songs could be called outright throwaways, many would improve their standing in the context of Trouble In Dreams by, like the closer "Libby's First Sunrise," doing more to serve the album as a whole. Though it has its strong and weak points, Trouble In Dreams will no doubt receive well-deserved commendation. As a whole, however, it is the result of a grand but imperfect design (which, as we all know, has merit of its own).

Reviewed by Patrick Gill
In in a state of suspended adolescence, Patrick Gill can be found hiding away in northwest Ohio, where he spends most of his time rediscovering shoegaze, noise pop, britpop, slowcore, sadcore, lo-fi, neo-psychedelia, post-rock, trad rock, and trip-hop music. In his spare time he teaches college English.

See other reviews by Patrick Gill



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