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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
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
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
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Kaki King
…Until We Felt Red

Rating: 9/10 ?

August 22, 2006
Kaki King is the Presley of the acoustic guitar. She may not be a hip-shaking wonder, nor does she offer lip-swaggering vocal delivery, but she has an undisputed experimental edge and her act is to be reckoned with. When National Public Radio interviewed her regarding 2004's Legs To Make Us Longer, they called King the queen of the acoustic guitar; but we're going to call her the king because queens tend to come second, standing behind the man. And Kaki King's stance is far from deferrential.

Her queendom has come and her encore's going electric and includes a full band. "It ain't solo acoustic guitar no more," King said.

Perhaps King's bravado developed playing in the subway stations of New York, where she says she "lost all fear of being aggressive with the guitar." While her music remains delicate at moments, it is assertive and pushy at others, and with her new album, …Until We Felt Red, King can simultaneously be both brash and gentle, both electric and acoustic, and she pulls it off with gusto.

Looking a bit like a reserved librarian, with her black-rimmed glasses and slight 5-foot frame, the guitar virtuoso, accomplished drummer, and songwriter plays with the spirit of royalty: uncompromising authority, attention to detail, and delicate tendencies towards the finer things in contemporary music such as grace notes, harmonies, strings and, well, grungy guitar feedback (the latter is surely considered an art form by now).

King hunted for a producer for this album and ended up with John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake, Stereolab), who she insisted turned out to be "a perfect match." Whereas in the past, King's songs have been complete as solo acoustic guitar pieces, this time around the compositions felt "skeletal" to her and needed "to be fleshed out, literally."

And King and McEntire did all the fleshing out themselves. …Until We Felt Red includes arrangements with a variety of instruments, including the accordion, flugelhorn, thumb piano, harp, and most importantly, an electric guitar and King's voice, both of which she will use for her upcoming American tour. The album exemplifies King's ability to write and envision full-bodied songs and bring them to fruition, speaking beyond the musical accomplishments of her two proceeding albums. The difference is that King is now utilizing the guitar to full effect, as if it were a percussion instrument, a full-fledged band even, employing the strings as a multi-voiced choir. She brings the whole body of the guitar into play, combining the aforementioned with complex strumming, finger-pick/slapping, and fret-tapping. On her tour last year, King collaborated with herself, recording live licks and looping them as she played along on her lap steel.

Even if you're completely lost by the technical process, King's music doesn't necessarily require a knowledge of advanced guitar techniques to be enjoyed; the fact that a lot of work went into the writing and recording of the songs is readily apparent, and the outcome is an outstanding album that serves well as a soundtrack to dance, kiss, sway, sing, make love, eat, cook, or whatever to.

Reviewed by Sara Williams
Sara Williams writes and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her life revolves around music, which she plays, listens to, thinks in, writes of and is absorbed by. She has a degree in creative writing from UC Santa Cruz, a school in a lovely little town between the forest and the sea. She argues a mean leftist politics with a sweet but sharp tongue and is happy to be lost at sea searching for an Octopus’s Garden in the shade.

See other reviews by Sara Williams



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