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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
Double Dagger
Thrill Jockey

Rating: 7/10 ?

November 11, 2009
From More's opening chords, "No Allies" rings out of the dead silence and identifies Double Dagger as pupils of established schools of rock, where there is no doubt that Bob Weston and Mike Watt are the headmasters. Careening from open to close in under three minutes, the bass shredding guitar-like through every inch of space left by the staggering percussion (but somehow finding enough of a gap to thread a bright low-end melody), the track slaps the listener in the face with the album's lesson plan: no-noise means no-dice.

The opener is indicative of the band's cutthroat economy; though there are momentary lapses in their otherwise rigid pursuit of cataclysm, for the most part Double Dagger are intent on blowing out and collapsing in on themselves at every opportunity. In the next track, when Nolen Strals sings about making final, in-the-event-of-death arrangements at a young age (like, in middle school), "just incase we died," "Vivre Sans Tempt Mort" is well underway, with languid harmonium notes cradling the lean bass plucking for two minutes of introductory calm. The track of course erupts for a spell, and when it does one gets the feeling that, even in the relatively safe harbor of this track, catastrophic failure is immanent.

While the band practices their craft with a refreshing urgency and does well to convey the rawness of their vitality, by the time "The Lie/The Truth" buzzes with its almost wistful distortion More starts to feel like a pony ride with only a few tricks. Sure, "We Are the Ones" has plenty of notes, but for as all-over-the-place as Bruce Willen's bass is, his fretwork, stripped of any fanciful production and denied a six-string counterpart, takes on a monolithic and atonal characteristic that, after a while, becomes disorienting. On almost every spin through the album the similarity in cadence, tonality and vocal timbre from one cut to another had me double-taking at the display, wondering if I'd inadvertently put just a few songs on a loop. The distorted squalls of "Surrealist Composition With Your Face" and the bombastic percussion and channel play of "Helicopter Lullaby" that follows them do well to keep the mix frothy, but they're cooking with leftovers from earlier cuts. Tasty as it is, freshness is lacking and the album's flavor profile is perhaps a bit too limited for all but the staunchest mid-90s post-rock fetishists.

The weird thing is that as pitched as More's caterwauling is, Double Dagger could achieve so much more calamity with more personnel. The Baltimore trio consists of just two primary players, with bassist Willen and drummer Denny Bowen content to do the heavy lifting and leave Strals to sing/speak his vocals about isolationism, paranoia, war, urban crime and various other political motifs. As hard as they thrash, it always feels like the band is trying to shake loose of something, and more boots on the floor could also loosen the yoke a bit, clearing the dust from their concentrated debris field and broadening their horizons. The trio already has the slash-and-burn playbook of the Minutemen, Grand Ulena and their ilk down pat, but it would be interesting to hear them motor their destroyer out into calmer but deeper waters ala later period Fugazi. Strals sings that he "wants nothing more than to be what you want, something better than this," and that is great to hear. They're already impressive, but a Double Dagger unrestrained by the colorful but limited vocabulary of punk rock could be downright phenomenal.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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