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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
Neon Indian
Psychic Chasms

Rating: 8.3/10 ?

March 17, 2010
The recent swell of lo-fi laptop-pop seems like a logical next step for indie music. Given the sheer amount of bored kids with access to music editing software compounded with the perpetual backlash against the slick production values of top 40 tunes, it follows that throwing the whole mix into overdrive and creating a fuzzier, blown-out version of the undeniably infectious pop sound would catch on. And unless blog buzz has deceived us all, it has via the so-called "chillwave" movement.

Alan Palomo d/b/a Neon Indian is at the forefront of this sound, characterized by its homemade, dreamlike qualities, and his acclaim isn't without merit. Psychic Chasms indicates he is a talented songwriter with a knack for recontextualizing dancier electronic elements with 8-bit video game soundtracks. If that brand isn't completely unique at this point, Palomo's take is still largely entertaining. His style is principally informed by straightforward 80s pop: beats in rigid 4/4 time, repetitive melodies, and bass grooves you can tap to. As Neon Indian he manages to present something new and interesting via tried, true, nostalgic bricolage. It retains the appealing qualities of the pop music it emulates while making significant progress in its own direction -- a feat attempted by many and achieved by few. The downside of this concept is that relying on nostalgia appeal may not strike the listener as especially novel or creative even. Psychic Chasms may come across as retread; a vaguely familiar entity shrouded in a Pro Tooled haze.

Purists may have felt disenchanted to learn that the bouncy, yet appropriately apathetic single "Deadbeat Summer" was constructed directly from the opening riff of Todd Rundgren's "Izzat Love," but the sample-phobic are kidding themselves if that comes as a surprise to anyone who has listened to music in the last 20 years. It could be argued that this album functions essentially as a mixtape, but if we are to agree with that, then we must also recognize what a fun mixtape it is as well.

Palomo may be the current poster child for bedroom knob-fiddlers everywhere, but he's earned it: his instincts fill Psychic Chasms with the kind of intangible pleasures that make for a dynamic, lyrical-sounding record and a wholly enjoyable listen in spite of any cynicism towards the fad it encapsulates. If anything, it runs a bit short to wear out its welcome; he's one of the few fads to inspire you to want to hear what he'll do next.

Reviewed by Eric Collin Wedgewood

See other reviews by Eric Collin Wedgewood



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