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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
Sonic Youth
The Eternal

Rating: 9/10 ?

July 6, 2009
Let's clear this up: The Eternal, Sonic Youth's first for Matador, doesn't sound that different from what the band has been doing over the past few years for DGC. It's only surprising in that it took them this long to return to an indie (you're next, Built to Spill). The band has mellowed out a bit as the members have settled into middle age, eschewing freakish, noisy destruction (or at least saving it for their SYR releases) in favor of softer, more traditionally structured material. This is not to say that Sonic Youth is not relevant anymore, has completely given up on innovation, or lost its edge. Quite the reverse - at this stage of their career, each album is a testament to the band's staying power, influence, and ability to consistently produce exciting music.

The Eternal follows directly on the heels of Sonic Nurse and Rather Ripped, but has a few new tricks up its sleeve, beginning with the concise, punk-rocking "Sacred Trickster," one of the many where Kim Gordon takes lead vocals. The song chugs along with new bass player Mark Ibold (ex-Pavement) holding down the low end, seemingly allowing Gordon some room to focus more on her deliciously tuneless singing. "Anti-Orgasm" flies out with a vintage '70s lick, which is in turn demolished by Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo viciously beating their six-strings. "Leaky Lifeboat" is the band's best use of harmonics since "Shadow of a Doubt" from 1986's EVOL, now augmented by a sweet la-la-la chorus. And "What We Know" is perhaps Lee Renaldo's best vocal ever, sounding far less stiff than usual and focusing more on feel than tune.

Lyrical topics here won't surprise any longtime fans: downtown NYC, visual artists, musicians obscure and known, veiled and literal politics, modern feminism. "Anti-God is anti-orgasm," Gordon winks near the record's start, a thesis boosted by the layers of distortion heaped upon Steve Shelley's tightly frenetic backbeat.

The Eternal is absorbing and raw, from the slower, affable "Antenna" to the pounding "Poison Arrow." At this stage in their careers, acts of Sonic Youth's vintage either pull a Yo La Tengo and mellow out or continue to push buttons and hammer down doors. But Sonic Youth aren't really reaching either of those extremes. At this point, the band continues to just be what it is: still great.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker



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