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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
The Hives
The Black And White Album

Rating: 8.4/10 ?

December 4, 2007
Rating: 7.7/10

I've got a weird one for you: A while back The Hives' "Hate to Say I Told You So" was as big as the Knack's "My Sharona," if you count in the mp3-era "band inflation" that prevents the culture at large from hearing as many bands as they used to. Just compare the attention awarded to the last generation's "My Sharona," the unwieldy "Lump" by Presidents of the United States of America. "Lump" received about half as much attention as the Knack, and the Hives received about half as much as "Lump."

What the hell does this all mean? Listen to "Tick Tick Boom," the first single off The Black & White Album, the Hives' most vulnerable album to date - vulnerable to shifting trends, vulnerable to further accusations of sellout, vulnerable to mass disinterest. Most critics see little difference between these lovable cartoons and sulking hangers-on like the Vines, but draw a line through the two careers and you'll see one band frustrated at their utter dearth of talent, struggling to make up for it by imploring the old Artistic Credibility, and you'll see one band completely at ease with their unoriginality, exploiting it for showmanship and limiting themselves as much as possible to become barely satirical automatons of riff-chorus-riff. "Tick Tick Boom" is a band trying to do "My Sharona" again, even though they've already done it twice, even though the world has passed them by.

It's a cruel fate when you work as hard as the Hives and end up in the bargain bin just like the slackers. Does it matter if Tyrannosaurus Hives was the best rock album of 2004? No, because "it lacks meaning and context," they'll whine, when in fact, it was as robotic and affected as Sound of Silver, albeit minus the bald spots. The Black & White Album is, as the title implies, a bit grayer. To stave off the descent, the archest of the neo-garage warriors dive headfirst into every third-album existential crisis move at once: obscuro experiments ("A Stroll Through Hive Manor Corridors" is an organ-noir instrumental), desperate attempts to recreate past glory (the aforementioned "Tick" single), expansive arrangements (xylophone and synth strings on "It Won't Be Long") and, of course, mismatched tour plans (Maroon 5! Saucy!).

And desperate single aside, it all works pretty damn well. "T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S." is a listenable identity crisis either conceived seriously by unlikely collaborator Pharrell Williams or mischievously by the band to piss on their tour partners' egos. "Puppet on a String," is one of several tunes to introduce piano, and the results are pleasingly cabaret-like, with dashes of Isaac Brock's demented murmur. But thwock-rap "Giddy Up" is too goofy to fare so reasonably, and the shortage of guitars on the premises suggests these experiments really came of Riffer's Block rather than a genuine interest in screwing with boundaries.

Which is not to say the few guitar romps in attendance aren't worthy: "Well Allright," "You Got It All…Wrong," and "You Dress Up For Armageddon" all deserve the attention their label can't afford to shell out for in this radio climate. It's gonna be hell on the ego of a band with titles on the marquee like "T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S." when this doesn't break 100,000 scans, but Interscope seems prepared: earlier in the fall Amazon began offering pre-orders at a pleading $7.99. It's strangely touching how they carry on knowing this, and surely a credit to their exuberance that they still believe they're the greatest on this Earth. But greatest or not, it doesn't matter when your fifteen minutes are up. Hate to say I told 'em so. Tick…tick…boom.

- Dan Weiss


Rating: 9/10
High-octane Swedish rockers The Hives present such a carefree attitude that it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine the band approaching a new album by simply entering the studio and just jamming. That certainly is not the case, as the musical evolution present on each of their subsequent releases doesn't develop off the cuff, but while The Hives may continue to tweak their sound into something that is more and more refined it is certainly fun to imagine them winging their entire rock'n'roll journey.

The Black and White Album is the Swedish band's fourth full-length record, and it is a massive release. The band's trademark sound is present in every song, the album as a whole energetic and full of attitude, just as one would expect from The Hives. Howlin' Pelle Almqvist's vocal abilities once more prove amazing, and one can't help but wonder how such an ordinary looking guy can deliver so much rock'n'roll swagger. With its attitude, catchiness, and screaming riffs, "Tick Tick Boom" is bound to be the most talked about cut from the album, but there are a number of other tracks in the collection that prove far more interesting.

"Puppet on a String" is one of those; a slower track resting on a cabaret-esque piano plinking away in the background, it is not your traditional Hives track, but it is one that clearly showcases the band's afore-mentioned evolution. Evolution is change and change is good, but it is also comforting to know that The Hives temper their lust for experimentation with a sense of gradual change, since a full album of "Puppet on a String" would sink like a some fancy and ancient Swedish stone thrown into a fjord or something. Understanding a thing or two about stylistic buyancy, Almqvist and company have rigged The Black and White Album with pontoons of more traditional Hives fare (like "You Dress Up For Armageddon"), allowing songs like the instrumental "A Stroll Through Hive Manor Corridors," which reveals a fresh side of the band, to stay afloat as well.

The Black And White Album is without a doubt the most solid accomplishment The Hives have tabled to date, and it is as comforting as it is thrilling to know that the band is constantly pushing to renew themselves while maintaining a firm grasp of their roots. The people in small Swedish town of Fagersta have one awesome reason to be proud, and that reason is spelled, like one of the better songs on this excellent release, "T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S."

- Daniel Svanberg

Reviewed by The LAS Staff
A number of the Lost At Sea staff have worked and continue to work for various publications, both independent and commercial. Often very stifling in their narrow focus, conventional media outlets left our writers hungry for something bigger, more diverse, more communal. More active, because this is the twenty-first century and it makes sense. During it\'s short life LAS has accomplished many of its goals (but not all) and has in turn set new ones. Everything that we accomplish is through teamwork and cooperation, both with our regular staff writers and with our contributing writers. LAS is nothing short of a collective. Another contrasting point to some of the magazines out there is that we\'ve checked our egos and scene ethics at the door. We welcome anyone and everyone to contribute and cover a wide range of topics. LAS does not follow your guide lines.

See other reviews by The LAS Staff



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