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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
Angry Album or Psychic Songs
Goodnight Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Working for a major corporation in Chicago, I am surrounded by the people who define "mainstream". In the course of usual small talk, the following conversation is pretty typical:

THEM: So, what kind of music do you listen to?
ME: Mostly independent stuff, underground.
THEM: Anything I'd have heard of?
ME: Um, probably not.

And so the conversation ends, awkwardly more often than not. I rarely feel like it would be worth it to explain to them in too much detail what I am listening to and what that sounds like. They, too, would likely not want to hear me get all geeked up about a band they've never even remotely heard of, or about a genre for which they have absolutely no context. So, we are left at a mutual impasse.

My inability to explain myself to these kinds of people always leads me to ask myself - well, what DO I really enjoy listening to? How DO I define what it is that I like about the music? How DO I explain to someone why it is that I spend so much time and effort searching out the best and most interesting music out there, which inevitably leads me far away from the mainstream?

The answers aren't simple, of course, but one thing is clear to me: I don't like to be bored. Much of what I hear in the mainstream, especially on the radio, is just flat-out uninteresting. So much of it is just old ideas recycled and sounding, well, old. As for what might define an album that doesn't bore me, I use a version of the Supreme Court definition of obscenity: I know it when I hear it.

Whatever the "it" is that I'm listening for Angry Album or Psychic Songs has to spare. This latest release by Askeleton is a collection of unique pop songs built on a mixture of electronic arrangements and live instrumentation. It grabs your attention with the first track, "Queenie," which starts off with Wire-esque guitars. Live drums enter in, followed by what sounds like a Casio organ. The rest of the album follows suit - unusual arrangements where it is hard to tell if it's an electronic sample or a live instrument. Yet for as experimental as the sound is, these are unmistakably pop songs, with catchy rhythms and actual structure.

There is a good variety to the songs, too. "Queenie" and "Birdman" have a garage band gone electro sound to them. "Gemini" makes use of acoustic guitars and has a much slower pace. "Ghosts" could be the oddest track that ever had me tapping my feet and nodding my head along with it, with electric handclaps and the chorus of "There are ghosts in here/ you can feel the floor shake." Other tracks move at an even slower, more introspective pace. That no two are that much alike makes for that much more of a rewarding listen each time, since there is something new that might bring itself to the fore depending on where and when you're hearing it.

Making Angry Album or Psychic Songs more remarkable is the fact that this is the work of one man, Knol Tate, who does all of the electronic work and plays almost all of the instruments, as well as handling the vocals. Oftentimes these one-man projects can stray into self-indulgence, but this one rarely does. The lyrics here are quite striking, veering from the obtuse to the extremely personal. The opening line of "Gemini" catches my ear immediately, "I want to burn down Cathedral Hill/ Please kill me in my sleep." Later in the song, he sings "Abigail, please deliver me from greatness." Those are just simply great lines, made even better by the acoustic guitars backed with electronics.

Angry Album or Psychic Songs is exactly the kind of album that gets me excited about music. It doesn't really sound like anything else I've listened to, and it delivers many pleasures on several levels. Basically, it is the kind of album I love to tell all of my friends about, and to listen to over and over. It is also exactly the kind of album that I could never in a million years explain to Corporate America. Much to their loss.

Reviewed by Dan Filowitz
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.

See other reviews by Dan Filowitz



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