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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
A Place to Bury Strangers
A Place to Bury Strangers
Killer Pimp

Rating: 8.3/10 ?

November 9, 2007
It's the sound. Oliver Ackermann's distortion levels could be measured on a Richter scale the way they landslide everything else on his band's self-titled debut: instrumentation, discernible melodies, potentially readable lyrics. Any metaphor works, really; the guitars bleed with magma (fire and brimstone!), oozing blood (human offerings!), and of course, the shrill swipe of jet engine blades (vrrrrrrr!). And yet, and yet, for all the noise there are songs underneath. Almost laughably poppy ones in fact, with a refreshingly nineteen-eighty-something holographic quality.

Like most auspicious debuts, a band this skeptic-proof could well collapse under their own heavily gimmick-founded architecture, but for now that gimmick is a scream. Fairly easy to tag a Psychocandy rip or the big, bad Return of Shoegaze, many are claiming A Place to Bury Strangers as one-trick ponies. Which is understandable. If it was this easy to be exciting, more Euro-aping New Yorkers would throw everything in the red. That would be profoundly irritating, so if accusations of Ackermann's fraudulence are necessary to keep the imitators at bay, let haters hate. Fact is, his small band (only three people making all that racket) evokes more than just chainsaws and industrial machinery crushing all humanity at the hands of cyborgs.

For one thing, the sludge varies: hear the decayed ballad "The Falling Sun" swallowing itself just as the catchy "Another Step Away" begins to click into place, its every beat followed by what sounds like train tunnel echoes. Then arrives "Breathe," a hardly touched, old-fashioned guitar riff. Anyone who waded through the initial bursts of feedback would've found themselves in this versatile trio that calms and varies the album's middle - not that the feedback bursts weren't hot shit either. "Missing You" has one of the most rousing openings heard on a debut - or any other record this year, for that matter - drums pumping like classic punk, near-violent bursts of heavily treated sludge, giving way to the safety of crystalline single-note guitar but sporadically threatening to reopen the melee at any moment.

The clincher is A Place to Bury Strangers' impressive final quarter: almost structured like a minituarist's Zen Arcade, the nasty pyrotechnics show set off first as a statement of intent, followed by the true songs, and then takeoff is achieved in the denouement with true anthems. Fuck if anyone can make out what Ackermann's moaning in unwavering monotone during "She Dies" or the arena-ready "I Know I'll See You," but both, especially the latter with the gummy bassline, could dominate 1980s college radio if these sonics could travel back in time. This sound only goes up.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss



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