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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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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
What Made Milwaukee Famous
Trying To Never Catch Up
Self Released

Rating: 7/10 ?

April 20, 2004
Independent rock has gone through explosive and sometimes mystifying changes in the '00s. Whether the bulk of them have been restless forward steps or the stumbles of a drunken identity crisis is anyone's guess.

Musical schizophrenia. If several people listened to What Made Milwaukee Famous' album, they - like the blind men feeling different parts of an elephant - might describe entirely different bands depending on what track they remembered best. What sort of band is What Made Milwaukee Famous? The answers: Room on Fire Strokers right down to the fuzzy vocal distortion; Rentals-derived power poppers; indietronica turks in the mold of the Postal Service.

All of the above, sometimes, to varying degrees, and also some other things. The programmed bleeps that begin the album suggest any number of bedroom bliptop indie rockers, but "Idecide" quickly pushes those noises to the back and transforms into a standard rock song, before replacing itself entirely with a Julian Casablancish croon in "Mercy Me," then jumping to indie balladry for "Almost Always Never." The rest of the album careens between moogs, barking dogs and baritones singing over military marches. Really.

There are obvious bonuses and pitfalls in this approach. The band never sounds repetitive or out of ideas; their pop-rock smorgasbord just shifts to a new tone at each turn. Several of the songs are pretty excellent: "Next to Him" and "Selling Yourself Short" mix just the right amount of sneer, melody, and snap with clever piano and horn embellishments. The downside is a few tracks that drift into pop anonymity, and that the album doesn't leave an indelible mark when it's finished.

If I was a clichéd agent type in a rock 'n' roll movie about What Made Milwaukee Famous I would tell the boys "you lack direction, mates." Then they would go through an inspirational montage sequence with lots of in-studio joking around and good times and, like, discover themselves. But, sadly, I am not an agent in a movie. On a happier note, however, Trying To Never Catch Up is a solid pop album that could be a promising launch pad for this band.

Reviewed by Erick Bieritz
Erick Bieritz lives in Chicago, where is usually either very hot or very cold. He was the brainchild behind EPMD, where he wrote about EPs and singles for LAS, looking for overlooked or underappreciated non-album releases.

See other reviews by Erick Bieritz



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