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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
Queens of the Stone Age
Era Vulgaris

Rating: 7.4/10 ?

June 14, 2007
Let's get this straight right away: Queens of the Stone Age mastermind Josh Homme is easily one of rock & roll's most compelling frontmen. Here's someone who looks like he could have been an NFL linebacker, holds an electric guitar like it was a little toy, and can flash the devil-horn sign without seeming like an idiot, yet he has a penchant for singing in falsetto and playing second fiddle to a guy best known for his Freddie Mercury 'stache.

So when Era Vulgaris comes as a bit of a disappointment, well, that's all relative, since it still rocks mightily. Clearly going for a more streamlined sound, the album lacks the over-the-top kick-ass-ness of Songs for the Deaf and the ominous atmosphere of Lullabies to Paralyze, offering up tunes that jut out like knives rather than crush with their lumbering weight.

While some songs are notable for their slash-and-burn attitude (namely "Turnin' on the Screw" and "I'm Designer"), they don't quite hit that quintessential QOTSA groove, making the ones that find it, particularly the pummeling "Sick, Sick, Sick" (with the Strokes' Julian Casablancas) and the razor-sharp "3's & 7's," even more impressive. And, happily, Era Vulgaris does trump Lullabies in terms of consistency - whereas the earlier record runs out of steam after "Someone's in the Wolf," Erathrows in some arresting tracks towards the end, especially the urgent "River in the Road," which includes vocals by lapsed Stone Ager Mark Lanegan.

Although Homme will always carry the burden of living up to Songs for the Deaf, an album that brought metal back to fans that had given up on the genre after Metallica went mainstream, Era Vulgaris shows that he's not preoccupied with making another masterpiece; he's content to follow the devil on his shoulder down whatever path it might lead him.

Reviewed by Eric Schneider
A freelance writer and editor based in Saratoga Springs, New York, Eric Schneider is a regular contributor to LAS.

See other reviews by Eric Schneider



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