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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » 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.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » 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!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

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
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Vampire Weekend
Contra
XL

Rating: 8/10 ?


February 17, 2010
When Nirvana went number one in the early 90s, rock critic Gina Arnold famously announced, "We won." Much to the surprise of, well, everyone, the kings of grunge found notoriety typically suited for pop groups of the time. Almost two decades later, Vampire Weekend''s sophomore album, Contra, reaches the top spot on the Billboard 200. This time, it seems the genre-crossing band's success has quite a few music circles claiming victory.

Fortunately for a band that some charged couldn't find its way out of Cape Cod, their travels (namely Mexico, where they recorded it) have landed them a more fleshed-out, wide ranging sound. Like the startled 20-something on Contra's cover, there's something jarring about the aggressive attack of "Cousins" and jumbled noodling of "California English." Though their second full-length isn't a complete departure from 2008's eponymous debut; Ezra Koenig is still predisposed to his bookish lexicon (see: his mind-blowing ability to rhyme with "horchata") and his speedy, Police-esque chop ("Holiday").

Contra flourishes in its effort to ease up on "A-Punk"'s stiffness as the quartet engages in sonic experimentation of unprecedented playfulness even compared to the debut's: "White Sky" adds mbaqanga bounce to sheer Feels-era Animal Collective. The tempo-dropping "Diplomat's Son" and instrumentally busy "Horchata" could have very well been engineered underwater.

Despite all the trying on new hats, Contra isn't exactly an overhaul of the band as some have touted. On the other hand, to simply class Contra as merely an indie rock pinnacle is a disservice to the sharply synthesized Afropop, punk, ska, and pop thriving here.

Reviewed by Lara Longo
Lara Longo is a writer and photographer from Brooklyn, NY. In 1989, Lara received her first CD player and album, Appetite for Destruction; ever since, music is something she has fawned over, hated on, and played loudly. Her work has also appeared in Relix and New York Cool. Lara’s interests include sharks, European television, and the Hammond B3 organ.

See other reviews by Lara Longo

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