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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
Our Love to Admire

Rating: 6.9/10 ?

July 27, 2007
More than half a decade ago it was New York, the metropolis in which I spent my formative years, to which the world's attention was suddenly turned in the second week of September. Citizens of the globe watched as a gritty city, already the epitome of toughness, picked itself up by the bootstraps and transcended even itself. 2001 was also a solid year for New York music, the city's burgeoning art and music scenes coming into sharp focus, poised to make the world forget about London and Los Angeles forever. Looking back now, so many years on, it is clear that the circa-9/11 crop of NYC bands did not disappoint; The Big Apple is in fact still ripe with much of that same talent, and bursting at the cultural skin with new faces. The heartbeat of Manhattan, music has always been at the vanguard in the storied history of New York, and it still is, even if most musicians now call Brooklyn home.

The three rock-purist bands that come to my mind as accurately reflecting those earliest turn-of-century times for New York are The Strokes, The Walkmen and Interpol. Each embodied an essential facet of the New York experience, and in a way their albums sort of fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The Strokes brought style and swagger back to the limelight, not to mention the stripped-down aesthetic of the city's definitive group, the Velvet Underground. The Walkmen, from the depths of their distinctive Harlem studio, created brass-tacks music that could be urgent at one turn and relaxed at the next, similar to Bruce Springsteen from across the river. Interpol, though always compared to Brit icons Joy Division, perhaps encapsulated the double-edged NYC vibe the best: their ominous, yet comfortable name; the dark, yet alluring, suits; the gloomy, yet uplifting, songs. "NYC," from their debut, remains one the best statements to pay melancholy homage to Manhattan; like Woody Allen's film of the same name, it's the most colorful black and white piece imaginable.

Each of those "big three" bands has now released three proper albums, and in many ways they all follow a similar trajectory. The debut was the lightning bolt from out of the clear blue sky. The sophomore release avoided any mention of slump, by staying on point, and refining the recipe. But on each of the bands' third efforts, one thing comes to mind: it sounds like they are getting tired. Don't panic; fatigue is, in itself, not a death knell. As both The Strokes and Walkmen have shown, talent can go a long way to keeping a little disinterest get in the way of recording a solid record. In the case of Interpol, however, fatigue is indeed disabling. Face it, even at their best, they sound somewhat weary.

On Our Love to Admire that world-weariness goes from strikingly haunting to fairly monotonous. The record still plays as tight as previous Interpol releases, and is an engaging listen throughout; but in contrast to the album's artwork of wild beasts out stalking prey, the music is anything but free and roaming. Manicured would be a better way to put it, as if the street-smart city dwellers had upped and moved to the suburbs. Who knows, perhaps the jump from indie stalwart Matador to faceless big label Capitol caused the band to loose focus, but that excuse would be a bit too convenient in this case.

Of the tracks on Our Love to Admire, Paul Banks still sings the mostly minor-keyed ballads with the same conviction as always. The rest of the band are also on point, the restrained guitar work of Daniel Kessler and the reliable rhythms of Carlos D. and Sam Fogarino. The main lapse with Our Love to Admire is simply the songwriting. Most of the eleven tracks sound too compatible with one another, almost forming a uniform suite along the lines of Baltimore's Wilderness. Ironically, the biggest break in the tracks comes at the end with closer "The Lighthouse," an ethereal piece of music, that gorgeously flows like the waves that Banks' tenderly sings about. As with their fellow trailblazers, in no way am I writing off Interpol. Much of the reactive disappointment to the "difficult third album" simply stems from the great expectations created by great bands. Interpol may simply need a little creative sparking, something to sharpen their sound, like the creases on their black suits.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro



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