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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
The Difference Between Me and You Is That I'm Not On Fire
Too Pure Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Allow me to present you with a progression. Feel free to suppress any foul memories of the SATs if need be:

The Clash, The Sex Pistols, ________ (McLusky)
Big Black, Shellac, ________ (McLusky)

Wait, what?

McLusky Do Dallas was pure candy, tasty and delightful, fun and frivolous with snappy lyrics and a swagger so low, it risked depantsing. Where did that second analogy come from? That just can't be right-

Yes, friends, it is. Reason being, Steve Albini's production has snuck in and completely infiltrated the band. What's more, it's as if they wanted it that way. The Difference Between Me and You Is That I'm Not On Fire is a wholly dark, raucous affair that proves the band is not a (albeit wonderful!) one-trick pony; in fact, they have taken the ideas of Do Dallas and allowed them to corrode in hostility.

This is McLusky gone angry, even daring, and moves them to a progressive place, not to be bypassed.

Truth be told, this is likely to shock, perhaps even distance, some former fans. In contrast to that, it will weed out those unable to accept the intelligence of their strategic moves. If you were mesmerized by the lyrical cleverness of "Fuck This Band," this proves they encompass fierce aptitude across the board. They're playing the game by their rules, and it's not meant to be pretty.

The Difference Between Me and You begins with the wonderfully sly "Without MSG I am Nothing," one of the closest kin to their previous album you'll find. It is an easy entrance, reminiscent of B-sides "Undress for Success" or "Exciting Whistle-ah" with its crowing "ooh-oohs" and heavily punctuated diction. The sinewy guitars are at once addictive, and you know the band is at full force.

The coarse "That Man Will Not Hang" follows and reminds us this is not the same album. With heavy guitar lines and distorted vocals, it immediately recalls Pixies' Doolittle, freshly smacking of Dali's morbid sensibilities. The mood bubbles beneath the surface, a potent threat, but is only a churning harbinger of things to come.

By the time we hit the one-two punch of "You Should Be Ashamed, Seamus" and "Lucky Jim," it is as though we're being introduced to another band altogether. One could almost mistake these tracks for Nirvana's Bleach, unbottled, feral, and desperately cathartic. There is something very masculine and anti-melodic about these rough, steely offerings; they are the musical equivalent of a severe scalding, and undoubtedly the most off-putting of the tracks.

Glimmers of the eye flash through, however, to show that they still have a hypnotic, near-addictive power over their audience. Upon repeat listens, the disc warms greatly, flickering with moments of accessible brilliance and coy surprises.

"She Will Only Bring You Happiness" is almost jolly in its sugary politeness. The laughing interjections of "Icarus Smicarus" show malevolent genius, and its short duration provides a definitive statement of one-upmanship.

We receive fan-favorite "Forget About Him I'm Mint" at an impeccable time, as though a musical about the incredible horrors or war has been broken by a lighthearted, crooning Cole Porter routine. Lyrics like "Everywhere I go, I want to travel on my man legs," are fantastically silly and place the tongue squarely in cheek, proving once again they are fully conscious of their actions.

Of the entire disc, we are only met once by disappointment: the track "Slay!" maintains a lower register burn that is nearly inaudible in places, and its placement at the album's dead center would threaten to halt the effort, if not for a convenient fast forwarding button.

Perhaps the most satisfying, then, is the startling "1956 and All That", a volatile mix of the band's two-pronged attack. While convincingly violent at first, aligning with the likes of their grittiest tracks, it reveals a latent, spunky sensibility, like so many hidden messages. While guitars pound tirelessly, kicking up pavement in brittle shards, you are helpless to find yourself chiming, "Keep your killing clean, my love," and nodding in rhythmic abandon.

For a band whose claim to fame could have laid rest at one delectable album, the appearance of The Difference Between Me and You shows they are willing to take matters a thousand times further than even their fans were willing to go. With any luck, we'll all catch up before the mystify us again.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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