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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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 Owl & The Pussycat
The Owl & The Pussycat
Kill Rock Stars

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
For being a solo artist that only goes by her first name, Lois sure has an affinity for partnerships. From her short stint as half of the Cradle Robbers (with Spinanes frontlady Rebecca Gates) to the duo Courtney Love (with Pat Maley), to her duet with Elliott Smith on the album Infinity Plus, to The Union Themes alongside Fugazi's Brendan Canty - the girl works more comfortably in pairs, I guess. The Owl & the Pussycat is another excursion into co-dependency, this time pairing Ms. Maffeo with Greg Moore for another shyly sweet product that has become so synonymous with her name.

While the ground covered doesn't venture too far from her previous excursions, I must say it took me longer to warm up to The Owl & The Pussycat than it normally does. Part of this can be contributed to a generally slower pace, finding more texture in mood-music sounds than her charming, tweeish roots. Another surprising turn is Moore's vocal balance, inspired by Elliott Smith, though impractically powerful: even when providing a nominal harmony part, his inclusion is a bit too noticeable, and at times overpowers the chanteuse.

"I Hate the Sun" puts Lois in the forefront, as one might expect, but sets her trademark vocals to a softshoe, campy bit of retro-pop that doesn't settle properly. "Blinds" works a bit better, functioning as a true back-and-forth duo between the verses (instead of pitting two vocal forces against each other), though the song is disappointingly unremarkable, blending into a quiet background.

It is when we reach "C'est Moi" that we see why this coupling was so necessary and satisfying. Wonderfully understated guitars and light harmonies work in favor of their compatibility. The vocals are alternately lofty and muted in all the right places, feeling much like a masterpiece from Ida in a similarly soaring sense.

"Company" is another cheesy production, bringing the fifties-style balladry of The Union Themes back to Lois's repertoire; it is light, whimsical, and well suited to finger snapping, innocence, and poodle skirts. While the Grease feel is a little tacky, the track's simplicity and Maffeo's undeniable grace carry it off with enough sincerity to be a minor success. It is by the time Moore chimes in with his sing-speak "Tell me more, tell me more"-type chanting at the track's close that I am almost completely assured that this would have worked better as a solo release.

While there are these bright spots to look forward to, the overwhelming result of The Owl & The Pussycat is a list of B-grade material. Rather than reaching formidable highs, or even notable lows, the CD covers a lot of ordinary middle ground. It is always a happy occasion when we can visit the house of a friend, but this particular jaunt rarely recalls the ebullient sparkle of her earlier releases.

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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