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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
Anders Parker
Tell It to the Dust
Baryon Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Oo! Time to do the Happy Little Kid Dance! It's Anders Parker of Varnaline! Anyone who heard Songs in a Northern Key is probably shouting "Hooray!" in unison with me right now, since that rich and sincere country rock album perked up quite a few ears upon arrival. Varnaline knew how to be bleak but inspiring, like Whiskeytown wearing colored lenses. And heck, if it worked for Ryan Adams to go solo, it stands to reason that Anders Parker can do the same.

Tell It to the Dust proves that kind of logic, and rewards those expecting greatness. It's a lovely little album, with dusty boots and a relaxed fit. Beginning with the title track, the album is a bit more poppy and upbeat than expected, but still with a rolling pace, eloquent expressions and finishing touches that distinguish Parker as more of a master than most.

At times recalling Wheat, Badly Drawn Boy, the Jayhawks and yes, Whiskeytown, he comes on like a long, deep breath, showing he can be calming and rejuvenating all at once. While Parker plays sweet melodies, he commands a sly edge and lyrical bitterness, which serves to confound what could easily be a simple, straight alt-country effort. "So It Goes" wears cloaks of beauty and mellowness to cover up a harder side - many of the tracks are similarly optimistic in tone, disguising their own complexity and encouraging the audience to move deeper.

Parker traipses back and forth between dark rock numbers ("Goodbye Friend"), acoustic rises to greatness (the Wilco-esque "Don't Worry Honey, Everything's Gonna Be Alright") and miniature portraits so sincere they hurt your heart ("Innocents"). When all of the elements come together in a choppy, twangy buzz - as in the excellent "C'mon Now" - you get a bird's eye view of everything Anders Parker is able to do. Scathing and rough, it measures its anger in blades of grass rather than steel. There's realness to be felt, in his anger and his tenderness, but also in the commonsense wisdom of his ability to let go; he can elicit more growth over the course of one song than some of his contemporaries do in a whole album. Despite numerous ballads and slowed tempos, Parker shows he is prudent, not lazy; he applies the lessons he's learned in careful contemplation, turning disgrace into hope. Even though the album ends in a rollicking, bloody barroom brawler, "Doornail (Hat's Off to Buster Keaton)," the spark manages to reenergize more than retaliate, readying Tell It to the Dust for another go-round.

Those grasping for the final strands of Varnaline will certainly be glad when they find Anders Parker can stand very well on his own two feet. He has proved his talent, and his ability to make us beam, yet 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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