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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
Duke Fame
Too Proud To Practice

Rating: 5.5/10 ?

August 8, 2006
According to this reviewer, This Is Spinal Tap is one of the greatest movies of all time. So when I had the chance to check out an album from relative unknowns Duke Fame, I jumped. Duke Fame was the lead singer for Duke Fame and the Fame Throwers, and the Tap's encounter with him in a hotel lobby stands as one of the greatest chance meetings ever captured on film. Good work, Marty DiBergi.

So why name a pop rock band from Atlanta after Mr. Fame? I have no idea, but according to the band's website Duke Fame is the real name of a band member. However, also on their site are numerous references to how much beer these guys drink, so let's just say I'm leaving any information gleaned from their site out of this review henceforth. I'll just talk about this disc.

Straightforward rock would be a good place to start, yet even that term does not capture the utter linearity of this music. No sliders or curveballs here, just right down the pipe, every track. Granted, some bands have made enormous careers out of such music - witness Blink-182; others like Green Day have taken it to a pretty high level of artistic expression. Yet for every Kaiser Chiefs, there's a Hootie and the Blowfish waiting to sabotage the whole thing. And for my dollar, nothing is worse than straight-laced, earnest rockers making white bread music for men in slacks.

Duke Fame's second release, Too Proud To Practice, narrowly escapes that distinction for a few reasons. First off, the songs are actually fairly decent. Every one is listenable, with a few bright spots peaking though. "Serenity Now," which I hope is a Seinfeld reference, is a vanilla popsicle complete with jangly guitars and the most basic backing harmonies ever, but sometimes those things do taste good. Secondly, as the previous title suggests, the Fame fellas don't take themselves too seriously. When you're making music this rudimentary that is of course a good thing; leave the heavy emotions and world changing to the artistes. On "Memory Bucket," the band shows a little diversity by slipping in a nice trumpet line in a slow tempo lullaby, and it works well. The band also benefits from having two vocalists, which mixes things up a bit. Lastly, the songs and album are short: 13 tracks clocking in at under 30 minutes. This shows me that Duke Fame understand the type of music they're playing: it doesn't take 6 minutes of "jamming" to make whatever statements this band is interested in making (if they are interested in making statements at all).

Duke Fame are simple but not stupid. You can classify them under "tuneful bar band" and get pretty close. Too Proud To Practice won't turn any heads, but the effort is there. I actually get the feeling that perhaps if these weekend warriors drank less and practiced more they could record a worthy follow up.

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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