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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
Ray Davies
Other People's Lives
V2 Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

March 17, 2006
Forget everything you know about Ray Davies: all the esteem, all the quirks, his unstoppable legacy. Popping in Other People's Lives for the first time and listening to it on its own merit makes all the difference. Having the eyes of a fan will either grant it too much credit or compare it too thoroughly to masterpieces past.

Inspired by everyone from Elvis Costello to Neil Young to the drug dreams of Lewis Carroll, Other People's Lives is a wise, loping album where smooth production and thoughtful insight weather a constant battle to see which is more important. Rolling and diverse, it covers boundless sonic ground while releasing affectionately cranky proverbs to the unenlightened. As such, it feels fresh and carefully made, its scattered nature to be attributed to the rantings of a "lovable old coot." Sound envelops word in great measure, and vice versa, as the album seeks to find the perfect balance.

When such equilibrium is found, it brings forth the disc's greatest moments: the believable and energetic U2 vibe of "All She Wore", the rejuvenated freedom hymn "Run Away From Time", and the cheeky, syncopated rattle of "Stand Up Comic." At these moments, too, the pace is frequently brisk and propulsive - a quality much of the album firmly lacks - and the over-the-top psychadelia, perhaps too recurrently employed in the album's A-Side, is abandoned to a more grounded effect. When boiled to their very vital essence, certain songs have the ability to floor you immediately, but while interesting tangents and always-apt comments can be found in every one of the thirteen tracks, Other People's Lives is customarily a mid-pace album that flourishes with brilliance for those willing to wait for their reward.

Spindly and pristine acoustics, burnt minor chords and sideways, steely whispers are all latent tricks in Davies' bag, biding time to reveal themselves; the element of surprise is never lost on him. Meanwhile, his intense and astute wordplay is continually at the front of his work, making the album feel like a loving intervention from a friend who has certainly been there. His smoky, acerbic voice speaks the sort truth that comes from experience; immediately we give in to his knowing smirk.

Ray Davies' first official solo album was decades in the making, and it's obvious he poured over it extensively to give his audience such an honest gift. While it is for every one of us, its very character - its sarcastically honest, curmudgeon of a narrator - is more a testament to Davies than to his fans. Here is where we must remember his legacy once again: it may not strike an immediate and lasting chord like Village Green did, but rest assured we'll take him generous and self-satisfied any day. Other People's Lives is a record to get lost in, especially for those who can close their eyes and trust a sly old cuss to bring them back.

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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