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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
Dawn Metropolis

Rating: 8/10 ?

March 4, 2009
As a genre, 8-bit punk is, unfortunately, underrated. Using old computer game gizmos as their main source of instrumentation, bands from around the globe have for years created blippy and bloppy tunes, tinted with the sounds of rudimentary electronics, that echo everything from "Super Mario Bros." to the Sex Pistols. One of the major players on the burgeoning chiptune scene is Anamanaguchi, and a few spins through their latest release, Dawn Metropolis, makes clear why; the album stays true to the hardline aesthetics of the 8-bit scene without sacrificing innovation.

Formed in New York in 2003, the Anamanaguchi outfit has garnered a reputation for creating songs that smack of futurism, videogame nostalgia, and punk rock, all at once. Throughout their five-year stint as a band, the group has been an evolving collective, and although the fast-paced music in their catalogue might all blur together in one monolithic blob to the untrained ear, Anamanaguchi have moved from being an experimental band on the fringe tinkering with new ideas to full-blown hit makers. Granted, theirs are not traditionally minded hits, but Anamanaguchi never the less have tons of catchy tunes on their resume.

In the sense that the catchiness of previous tunes like "Helix Nebula" is no longer overt, and has instead been supplanted by a more precise sound where playfulness is a bigger focus than catchiness, Dawn Metropolis strays a wee bit from Anamanaguchi's established formula. The album unfolds as if the band has gone back to their experimental roots, but simultaneously moved their songs forward with the addition of layers. The album's title track is a great example of the "new" Anamanaguchi sound; a stellar cut with all of the band's trademark ingredients, "Dawn Metropolis" is made more interesting by its almost teasing nature. Tiny, tiny hooks and sounds reel us in, and as structures progress we find ourselves becoming more and more involved with it. The music is simply more substantial, in every way, than in the past.

Though old-school holdouts may cry foul, this progression in Anamanaguchi's sound is good. We want to keep listening. When "Dawn Metropolis" comes to an end there is a pause, then a "Wait a minute…" moment, and an inevitable return to the track's beginning. Then the digging deeper, the discovery of new layers, the new approach to what was just heard.

Dawn Metropolis could be the album to bring chiptunes out of the nerdy corners and into the indie rock limelight. The case for Anamanaguchi is even stronger because the band is an awesome live act; anyone with the chance to catch the group in the act should take it. They play in NYC about 700 times each year, so there is no excuse not to see them.

Reviewed by Daniel Svanberg
A contributing writer for LAS, Daniel Svanberg now lives in Boston, far far away from Sweden, where he once lived, although the weather is the same.

See other reviews by Daniel Svanberg



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