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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
The Strokes
First Impressions of Earth

Rating: 4/10 ?

February 9, 2006
The Strokes have popped out the first great disappointment of 2006. Not that I was necessarily expecting the nü-garage frontrunners to wow and amaze me with this release - they have demonstrated the ability to both impress and disappoint - but First Impressions of Earth honestly can not touch all of it's pre-release hype with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.

The crux of the Strokes' charm rested on the fact that they were wildly fun, in that pretentious, cooler-than-thou kind of way. They may put on a pretty entertaining, arena-rock caliber live show, but they're still too above-it-all to come out for an encore. In reality however, the NYC throwbacks may be media darlings but the were never really that artistically important to begin with. Granted, they helped to usher in the retro-rock trend that acts like Franz Ferdinand and The Killers have managed to both ride and evolve, but The Strokes's biggest draw was always that they were fun, not that they were releasing classic albums.

But the fun has stopped with First Impressions, which at first listen left me without hooks or lines-only sinkers. While the title track from Is This It and the summer sounding "Under Control" from the follow-up Room on Fire both immediately endeared those albums to me, not even First Impressions of Earth' first single "Juicebox" solicited more than a mildly bored yawn from this easily amused reviewer.

The songs collected on First Impressions are nothing new, which in itself may be nothing new to those retro-grouch naysayers who discounted the band from the beginning. All fourteen tracks plateau at the same general elevation that Room on Fire and Is This It reached, and the third time around leaves the Strokes seeming less than glorious. The third time is not the charm, at least in the case of this album, which is polished to the point of being ultimately less appealing and without any angles from which to approach. The band thrusts Julian Casablancas' naked, undistorted vocals front and center, but the aristocratic rocker seems to have nothing important to say. The glossy finish forces the record to the frontier of dullness on repetitive tracks like "Ask Me Anything," while "Razorblade" only serves to depict Casablancas as even more of a pompous ass than before.

I can't say it was entirely expected, but this lackluster offering only begs the question The Strokes themselves once asked: Is This It? For The Strokes, sadly, the answer is "Yes."

Reviewed by Natalie B. David
A fresh graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, in her spare time she can be found clumsily manipulating words and phrases for LAS and Beautiful/Decay magazine, hungering for sushi, naming inanimate objects or pondering the existence of stiletto heels. If you see her, you should buy her a cup of coffee because, chances are, she probably needs it.

See other reviews by Natalie B. David



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