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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.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

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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
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
The Uglysuit
The Uglysuit
Touch and Go

Rating: 9.6/10 ?


August 22, 2008
The Uglysuit inhabits some of the same sonic territory as several well-known indie pop giants. The comparisons are inevitable so I will get them out of the way now: They have the vocal harmonies and pop hooks of The Shins; the massive, multi-instrumental talent of The Decemberists; and the thunderous rhythms of My Morning Jacket. The thing is though, when all of those diverse influences converge in this young Midwestern band a very original, un-derivative sound is born. That said, for many a scenester, those reference points will be enough to decry The Uglysuit's eponymous debut as derivative or passé and, frankly, I imagine the band is fine with that. The Uglysuit don't seem to be about genre politics. The soaring "wall of sound" heights, the dramatic shifts in dynamics and the harmonic, sheer pop perfection of each song adds up to a spectacular collection of tunes that will inevitably appeal to a broad audience. Music this good can't be ignored for long.

The Uglysuit kicks off with the pastoral "Brownblues's Passing." Front man Israel Hindman's breathy vocals create heavenly imagery while the band keeps pace with a soundtrack of clear blue skies - replete with soaring guitars and spacey keys. If the opener places the album a mile up in the clouds, the album's second track, "Chicago," brings things back down to earth; The Uglysuit's most instantly catchy "pop song," "Chicago" is also the album's weakest, non-instrumental, track. That said, it speaks volumes about the overall quality of this record that its weakest song is strong enough to be its first single. The intro is an accordion-laced affair that finds the band dreaming of a mystical version of The Windy City, and the track's blemish is its sheer perfection, with dense layers of guitars, drums, and piano sliding along together under glorious vocal harmonies. "Chicago" is the kind of sleek pop that could fit incongruously on rush hour FM radio; it is television theme song material; it is Zach Braff soundtrack pop.

The album's masterwork is a track called "…And We Became Sunshine." A truly epic song, the cut begins with rock guitars and features several piano breakdowns that promptly rebuild into clouds of thunderous drums and fuzzy electronic effects. The song exhibits the kind of maturity one would expect to hear coming from a band with decades of experience, not a group of guys barely out of high school. The Uglysuit is staffed by six young musicians, most of whom aren't even old enough to drink (legally speaking). Having played together in Oklahoma since high school, the collective have developed a cohesiveness to the point that they seem to share a collective intelligence; they operate as one unit when the music requires it, while layering and splintering off when needed. The production on the album is also astonishing because it also seems to have been done, almost exclusively, by the band members.

The tracks on The Uglysuit range from quiet instrumentals ("Elliot Travels") to a second epic tune ("Everyone Has A Smile") to a slow-burning ballad turned hard rock conflagration ("Happy Yellow Rainbow"). The only thing the tracks have in common is the uncommon musicianship on display and the high-flying atmospherics that keep most of the album's mood adrift in the stratosphere. In talking to other listeners, the sensation of feeling uplifted while listening to The Uglysuit seems to be a near universal experience. It would not be hyperbolic to describe their music as heavenly.

I am reticent to reveal too much more about The Uglysuit. Hearing their album and seeing them live are both truly wondrous experiences. One friend who saw a recent live set by the band described the experience as one that induced chills. The band's sound, while not particularly edgy, is extremely catchy and beautiful. Do yourself a favor and get in on the ground floor of The Uglysuit; this little band from Oklahoma is going to be HUGE.

Reviewed by Jon Burke
A contributing writer and a Chicago resident who will not be goaded by LAS’s editor into revealing any more details about his potentially sordid affairs.

See other reviews by Jon Burke

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