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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
Canopy Glow

Rating: 7.9/10 ?

December 8, 2008
Indie music of the mid-to-late 2000s will be remembered as a genre infatuated by orchestration. Some groups have been defined by it, others have drowned in it. As of late, it seems the road to indie fame is paved with glockenspiel solos. There is a problem however, namely in sincerity. As artists of the indie spectrum seek a sound more unconventional, something with which to differentiate them from other unique acts, they often employ unconventional instruments, ones not typically used outside of say, classical baroque composition. And then it becomes an issue of necessity: does the harpsichord (or viola ensemble or autoharp, et cetera) really enhance the music, or does it act to camouflage mediocrity? Does it genuinely serve a purpose in the arrangement or is it merely a distraction?

Anathallo, the Chicago-based septet, brings the quirk with their latest release, Canopy Glow. Sure to draw comparisons to Sufjan Stevens and Architecture in Helsinki, the group's whimsical instrumentals and cadenced vocals amount to likable indie-pop that, to put it mildly, favors movement over stagnancy. Offering buoyant rhythms and a propensity for acapella-inspired accompaniment, the collective (complete with flugelhornist!) delivers textured pieces with intensity.

Canopy Glow opens on a celebratory note with "Noni's Field," emphasizing vocal range and eclectic percussion. Though somewhat cultish, Anathallo proves more charming than oddball. On "Italo," a tangled chorus demands "When you wake up/ put your hands up/ pick yourself up." The group's endearing "All the First Pages" and "John J. Audubon" express childlike appeal, a convention of indie music that so often comes off contrived. "The River," arguably the best song on the album, builds its layers slowly to a driving second half, a structure the band revisits several times on the album.

In a genre inundated by gimmicks, Anathallo's credibility as a symphonic indie collective is validated. Although the material could certainly stand on its own without all of its dressings, Canopy Glow is a more complete, dynamic experiment because of them.

Reviewed by Lara Longo
Lara Longo is a writer and photographer from Brooklyn, NY. In 1989, Lara received her first CD player and album, Appetite for Destruction; ever since, music is something she has fawned over, hated on, and played loudly. Her work has also appeared in Relix and New York Cool. Lara’s interests include sharks, European television, and the Hammond B3 organ.

See other reviews by Lara Longo



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