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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
Natural Dreamers
Natural Dreamers
Frenetic Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Instrumental albums have a propensity to become boring. Most of the time they are endeavors that primarily focus on musicianship and intellectualism rather than fun. The songs are typically long, drawn out, expansive exercises in capturing mood or atmosphere, which is all fine and good in small doses, but after a while does become tiring. Knowing that the Natural Dreamers feature members of Deerhoof and Dilute, I wasn't expecting this type of album. Thankfully, they didn't disappoint. Their eponymous release is not of the self-indulgent, dull sort, but rather an album where each song is torn between vigorous all-out melody and chaotic instrumental noise.

The album begins and ends with two short blurbs of sound that ephemerally set and end the pace for a record filled with musical comings-and-goings, ups-and-downs, and starts-and-stops. Natural Dreamers create an instrumental gibberish; however, amidst the noise is a musical language sensible to the ear. The guitars and drums sound as if they are all running in place, acting on their own accord, but then there are moments of collision, where they come together, teasing the listener with melody, and then momentarily indulging them in it.

Throughout the record there is a tension between free form chaos and tuneful control. Where one song, or part of a song, deconstructs, there is another element already developing to repeat the process again. "The Big Switch" is the most infectious - foot tapping in a non-conformist way - track on the album with its steady rolling of drum beats and upbeat guitar playing. It sounds like the backbone for a great pop song waiting to be written, but the tight melody of "The Big Switch" disintegrates into musical avant-garde meanderings on "Cone Corners". Characteristically the form tightens in spots and then loosens again as the drums and guitars slow to collapse. The formula where construction yields deconstruction shows itself on other tracks such as "The Natural," "Bingo," and "Hot C."

On "Diamond Mines," Natural Dreamers use wavering guitars that are interrupted by both conscientious plucking and uninhibited slashing followed by a slowing in tempo. By song's end the guitars are no longer syncopated, but at odds instead. "Arthur" begins with a playful rhythm that is almost childish in tune but then develops into a more mature noise using repetition and guitar fuzz that builds and finally breaks. Needless to say there is a lot going here. It is impressive how effortlessly the instruments come together and seconds later so effortlessly come apart.

Natural Dreamers keep the album interesting with their border crossing between order and disarray. The album won't hit you on a gut-level, but it's compelling musically, always changing and moving backwards and forwards. It's nice to listen to something that takes a little work to interpret, yet still remains unpretentious but experimental.

Reviewed by Abbie Amadio
The last we heard Abbie Amadio, a former contributor to LAS, was based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

See other reviews by Abbie Amadio



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