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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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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
Masters of the Hemisphere
Protest A Dark Anniversary
Kindercore Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Remember back in grade school, when instead of getting A's or B's for your accomplishments, you received O's (outstanding) or S's (satisfactory) or even the dreaded N (I forget, but I know it was bad)? In high school, when you brought home a report card of mostly B's, your parents probably had no real grounds to get mad at you. But, in grade school, if a collection of all S's would appear, you had the potential of being grounded for a week. In other words, doing satisfactory work just didn't cut it.

Such is the case with Protest a Dark Anniversary, the new album by Athens jangle-pop lightweights Masters of the Hemisphere. Their latest offering is a somewhat fun but downright satisfactory collection of well performed, albeit slightly annoying, pop songs.

If I were to grade each song with S's and O's, the first and second songs, "Anything Anything" and "200 Heads" would definitely be graced with emphatic O's. "Anything Anything" leaps out of your speakers and does a gleeful little jig, hopping and bopping around with glorious harmonies and summertime fun. A strong bass/guitar harmony, along with some bouncy keyboards, carries the forward moving pop jam, and it looks like the Masters are off to a great start. The ball keeps rolling with "200 Heads", with nods to Beat Happening, Matthew Sweet, and anything Mark Robinson all at once.

From there, though, the grades start to drop, as tempos slow a bit and the formally refreshing harmonies become monotonous and less exciting. None of the songs are truly bad, but you can't help but wish they would push the limits a bit. As proved on their last album, I Am Not a Freedom (a concept record about an evil dog attempting to control an aquatic world), the Masters are capable of making relatively challenging music. On Protest, though, they remain comfortably tucked in their safe-zone of straight rhythms, clean guitars, and boyishly sung vocals, leading you to wonder if it is possible for a band from Athens to not sound like Apples in Stereo or Belle and Sebastian.

So, in review, the material on Protest A Dark Anniversary does do not quite put forth enough effort to earn themselves the coveted outstanding marks, but they do know how to write an occasionally fun pop record. I would still ground them though, and tell them to try harder next time.

Reviewed by Ryan Allen
A former staff writer with fabulous hair, Ryan Allen once fronted Red Shirt Brigade with his brother, Scott. He currently fronts the art/fashion punk band Thunderbirds Are Now!, with is brother, Scott.

See other reviews by Ryan Allen



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