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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
Via Satellite
Cities are Temples
Loud and Clear Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

March 7, 2005
What do you get when you put an ex-minister, a lit major and a psychologist together to record an album? It's probably not what you would expect.

Let me give you a few hints. Their cinematic, slow progressing surges are reminiscent of Sigur Ros and Mogwai. Their developmental trembling loops and acoustic rhythms could be compared to latter day Radiohead, circa Amnesiac. Their piano interludes and one half of their vocal delivery closely resemble New York post-rock outfit, Homesick for Space.

Give up? You a get a warm, brooding composition that is filled with enchanting arrangements with steady increases of intensity and force, that locks the listener into a state of profound wonderment, inspired by modest amounts of ingenuity and beauty, by an up-and-coming three-piece known as Via Satellite.

Cinematic music has been in the forefront of the underground and its increasing popularity has been an upward spiral especially in indie rock circles, and now with the likes of Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai and Air all contributing to film and commercial scores, the mainstream has been force-fed the genre in an overabundance.

Frankly, it can get quite tiresome to follow the same meandering path through hollow musical explorations and slow building crescendos. So if a band is going to tackle such an overplayed sound, they'd better bring something proper. Luckily, Via Satellite brings a fresh face to a tiresome style; I have gained a new, more positive take on a genre that has become somewhat stale.

Most of the record does well in building a firm foundation that is engaging enough to lure the listener, so that the music commands attention in the opening moments; this leads to a general interest, to wanting to hear more. It's as simple as that.

Take the second track, "Sunrise," for example. An acoustic guitar simply strums quietly behind a piano accompaniment that sounds as warm as summer solstice, which, shortly later, drowns into a beam of metallic emission of distorted guitars and crashing drums under an unruffled vocal track and underlying loops of drum machine. The guitars have a hard time sitting still, which makes for an interesting cerebral stimulant. Via Satellite don't mind straying from any conservative "pictorial" musical ramblings, often taken by their more careful counterparts - which also includes shoegazers Slowdime, as heard on "Revival".

At times, Via Satellite's music seems unscripted, almost coming out of nowhere, as is the case with "Cotton" where an offensively distorted guitar punches your face with full ferocity in an expression of hostility and beauty only to last but a few minutes. Along the same lines, the closing track, "Already Gone," starts innocently enough - as do most of the tracks found on Cities are Temples - but just after the three minute mark, another explosion occurs in a sensational enveloping swarm of dramatic and prophetic course. It's almost senseless the amount of force utilized by the guitars and the sound is a deviation from any expectations.

Although Cities are Temples certainly has many affirming moments, Via Satellite do borrow from a formula that so many bands before them have done so there are some familiar moments throughout their new record. The trick is, however, their graces outshine their reliance.

The strength of their dual vocal duties - by Drew Andrews and Scott Mercado - assures their strength. Both do well combining smooth deliveries and nice melodies. Also, with only three members, Via Satellite could likely pass for an ensemble worth of musicians and contributors. Their dense scores and unruly guitar interplay are dramatic, and the scope of the album is capable of producing vivid musical imagery. They do a lot with a little, and forgo many of the trappings of their predecessors. The pieces come together attractively, making Cities are Temples a success in an over-played genre.

Reviewed by Mark Taylor
A senior LAS staff writer, Mark Taylor is a 29 year old father of a 5 year old son and husband to a wife of 6 years, living the simple life in a small suburb of Charlotte, NC.

See other reviews by Mark Taylor



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