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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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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]

MUSIC

 » 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!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

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
Scoville Unit
Everybody Knows
Ernest Jenning Records

Rating: 5/10 ?


October 1, 2004
About 2.5 billion years ago, the young Earth was covered in a protein-rich, amino acid gravy dubbed "primordial soup" by the scientific community. As environmental conditions leaned in favorable life-giving directions, the amino acids and various proteins began to form the rudimentary DNA strands that are the template for all living things. Over time the DNA strands evolved into more and more complicated strands and eventually there was a ripple in the soup…

I imagine that the "primordial soup" that bands crawl out of smells like equal parts stale alcohol, smoke, and mildewy basement. There are at least a thousand stories out there of a group of musicians getting together and jamming in a basement with a cocktail in front of them only to wake up with a hangover and a handful of material. Everybody Knows is the inevitable afterbirth of one of those very nights when a band is born.

Like many new bands, or writers or even actors, they tend to imitate their influences. In fact this entire album seems to be a tribute to the last forty years of popular music with hints of the Lovin' Spoonful, early Beach Boys, Tommy James and early '60s Britpop.

The album starts out promisingly with "The Morning After"'s lo-fi guitar blasts and keyboad riffs, but the potential dries up in repetition and monotonous vocals. The album carries on with it's keyboard and simple guitar chord-driven pop formula in maddening, but toe-tappingly infectious, monotony. "Do Not Disturb" makes a small detour from the pop-candy into acoustic pop-candy. Bittersweet vocals and sad lyrics are layered over sunny acoutic strumming and piano, only to be followed with more summery and fun lo-fi American pop.

To their credit, they write very catchy and fun songs. They are playful, and even slightly melancholy at times à la the Beach Boys' "In My Room". There are clever flashes of tongue-in-cheek humor in their lyrics like "I could write you a song, but it sounds like this so far…" that make up for rhyming "I bought a one-way ticket to your heart" and "I'm on a secret mission to your heart". Hmmmm…

Actually, now that I think about it, I revoke that credit that I gave them in the previous paragraph. If I have all of the low-key pop canon of the last four decades to use in a cut-and-paste song template, I could write catchy songs as well. To compound the dubiousness of their influence-copping, they cover "Wildest Dreams" by the Moody Blues (and they do a not-so-bad job).

The album does begin to build steam in back stretch. "That Special Someone" uses it basement sound to its advantage by actually employing imploring melody and intelligent lyrics, "…we are prisoners of the blank exchange…", that hint toward a bright future for Scoville Unit. "Oh, Centuries Ago" attempts to balance out the saccharine sweetness of the first half of the album with pure pop bombast, but falls short only because it is followed by the Casio-beat, da-da-da-osity of "Everything" to wrap up the album.

Each song on Everybody Knows has appeal and potential, however they seem half-baked and partially realized. The low production value of this album only compounds my frustration with it. If a band is going the lo-fi route, then the songs need to be strong in order to be complemented by the DIY sound, otherwise it just sounds weak and watery. For a band that has named itself for the measurement for the heat of chili peppers, this band doesn't really spice things up. They are light, fun fare for the summer that is not particularly challenging or threatening. They just need to spend a little more time on the road and in the basement to allow time for the seeds of their influences to grow into their own sound. I recommend that you check up on Scoville Unit in a year or two.

Reviewed by John Peters
A former contributing writer for LAS, John married former music editor Sarah Iddings. That\'s the last we heard from him.

See other reviews by John Peters

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