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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
Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
Vagrant Records

Rating: 9/10 ?

September 7, 2005
The basement of the university library is dark and yellow. I maneuver my way through the maze, twisting and turning until I reach my destination. Instead of a delightful snack of cheese (yum!), I find stacks of books and a computer program that is, more often than not, unwilling to cooperate under any circumstances. The quiet routine is deafening. I reach my hand into my overcrowded backpack to sift through my daily necessities; my fingers reach to the bottom, wrapping around my headphones.

Blinking Lights and Other Revelations thrusts me into a vibrant world of color. No world could be more different from my pseudo cubicle.

The latest effort from Eels is a double disc record of epic proportions - even if it doesn't always sound it. In true Eels fashion, Blinking Lights shifts moods and styles more than Madonna, only with more elegance and subtlety. No single sentiment blankets the entirety of the 33 songs. At one moment the melodies are beautiful and hopeful, the next they are nostalgic and wistful. Regret, heartbreak and even down right creepiness each find their place in the world of Blinking Lights.

E and his revolving door of collaborators have created a masterpiece that celebrates life, in all of its horrific, painful, magical and wondrous glory. The opening "Theme from Blinking Lights" weaves itself throughout the entire record, unifying the varied and diverse moments that remain. The delicate piano accompanies a nonsensical sing along, each depicting a sad nursery rhyme for the sound of corrupted innocence.

From the theme comes the line, "From which I came/a magic world," - which is undoubtedly a place where bouncy poppy melodies accompany E's strained, smoky voice for the perfect balance of the beautiful and the unpleasant. The oddly realistic "Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)" also juxtaposes pure indie pop with downtrodden lyrics. The song opens with happy E asking, "Do you know what it's like to fall on the floor/Cry your guts out 'til you got no more/Hey man! Now you're really living!" His witness of cycle of pain and redemption is truly astute and genuine.

Pessimistic and dark, "Trouble with Dreams" reaches one of the lowest points on the record - not in terms of quality, but in terms of emotional disparity. Screeching, wailing guitars and eerily repetitive keyboards set the scene for E's slasher film. This song speaks to the darker side of life, of facing the possibility of ultimate failure. It is morose, and yet - despite all of the record's up and down moments - there remains an underlying current of hope that often serves as Es trademark.

The regretful realization of "I'm Going to Stop Pretending that I didn't Break Your Heart" exemplifies the sense of brightness that softly blankets all of Blinking Lights. He may be admitting fault too late after the fact, but we know there is a purpose to his eventual admission; I can only hope more people will have such realizations.

E's unabashed honesty is what ices the cake. All the hope and beauty of the record wouldn't carry over without his soul searching and self-deprecation. "Ugly Love", which is at once humorous and profoundly sad, acknowledges why he's not the typical prize, but asserts that his love is real. And really, does any of the rest matter?

"Things the Grandchildren Should Know" ends the album with an honestly humorous yet heartfelt ode to social awkwardness and detrimental fears; it also suffices as a brief instruction manual. Much like the rest of Blinking Lights, "Grandchildren" sums up all the hurt, pain, struggle and essential light and humor that life has to offer. Know that as it fades - whether listening in a cubicle or elsewhere - it will be difficult to repress a final sigh.

Reviewed by Natalie B. David
A fresh graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, in her spare time she can be found clumsily manipulating words and phrases for LAS and Beautiful/Decay magazine, hungering for sushi, naming inanimate objects or pondering the existence of stiletto heels. If you see her, you should buy her a cup of coffee because, chances are, she probably needs it.

See other reviews by Natalie B. David



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