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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
Butch Walker And The Let's-Go-Out-Tonites
The Rise And Fall Of Butch Walker And The Let's-Go-Out-Tonites
Epic/Red Ink

Rating: 8/10 ?

July 28, 2006
In college, whenever we'd hit the town for a big night of boozing and carousing, one of the guys would invariably raise his glass and give this toast: "Here's to living where the real winds blow, to staying up late, getting wild and drinking whiskey - res ipsa loquitur, let the good times roll." The line, probably mangled past the point of being a direct quote, comes from the works of Hunter S. Thompson. I forget which one, but it's probably Generation Of Swine, which all of us were reading at the time.

The legal scholars and dead-language enthusiasts among you will note that "res ipsa loquitur" is Latin for "The thing speaks for itself." Often used in cases of negligence, it essentially is a way of saying in a court of law, "You did it, you know you did it and I don't have to prove nothing," because - and this is the legal upshot - there is no way a plaintiff or a victim would have been harmed were it not for actions of whoever is being sued. In the book, Thompson, with his usual literary abandon, was talking about inequities and injustice in the nation's court system, and the freedom to do as many drugs and be as crazy as you wanted to be. Being young and dumb, and not knowing or caring what it meant, we appropriated it as a mantra for drinking way more than we should and going completely off our collective nut.

Just as easily, it could serve as a salute to Butch Walker's third solo record, The Rise And Fall Of Butch Walker And The Let's-Go-Out-Tonites. Better known as the ex-ringleader of Marvelous 3's circus of rock n' roll sleaze and a hot-shit producer whose recent credits include Hot Hot Heat, (gulp!) the All-American Rejects and (double-gulp!) Averil Lavigne, Walker offers a glittery, sexed-up, power-pop celebration of big-city nightlife and after-hours debauchery this time around - an about-face from the sad, inward-looking Letters he authored in 2004. To get back his swagger, Walker enlisted the help of a seven-piece band, the awesomely titled Let's-Go-Out-Tonites.

Glammed up like a modern-day New York Dolls, with big, bold hooks you can sink your teeth into, The Rise And Fall Of is a rollicking bit of rakish fun for the young and indestructible, or those who wish they felt that way again. Because of the bright, bouyant pop melodies and lively, unrestrained musicianship, it doesn't elicit that trip-through-the-seamy underbelly-of-society aesthetic that you'd expect from a party album of this sort. Still, it feels right at home in the trendy Sunset Strip club scene and hollow-eyed drug dens. Trying, and mostly failing, to score with anorexic, stoned-out-of-their-gourds models, Walker relates his tales from the underground, doing lines of coke in the bathroom and wallowing in excess. And when the sun is coming up on him and his band, Walker is just heading off to bed. When he wakes up, the inveterate clubber inside of Walker - the one that's been sleeping it off since Marvelous 3 disbanded - is ready for full disclosure of the night's events.

Going for broke on slickly produced, arena-sized pop-rockers like the raunch-filled "Hot Girls In Good Moods" and the cheeky "Too Famous To Get Fully Dressed" - think Ok Go with Gary Glitter's drummer, complete with handclaps and a gospel chorus - Walker and company let it all hang out on The Rise And Fall Of On "Rich People Die Unhappy," Walker goes country with pedal steel and intricate acoustic picking, and does so without a hint of irony, coming up with a lively pop melody for this unexpected hoedown. With its " ... booty girls and late-night druggies," the pure pop ecstasy of "Bethamphetamine (Pretty Pretty)," the first single, results from a sweetly moaned chorus that Superdrag would kill for, plus ringing piano and guitar chords that produce the most wonderful tinnitus.

"I'm tired, I'm bored/and where's the cocaine?" asks Walker in the vamped-up "Ladies And Gentleman (sic) ... 'The Let's-Go-Out-Tonites,'" and the band, sensing a challenge, does everything in its power to buy him a thrill. The drums are snappy, the piano stomps on the floor, and the sharp, cutting guitar slashes on cue, while Walker, dropping his voice low, wickedly intones, "La, la, la, la/la, la, la, la," as if he's about to descend on weak prey. Wildly rhythmic, with blocky, swinging drums and orgasmic horns, "Paid To Get Excited" is hyperactive mod rock, while "Song Without A Chorus" is disarmingly funny and touching, with a sunny 80s Brit-pop feel and lyrics that expose hypocrisy in all its forms, taking rappers and critics alike to task.

Being the producer that he is, Walker just can't help himself when it comes to strings and sometimes they feel tacked on, not blended in as seamlessly as they should be. The dramatic "We're All Going Down" rips a page out of Richard Buckner's playbook, while "This Is The Sweetest Little Song" is borderline orchestral, but though the thicket of cello and violins can be heavy, the arrangements are surprisingly sophisticated. All primary colors, The Rise And Fall Of may be a bit plastic as far as its production values, but there's nary a misstep here. If a toast is in order, I say, let the good times roll.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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