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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
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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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
Rabbit in the Kitchen With a New Dress On

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

December 6, 2007
Hailing from what I am assured is the flattest county in Illinois, Shipwreck is an odd moniker for a talented four-piece from the land of the Illini, considering the dismal lack of seaports in landlocked Champaign (though the Great Lake of Michigan is not far away). The band's name may not be entirely apt for a Midwest indie rock act who claims to have never actually been on the high seas, but on Rabbit in the Kitchen With a New Dress On, Shipwreck's talent is more than apparent, and their album is far from a wreck of any kind.

The title of Rabbit in the Kitchen With a New Dress On is an obvious play on, and perhaps homage to, Shorty Long's "Devil With a Blue Dress On," which was made famous in 1966 by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels. Shipwreck's third release and second full-length - following their 2005 debut, Origin, and 2006 EP, House of Cards - is a high-octane affair, with mostly up-tempo songs that will enliven even the most cynical club-going but couch-sitting wallflower hipsters to get up, rock out, and shake their money-makers.

Harman Jordan's vocals - baritone, resonant and confident - are comparable to those of Alex Kapranos, the charismatic frontman of Franz Ferdinand. That similary may contribute to the fact that Shipwreck as a whole, in fact, is oddly reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand, in their frenetic energy, with hints of U2, Pink Floyd, and The Killers also showing their influences. Jordan and John Owen share both songwriting and guitar duties for the outfit, and the pair's strings are often similar to The Edge's signature sound, chiming and echoing away, best epitomized on Rabbit in the Kitchen With a New Dress On by "Kiss in the Dark" and "Hi-Fi."

Vladimir Brilliant on bass and Chris Waage on drums excel in Shipwreck's rhythm section, brilliant and exceptionally, well, brilliant, especially on the heart-pounding "Walk in the Woods" and pure rocker "House of Cards." The album's lyrics are, by and large, intelligent, though not necessarily genius, as there are no real artistic leaps here, the band content with sticking to its four-piece sound throughout most of the album, leaning on the tried-and-true dichotomy of loud/soft verse/chorus to create tension in their songs. The exception is the sinister "Black Moon," the album's most compelling track, which incorporates spine-tingling cellos, piano, and a Floyd-esque haze of sound and mystery.

Rabbit in the Kitchen With a New Dress On is a well-produced, finely crafted, and, really, fun as hell album. It succeeds mostly as a motivator for hellion hip-shaking, embodied by such tracks as "House of Cards," and its inherent energy will surely succeed in live venues, though its softer moments of introspection, as on "Atlantic" and "Black Moon," add balance and depth to an effort that is far from a true shipwreck.

Reviewed by Eric J. Morgan
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Eric J. Morgan is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Colorado. He has an orange cat named Nelson and longs for the day when men and women will again dress in three-piece suits and pretty dresses to indulge in three-martini lunches and afternoon affairs.

See other reviews by Eric J. Morgan



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