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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
Harold Nono
To the River Lounge

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

April 28, 2008
It's common knowledge in Scotland that Edinburgh currently plays second-fiddle to Glasgow as the country's premiere music scene. The dearth of artists and venues in the country's capital drives most musically inclined folks to the country's western metropolis, Glasgow, where the genres and venues are plentiful, as local and visiting acts have a wide-selection of choices and a more eclectic group of potential supporters. Edinburgh, however, is a completely different story. Their lack of artists and venues has jeopardized what could be a thriving music scene in the city. Too many music-unfriendly pubs line the streets, a good amount of which are located in nooks and crannies that would make for excellent music venues. While Edinburgh does attract some big-name acts, it misses out on mid-level/cult-followed musicians in almost every genre. That being said, Edinburgh is not completely devoid of talented musicians or intimate yet acoustically divine venues, though they seem to be few and far between.

One gifted artist who chooses to reside in the picturesque Scottish capital is Harold Nono, a musician and painter who graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art. The former member of Idiot Half Brother and the Pep Boys has been recording for six years under his current name, and released his record To the River Lounge with the Bearsuit Records label early last year. The label is re-releasing Nono's record next month, however, as they were unable to publicize it to the extent they desired back in early 2007. For lovers of ambient atmospheric rock, the re-release is definitely a positive event. A mystical middle-eastern feel accompanies Nono's initial tracks, as the beginning songs ("Lullaby" and "A Shining Space") sound as if he's scouring the Arabian Desert in search of something meaningful (perhaps his own unique sound). The industrial and cerebral sounds of "Lullaby" encompass where Nono shines as an artist, and the track's underlying beat sounds heavily influenced by early Nine Inch Nails material.

The toughest aspect of producing atmospheric music (and abstract art in particular) is keeping the recipients' interest while simultaneously stimulating a usually dormant part of the brain. Thus, to maintain interest, the musical artist must employ dips, jumps and gaps in their song writing, and also provide distinctive and alluring sounds which unknowingly resonate with the listener's state-of-mind. Some bands accomplish this very well (Sigur Rós, Múm, DoMakeSayThink, Atlas Sound), while others are stuck trying to perfect their music, never able reach the towering heights of the aforementioned bands. With To the River Lounge, Nono seems to land somewhere in between, as he certainly possesses enough talent to make engaging music, but has yet to master his songwriting craft. Nono's mix of sounds on some tracks often fails to provide enough complexity for the listener, thus resulting in less spins of the record. The album's tracks are atmospheric, however, and it would not be surprising to find some of the Nono's work in upcoming film or theatre performances, as the ambient qualities of his recordings would certainly compliment a visual picture nicely.

While the collection of music on this album is admirable, the overall record doesn't stand-out as brilliant. The collection of sounds mostly sways the listener towards Nono's amorphous and discordant song structure, which at times resonates, and other times falls flat. Nono crafted almost everything on the record himself, the notable exception being some string instrumentation by The Saltire String Quartet on "Kite," and some drums by local artist Joel Moore on "Tacky Tigers." Those two tracks, along with "Waterspeakers," should keep the listener tuned in, and also wondering where Nono will venture on his next release -- Nono is currently recording with Japanese composer Hidekazu Wakabayashi, and has also collaborated with Berlin musician Me Raabenstein on a separate project. The former album will be out late this year, while the latter, called Bedtime Stories, should arrive in July.

Reviewed by Brian Christopher Jones
A student living in Scotland and working toward a PhD in law.

See other reviews by Brian Christopher Jones



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