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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
Yellow Second
Floodgate Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

April 29, 2005
The smog around Yellow Second's hometown of Denver has lifted. Even pollution as thick as that couldn't blot out the blue skies and warm sunshine of Altitude's summery power-pop. It's the kind of record that makes you want to open up the blinds you've kept closed all winter and let light and fresh air flood your dingy apartment. It makes you want to move to California and buy a convertible.

And that's when the interior monologue starts again. You think, "It's not such a crazy idea. People do it all the time, don't they? Just sell all your possessions and hop on a plane. They don't make you happy anyway. What's keeping you here in the Midwest? That job you hate? Your family? They'd probably love it. It'd give them an excuse to get out of the cold. You'd be doing them a favor." Or at least that's what going on in my head every Monday morning.

This time, I'm convinced. California, here I come - and I'm bringing Altitude with me. Those lazy, enormous hooks practically rub sunscreen on your pasty white back, especially on the Weezer-esque "Seed", "Material" and "Fall Out Of Line", where the guitars hit you like UV rays. Sharper and more riff-heavy, like Knapsack, is "Chance Of Sunbreaks." Bittersweet and full of adolescent longing, the melody makes you believe that a change in the weather is a change for the better. "Got to get back to a place where the sun sometimes comes out," they sing on "Chance Of Sunbreaks", as if lost in the daydream of a teenager who's just hours away from the last day of school.

Yellow Second isn't exactly full of surprises, though there are moments in "Plume" when you feel surrounded by the mellow synthetic flute-like tones of the Sea and Cake. More thoughtful and melodic, with a hint of emo in the air, "Plume" is perhaps the prettiest scenary in Altitude. "Mulberry" isn't far behind, though. Bent and warped ever so slightly, the sugary, distortion-coated guitars in the chorus have the laconic sound of Sloan or early Superdrag, whereas the roar of the chorus is more like Weezer. When they sing, "Do I know you anymore?" you half expect Rivers Cuomo to jump and surprise you.

There is a ballad called "Some Other Way" and it's not half bad. It's all fireflies and back porch yearning, with its brushed drums and acoustic strumming. But this record is about guitars. And they come back in force on "Seed", buffeted by the "bup-bup-bah" and the soaring harmonies of the backing vocals.

Yellow Second hardly take a breath; the guitars are front and center and usually hopped up on caffeine. They know how to turn and twist a melody to their purpose and that's a start. Though Altitude suffers a numbing sameness after repeated listens, it doesn't lose you as quickly as the last Rooney record. There's certainly more maturity in Yellow Second's songwriting. You can hear regret and sadness in guitars as salty and as hot as tears in "Imaginary Friend", a lament worthy of Nada Surf's Let Go.

Growing up is hard to do, but Yellow Second is getting there, facing up to the insecurities and self-doubt they reveal in the unnamed, unlisted final track. I don't know if moving to California will help, but at least it'll help your seasonal depression, as will Altitude.

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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