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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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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
Emerson Hart
Cigarettes and Gasoline

Rating: 7/10 ?

July 26, 2007
Good pop music is almost the oxymoron it seems to be. For the most part, pop charts are chock full of artists either from other genres or who feature derivative fluff written by backroom songwriters who get teenaged punksters to sing their angst-filled or heartbroken copycat material. In other words, it's formulaic garbage intended for mass consumption that leaves anyone with artistic appreciation feeling ill.

Yet pop music, like pop culture, exists for a reason. Despite the above paragraph, there's something about a three-minute song, or songs that bring fun and life to the radio without a need for great substance or depth, that somehow resonates with the human experience. And it's into this category of pop music that Emerson Hart enters quietly, but hoping someone will notice.

Hart is not without his own pop success and pedigree. As the former lead singer of the 90s alternative wavers Tonic, Hart experienced the top of the charts with tracks like "If You Could Only See" and "You Wanted More." And it's to that same songwriting source he largely returns for his solo debut, Cigarettes and Gasoline.

"I Wish The Best For You" features a larger-than-life chorus that is instantly memorable on this ballad of leaving love behind. Predictably wistful lines "You, me, why can't we see that there's more to love than we'll ever know/ Sometimes you're closer when you're letting go/ I wish the best for you" would normally falter under any sort of scrutiny, but Hart's vocals have always yearned in all the right places and that AC radio has long loved. "Friend to a Stranger" is another strong ballad, which is where Hart is at his best. The song features a guitar fingering intro not unlike Sting's "Shape of My Heart" before turning into a string-laden track.

Yet Hart is out of his element on any attempts at rock. Songs like "Run To" and "Ordinary" strive for something they will never find, inserting distorted riffs in the place of acoustic guitars and hoping for something more than balladry. "I Know" tries to play the in-your-face card and sounds like an old Wallflowers B-side gone bad.

More often than not, however, Cigarettes and Gasoline showcases the reason Emerson Hart found success before. It's a decent effort with more than a few tracks that shine.

Reviewed by Matt Conner
A contributing writer, Matt Conner lives in Anderson, Indiana.

See other reviews by Matt Conner



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