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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » 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
Black Cross
Widows, Bloody Widows
Initial Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

October 1, 2004
I'll admit my bias up front: I've always sorta rooted for Initial Records. Honestly, what's there to hate about this label? Their diverse, well-annotated mail order catalogues were my lifeline during high school; their endearingly relentless sense of hometown pride sparked my love affair with Louisville greats such as Squirrel Bait, Will Oldham, Rodan, and of course, Slint - and their bands weren't too shabby either. While Initial has yet to release a Great Album, or even a throwaway single from a Great Band, their roster has always been a cut above the standard punk/hardcore/emo-pop fare, featuring luminaries such as Elliott, Ink and Dagger, Falling Forward, and Helicopter, Helicopter at one time or another.

Though practically all Initial releases carry a decidedly teenage sense of idealism and naiveté about them, they're not as tragically shortsighted or laughably over-hyped as the rest of the stuff that the hardcore community's been pushing over the last decade. They leave the Important Stuff to Dischord, Touch and Go, Merge, et al and stick to releasing charming pop records that pack far more staying power than they rightfully should.

Case in point: these guys. Heck, Black Cross may very well be the apotheosis of all things Initial, as main label dude Ryan Patterson plays guitar and sings. Even though Widows, Bloody Widows is just an odds 'n' ends collection, it still makes for a thrilling listen, and features nary a moment of uncomfortable overreaching. Black Cross know that they're not reinventing the melodic hardcore wheel, but that doesn't stop them from striving to find their own voice.

By the same token, they never indulge in misguided experimentation or being different for difference's sake. These songs aim, above all, to strike a chord with the listener - they're honest to a fault, so forthright in both their competence and passion that you'll wonder how these guys plan on making a living in the cynical underground circuit. You won't have to struggle through track after track of aimless thrashing, you won't have to suffer any "creative" diversions from form, and you won't be left questioning what you're supposed to take away from any given track - the message, the hooks, the pure punk aesthetic all are here, man, and the band play every song like they mean it.

Perhaps the band's strongest suit is the ability to leave an indelible impression upon a variety of listeners. Hardcore purists will find lots to love about the band's open Dag Nasty worship and battle cries, and they won't be too terribly offended by the tasteful mid-fi production, especially when it brings out rich layers of noise that would have otherwise gone unheard.

Those new to the world of punk or underground rock or even just "alternative rock" in general will find loads of memorable melodies and legit, believable furor that stretches across a deeper level than whatever MTV or Victory are peddling. Casual punk fans and appreciators of the broader pop/rock world will be delighted to hear an album so lively, youthful, and visceral that doesn't feel like a mere genre exercise.

Whoever you are, Widows, Bloody Widows holds up well against any other rock album you might pull off of the new releases rack. Even if you've quit taking note of what's happening in sphere of punk and hardcore, this record is well worth your attention.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan



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