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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
We All Have a Plan
Hefty Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

February 14, 2000
From the opening Jamaican chant, "God bless this mess. This test we pass," Slicker winds one organic, flowing prose of an album with fourth release, We All Have a Plan. The record winds so seamlessly that it seems as though the group did not create it with a plan at all, but that is far from the truth.

We All Have a Plan is formed through the output of many musicians and the collaborating vision of one John Hughes III. More often than not, the music seems to follow some sort of essence that Hughes is puppeteer over, yet the surrounding elements are really what give it substance. When dissected further, one sees that the beats are essential for creating a dire context and the "rest" is the bread and butter - a sort of bass-ackwards dynamic.

However it is that rhythmic dimension that sets the table for all others. Slicker throws conventional hip hop and big beat electronic rhythms under a train, so to give off a slightly broken feel. At the same time, the snare, bass and cymbals are controlled to a vacuum-tight sensitivity and something with a trip hop or glitch edge is the resultant feel. Similarly broken-controlled are the synthesized essences, keyboards and organs which corroborate to create a vivid soundscape and depth.

There are indispensable qualities that distinguish Slicker from the likes of other similar trip hop/glitch/indie electronic acts such as Matmos, Prefuse 73 and Telefon Tel Aviv. For one, Slicker is often the stage for exceptional vocal performances. "Knock Me Down Girl" is a track that is left hovering weightless in the air, with its own subtle atmosphere of floating flute, strings, muted horn and open chants. One realizes that this song basically contains a variation of one vocal line and yet holds up to be excessively catchy. This is what Slicker is all about. We All Have a Plan is a testament to the worth of making good ideas seem easy to come up with; a resurgence of simplicity gives the album a distinct energy.

Beyond the beats and voices, Slicker is like a trip to the DMV: you can hear just about anything, in just about any accent, from people of a bajillion different lands. What makes this album's effort interesting is the style of mixture that is incorporated within. One minute pingy beats are setting off a rap from Phat Kat ("When the Dog Goes Lame") and the next ushers in Jamaican voices skipping over a flavored dance groove ("We All Had a Plan"). Within several songs is a deep diversity of style as pulsing rhythms lead to reserved jazz skats and horn colorings. All around well done, well done.

Fast fact: main man Hughes III is son to cinematic legend John Hughes, creator of such 1980s classics as Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Breakfast Club. In some ways the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Hughes III is also the owner of Chicago recording label Hefty Records, on which he has released material of his previous musical project, Bill Ding, and other local favorites such as Euphone and Ghosts and Vodka.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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