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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 Versus the Shark
Ruin Everything!
Hello Sir Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

March 9, 2005
It's not safe to go back in the waters around Athens, Georgia. Not with We Versus The Shark swimming around the city's scene. The band's debut, Ruin Everything!, will leave you as dazed and disoriented as Teppi Hedren's character in Hitchcock's The Birds. Without warning, angular guitars swoop in to peck out your eyes, disturbing calm, serene, jazzy interludes that explode in blood orgies of infectious, danceable post-punk at the drop of a hat.

It's a volatile mix, one that could blow up in their faces like a high school chemistry experiment gone bad, but We Versus The Shark is skilled enough to pull it off. Check out the intricate guitar Molotov cocktail thrown by Luke Douglas Fields and Samantha Erin Paulsen in the opener, "You Don't Have To Kick It In" and the mathy fits and starts of "I Am Destined For Greatness."

In "As Good As It Gets," We Versus The Sharks starts dealing three-card Monte with styles and genres. It starts with smart handclaps and foot stomps, signaling sharp pop hooks ahead. Instead, a lazy, sparkling Pavement-like groove emerges and then gets thrown overboard into the frothy wake of propulsive, spinning guitar riffs.

We Versus The Shark is full of surprises. Paulsen's girlish singing in "Ten Uh Clock Heart Uh Tack" reveals an indie pop chanteuse in waiting, and you think you're going to get the sweet melodies of That Dog or Small Factory. But it's all a mirage. The undulating melody, the chiming guitars, the claptrap percussion... it's all a set-up. Noisy synths and off-kilter guitar bursts in and jolts you awake like a bugler blowing reverie at the crack of dawn, and those electrical shorts give way to dive bombing guitars that level whole city blocks.

Ruin Everything! connects the dots between Gang Of Four, Drive Like Jehu and Q and Not U, the most obvious influence here. Melodies shift abruptly and drummer Scott Philip Smith's whirling dervish stick work drives a rhythm section semi that has no brakes. Think Liars pumped full of adrenaline. Think Jawbox stricken with attention deficit disorder.

We Versus The Shark is far more chaotic than its D.C.-bred brethren, and that doesn't always work to its advantage. "Slide" goes too far, with breaks filled with out-of-place organ and horns, and a ska-style groove that sounds forced. It's as if We Versus The Shark wasn't content to bend genres to their own warped will - they wanted to break the mold entirely. They wanted to create mash-ups that would leave people shaking their heads, and to that end, they've succeeded. It's just that Ruin Everything! is like a movie with too many plot twists and after a while, it gets to be too much.

With We Versus The Shark, you're always wondering what's waiting around the corner to spring out at you. They're a little like that annoying childhood friend who was always hiding behind garbage cans or in the bushes and then jumping out and screaming just to scare you. After awhile, it gets old. But for the most part, Ruin Everything! is a wild ride that thrills and delights you with its awesome fury, its melodic charms and the band's jaw-dropping chops, like on the dizzying "Easter Island Is For Lovers" and the smoking, mangled guitar wreck "No Flint No Spark."

As confounding and thoroughly compelling a listen as there is out there, Ruin Everything! demands your attention. This is a band that is bursting at the seams of its straightjacket and plotting its escape from the asylum. The world of indie rock has no idea what it's in for.

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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