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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
The Silent League
The Orchestra, Sadly, Has Refused
File 13 Records

Rating: 5.5/10 ?

February 4, 1999
In the May 2004 issue of The Wire, the cover story asks their writers about "the state of the song." Being all pretentious and arty and academic and British, they proceed to talk for many pages about songs and artists that you've probably never heard of, and don't write anything remotely resembling what you or I would call a "song". Still, the question is an interesting one. What with all the electronic music and sampling other modern touches, do we ever really think about traditional songwriting much anymore?

Listening to The Orchestra, Sadly, Has Refused by The Silent League will have you asking whether you really want to think about this kind of songwriting or not.

The Silent League is the solo project singer and pianist Justin Russo, who has played keyboards with Mercury Rev and Hopewell. Everything on The Orchestra, Sadly, Has Refused are piano-based "song" songs - the majority of are just Russo with his piano and his voice, singing in a plaintive and downbeat style. On other tracks, he is joined by members of Interpol and Mercury Rev.

All in all, these are very nice, solid songs. Russo has a very good voice, and there's nothing here musically offensive. But nothing here really packs any kind of punch, either.

The lyrics are mostly bland, if not borderline cheesy. The musical arrangements for these songs all defy me to come up with any other word than "nice" or "pretty." As far as I'm concerned, it is an indication of just how bland this album is if those are the only words that come to mind after listening to it several times.

If I were writing for The Wire, and they asked me about the "state of the song", I would have submitted a piece about how I'm happy that so many artists are out there redefining and tweaking what we traditionally think.

I find it refreshing to hear experimental music fused with pop, and to see what exciting new things people can do with the exponential growth in technology that is easily available to musicians. I feel lucky to be around for such a diverse and creatively fertile musical era - because otherwise all we'd be left with would be the kind of piano-based singer-songwriter songs featured on The Orchestra, Sadly, Has Refused - and if that was the case, the "state of the song" would be unfortunately boring.

Reviewed by Dan Filowitz
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.

See other reviews by Dan Filowitz



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