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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
Life Starts Here

Rating: 5/10 ?

February 5, 2002
I've never really been a Guided By Voices fan, and I say that knowing full well that mouths will drop open and protests will be stammered as a result. I've just never been that into GBV, a band that has always rubbed me like the frat rock of fat, drunk geeks everywhere. I am/is/are/was/were a fat, drunk geek in my own right, and I suppose what my beef comes down to is quality control, which has long been the Achilles heel of Robert Pollard. Whereas a few tracks, such as "Yellow Wife No. 5" and the following "Wrong Drama Addiction" really do work, the bulk of Life Starts Here is lackluster at best, a sad example of the good old boy club that permeates indie rock just as much as it does the major label country clubs.

Everything about Life Starts Here reeks of accountability, or lack thereof. The lyrics are generally poorly written, the instrumentation not only minimal but thin, the artwork horrible. Pollard couldn't even manage to write up a press release for Airport5, instead tagging a paragraph on to the end of the sheet for [the much better, but still bad] "Go Back Snowball." Like the laughable Reindeer Section across the pond, Airport5 is a collection of uncensored waste dropped down the pipe from musicians who should know better. If Pollard or his Airport5 comrade, former squeaky-voiced Guided By Voices member Tobin Sprout, walked into a bar and heard some wasted dude on a stool unrolling "However Young They Are" they'd walk right back out the door, commenting outside that they need to find someplace that wasn't having an open-mic night for George Harrison fanclub members.

At its conclusion, Life Starts Here leaves the same taste in my mouth as ear wax. While it obviously isn't the case, I always thought the whole idea of underground music was to create a forum for artists who didn't want to be force-fed the hackwork of a disconnected hierarchy. But, here we are, swimming in concept albums from people who have the resources and legions of blind followers to roll tape on every half-concocted song idea and turn it into an album. While the previous Tower in the Fountain of Sparks was cozy and personal, outside of the generally excellent "Impressions of a Leg" and the trailing "How Brown?," "Natives Approach Our Plane," and "I Can't Freeze Anymore," this entire collection is fairly unremarkable and entirely unmemorable. Bob Pollard might not know any better, and Tobin Sprout may not have the balls to exercise even a little bit of critical self-evaluation, but I know fodder when I hear it. Half of an album does not an album make, fellas.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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