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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.
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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
Dolores O'Riordan
Are You Listening?

Rating: 5.5/10 ?

June 14, 2007
Remember The Cranberries? They were that earnest rock band from Limerick, Ireland who made it big in the U.S. in the 1990s and were probably one of the better bands named after fruit. Unfortunately for them they only had two good albums - 1993's Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We? and 1994's No Need to Argue (To the Faithful Departed, released in 1996, has its moments but it marks a turn toward complacency) - and quickly faded from view.

At its strongest, the band sounded like it belonged together. They were a tight, atmospheric group propelled by Dolores O'Riordan's voice (a mix of little girl innocence with Sinead O'Connor's brogue), Noel Hogan's lingering guitar, Mike Hogan's understated bass playing and Feargal Lawler's drumming. A lot of their songs dealt with the personal drama of growing up and falling in and out of love, but the band wasn't afraid to wear its politics on its sleeve (most notably in the anti-war song "Zombie.")

Though the band's artistic magic was short-lived, it stayed together until disbanding after its last studio album, 2001's Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (though several of the inevitable compilation efforts followed). Now O'Riordan is back with her first solo effort, Are You Listening? and, well, Dolores, the answer is that it depends on how good your songwriting is.

O'Riordan has always been a "heart on my sleeve, I just took this lyric from my diary" kind of writer (Listen to "Twenty-one" and "Ode to my Family" for strong examples of her force). While O'Riordan's thoughtful work with The Cranberries sounded refreshing and heartfelt amid the halcyon days of male grunge music, she can sound pretty ridiculous on her solo album. "Die loser die/ why loser why/ die loser die/ why loser" she sings in the generic rocker called, you guessed it, "Loser."

Elsewhere on the album, her pipes are still in fine shape but she's singing vapid lyrics filled with forced rhymes ("I think you pretend/ that you are my friend" she sings in "Accept Things") and most of the songs are, on the whole, bland, accompanied by non-descript instrumentation.

However, there are a few songs worth noting. "Black Widow" has a nice pop orchestra sound to it that's almost hypnotic as O'Riordan sings, "Over and over, over she calls/ over and over, over she falls."

"October and "Angel Fire" - with their propelling rhythms and yelps from O'Riordan - sound like they could be The Cranberries' b-sides. The final track, "Ecstasy," mixes the rock of The Cranberries with a newfound maturity from O'Riordan. "This must be the essence of it all/ Come with me and we will fall," she sings. Maturity can be a good thing in rock music. O'Riordan just needs to learn to keep her spunk at the same time.

Reviewed by Sheila Burt
A contributing writer for LAS based near Chicago, Illinois.

See other reviews by Sheila Burt



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