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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
Minus 5
Minus 5 (The Gun Album)
Yep Roc

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

March 2, 2006
Scott McCaughey has every right to be pissed, or at least frustrated. The prolific songwriter pumps out quality albums at Pollard-like increments and still seems to be flying under the radar. This, despite his status as a member of R.E.M. for over a decade and other high-status indie connections to heavyweights like Wilco. The Minus 5 have been around since '93, and yet they still haven't received the kind of attention they deserve. When I heard this eponymous album had been dubbed The Gun Album, I thought it might be an allusion to McCaughey's violent reaction to a life unfair.

Of course, McCaughey is no psycho and The Gun Album doesn't live up to its ominous name. This latest effort is typical Minus 5: quirky, fun and charming. McCaughey begins the firearm theme with the album's opener, "Rifle Called Goodbye". "If Happiness is warm I'll take the fur" he sings, playing off a particular fab four song. Unexpected turns of phrases are smeared all over this album: the chorus of "With A Gun" is "I just wanna be around," and where you'd expect some kind of hanging imagery in "Bought A Rope" you get lyrics about a treehouse swing and sticking together. Maybe it's not so unexpected when you consider the goofiness of 2003's Down With Wilco, which features the namesake band rather than slamming it.

Though The Gun Album warms up slowly, the mid section is all hits. The hat-trick of "My Life As A Creep", "With A Gun", and "Cemetery Row" offers the album's three deepest cuts, all in sequence. Wilco graces "With A Gun" as McCaughey does his best Tweedy impression, and similarly, Colin Meloy sings on the sleigh bell-laden "Cemetery Row". These cameos could lead to the suspicion that McCaughey is getting a little too much help from his A-list friends, but the songs are unmistakably his. The Minus 5 could have recorded "Cemetery Row" without Meloy and it still would have been one of the album's best. I'm convinced Meloy's contribution is dependent on the funny quiver in his voice when he sings "cemetery" - it's a subtle vocal trick that McCaughey probably can't pull off on his own, hence the back-up.

None of the songs on The Gun Album are disappointing, they are just memorable in varying degrees. "Out There On The Maroon" and "Leftover Life To Kill" have the potential to burrow inside your head and remain there for days. "Cigarettes Coffee And Booze" is impossible to get out of your head with its country slide and easy-to-remember lyrics. Whenever a song keeps me awake when I'm trying to sleep at night, I have to decide to either love or hate that song. I'm giving "Cigarettes" the benefit of the doubt this time.

Maybe that's the crux of The Minus 5's career. Their songs aren't radio friendly nor are they mind-blowing in scope or execution, but give them time and they'll creep into the rotating playlist in your head.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown



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