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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
31 Knots
A Word Is Also A Picture of A Word
54' 50 or Fight!

Rating: 7.7/10 ?

October 1, 2004
I remember how I'd been let down as a direct result of excessive expectations the first time I watched the film Wonder Boys. Yeah, I know - how much can someone expect from a Michael Douglas film? Whatever I was thinking, the main thing I took away from the film was a memorable line from the beautiful Katie Holmes, where she turns her mentor's advice about the importance of decisions back on him. "You didn't really make any," Holmes says to Michael Douglas, in reference to his endless work in progess, a novel of thousands of pages of beating around the proverbial bush. I don't know that my expectations of A Word Is Also A Picture of A Word were quite as high as those of Wonder Boys (there is, after all, no Robert Downey Jr.), but I came away from the first screening with the same feeling.

31 Knots don't really make any decisions on A Word Is Also A Picture of A Word, an album which is littered with brilliant moments, and the end result suffers for it. More often than not the Portland trio's insistence upon exploring every idea to the fullest extent is indulged, and they fall prey to it. There are a number of instances on this album, such as the fourth track, "Buy High Sell Low," where brevity is unfortunately missing.

31 Knots truly do have a sound all their own, and the bands that they resemble the closest they still hardly resemble. There are a lot of Aloha overtones on this album, both in music and voice, but there is a much more risky edge to it; more of a focus on dynamics, almost as if Shellac had covered some of Aloha's prettiest moments but double-dosed them with the Albini/Weston treatment. There are, however, a lot of progressive elements of pure showmanship that you won't find on any standard math-rock album. The ninth track, "Pity Has No Power," is a prime example of the almost-cheesy polish that 31 Knots have up their sleeve, sounding like a lost track from the RUSH motion picture soundtrack. There are some spicy moments mixed in ala Volta Do Mar, such as the pretty but unfortunately-titled "Flight of the Moron," and I really could name-check Sonic Youth as well, but that's already in their press release. In a stretched analogy, one could say that listening to 31 Knots is akin to a lesbian tryst between Laura Bush, Christina Aguillera, and Leelee Sobieski - it's awkward, a bit uncomfortable, and stimulating as hell.

While I eventually saw Wonder Boys a few more times over the years, it never completely settled in as something that I liked. On the contrary, A Word Is Also A Picture of A Word grows like a weed with extended exposure, all of the cascading flourishes and Aloha-isms (see "Frozen Found Fire") eventually finding their own place in my library of surprisingly likeable rock moments. Each track has it's meat but each track is also smothered in a lot of gravy; when digesting the whole entree, it gets to be a little rich at times. I don't know that I've ever said this about a band, but at times this particular album could probably benefit from a more conservative approach. It is an odd thing to say, but this is a really good record that could have been amazing with a bit of critical evaluation and streamlining. I'm already waiting for what 31 Knots have in store for us next time.

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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