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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
Ben Davis
The Hushed Patterns of Relief

Rating: 7/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Solo projects are often mistakes, grave creative errors made by overrated front men or bitter studio musicians. Of the thousands of albums released as solo projects every year, I would venture to estimate that at least ninety percent of them go relatively unnoticed, and in a vast majority of those cases the response is deserved. The artists who do manage to make a name for themselves often make waves simply by dropping names and relying on scene points rather than interesting music, creating a general response of "Oh, great" sarcasm when solo albums land on my desk. Take Mike Kinsella, for instance; I liked American Football as much as the next guy, but I'm certainly not looking forward to an entire album of skeletal guitar picking, juvenile lyrics and squawky vocals without his backing band of Steves.

Ben Davis and Mike Kinsella have no direct connections, but all the press hubbub over Ben Davis and his debut solo effort of course centers on the fact that he was a member of both Sleepytime Trio (where he played bass) and the quickly emerging powerhouse Milemarker (where he handled the percussion). Davis left Milemarker when they relocated from Tobacco Road to Chicago, apparently in anticipation of making waves in the 2015 Chapel Hill Father-Son Basketball League. While his band-mates went on touring (in support of solid albums on Lovitt) their way into the Jade Tree coffers, Davis sat at home in his bedroom with an acoustic guitar, lamenting this and that. His lonesome acoustic noodling has come to fruition in the form of a solo album that owes as much (possibly more?) to the collaborating musicians with whom he chose to work as it does his own musical vision. Amy Domingues' cello and Nicole Gehweiler's piano work are as much to credit with the success of the opener, "Finally I Stand", as are Davis' vocals, presumably inspired by his son's birth.

As the mastermind behind the blueprints of each song, Davis has set himself apart from the hordes of post-band solo rockers (especially the indy rock variety) as a genuine pop craftsman. Of the ten tracks comprising The Hushed Patterns of Relief, not one stands out as anything less than par. Each one builds off of the atmosphere established form the opener, the back-to-back of "Work of Many" and "Conclude This Movement" marking the crest of the collection. While there are no turn-offs on the album, it is also void of any real turn-ons, at least for this listener. The songs work well together and also manage to stand alone, but they ultimately fail to instill any sense of purpose other than links in a languid chain of cosmopolitan pop music.

For all of the excellent musicianship, shimmering melodies and dreamy vocals, the jury is still out on this album. While it definitely sets a mood of its own, I find myself having a hard time dropping it in the player voluntarily.

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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