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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
Nina Nastasia
The Blackened Air
Touch & Go Records

Rating: 9/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Released 11 months ago this week, The Blackened Air has received good, but in my opinion limited, press coverage. If you haven't yet heard of Nina Nastasia pay very close attention; her breed of music is something so exquisite and captivating I feel compelled to write about this disc, even nearly a year after it's release date. An entire year should not pass without this album being duly recognized.

First, let me give you a brief of history. Nastasia's first album, Dogs, was released several years ago on micro-indie Socialist Records. If your interest is piqued by this review I bid you good luck in finding an original copy of Dogs, as it was put out in a limited pressing of 500, each copy complete with an accompanying, handmade lyric book. Of note to those now securely down in the dumps- bless the kind souls at Touch & Go Records who are planning to re-release Dogs later this year. Like Dogs and her upcoming, yet to be released Run to Ruin, The Blackened Air was produced by Steve Albini. I don't doubt that the participation of Albini adds to the brilliance of her records, but his contribution is cursory in comparison to the fact that Nina Nastasia is an incredible songwriter. Her music is wise beyond ordinary wisdom and unmatched in its foreboding sparseness and simple, yet epic scope. If you've ever seen Nina and her rotating ensemble of accompanying musicians perform live you will know exactly what I am talking about. When the music begins and she opens her mouth, together they swell into an immense, orchestral serenade that is breathtaking. The textured cacophony they create on stage evokes a symphonic clarity, where things just seem to click.

On The Blackened Air simple finger-picked guitar arrangements, along with Nina's voice, subtly command your attention and float into immensely orchestrated waltzes, and dissonant sequences that send shivers down your spine. The narrative is photographic in style and leads you through dreamy refrains and bare, haunting melodies. Throughout, her sweet, serene voice is instilled with a precise and lucid aptitude for the darkest and most personal moments. She describes tales of a peeping tom, desolate landscapes, and the isolating and attractive depths of human relationships. These stories are at times accompanied by instrumental arrangements that include the eerie warble of a bowed saw, mandolin, accordion, violin and percussion. When stripped down, The Blackened Air is made up of a handful of simple parts and instrumentation that when combined, produce something magnificent.

Nina Nastasia is not merely a singer-songwriter, or an acoustic musician; she is an artist who invests care in her craft to a degree that is truly painstaking, creating music that is unassumingly beautiful and incisive. There are few artists who come to mind that produce work this timeless and complete. I can decisively say that Nina Nastasia is someone to watch and her music is something to treasure.

Reviewed by Danielle Marusa
A resident of Malvern, Pennsylvania, Danielle is an occasional contributor to LAS.

See other reviews by Danielle Marusa



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