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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
Beastie Boys
To the 5 Boroughs
Capitol Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Is it really still appropriate to call them the Beastie Boys anymore? "Boy" would indicate youth, and the term usually extends to those in their teens at latest. The trio has been able to pull off this youthful perception for over 20 years since their first album; however, with recent release, To the 5 Boroughs, they are at the breach of a more selective and focused stage of their collective careers.

Do not misconstrue, the trio from NYC is not slowing down their rhymes or diverting away from their musical texture or style. Nor are they showing their age, which is nearly 40 years old for each of the three men. No, MCA, Ad Rock and Mike D are merely pushing themselves within a distinct theme instead of being the 12-sided categorical die of a group that they were a decade ago. And yeah, they still (sort of) come off as that next door neighbor who is seven years older than you and always brings about the new cool trends before you can even get into the last one. Beasties, simply put, are the Toyota Scion to your Honda Element.

Prior to Boroughs, the Beasties had been one of pop music's greatest acts of diversity. While the group has dabbled in raw punk rock (Cookie Puss EP and Aglio e Olio EP), country twang, bossa nova, rock, and funky instrumental jams throughout their career, they made their exclamatory mark in 1989 (Paul's Boutique), touting a hip hop style that would from there on be their forte. This effervescent style that was seen in fresh house party break beats, clever samples and witty rhymes is still at the core of the Beastie Boys, yet To the 5 Boroughs - their first release in six years- brings a new essence of maturity and strict musical theme to the table.

One of the most glaring discrepancies between Boroughs and all other previous recordings (excluding single release, "In a World Gone Mad") is the emergence of a domestically-focused political mind to counterbalance the adept rhyming skills so often bursting with personal and pop culture references.

"It Takes Time to Build" is the most outright politically dedicated message of the 15-track album. Lines from the track, such as, "Stop building SUVs strung out on OPEC," or, "We've got a president we didn't elect/The Kyoto treaty he decided to neglect/and still the U.S. just wants to flex," bare opinionated teeth in a sort-of half grin/half grit flow of spirited words. Other tracks, "Right Right Now Now" and "That's It That's All," show that the Boys are not only opinionated, but also educated, about the issues. The three MCs could not have picked a better moment to pull away their stylish cloaks and reveal their minds as the presidential election looms in the distance.

For the Beastie Boys, To the 5 Boroughs is a declaration that "We're still here - and we are still this good!" to anyone who may have forgotten. Most of the well-established Beastie hip hop conventions are still present: creative sampling ("We gonna rock this motherfucka like three the hard way" in aptly-titled "3 the Hard Way"), bass heavy/snare thin grooves, wax scratches, punchy sampled hornline kicks and electro rhythmic blips - each paint the album into a corner where breakers, turntablists, and other hip hop figures would be the most impressed, yet anyone who enjoys gettin' down will undoubtedly feel the flow.

To the 5 Boroughs is a must-own for all loyalists and those that are not yet converted. Strap on your ear goggles and catch up on the freshest sounds.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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