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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
The Greenhornes
Sewed Soles

Rating: 8/10 ?

January 4, 2006
Long ago, artists depended on wealthy patrons to get ahead. It's not quite the same thing with The Greenhornes and Jack White, but there are advantages to getting into bed, so to speak, with the White Stripes' hellhound. If you play your cards right, he'll take your band out on tour and introduce you around to some of his famous pals, like Loretta Lynn and Holly Golightly. Prove to him that you have a crack rhythm section, and White might be able to find them some outside work, as he did for drummer Patrick Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence, inviting them to play on Lynn's comeback record, Van Lear Rose. There's even a chance that Golightly will sing a duet on your next album, just like she did with White on the Stripes' blues-rock colossus Elephant. This business is all about contacts and The Greenhornes have made a powerful ally in White. In a pinch, he might even be able to hook you up with some sweet vintage gear.

Yes, Dame Fortune has surely smiled on The Greenhornes, but as the saying goes, you make your own luck. And Cincinnati's premier retro-rock outfit has done just that over their decade-long existence, chronicled in Sewed Soles, the shit-hot new 20-song retrospective that culls material from three LPs, an EP and a handful of 7-inch singles. It's easy to see why White's taken a shine to these boys. With their primal, Dave Davies-style riffs and stomping, unkempt instrumentation, the trio of Keeler, Lawrence and Craig Fox stick pretty much to the classics. Heavily influenced by bands of the British Invasion like The Kinks and The Yardbirds, The Greenhornes also ingest mighty doses of Nuggets-era psychedelic garage rock, the blues and 60's R&B, and blanket it all in the kind of fuzz you find on food that's been left to rot in your refrigerator.

They have a deep reverence for the giants of the past and they go to great lengths to get their sounds down pat. No detail is too small. For that, some would argue that what The Greenhornes do is simple rock archeology, nothing more. Sewed Soles, however, shows The Greenhornes have more range than that. "There Is An End" is proof of that. For this, if nothing else, Sewed Soles is worth every penny. Sounding as if life has completely worn her out, Golightly handles most of the singing with a dry sophistication born of long nights spent in tacky, Vegas-style lounges. As she does a smoky Dusty Springfield-style vocal turn, The Greenhornes, with impressive subtlety, give her a jazzy, spaghetti-western backdrop with splashes of psychedelic guitar. It sounds like a showdown is coming and Golightly is packing heat. It's made for a Quentin Tarantino love scene.

If that's not enough evidence for you, there's also the deathly country-blues crawl of "Too Much Sorrow" and the slow R&B stroll of "Shadow Of Grief," with an old-time organ piping out a pained, agonized melody over and around tender-trap rhythms. Produced by White and previously unreleased, "Shadow Of Grief" is due to be featured in the upcoming John Peel documentary, and its slow-dancing-at-the-sock-hop nostalgia just melts you. Less innocent are the traditional-sounding, swampy blues numbers on Sewed Soles. Not content to mimic the past with the lo-fi rave-up "Hold Me" and the pleading, organ-washed testimony of "I've Been Down," The Greenhornes step confidently through the Mississippi Delta and play a game of chicken with the devil for their souls.

But that's not what pays the rent for The Greenhornes. The moneymakers are tight, exploding rockers like "It's Not Real," "Lies," or "No More" with their mean, unrelenting grooves. An alternate, static-filled version of "Can't Stand It" that was featured in The Sopranos is similarly righteous and powerful, while the psychedelic swing of "Pattern Skies" is chemically enhanced garage rock that's one hell of a mood-elevator. The topper, though, is "Good Times," a party song with roiling, upbeat energy and adroit guitar soloing that makes you finally understand how they came up with all those herky-jerky 60's dances that seemed just ridiculous before - not to mention physically impossible.

As a primer on The Greenhornes, Sewed Soles works best. There's not a whole lot of lost-and-found material here for longtime fans seeking something new for their collection, but there is some. To new converts, however, it's a sweat-soaked introduction to a band that puts out. Someday, The Greenhornes will be in a museum.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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