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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
This Microwave World
Red States
Tight Spot Records

Rating: 5/10 ?

July 19, 2005
There is a certain attitude of misguided ease that has infiltrated American culture. From the stunts of Jackass to the sounds of dance-punk, what looks easy when done by professionals almost always equates to pain and failure for the amateurs. This Microwave World didn't heed the disclaimer at the beginning of the program; they have all the stylistic cues of Hot Hot Heat down pat, but their results come across as so studied and stilted that any residual charisma seems forced.

As such, you can't help but want to give them that extra nudge to move the band from luckless copycats to flattering imitators; unfortunately, they never quite get over that hump. With trite lyrics, cautious, held-back approaches, obviously planned patterns and rigid, disconnected melodies, This Microwave World is just a slim margin shy of being on track, but the gap is eternally noticeable.

While there are usually only one or two blemishes to be found on each track, they are apparent enough to spoil much of the band's efforts. "December Was a Sham" harnesses the sideways danceability of bands like Thunderbirds Are Now! but approaches with such shy steps and awkward lyrics (chanting "Push, push, push/Go, go, go" to uncomfortable excess) it loses its charm along the way; "You Are a Riot" would be appealing if not for the drowning, hyper-stylized yelps that cause it to be wholly stilted; "The Hours" could emulate the Clash if not for its minor key, downhill vocal shifts and heavy-handed philosophizing; "The Year of Living Enviously" and "Death of a Taxpayer" utilize intricate guitars and surf undercurrents, respectively, in an attempt to captivate the audience, but fall frequently flat before hitting their marks. As melodies play through but fail to connect and vocal choices overpower some fairly remarkable guitar work, This Microwave World can be symbolized by an instrument that is somewhat off-key: the listener can hear something is decidedly wrong, and as slight as it may be, it is the one thing that sticks out despite expert playing.

Luckily, there is hope toward the album's conclusion. Two tracks, "Cardinal Sin" and "A Model Life" salvage Red States from feeling misguided. The former employs skillful Hot Hot Heat-styled guitars and an infectious, relatable melody to great effect. It is less stiff than its counterparts, feeling improvised and carefree, like dance-punk rightfully should. As it abandons all plans to sound like its heroes, it accomplishes exactly that. The latter of these two standouts warms with time, beginning with a Southern California punk-inspired setting and moving to a frenzied chorus - again, with spontaneity that saves its skin.

Keeping such looseness and ease in mind for follow-up releases would do the band good; if they can stop trying so hard, their abilities will surely shine through. In the meantime, they sound like just another band attempting to rush in before the buzzer of trendiness sounds, but are currently unable to keep the pace.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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