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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
Sirens and Condolences
Victory Records

Rating: 6/10 ?

October 1, 2004
It used to be that, as a whole, punks were a pissed off people. Punks didn't get hurt, they got pissed off, and it showed in their music; two minutes, three chords, and more anger than can arguable be considered healthy. Somewhere along the line, punks took it upon themselves to take a different approach. Instead of being angry and screaming about it, these individuals found they could be remorseful and sad and decided to sing about it in a less violent, more melodic manner. Eventually this really caught on in the form of emo. Now emo has caught fire and only seems to be getting stronger. With the surging popularity of emo and the gluttony of bands taking the approach, a new challenge arises: finding quality bands writing good music within the genre.

Bayside come from Long Island, New York, which is not far from the home town of genre heavy weights, Thursday. Which is fitting since the two bands have a lot in common; their silky smooth distortion compliments their pop-punk power chord progressions and heart felt lyrics are sung over the crashing drums and bass. Bayside isn't reinventing the wheel on their Victory Release, Sirens and Condolences; they aren't about to add anything to the emo equation, instead they follow it to the T, and do a pretty decent job at it. Bayside definitely benefit from having J. Robbins' production sills on Sirens and Condolences - the album is very balanced, the guitars punch in just the right manner to bring out Anthony's lyrics of melancholy and loss. Jim's drums are constantly crashing the background, as Anthony and Jack's guitars play repetitive pop punk driven riffs. Andrew's bass is mixed perfectly so as not to draw attention to itself, but is there at the low end. The lyrics on Sirens and Condolences aren't groundbreaking either - songs of loss, misunderstanding, disappointment are pretty standard here.

Although the songs are well written and strong for the most part, Bayside's reliance on formulaic songwriting leaves nothing on Sirens and Condolences to stick in the listener's head. Bayside has spent a lot of time listening to the Alkaline Trio; however, they seem to lack the energy and immediacy that the Alkaline Trio is so good at creating. The first half of this album clips right along at an upbeat tempo, keeping the listener's attention as the drums and guitars pound away. The second half bogs down as Bayside slow down with more emotional, radio-ready songs. In the latter half of Sirens and Condolences the tempo slows and I found my attention span waning. "Guardrail," the final song on the album, picks things back up with an up-tempo song lyrically set on the topic of being pushed too far, but by this time the momentum created at the start of Sirens and Condolences has long since been lost.

As far as emo goes, Bayside are a strong band, drawing heavily from two of the genre's current heavy weights, Thursday and Alkaline Trio. Bayside's songs are well written with strong melodies and pulsing guitars, but don't expect anything new or out of the ordinary - Sirens and Condolences is power-pop-punk through and through, from vocals to drums. Bayside has followed the formula exactly, and done a good job at it. As long as emo stays strong and keeps its momentum Bayside should do well.

Reviewed by Craig Mertes
Craig lives, works and listens to music in the general vicinity of Orlando, Florida, where he absorbs everything from hip-hop to indie, pop, rock, punk and metal. His all time favs include Hum, Clutch, Dismemberment Plan, and the Reverend Horton Heat. The last we heard, Craig was spinning Vast Aire, Soul Position, Blues Explosion, Motörhead, the Blood Brothers and Dead Meadow. Craig is also a life-long, die-hard Cubs fan, so lay off.

See other reviews by Craig Mertes



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