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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
Boards of Canada
The Campfire Headphase
Warp Records

Rating: 9/10 ?

October 28, 2005
Hypnotic to the point that they convince me of their own omni-existence, Boards of Canada, to me, are a band intrinsically interwoven with time. Given the recent revelation that Marcus Eoin and Michael Sandison are, in fact, brothers, and have been making music together for as long as they remember, this conjured feeling may not be so far from the truth.

Music Has the Right to Children's use of sampled voices and hazy swirls of sound couple the innocence of childhood with mystery; Geogaddi, perhaps Boards' most divisive release, developed this mystery, making it less tangible and trippier, though most notable is both releases' ability to simultaneously absorb the past and the future. While Boards of Canada are a band that can sound eerily familiar on first listen, their sun-warped scapes gaze into the future and have since laid the foundations for an entire genre.

As with any genre-defining/fusing artist, Boards of Canada are unique enough to be instantly recognizable and refuse to compromise with their eagerly anticipated new release, The Campfire Headphase. In its composition The Campfire Headphase is similar to Boards' three preceding full-lengths (Twoism completing the set), in that it is broken up with a series of short interludes: opening track "Into the Rainbow Vein" introduces "Chromakey Dreamcoat" in such a fashion. Amounting to little more than a bright, delicate arrangement of notes, it paves the way for Boards' first flirtation with guitars - a bent and stretched sample coated with their characteristic warmth and cool execution. The foundations are subtle and recall the beats of Twoism rather than Geogaddi's often skewed approach to programming.

While "Satellite Anthem Icarus" and "Peacock Tail" follow suit in terms of being dampened, comfortable reactions to the music of Geogaddi, they showcase a firm contrast in mood: the former desolate and murky, and the latter modestly cheerful.

"Dayyan Cowboy" is the most obvious an album standout; it seeps in and out of focus as a simple, formless guitar riff - distorted, chopped and looped - before a lucid guitar and string accompaniment sweep into view and before long are fleshed out and layered to near-perfection. It evokes a feeling of majesty and warmth that, while many would over-complicate or over-sharpen, exhumes a confidence that is undeniably Boards of Canada.

But "Davyan Cowboy" is not without competition. As well as being their most accessible, The Campfire Headphase emerges as the most solid Boards of Canada album to date. "Hey Saturday Sun" is a wistful sonic adventure with layered guitar riffs, synthetic shimmers and noise manipulations, and "Slow This Bird Down" is a withdrawn moment of reflection, utilizing Boards' knack for merging and disguising elements of sound to the point of making them indistinguishable.

As the case has always been, the pair's textured exercise in sound enigmatically provides a soundtrack to nostalgia. The Campfire Headphase gives greater definition to a band that possess the rare ability to utilize polar opposites - Boards are as comfortable when cold and barren as they are when warm and embracing - yet their most extraordinary quality is their ability to express far-reaching sensations with such consistency. Though Music Has the Right to Children and Geogaddi mapped the horizon, The Campfire Headphase proves that there was, and hopefully still is, aural territory yet to lay claim to.

Reviewed by Mike Wright
A staff writer based in London, England, Mike Wright is eternally troubled by the American bastardization of the English language.

See other reviews by Mike Wright



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