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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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
Crippled Pilgrims
Down Here: Collected Recordings (1983-1985)
Reaction Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

January 25, 2005
Between The Homosexuals, The Beakers The Notekillers, The Prefects, The Comsat Angels, A Certain Ratio, Glenn Branca and The Au Pairs, we've seen more than our share of post-punk acts from the late '70s and early '80s reissued this year - and with Me Decade co-opters Franz Ferdinand and The Killers receiving Grammy nods, it's very likely that reissue-friendly labels like Acute will dig up even more of these lost acts in the near future.

By this point, I've grown a bit cynical about this spate of re-releases - sure, most of them have been great (especially that Homosexuals discography), but how long will it be before every second-rate variation on Wire or Joy Division's aesthetics receive the same treatment, complete with gushing essay?

Furthermore, how much of my enjoyment (I'm not accusing you of the same crime, reader - just turning the critical scalpel inward for a moment) of these reissues hinges on the bizarre, obscure and novel? Am I falling victim to nostalgia for an era I don't even remember? Am I trying to simultaneously transcend pop culture and vicariously experience a more vital epoch of rock music by listening to music I probably wouldn't have even been aware of were I old enough to care back when it was being created?

I'm afraid I have to shelve these questions for the time being, because as much as I try to check my motives in digging all of these Our Band Could Be Your Life era reissues, I continue to fall for them each and every time. This Crippled Pilgrims discography is no exception; while it's far from essential, it offers a much higher quality assortment of songs than most of the stuff on the New Releases rack.

The Crippled Pilgrims were a DC four-piece who, as the album's title notes, recorded music between 1983 and 1985. They flew against their city's, and the rest of the underground's, musical conventions by their willingness to find influences among the fathers that their Oedipal peers were plotting to slay.

While the Pilgrims' songs demonstrate the emphasis on rhythm that characterized the post-punk era, they draw equally as much from Woodstock. The quote on the back of the album likens their music to a cross between Television, The Grateful Dead, The Byrds and The Meat Puppets, and it actually proves to be a reasonably accurate statement. Toss in a mention of REM, and it would be spot-on.

Or maybe not at all. Those are haughty names to toss around, right? Between them, you've got at least three of the best albums ever recorded (Marquee Moon, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Murmur), the most cultish fan base of all time, and a slew of Kurt Cobain's favorite songs. To merit these sorts of comparisons on a spiritual level, the Pilgrims would have had to have demonstrated something above and beyond what mere mortals can hope to have their art convey, and like 999,999 out of 1,000,000 groups ever to record an album, they didn't capture that sort of transcendence in any of these songs.

The Crippled Pilgrims did, however, record some damn fine college rock on par with anything The Chameleons, For Against, The Church, or any of those other throwaway-in-the-very-best-sense-of-the-word early alt-rock bands that soundtracked your breakup/shitty temp job/Members Only jacket wearing phase.

If you're ready to fall in love with/to that sort of loveably dispensable Reagan-era guitar pop all over again (or maybe even for the first time), then Down Here is precisely what you need, and it will probably fill a void in your life that no other recently reissued underground rock record will. If you've already moved on to bigger/weirder/more canonical things, this will be nothing more than a blip on your radar. I fall squarely in the first camp, but I also got all fuzzy feeling when "The Promise" came on at the end of Napoleon Dynamite, so what the hell do I know?

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan



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