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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
Get Him Eat Him
Arms Down
Absolutely Kosher

Rating: 7/10 ?

June 21, 2007
"It's a familiar sound/ We're under attack!" is Matt LeMay's call to arms. The "fighting back" he describes in Arms Down opener "2x2" could very well mean a battle he wants to declare on 2007 - the 2007 humming along to "Umbrella," in a Starbucks, the 2007 that's forgotten the skronk and squeal of Archers of Loaf and Chavez in favor of Joanna Newsom's stuffed-animal harp operas. And as a music journalist with a taste for the alternative-ignited '90s, can you blame him?

LeMay wants to bring the catchy and the weird back simultaneously, and who doesn't want to be on board for that (assuming you miss Archers of Loaf that is)?. So he's assembled a pretty good front line: Beirut's Zach Condon and John Natchez both sounding a horn chart punchier than any of their own records, the Wrens' Charles Bissell and Broken Social Scene's Chris Brown watching their backs with more guerrilla 12-string guitar and Hammond organ buried in the mix respectively, and none other than Jason Cadell of the legendary Dismemberment Plan commandeering the whole thing onto the battlefield.

Pedigree aside, the Rhode Island five-piece rocks pretty good, too. There's nothing inaccessible about Get Him Eat Him; these days they seem almost friendlier than the increasingly prog-obsessed New Pornographers, whom their debut Geography Cones bit pretty tastily. More spread out over the map than Cones, Arms Down finds LeMay trying on various vocal personas with playful results: the two-minute "The Coronation Show" is a dead-on Joe Pernice impression, while the chorus of "Patronage" sounds like Ric Ocasek forcing Ted Leo at gunpoint to record a Cars song. Speaking of the Cars, "Exposure," is this band's catchiest cut yet. Led by deliciously "Friends of P,"-style stun-gun synths, it could've even been a legitimate college-radio hit when a band like Sugar was still considered to have MTV potential.

Musically, GHEH stays within a more polished version of the debut's power-pop-decorated-with-art-rock vein, with one detour ("Push and Pull") into the kind of whiplash stop-and-go that Cadell's old band perfected, only with more of a desperate anthem feel that fans of Thunderbirds Are Now! will relish. LeMay's twisty structures and traffic-light song pacing leave little room for lyrical analysis, though after a few listens, scattered phrases emerge that suggest he's pretty heated about winning this good vs. evil thing: "I stumbled across the same crooked mile," "You shot me up," "You get it just to give it up."

Whatever the bloody result, Get Him Eat Him are eventually going to fulfill either a perfect pop cycle like the New Pornographers' Electric Version, or a nervous breakdown like Thunderbirds Are Now!'s Make History. But don't expect them to settle for just one or the other; it's more fun if they don't choose. Arms Down is their second straight record to absorb, absorb, absorb, sponging up all the sounds past and present that they need in their weaponry to achieve such a feat. While that development sometimes rewards the casual listener on a march like "2x2" or a bullet train like "Push and Pull," they're only on the brink of sustaining that power for forty minutes.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss



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