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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
Azure Ray
November EP
Saddle Creek

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
I often forget how beautiful a woman's voice can be. I don't listen to a lot of female vocalists, a fact that I do not usually regret, as it is generally just not my thing. The times when I hear women like Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor of Azure Ray sing, however, I think I might be missing out.

To put it simply, the duo's voices are mesmerizing. At times words seem engrained in the music, mingling perfectly on rhythm with the soothing acoustic guitars, keyboards, and delicate percussion, while other times words seem to float angelically over all sound provoking an incredible and beautiful surrealism.

The duo's vocals are the focal point throughout November, and in the first three songs their dreamlike harmonies will have you finding it hard to wake up. Until half way through the six-song EP I sit next to my stereo, completely enthralled in the music and its bare beauty. Unfortunately, however, after the third track, all interest in November is lost. The songs misplace most of their intrigue and become a boring, leaving me aching for those first three. I'm not really sure how it happened; for the fourth song, "Just a Faint Line," Fink and Taylor's voices become dull and are monotone for nearly the entire song. Instrumentally, nothing interesting is going on either. They use little more than sparse guitar and percussion, neither of which is doing anything out of the ordinary. They both allow the vocals to be the track's focal point, except when vocals are supposed to be the point of interest, they should at least sound good.

More or less the same goes for the fifth song, "I Will Do These Things." It's the same basic idea as "Just a Faint Line" and the only obvious difference in structure is the addition of more noticeable keyboards. The sixth song gets a little better, but only towards the very end, and not so good as to change my opinion on the song as a whole. It starts off the same, with the uninteresting vocals and bare background music, but then gets better, harmonies becoming more interesting, reaching a peak when they join in the last forty seconds with the voices of the Lower Chase Street Mens Choir.

I sincerely hope Azure Ray's next release will have more songs that fit along the lines of the first three tracks on this EP, because dull vocals and stripped-bare background music rarely make a good song.

Reviewed by Jeanette Samyn
A contributing writer for LAS and a former music director WBAR at Barnard College.

See other reviews by Jeanette Samyn



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