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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
All Theory And No Action
Has Anyone Ever Told You?

Rating: 7/10 ?

February 7, 2005
West Texas is a dry, desolate place. In a good year, the parched land may get a thimble full of rain and the people seem to be made of rawhide or leather, thanks to prolonged exposure to hot winds and a withering sun. It's the last place on earth you'd expect to find spiritual musicians making sweet, lush piano-based indie pop, but that's El Paso's Egon for you. Never has a band's sound seemed so out of touch with its surroundings. Egon is an oasis that's real, not a mirage. But be forewarned: that pool of lilting, soothing melodies rippling in the cool breeze of Egon's lithe vocal harmonies has enough saccharine to cause cancer in lab rats. Tests on humans have proved inconclusive.

Want a taste? Try a sample of the sugary lyrics from "Tina Lizardo", a song off All Theory And No Action about a girl who must have fallen from heaven carrying a modeling contract in one hand and a jar with Egon leader Victor Talamantes' testicles in the other. "You're sweeter than chocolate covered sugar so sweet", he gushes. There's more. "You got curved hips and lucious lips" and "Your smile is like sunshine/After a hurricane", he goes on, and she's got "Black hair and pale white skin... make desire uncontrollable." Sounds like Victor's got to have it (wink, wink).

And so do I, and I'm not ashamed to say it. All Theory And No Action is fertile soil for growing gorgeously crafted, flowering pop that has all the melancholic grandeur of Ben Folds Five's The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner - see "Unilateral Kiss" - or The Pernice Brothers, only Egon isn't quite as literate or clever.

What's more, Egon's songs tend to run on a bit too long - "Self Proclaimers" lasts a whopping 8:37, though it feels like it flies by. Once they latch on to a pretty hook, they stretch it out beyond the limits of what's tasteful. And they're not afraid to recycle them to the point where a lot of the songs on All Theory And No Action sounds indistinct from each other. The heavily layered vocals that appear in every song have the same effect. Just this once, though, I'm willing to let it slide.

Why be lenient, you say? Glad you asked. What's special about Egon is that you can wander about in All Theory And No Action for hours, just taking in the beauty. Listen to "On The Rebound" and get lost in its velvety bass, its downy vocal textures and piano waterfalls. Songs don't unfold, they bloom. Unabashedly sunny, "Tina Lizardo" pairs grand, rolling piano and wistful vocal arrangements to lyrics so naive and guileless, they're like a homemade Valentine's card, sent to a young girl from the lonely little boy in class that all other kids make fun of. The guitars, slightly corrosive at first and then choppy and jangly, come alive on the blissful "Blameful Ones" and then disappear into the melancholy vocal fog and leafy piano ivy of "Half Empty." Egon comes off like Eric Matthews - without the orchestral flourishes and sophistication of his timeless beauty, The Lateness Of The Hour - making pop sand castles out of Beach Boys' harmonies, especially on "M Theory" when we watch, sadly, as the tides take lovely melodies out to sea.

I can't shed a tear for "Name The Animals", though. Here, for all its lovely features, is where Egon can't help itself. Here is where Egon goes to the well once too often and those blankets of sound become a little worn in spots, where the color sort of fades in the wash, so to speak. "On This Ice" tries to wake itself up with guitar spangle, but slumbers until "Self Avoidance" gently nudges and prods.

So, what about Egon's spiritual side? In the liner notes, Victor Talamantes, who also plays keyboards and guitar and sings in The Bellakun, praises Jah. Is it a joke? Maybe, but that Rastafarian spirit lives in "Name The Animals", where Egon says, "To conceive Utopia man had to be there at least once in their lifetime." All Theory And No Action is as close as we're going to come in this one.

Egon has been around a lot longer than you'd think, toiling in obscurity since 1996. In that time they've recorded four full-length records, an EP and two split 7-inchers. I guess it's easy to get work done if there's nobody bothering you. By now, though, it's apparent Egon needs the help of a producer, somebody who can pull back on the reigns a little. Left to their own devices, Egon will probably continue to wallow in its progressive excess and never trim the fat - which isn't so bad when it comes to Egon because the band's music is so pretty and so engrossing, you almost don't notice the time. All Theory And No Action runs more than 70 minutes long, so clear your schedule. That late-afternoon meeting with the boss will just have to be postponed.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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