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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.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

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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!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

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
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Explosions in the Sky
How Strange Innocence
Temporary Residence Ltd.

Rating: 7/10 ?


October 13, 2005
Explosions In The Sky's pre-911 apocalyptic battle cry is a preamble to the band's steady climb to become instrumental in momentum-building rock. The band mysteriously foreshadows the sounds of brutality at a time when so many Americans are disgusted by US bullying. Just as the album art eerily alluded to the events that were soon to unfold in September of 2001, with their masterpiece Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever, Explosions In The Sky's re-release of their first record, How Strange Innocence, contains the same familiar overtones with more or less lackluster results, but still musters a comforting expression of affection during America's lowest moments.

Perhaps the band's almost unheard-of worldwide acceptance is because of the peace found with in Explosions In the Sky's instrumental depiction of good-versus-evil conflicts. A tattered white flag, if you will, waves its frame over a smoke filled desert, trying to be seen over the overwhelming stench of death and destruction. Even selling out shows as far away as war-torn Croatia is proof that the connection that people find in EITS's music comes from solidarity in violent dissention during bitter conflict.

Maybe I am overthinking it altogether; maybe people like them because they rock the fuck out. One thing is for sure, Explosions In The Sky have become a delegate for post-rock power. As they quickly sold out of the original 300 pressings of How Strange Innocence, the band soon found themselves to be the new buzz word. Soon followed job offers from movie producers to score films and a rash of world tours; the band became eBay marvels as their first record sold for upwards of $500. The demand to mass produce How Strange Innocence grew inevitably, and after some tweaking of the original master tapes, John Golden (Sonic Youth, Super Chunck and Low) took the reigns to make sense of it all. Did it work? Did he succeed in creating the effective epic battle that the band themselves deemed messy and rushed?

For the most part, yes. How Strange Innocence is everything you love about Explosions In The Sky, but instead of increasingly strong song arrangements, their re-mastered first record has a more basic approach to their extreme bombast, with less assurance and faith in songcraft. Just after 7 months of being a band, EITS's confidence was a little too high and the rush to make an album was evident.

A good example of their overzealousness shows with "Snow and Lights", where the listener is crushed from the get-go with a wave of guitar beatings. However, the band's lack of order proves to be overbearing; the precision that made Those Who Tell the Truth such a dynamic album, in pacing and execution, arrived with particular divisions of musical interludes. The songs felt perfectly arranged and assembled to form a well-balanced structure. Each one told a gripping story with its wordless confines through the understanding of tension building measures. At such an early stage in the band's career, songs like "Magic Hours" and "Remember Me as a Time of Day" sound a bit reckless and unfocused, leaving the listener wanting to embark on their more centered sophomore effort.

The 10 minute epic "Time Stops", proves to be the album's highlight in terms of stride and planning. The song's mission isn't as clear cut as some of the band's latter musings, but Explosions In The Sky certainly found a good balance of restraint. The song clicks along, halfway mixing electric and acoustic guitars before the sound screams obscenities in you face. At its peak, the bent guitar notes rise to form an angry, reckless bully who forcefully tried to beat up Mogwai and is now coming for you.

In all its glory, How Strange Innocence will always be a work in progress: this is also what makes the album such a bittersweet love affair. Although nowhere as stunning as the album that made them post-rock super heroes, How Strange Innocence is a precognition of the massive, browbeating beast that Explosions In The Sky to come. It's a cherished gem of an album that details the band's evolution to become powerhouse instrumentalists, and its contents envelop what you would expect from a band that helped defined a genre and continues to reign as one of the most exciting and vibrant live acts you'll ever see.

Reviewed by Mark Taylor
A senior LAS staff writer, Mark Taylor is a 29 year old father of a 5 year old son and husband to a wife of 6 years, living the simple life in a small suburb of Charlotte, NC.

See other reviews by Mark Taylor

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