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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
Citizens Here and Abroad
Ghosts of Tables and Chairs
Omnibus Records

Rating: 9/10 ?

October 1, 2004
From the hollowed-out cheer of the opening track "The Voices," Ghosts of Tables and Chairs proves to be a consolidated pop music tour de force, an early frontrunner for my Best Of 2004 list. Adrienne Robillard's dark, sultry voice caresses the woofers and tweeters like no one since Lush's Miki Berenyi, eschewing the high-pitched baby-doll vocals that ruin most potentially great albums in favor of a more subdued, husky deadpan. But make no mistake about it, Robillard (and the entire album, for that matter) are as sexy and appealing as anything you'll come across this year.

Ghosts of Tables and Chairs, like a number of great mood-pop albums before it, dispenses with the standard verse/chorus/verse song structure without sacrificing any of the catchiness. The fruit of Citizens Here and Abroad's labor occupies the often under populated position of being both musically adept and overtly accessible. Throughout the album's ten tracks - and oh, how I wish it were longer - the Citizens employ languid instrumental passages as a backdrop to accentuate Robillard's confessional lyrics, and in turn Robillard ups the emphasis on her breathy vocals when the band lets out the leash and runs with it. The result is a true companionship between lyrical imagery and musical scene - tracks such as "Count Each One" could easily fit as an instrumental track on any number of early 90s British psychedelic-pop albums.

The playful, wafer-thin Casio tones that introduce "Enter the Elevator" ad just enough character before giving in to the swell of distorted guitars and anxious percussion. Dan Lowrie's guitar buzzes away just below the surface, occasionally giving way to Chris Groves' keyboard melodies, but the entire composition is at the mercy of Chris Wetherell's drums, which ebb into complacent back beat duty only to explode with the pounding fury of a well placed drum fill just as the track begins to wane, accelerating it across the finish tape with proper boost. As Robillard's voice hints ("I'd like to sleep all day/ but there is money to be made"), the band wouldn't mind sitting back and letting the good times roll lazily by, but even in the hazy sun-kissed epicenter of the band's gentle melodies there is room - and a necessity - to rock.

Even when their own procedure seems to be producing indisputable results, Citizens aren't afraid to fuck with the formula. Robillard ups the voltage on the eek-o-meter for the vocals of "They Stay" for a moment, adding contrast to her return to the hushed cynicism of lines like "It's hard to be excited about all of this concrete". Elsewhere the random sparkle of bells (which sound like a xylophone on tracks like "Your Own Hand") and keyboard are embedded in the otherwise dark, droning, brooding beauty of Ghosts of Tables and Chairs, giving the album a united feel without it being void of character.

Fans of the Velvets, Juliana Hatfield, the Breeders, Liz Phair, Lush, et cetera - take note of this release. Ghosts of Tables and Chairs is easily one of the most poignant albums I've heard in 2004, paying homage to indie rock's musical history without failing to live in the here and now. Respect with relevance is what Citizens Here and Abroad do wonderfully, sounding familiar without ever becoming tired. This is a great release.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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