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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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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
Radio 4
Stealing of a Nation

Rating: 5.5/10 ?

October 1, 2004
If you picked up Stealing of a Nation from Radio 4 without knowing any better, you would definitely scream "poseur!" before intro track "Party Crashers" could come to a close. The truth, however, is that Radio 4 actually claimed post-punk dance party residency long before the likes of Franz Ferdinand and The Rapture were being felt amongst MTV2 popsters.

Also, if you didn't know any better, and were given one of those Pepsi One Challenge type tests to blindly decipher who Radio 4 sounds like on their latest release, you might mistake them for !!! or The Rapture. Don't be followed so easily - stick it out and listen to at least half the album, and you will gain the ability to decide in a sound lineup who is Radio 4 and who are the sound-a-likes.

For one, the vocals that accompany the primitive computer programmed dance beats are artistic and notable in their melody and harmonic creations. Especially catchy are the arrangements in "Nation," "State of Alert," and "Transmission" in which the chorus vocals become a sing-along accompanied by equally head-bopping instrumental melodies. Without being arrogant, the four-way split vocal duties have a swagger that gives you the disillusion that you should respect the overall sound a little more than it deserves.

The disappointments start with the writing formula that rarely changes between songs. I don't know who first took the idea of putting electronic club beats and pseudo funky/pseudo scratch rock guitar together, but the similarity in that respect of Radio 4 and !!! is uncanny. Not only this, but Radio 4 similarly throws in congas and revolving bass lines that are prone to cause body rocking. The only thing missing (besides horns) are the voracity and dirty factors that give other such groups a human aspect behind the disco screeches and off-beat hi hat patterns.

Stealing of a Nation is a statement on politics that surges with all the fight of a bitterly angry caterpillar. The album attempts to make a statement on the general corrupt attitudes of politics and media, and how the two go hand-in-hand, overtly taking over the average citizen's life. Pretty serious stuff, right? It's a message meant for 1000-page novels, propaganda newsletters, and fiery talk radio debates, but Radio 4 pokes at the issues with a playful sterility and almost does more harm than good.

The general feel of this album is overly polished and far too artificial, just like the derelict political message. While the combination of slick production, political messages and computerized sound makes Radio 4 more massively consumable, the means just perpetuate the basics of what the album claims to be against. Can the feel-good side of a dance party cover for a lack of personality and creativity? Not this time.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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