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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
Hello, Control
Militia Group

Rating: 3/10 ?

May 3, 2006
I spend a lot of time in the car. Between going to work and visiting family on the weekends I spend about 15 hours each week on the road, and I inadvertently end up listening to quite a bit of music as a result. The great thing about working for LAS is that I have a steady supply of new and interesting tunes to become acquainted with while I drive. The usual procedure is to put on an album and listen to it straight through, but last weekend things changed...

As I cleared the first toll near O'Hare I popped in the new disc by a band called Brandtson. I had never heard of them before but some preliminary research suggested they had been around for quite a while and were very proud of having the same producer as The Get Up Kids. Initially I was intrigued but, five songs later, I was fucking done. There was no way I could finish the final eight tracks. It was a few days before I did finish the thing and that came only by forcing myself to sit down and listen with headphones. I had to be certain my initial assessment wasn't incorrect. It wasn't. Hello, Control is awful to an insane level, the epitome of overproduced and cheesy. It is the kind of album I would simply throw away if I had mistakenly purchased it, not even worth a return trip to the record store.

To address the music first, one thing needs to be understood: Brandtson does not understand the difference between paying tribute to influences and ripping off other bands' sounds outright. The album's first track, the stereotypically-named "A Thousand Years," sounds like the Postal Service. The second track has DFA-meets-Zapp markings all over it. Elsewhere you get New Order and Kraftwerk and loads of Bloc Party. Everything on Brandtson's album sounds beyond-clean and almost has the feel of those 80's tunes - you know, the hairspray songs with huge drum reverb - that lined the soundtracks for Rocky sequels and movies like Mannequin. In college someone described those types of songs to me as "polished turds," and that analysis has never been more appropriate.

Lyrically, well, things are about as profound as what you might find on a Backstreet Boys record. Take "Here We Go," the album's fifth track, for example:

"This one is for all the lonely souls/ who know that everything is spinning out of control/ and it goes a little something like this:/ Hey, Na, Na . . . Na, Na, Na, Na/ Here we go again."

Or try this groovy little gem, from "Earthquakes and Sharks," that seems to channel The Barenaked Ladies:

"Went down to Mexico/ I drove my black El-Camino/ I met up with an old gringo/ he showed me 'round/ and said to call him Joe . . . Drove up to San Diego/ I saw a sign for Mission Beach and so/ went way out deep into the ocean/ saw a shark and had a stroke."

This album is unforgivably bad. Poisonous stuff, really. I could spend an entire review picking apart the lyrics, but I will save everyone the pain. Mostly the problem with Hello, Control is its lack of substance - both lyrically and musically.

On the chorus of the disc's final song, vocalist Myk Porter insists he knows what's up. As the band chugs away in a poor attempt to be Kraftwerk, Porter sings:

"The secret to any success is in the process/ Yeah!"

Well, for me "process" was the perfect appellation to describe this album. The entire disc reeks of a "processing" worse than that on the floor of a Kraft Foods plant. What should be meaty and raw is instead artificially sugary and unnaturally fluffy. All in all, Hello, Control is unpalatable.

Bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Bloc Party serve up aural seven course meals by knowing how to ride the razor's edge of having exquisite production while providing the listener with interesting sounds and (mostly) meaningful lyrics. There is none of that satiation in Brandtson's work however, only a stomachache that comes from the consumption of thirteen tracks of nothing substantial.

Reviewed by Jon Burke
A contributing writer and a Chicago resident who will not be goaded by LASís editor into revealing any more details about his potentially sordid affairs.

See other reviews by Jon Burke



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