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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
Kilowatthours/The Rum Diary
Kilowatthours and The Rum Diary
Substandard Records

Rating: 6/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Wading somewhere in the undertow, Emo has survived numerous winter frosts and still drifts along as the seasons change. The style would no doubt have perished by now if not for the efforts of a select few. Kilowatthours represents one of those few parties (The Gloria Record and The Appleseed Cast being others) who have been able to carry the form onwards into healthier pastures. On somewhat of a different plateau, The Rum Diary has, thus far, spent all their time frolicking in the poppier post-rock planes inhabited by the likes of Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky. For this release the two have temporarily joined hands, as it were, to craft a piece of breezy summertime songs spun for nights out driving in the car, or laying by the pool. Four of this disc's nine songs stem from Kilowatthours, four from The Rum Diary, and one is the offspring of the two working together.

The essence of The Rum Diary's output here lies in the song "The Electroencephalograph." Propelled by an almost skippy drumbeat, a sunny farfisa organ and light electronics induce an airy background for hazy guitars and Daniel McKenzie's syrupy indie pop vocals. (For the most part, this formula is noticeably repeated in each of the group's pieces.) What more, Mckenzie commits the unfortunate sin of using "La La La"'s ugly sister, "Ohouahhh Ah Ohh," throughout "The Electroencephalograph" when there is absolutely no need for her to be invited. In the midst of such an environment she stands out like a sore thumb. Her being there, in fact, leaves the impression that the boys simply didn't know who else to call and simply gave her a ring out of desperation, employing "Ohouahhh Ah Ohh" to avoid a sausage party. Handclaps enter the party next; slight cringing follows on my behalf. The Rum Diary's style, in general, is a bit of an oddity. While often rather impressionistic and drawn out, the would-be payoff of each song comes in the form of an attempt at a catchy pop chorus repeated over and over again. Such songs feel as though they should instead rely upon changes in tempo and meter, and so these pop structures sit awkwardly in the chair provided for them. Ultimately, The Rum Diary seem intent on being a pop band in a prog rock wrapper.

Kilowatthours, however, seem to be using this release to try out a few new approaches, the quality of which are rather impressive. With four tracks, the band presents a sound with enough variation (which is what The Rum Diary lacked) to warrant one's attention even over repeated listens. "Letting Go" seems to introduce a lovely new spectrum to the Kilowatthours approach. Though Chris Renn has been altering his vocal style throughout each of the bands two past full-length's, unless he's found yet another tone, someone else seems to now be helping him out with the vocal duties. If so, Kilowatthours would be wise to keep this new addition, as on "Letting Go" the voice, reminiscent of Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite, has a deep, reflective timbre which works wonderfully alongside Renn. For a convenient three minutes "King" finds the group in an up-tempo mood, with a "We'll be okay/ you'll be okay/ you'll be a star" chorus which would probably get eaten up by typical college radio stations. In a warm bed of bell-like chimes and late night ambient washes of sound full of lost radio transmissions, "Halos" is fit for a night of stargazing. "Twentysix" is perhaps the standout piece by Kilowatthours. Those breathy vocals initially whisper in a reflective refrain until the drums kick in out of the misty ambient squalls and that voice gains strength, almost begging, "Look me in the eye and tell the truth/ will they understand/ its eating me alive/ this is my goodbye."

Despite their differences, "Exchange" is the endearing result of the two bands collaborating. They work well as a duo, creating a mid-tempo piano dirge marred only by The Rum Diary's decision to add "Do do do do do" vocals to the song's latter half. Full lengths such as Noise Prints, find The Rum Diary in significantly finer form. Unfortunately, this EP alone will not draw the attention of those who listen towards such works. It should, however, amass a great anticipation for, what should be, a new Kilowatthours full-length in the not too distant future.

Reviewed by Max Schaefer
Nocturnal qualms and eyes that brim like lamps betoken slender sketches, poetry and short stories strewn alongside piano playing, a fiddling of knobs and murmured dialogue with a medley of electronic gizmo\'s. A twenty-one year old person lodged within the University of Victoria, Max harvests organic sounds on a sullen sampler, watching water unwind like two broad lengths of ribbon and nursing a book below the canopy of a cheery-tree. Max believes that the world is made present by people\'s presence in it and that art is one such way in which a distinctive disclosure might be crafted.

See other reviews by Max Schaefer



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