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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
The Long Winters
Putting The Days To Bed

Rating: 9/10 ?

July 25, 2006
"Hindsight" is 20-20 and so is songwriter John Roderick's vision of what a glorious pop-rock record should be. Overflowing with vibrant, solar-powered melodies and skyscraper-sized hooks, Putting The Days To Bed, the third full-length release from The Long Winters, is " ... familiar, but not too familiar," to borrow a line from the guns-a-blazin' rocker "(It's A) Departure." Like 2003's When I Pretend To Fall, Putting The Days To Bed dispenses large doses of guitar-driven ecstasy, but balances out the high with lushly arranged, bittersweet laments like "Hindsight" that are more reminiscent of the band's Ultimatum EP.

A dazzling collection of songs, Putting The Days To Bed cements Roderick's reputation as one of the best songwriters working today. He's John Vanderslice, Britt Daniel and Jason Falkner all rolled into one humble pop architect, capable of magical choruses and radiant songcraft. And on Putting The Days To Bed, he rolls up those sleeves where he proudly wears his heart and goes to work on himself. Wrestling lyrically with unresolved issues stemming from failed relationships, unfulfilled wishes and the twinges of regret that occasionally surface from your sub-conscience to pin-prick your unsuspecting heart, Roderick doesn't succumb to melancholy. With a nod and wink, he pins his inner demons and restless ennui with candor, a wry sense of humor and the peace of mind that comes with resignation and distancing yourself from your past. And yet, he seems to know full well that this isn't the last time they'll lock horns. "You keep scratching at the old paint, but the wood is still there," sighs Roderick in "Hindsight," and unless there's a fire or you suffer a stroke that completely erases your memory, it's there permanently.

But that's okay, because the song's rich, billowing piano, light acoustic guitar strum and simmering organ wash over you like morphine, killing any residual pain from those old wounds. Just as wistful but even more heartsick, "Honest" has a pop twinkle in its eye and a slight country twang, beautifully accented by Spanish horns that somehow sound both distant and close, while the easygoing acoustic ballad "Seven" aches for an old flame now extinguished with cascading backing vocals and crisp drums, courtesy of Nabil Ayers (the Lemons and the Tommy Stinson Band).

New to a lineup that has as its core the duo of Roderick and bassist Eric Corson, and now includes multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Rothman (from Seattle's Ghost Stories), Ayers' exuberance is felt where it counts: in the rising power-pop tide that floods Putting The Days To Bed, lifting these songs to lofty heights. Turning electric, Roderick and company blow you away with big, squeaky-clean guitar anthems like the punched-up "It's A Departure" or "Rich Wife," with its darting six-string jabs, joyful drum bashing and this admiring, yet stingingly honest assessment of a lover doomed to repeat mistakes: "If you're in love with someone, you're going to love till it's done." Better still is "Pushover," an outpouring of barely contained joy that's unexpectedly romantic and triumphant. And "Fire Island, AK," with its repeated stabbings of electric guitar and measured piano bounce, carefully introduced to stunning effect, would easily make the cut on Vanderslice's Time Travel Is Lonely and likely emerge as one of its best tracks.

Topping them all, though, is "Sky Is Open," and indeed it is. Relating the tale of retired Air Force pilot conducting an air search for his soul, "Sky Is Open" has a rapturous chorus that beams light into every dark corner of the man's life. Taking musical and storytelling cues from Vanderslice's Cellar Door, Roderick and company smartly intermingle electronic beats and squiggles with an unassuming guitar figure to set up the blinding display of supernova vocals and keyboards that back Roderick when he inhales deeply and declares that the sky is indeed open to all who want to explore it. Putting The Days To Bed is one of those albums where every song takes you hostage and you can't help but fall prey to the Stockholm Syndrome once you're captured. Likeable in every way, the record's striking immediacy may, in the long run, be its downfall. Though it may not be the kind of multi-layered, complex listen that draws you to it time and time again, creating a long-lasting relationship, Putting The Days To Bed will instantly bring a smile and, at least for now, that is all it has to do.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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