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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
Murder By Death
Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them?
Eyeball Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Having erupted out of Bloomington, Indiana (you can call that Nowhere if you want) last year with their ambitious post-rock coming out party Like the Exorcist, But More Breakdancing and remained on the lips of literate-rock fans everywhere with their beautiful contributions to the split album Konrad Friedrich Wilhelm Zimmer, the awkwardly (and cleverly) named Murder By Death return to drive stakes into the hearts of those who stayed, waiting for more.

The album opens with a dusty phonograph voice recounting the deadliest of deeds from a bar fight in old Mexico - shooting the Devil in the back - and the apocalypse that follows. Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them? unfolds the end of the world as the parched, lawless dunes, mesas and buttes of its characters' lives are crushed under the weight of Satan's revenge. As the Prince of Darkness lies bleeding crude oil in a hospital bed the children are the first to die, "pissing away each night among the sounds of bodies crawling round the room" - and it only gets darker from there as the townspeople expose the worst inclinations of their rotting hearts, slowly killing each other off as rampant lawlessness chokes out all but the faintest glimmers of hope.

Murder By Death's sophomore album is not only ambitious as a concept, it is also soaked in beautiful instrumentation, unbridled aggression and a mesmerizing story. It is dark and brooding to the point of being evil (Satan himself makes a creepy guest appearance singing backups in the robust, crackling cowboy symphony of "Until Morale Improves, The Beatings Will Continue", the epicenter of the album's first half) but it is also warm and beautiful, brittle like a faded piece of wallpaper from a funeral home's dining parlor.

The album is comprised of two halves, which are separated by a sprite, yellowed piano interlude straight out of Jeff Mangum's lost cowboy dreams. The first half of Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them? is dedicated to the coming of the end, the second dedicated to the realization that hell has come to the surface. A richer, updated version of Konrad Friedrich Wilhelm Zimmer's "A Masters in Reverse Psychology" filters all of Murder By Death's charm into one song potent enough to bring anyone to their knees- lush, loaded cello bows cross paths with dark, powerful guitars and percussion as nimble piano adds detail.

With Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them? Murder By Death have established themselves as the perfect modern rock band. Their songs are lyrically rich like Decemberists, lavish and orchestral like God Speed You Black Emperor!, dark and violent like ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, twangy and blue-collar like Canyon, smart and technical like Cursive. Like The Black Heart Procession, the Cure, Arab Strap and Explosions In The Sky becoming blood brothers. Their songs are all of those things, and more. Most of all they are beautiful. Beautiful and horrifying, like the apocalypse ripping through your family home and leaving behind a twisted graveyard, complete with flowers. At the front of a swath of destruction you will find Murder By Death with their whiskey, revolvers and torture, burning towns to the ground.

Reviewed by Lukas Shipman

See other reviews by Lukas Shipman



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