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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 Walkmen
A Hundred Miles Off
Record Collection

Rating: 7/10 ?

June 13, 2006
The Walkmen's debut, Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone, was as original a debut as one could expect from a New York band in 2002, a stage left entrance into the stripped-down revivalist scene of Interpol and The Strokes. But while those bands drew from the seminal punk and new wave bands of New York and Britain, The Walkmen seemed to be channeling the Jersey boardwalk sounds of early Springsteen. Their sloppy bar-band chops, loose production and heartfelt yelps were in stark contrast to the polished and taut sound du jour.

On their tremendous follow-up, Bows + Arrows, The Walkmen developed in keeping with their DNA and tightened things up a bit, though not much. The songwriting stayed solid, the confidence level rose, and Hamilton Leithauser's uneven voice grew even more urgent. The band succeeded at following their very strong debut with what is arguably an even stronger sophomore effort (it's debatable, among fans and critics alike). Now The Walkmen find themselves in the enviable position of calling the shots for album number three.

A Hundred Miles Off opens in typical Walkmen style: slack and distant. "Louisiana" sounds exactly like it's name, a strumming country ditty that wafts out of the speakers as a bit of a surprise. While "Louisiana" might not be an obvious choice for the album's opener it does highligh one of this band's most enduring qualities - their ability to be off-kilter. It's also probably the only time you'll hear a New York indie band sincerely working both a piano roll and a Mexicali horn riff into one song. Lest you think the boys have been hanging out in Buffetville all year, the next track reels in the sound of the previous albums. From there on in, it's classic Walkmen all the way.

Overall, A Hundred Miles Off is less intense than one may expect; there is no "The Rat" on this record. Even the most driving track, "Tenley-Town," lacks that determined, unhinged energy that The Walkmen's previous albums exuded. Though mighty drummer Matt Barrick does his best to bash through each cut, the result seems predictable. "All Hands and the Cook" captures the band's energy best, a brooding organ-drenched minor key composition peppered with vocal cries and a short major refrain accompanied by their signature upright piano. "Always After You" may be A Hundred Miles Off's sleeper standout; bringing his voice down in both tone and register, Leithauser brings a welcome calm after the storm. The percussive and bass driven rhythm fuel the beautiful melodic progression, and the end result is a perfect two-and-a-half minutes of music, laid perfectly in the album's sequence.

Tied together by their signature 21st century saloon sound, the songs of A Hundred Miles Off are able to blend into each other in a wash of far-away keyboards and guitar reverb, with the occasional drum-fueled stomp. As with other Walkmen releases, A Hundred Miles Off is appreciated best when listened to in its entirety, yet on the whole it is not as dazzling and memorable as Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone or Bows + Arrows. Although they have remained strikingly true to their roots, the effortless yet explosive Walkmen sound is not as razor sharp as it once was. Has all the time spent in So. Cal. on The O.C. worn down the edges on these jagged east coasters? Whatever the reasons, when appraised with the lofty expectations created through their prior work, A Hundred Miles Off measures up as solid but falls slightly short of expectations.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro



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