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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
Burning Brides
Fall of the Plastic Empire

Rating: 8.7/10 ?

October 1, 2004
This is such a dead-on great rock and roll record that it's almost startling to know I've been ignoring it for months. I'd had people telling me about Burning Brides all through last year, Fall of the Plastic Empire coming out first on File 13 and then being picked up by V2 and re-released in September. That's when I first crossed paths with this album but it wasn't until just before the holidays that I finally paid it some attention. I was driving in Essex County in Vermont, outside of East Haven. The car was clipping along, a light snow was falling and the moon lit up the sky like it was 7am. Suddenly a patch of black ice sent the car spinning. It was a 360 blur before I could crank the wheels in the opposite direction and tap the gas to pull out of it. The car caught pavement again just as I straightened out, the tires barking as the wagon lurched a few feet in a dramatic side-skip, leaving little black teardrops in a line like the laces of a football. I'm not sure if I had fumbled the ignition in that moment of paused panic or if the jarring of the squat Saturn's dismount had stalled the motor, but the car was silent save for the blaring hot bar-rock riot of the Burning Brides. A snowshoe hare had paused alongside the road, blinking at me in a moment of perplexity before turning and disappearing into the white out. The speakers rattled with the clapperclawing of the Philadelphia trio while I checked to see if my pants were still clean. That's kind of how this album goes- a perfect soundtrack to awkward, choreographed chaos.

Fall of the Plastic Empire crashes from the gates loudly and never really turns the volume down below 10. "If I'm a Man," the third track on this monster, sounds a lot like an out-take from another great rock album from last year, Everyday Is A Sunday Morning by the Blackouts. There's that same acrid guitar rhythm with a bit of that massive Ken Andrews drone in the spaces between the blustery noise rock. It's that very taste of aggressive distortion that peppers the first three tracks, leading you to think you've got the Burning Brides' game plan figured out early. But then this strange thing happens- a great pop song surfaces and then vaults into the air like a dolphin hamming it up for scraps alongside a burning cruise ship. The song, "Arctic Snow," is infectious as all get-out but it still has that same MC5 grit- a grit that eventually drops huge balls in a chugga-chugga double-drum speed orgy that would make Pantera nod. It's pretty intense.

There is a great recognition of Stooges tricks on this album and a great use of melody and pugnacity as well, but there are a number of times when front man Dimitri Coats' flair for vocal extravagance makes it feel overstated in a creepy Godsmack kind of way. Coats' guitar, however, always seems well balanced in it's performance. If you just consider as part of the performance it can make it all the more beguiling, because the vocal element sure doesn't feel sincere. But it's that very insincerity- that cocky, rock-star swagger pushed over the top with a sardonic wink- that ends up selling the whole package. This is a loud rock and roll band that plays hard with smarts and no regrets, and they really do drop somewhere between Black Sabbath's Volume 4 and The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, landing a little closer to the former.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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