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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » 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.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » 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 Plastic Constellations
2024 Records

Rating: 9.5/10 ?

October 1, 2004
The Plastic Constellations have already made an indelible mark on my music repertoire, having created the one song that reminds me most of the impeccable Homestarrunner.com. The juvenile, silly ditty, "Let's War," is endlessly fun to shout carelessly in my car, peppered with Strong Bad-esque cries of "Holy Crap!" and the implausible battle scenarios of a Choose Your Own Adventure book. That was the last I'd heard of these gents; then along came Mazatlan to blow away my preconceptions.

With an opening track called "We Came to Play," I had a feeling we'd pick right up where we left off: sonic benchmarks include The Dismemberment Plan and Pavement, but mostly in the same sense of post-modern, rambunctious energy. They're smart - too smart to ever want to grow up.

"We Came to Play" starts with the plain, awkward "la la las" of a gentleman's glee club (glee being the operative word). Strained post-punk guitars crash in soon enough, demanding all to stand at attention. It immediately recalls Fugazi, especially with their effortless yet skewered hooks and abrasive, melodic guitar lines, but remains light and approachable.

"Evil Groove" is another terse, brooding number - this time a mix between Brainiac and Engine Down - and although it shouts in-between blazing guitar tangents, the band's infectious energy keeps them entirely connected to their audience.

It's mind-boggling, really, that for all the sharpness and intensity the band has accumulated, they position it against a very friendly, likeable playfulness. It's hard not to fall in love with Mazatlan almost immediately - the album is just plain appealing.

"Beats Like You Stole Something" has the smirking edginess of a Les Savy Fav tune, and "Davico" is grand in scope and poppy in secret. While that signature track of yore, "Let's War," seemed almost unabashedly simple, Mazatlan laughs subversively under its breath.

The complexity of their music doesn't lie in the tight, sideways noise-pop on the exterior, it can be found in stifled giggles beneath straight faces. If you think they're as serious as their sounds let on, then friend, you've been deceived.

The title track lets that Cheshire grin shine through completely, a hopeful and bubbly pop cut that recalls Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. It bandies colloquialism and classic indie rock swooning with a youthful "It's cool, though." The mood is breezy but somehow unfashionable; "Mazatlan" is the album's version of a badly dressed tourist who's having the time of his life.

By the time the somewhat shy, dejected "No Complaints" makes its piano-filled way to the forefront, the wind has been knocked out of you. They make effortless transitions between violent, abrupt noise and deep reflection, and every song maintains that same level of dynamism. It's admittedly hard to soak it all in at a single sitting, if only because it is so overpowering.

As someone whose livelihood is fairly well consumed by listening to music, it's not often an album knocks me down flat - The Plastic Constellations have done just that. When we release those fateful lists, donning the "best of 2000-2010" (as you know we will), it should not be overlooked: Mazatlan secures a place for The Plastic Constellations in the same hallowed indie rock canon as the Dismemberment Plan and Lifter Puller, rising to the top of anything I've heard this far.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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