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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.
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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
Slow Dazzle
The View from the Floor
Misra Records

Rating: 6/10 ?

July 13, 2005
What would it take, besides childlike curiosity, to make someone literally navel-gaze? Drugs that make the body seem fantastical? Self-absorption where one marvels at his own perfection? Or, if stuck in a small country town with nothing to do, would such an act signify front porch boredom?

For Slow Dazzle, the fantastically named alt-country project featuring members of Manitoba, navel-gazing transpires for each of these reasons in differing proportions, the greatest of these being innocuous, aimless freethought.

To be sure, The View from the Floor is a beautiful album, and you can hear the veteran status in Slow Dazzle's voices and their instruments. Though country, it retains much of the spacey feel of Manitoba's releases and incorporates just enough reverence for modern alt-country legends like Loretta Lynn, Sally Timms and Ryan Adams to be respectful. The gauziest clouds amid its highest highs are a pleasure to view, but therein also lies the dilemma: The View from the Floor is a sparkling observation piece that shines attractively upon its shelf but never truly seeks a deeper personal connection; it is lovely to behold, but will not affect you.

When held separately, there are several gorgeous, glowing tracks to light the way, setting off flares over what feels like the album's endless loop. The opening "Fleur de Lie" has a nice retro 60s feel, like a disaffected Bond femme's sweet, sensual siren song. "The Extent of My Remarks" is wonderfully twangy, breathing new life into the album with its plucky, revitalized recklessness. And, though a bit plodding, "A Welfare State" features appropriately hazy vocals and Dylanesque afterthoughts.

Between these bright moments, however, we are left with several directionless pieces, including the gummy, heavy-footed "The Prosecution Rests," and "Wedding Dance," which feels a little too much like a mid-90s Lillith Fair production. Elsewhere, the title track falls prey to the unaffecting trap, just short of an emotional meeting ground, and "Anthem," with its tinny drum machine and shadowy sway, has too many contrasts to be absorbed; its conflicting affiliations - from Cocteau Twins dreaminess to Doo-Wop femininity and languid, country tones - are each set to a disheveling electronic beat.

As the album's crowning achievement, the closer, "Now or Never or Later" exposes Slow Dazzle's most successful formula, but also more than that: this alt-country side project sounds best without a trace of country in its wake. The buzzing rock of the track comes closest to hitting its target, with an actual pace and direction, a coarse, sugary texture, squealing, dreamy echoes and intense guitar squalor. While this may speak largely about Slow Dazzle's existence and purpose as a band, it reveals more of how their debut album should best be enjoyed - if you take The View from the Floor on a track by track basis, it presents moments of stunning beauty and grace, but when taken as a whole, you may be lost without your emotional bearings to guide you back.

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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