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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
Stephen Malkmus
Face the Truth
Matador Records

Rating: 9.5/10 ?

June 10, 2005
Where does he get this stuff? I've been listening to Stephen Malkmus' endeavors for years, and I can't for the life of me figure out what he's saying. A rundown of the track list from his latest, Face the Truth, is a jumbled mess of alliteration ("Loud Cloud Crowd," "Post-Paint Boy") and unfinished thoughts - "It Kills," "I've Hardly Been." What kills? What have you hardly been? "No More Shoes?" Where did they go, and why?

There's no way you're going to get any explanations within the songs either. As far as I can tell, Malkmus pieces together his lyrics from high-scoring Scrabble words and Sunday morning crossword puzzles. Then, in the midst of the "quagmire hearts" and "yoga Olympics" of "I've Hardly Been," we get a line like "normal is weirder than you would care to admit," and it all seems to make sense. Kind of.

Back in the early days of Pavement, Malkmus unlocked the key to indie-rock success: keep them guessing. An album that makes complete sense the first time through is doomed never to be heard again, while albums like Slanted and Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain get the V.I.P re-release treatment.

Face the Truth continues in this tradition of nonsense in a way that neither his self-titled solo debut nor Pig Lib did - the former being too plain Jane and the latter freaking out a bit too much.

As usual, the alpha-slacker plays with language and genre on Face the Truth, but it all seems focused this time around. On what, I'll never know, but focused nonetheless. The opener, "Pencil Rot", assures the album will indeed be Vaudevillian, with Malkmus' distorted vocals about someone named "Leather McWhip," but the follow-up track, "It Kills", reassures that it won't get out of hand, falling back on a sensible riff that is far from bland.

The finest example of this concentration is evident in a comparison of the guitar solo tracks from Pig Lib and Face the Truth: Pig Lib's "1% Of One" comes too late and stays too long, boring even the most devout Pavementeers. "No More Shoes", on the other hand, offers laser-guided guitar work that you can't get enough of. After this veritable rock odyssey, Malkmus deftly transitions into the simple yet buoyant "Mama," still leaving a hint of "No More Shoes" on the palette. The songs may not make sense in and of themselves, but the album is a great, coherent whole.

His previous solo albums left some things to be desired, but Malkmus' latest effort covers all the bases. It's weird, (but not annoyingly so), it's catchy (but not annoyingly so), and it's fresh (but not annoyingly so). Face the Truth is the work of a songwriter at his finest hour.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown



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