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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
Jason Holstrom
The Thieves of Kailua
Mill Pond

Rating: 7.6/10 ?

July 17, 2007
Can Hawaiian music and indie-rock mesh? Yo La Tengo posed this question a couple years ago with the gorgeous "Today is the Day," but kind of hedged it; in case 2003's alt-people weren't feeling the tropical flavor, the band released a "single version," free of anything remotely island-fied. It's just as well. Most remember that album as a bore, which is too bad. Hopefully, renowned Seattle producer (Aqueduct, Of Montreal) and musician (United State of Electronica) Jason Holstrom won't suffer the same fate.

Holstrom's proper solo debut, under the ukulele-minded Thieves of Kailua moniker, may not give rise to pondering anything deeper than whether or not "summer's here to stay," but its unforced blanket of click-clacks and ukulele plucks lets loose an airy freshness like an unplugged version of Manitoba's Up In Flames. The gorgeous Beach Boys harmonies that open the jaunty title theme and its jingle-sized reprise, "The Purist Tourist," prove that within every soundscaper lies a tunesmith, and halfway through the former, he even lays a beat under it, by way of some well-placed kiddie clapping.

"On The Waikiki" would make a dandy single if this kind of stuff received even satellite radio play, massaging the listener with his passive intonations about "soaking in the rays" and "whoa oh oh." It's like the world's laziest summer jam; it can't even bring itself to hit the two minute mark before taking a siesta, which in no way diminishes its status as Holstrom's recorded peak to date.

It helps that he thankfully chooses to blend, rather than isolate, his atmospheric and pop pursuits. Decorating his breezy tunes with whooos and tribal percussion rather than laptop claptrap, his simple racket resembles an Animal Collective that's had their knots untied and saved up for state-of-the-art larynx surgery. Holstrom can sing, though his low whisper stops just shy of a flat-out croon. He's not going to outserenade, oh, Sufjan Stevens anytime soon, but it's nice to hear a space-indie record with the hook appeal of Carl Newman that breathes while others choke under a wall of whoosh. The minor-key jungle-rhythm showcase "Return of the Tourist!" breaks up the sonic wantonness with some slippery twin-guitar histrionics lest your iPod get too comfortable and doze off.

The only thing working against the vibe is the possibility of a storyline beneath all the lush, oceanic sounds, as recurring titles about thieves and tourists suggest. The guy can't possibly expect the listener to follow something this casual word-for-word. The ambitions of opener "Crystal Green" and the Sgt. Pepper-goes-hula "Under Setting Sun" seem to end at the music. "Crystal" even resembles Tortoise a bit, with its swells of crashing cymbal, bells, and is-that-a-whip-cracking-or-a-cue-hitting-a-billiard-ball to underscore the tasteful falsetto chanting. And for once, when the artist exclaims "I'm falling in love!" in his best tiki-lounge castrato, it actually resembles the bliss of a remote-island honeymoon.

Doing for island sounds what Beirut's Gulag Orkestar did for Gypsy brass last year, The Thieves of Kailua may or may not garner the audience it deserves, but it'll be waiting patiently by the oceanside, Mai Tai in hand, melting in a deckchair until it does. Beats "Kokomo," anyway.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss



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