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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
Pink Nasty
Mold the Gold

Rating: 7/10 ?

November 15, 2006
Mold the Gold puts the better of its two left feet forward with the opening track, "I Don't Know," deftly illustrating Sara Beck's conflicting inclinations. The track, like most of the album, is an unbalanced mixture between the warm rural balladry of Nico Case and the smart-ass disenchantment of [insert clever art/punk girl band here].

The album's second track, "BTK Blues" (named in honour of the serial killer, easily Wichita's most famous citizen), wavers back and forth between an almost Lisa Loeb-ish break-up track ("Do I look the same/ have I put on some weight?") that could be spliced into any number of dramatic Gen-X television dramas ("Grey's Anatomy" or anything on the WB network come to mind) and a playful psych-folk number with the interesting yet ultimately annoying chanting of "It's dark now/ you should go home." As odd as it sounds, the Lisa Loeb-y part of the track is the better part.

And that is the conundrum with Mold the Gold and Pink Nasty herself - flashes of catchy goodness are interspersed at random intervals with disjointed and over-wrought elements of noise and counter-melody. Cutesy little numbers like "Street Smart" that could easily be expanded into a song that might compliment a cohesive album are shuttled after half a minute for harmless, white-bread indie rockers like "Untitled" that really don't push the envelope any further than so many Semisonics before.

It may sound harsh to lambaste Beck for her waffling between serious singer and playful artist, but if there weren't a massive amount of potential in her voice and the fleeting arrangements that offer some weight, no one would really care. But the flashes of potential keepers make it hard not to care. Halfway through Mold the Gold the album begs to be tossed aside like so many Rilo Kileys, but when a song like "Golden Smoke" pops up out of nowhere, with its subtly plucked rhythm and Beck's voice at its most sultry, Pink Nasty is hard to deny. A couple of tracks later and "Hot Pink House" has Pink Nasty dripping out of the speakers, making it even more crucial that Beck make the transition to a little more chanteuse and a little less ADD-addled art/punk or bar rock. While it isn't necessary to be whiskey serious all the time, too much settling for cute and "good enough" bits makes it hard to take the really beautiful moments seriously. Beck would clearly do well to remove herself from the influence of her apparently talentless brother, who fancies himself (erroneously) as some sort of Red State no-culture knockoff of Mike Skinner and raps under the name of Black Nasty.

Overall Mold the Gold is a conglomerate of the good, the bad and the annoying. Most of the album is fleshed out with harmless rock songs like "Take It Back" and "Away Message" with a few really annoying bits in between those and the real killers like "Golden Smoke," "Hot Pink House" and "Don't Ever Change," the latter of which pairs Beck with the complimentary vocals of Bonny Prince Billy. Like I said, if there wasn't anything on Mold the Gold worth caring about, I wouldn't even bother. Beck's voice has a powerful gravity to it that outweighs any "traditional" elements that it may lack, and if she would only shake off whatever inhibitions she may have about really putting her voice, and herself, out there the results could certainly be outstanding. This girl's got talent, however raw it seems at this point, and it will be interesting to see where she goes from here.

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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