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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
Kelley Stoltz
Below the Branches
Sub Pop

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

March 14, 2006
It's heartening to know that, when given time, Cardinal's sole release became beloved and inspirational to so many. Likewise, the solo works of Eric Matthews and Jason Falkner gained prominence and favor, giving the musicians due credit for their abilities to craft delectable pop songs.

While the debut from Kelley Stoltz is less orchestral than Matthews' creations and less brassy than Falkner's, Below the Branches nestles sweetly between these artists' catalogs to echo the same feelings of goodness and rich reflection.

While this is certainly a cause for joy - another addition to the chamber-pop canon - it is admittedly hard for Stoltz to shake the feel of his mentors. When listening to the lovely, cascading high notes of "Words", I had to fight the urge to get up, dig around my CD collection and grab onto It's Heavy In Here. Let it be said, however, that Below the Branches is a wonderful pop record in its own right, and its ability to leave you wanting more is ultimately flattering.

Pounding acoustics throw their weight around "Wave Goodbye" as shimmering harmonies take a propulsive course on "Ever Thought of Coming Back"; Stoltz's drive is clear throughout and his undeterred focus is admirable. Even the hazy, undefined downcast of "Mystery" is purposeful; when Stoltz sets a mood, he's determined it can't be taken off course.

His ability to mimic everything from the Nuggets box sets ("Birdies Singing") to Belle & Sebastian ("The Rabbit Hugged the Hound") is impressive, but more so are the frequent, blissful moments when he makes those familiar sounds his own. While "Summer's Easy Feeling" is a bit too content in its noodling and "Memory Collector" can be awkwardly fey, most of Below the Branches rolls around in the heights of 60s pop and its followers and comes out with Stoltz on top.

As the misty-eyed, comforting toy opus, "No World like the World" draws to a close, there is a feeling something classic has transpired- any album that can not only remind you of greatness but be rightfully great is worth searching for, and Below the Branches should already have a place among its peers.

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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