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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
Pieces of Places

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
After releasing a slightly obscure EP on their own imprint, Milwaukee's Camden joined up with the Braid-operated label Grand Theft Autumn to release their opus Reel Time Canvas in 2000, an album that made them both under- and over-achievers at the same time. After the initial shock of B.J. Seidel's vocals wore off and the sultry, indulgent rock operas had a chance to work their way under the skin, it was clear that Reel Time Canvas was the second coming of OK Computer, as played out by bed-headed indie rockers from the Midwestern United States' burgeoning emo scene. Then the band latched on to the coat tails of their hometown brethren and longtime chums in the Promise Ring and rode around the country on a well attended tour, wowing audiences with their honest, moving live show. But for all of their success, Camden could never seem to put things together completely and they soon fell right back off the rock map. Then something weird happened - Camden's vocalist and bassist decided to join the new Wood/Water version of the Promise Ring as permanent members, but that wouldn't halt the deposition of Camden's drummer. Right before the stick handler was booted, however, the lead guitarist packed up his amplifier (in a Rubbermaid tub, no less) and moved across the phallic lake to it's namesake state of Michigan. Now, a year or so after all that drama, Camden surprisingly resurface with a 6-song EP on a brand new Chicago label. Strange happenings, indeed.

Like their debut for Grand Theft Autumn, Pieces of Places is a beautiful, pop-infused indie rock melodrama, almost as if Shudder To Think were channeling Radiohead, if you will. Anyone listening to the over-the top, clean falsetto melodies can be put off initially, but pressing on to the rich songwriting resting under the surface one still finds a labyrinth of rock. Beautiful, glistening rock, with sullen and melodic overtures like violent, emotional windstorms, a shoegazer influenced spin on experimental Top 40 radio. "Tortured Youth Cutting Edge" opens with washed out drumming similar to that which opened Reel Time Canvas and then it explodes into a ringing arrangement with melodic, languid keyboards lacing through the steady drum cadence and delicious bass work of Ryan Weber. The opener melts almost seamlessly into "Bread:Side A" in which Eric Osterman's guitar flails about, then cuts back to clean picking before returning to it's siren state. Again Weber's bass almost takes the lead, playing a continuous progressions of what most bands would consider solos, and his bass lines highlight nearly every track on the disc.

While four of the six tracks on Pieces of Places were recorded simultaneously with Reel Time Canvas, two of them weren't and they really stick out from the others. "Running, Breathless" is a lo-fi bedroom number that sounds like it was four-tracked in a practice space back in Milwaukee, which wouldn't normally be much of an issue except for the fact that it's a bit of a sore thumb when sandwiched between "Bread:Side A" and the equally stunning "Queens of Armed Robbery". If it could somehow stand alone the simple acoustic guitar, drum machine accents and modulated vocals of "Running, Breathless" could work, but here it fails, especially when succeeded by the rich textures of "Queens of Armed Robbery". Camden is a rock band who shine brightest when their rich songwriting is allowed room to breathe under the studio tutelage of Chris Walla, and the two self-recorded tracks (the closing title track being the other) seem cold and tacked on.

With the band in various states of collapse and kaput-ness, it was a surprise to find that this EP was being released, but a pleasant one without doubt. Hearing the poignant, gentle tones of "The Red Roofs of Tallin" can be like a magical elixir on a sullen day, or a gentle snapshot (what, with it's "woo woo" and all) on a sunny weekend. If they're indeed gone, Camden will be missed.

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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