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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
Making the Grade
Hollywood Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
There it was, all bright and orange and happy-begging for my attention. The bio told a true tale of rock 'n' roll heartbreak, further catching my interest. I had high hopes for Diffuser. I thought I might be indulging in some fast, catchy, pop-rock with some substance, perhaps something worthy of guilty pleasure status.

Not so much.

Making the Grade, although not terrible, is little more than bubblegum-esque poppy-punk along the lines of it-for-the-moment bands such as the All-American Rejects. Only the boys in All-American Rejects managed to maintain marginal credibility while blending in with the mainstream sound. Diffuser doesn't. Songs like "New High" and "Get it On" have hit single written all over them, but still fail to cross the vast plain of mediocrity. The biggest fault of Making the Grade is that it's not witty enough to be taken in jest, yet not sincere enough to be taken seriously. Case in point, the scathing-yet-begging "I Wonder." Frontman Tomas Costanza alternates from blasting his ex-girlfriend ("I wonder if you give him better blow jobs than the ones I got from you") to begging for her return ("Girl you mean so much to me/I wish that we could start it over").

A major asset to this record was going with Mark Trombino as producer. The production on this record is incredible, bringing to mind some of Trombino's previous work with Jimmy Eat World. But production can't always save a song, no matter how talented the guy twisting the knobs is. The band's own strength, however, lies with the mid-tempo power ballad. "Why," the gem of Making the Grade is a decent song in it's own right, yet seems quite a bit out of place when surrounded by the rest of Diffuer's superficial fodder. It's the only song that actually does make the grade, not fail it.

Reviewed by Natalie B. David
A fresh graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, in her spare time she can be found clumsily manipulating words and phrases for LAS and Beautiful/Decay magazine, hungering for sushi, naming inanimate objects or pondering the existence of stiletto heels. If you see her, you should buy her a cup of coffee because, chances are, she probably needs it.

See other reviews by Natalie B. David



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