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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
Black Dice
Miles of Smiles
DFA Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

October 1, 2004
About two hours south of the city of St. Louis, in Saint Francois County, Missouri, lies the sleepy town of Bonne Terre, a run-down, forgotten coal mining dump where stature is measured by the frequency with which you replace the Super Swamper tires on your sand buggy. (It was at the nearby Big River Sand Drags last June that an Open 4x4 competitor, Jim Bealmear of Mexico, posted two sub-3.0 runs over a 300 foot track to bring home first place). Bonne Terre is the kind of town where you feel completely isolated from the world, even when waiting in line at the Dairy Queen drive thru. Its the kind of town where, if you'd been there, you wouldn't be surprised to hear the details of a quadruple homicide, the inside of a mobile home splattered with blood. Saint Francois County would be the ideal place to experience Black Dice's new release, Miles of Smiles, with headphones wrapped tight about the ears.

Driving west, about three-quarters of an hour outside of Bonne Terre, on Highway 47 there is an unmarked dirt road that leads off to the right, heading north into timber land caked with brick red soil and odd, jagged rock. Ten miles or so down that dirt road, past a handful of steel cattle gates and twisted barbed wire fences placed equally to keep strangers out and animals in, lies a centuries-old farm nestled into a turn in the Big River. When I was in college I met a kid from Tampa, Florida, whose family has owned the property since before Missouri gained statheood. It is a beautiful place, set in the Big River's gentle valley and ringed alternately by rolling hills and steep cliffs, and the ground is pock marked from the strip mining that has plagued the Midwest. On a crisp autumn night after dark, when you roll up to the rickety old farmhouse that has played hosts to generations and turn off the engine, the world as you know it stops. I haven't been to that farm for years now, but under the cloak of headphones, Black Dice take me back there.

Miles of Smiles is an eerie, subdued cacophony of chirps and atmospheric sounds that could easily have been recorded with a high definition microphone in any vacant lot on a clear summer night. But the beauty of Miles of Smiles is that it is entirely synthetic, a composition of pasted and created bits that are strung together. Like so much delicious Fourth of July caramel corn on an invisible strand of fishing line, Miles of Smiles is at once easily recognizable for the ambiance that it seeks to create and, at the same time, completely bizarre and mesmerizing for the way that it seems to simply hang there, suspended in time, defying all logic.

It would be hard to throw this EP on the stereo at a party or any other sort of gathering when people are on downers, as the vibe is thoroughly low-key. But, on the other hand, if you've got a bunch of people popping psychedelics, heading to the beach for some late night surf and sand, or if your summer barbeque or campout is foiled by overcast skies, Miles of Smiles is the perfect disc for an intimate, detached, bizarre yet heartwarming night in the solitude of society.

Of course, if you're really desperate, you can always just get stoned and spin this disc on the headphones, which is richly enjoyable.

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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