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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
Mates of State
Our Constant Concern
Polyvinyl Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

October 1, 2004
I was first introduced to Mates of State about a year and a half ago, as a friend played me their Omnibus debut, My Solo Project. She described the band as Wolfie (who I dig) meets Rainer Maria (who I don't). After hearing a few songs, I decided this was the most accurate "X meets Y" band comparison I've possibly ever heard. Stripping away the heavy-handed melodramatic nature of Rainer Maria and the 60's lite-pop elements of Wolfie, My Solo Project sat somewhere in-between, crafting straight up pop songs, neither sulky nor sappy. Like Wolfie and Rainer Maria, Mates of State's catalog comes from a curious place: a couple making sweet music when they're not making sweet love. I've always struggled to understand the dynamics of being in a band with your mate. From writing songs to touring, it just seems like a wacky thing to be doing, compounding relationship stress with band stress. Mates of State would have you believe its all worth it, however, with their gooey cross-stage glares that seem simultaneously and equally sweet and creepy.

The Polyvinyl label stepped up to the plate to release the band's sophomore effort, Our Constant Concern. While still centering around the drum set and a monstrosity of a Yamaha organ that made up their first record and their live set, Mates of State's predictably expands to other sounds on Our Constant Concern. There is a horn section on "Über Legitimate", some glockenspiel on "Hoarding It For Home", and a more jagged, raw drum-and-organ sound on "Halves and Have-nots" that, taken as a whole, sounds like, gasp, an electric guitar. Stylistically, there's not too much vastly different between the duo's two albums, demonstrating the possible limitations of only having two sets of hands to play. The same half dozen or so organ tones introduced on My Solo Project are equally prominent on Our Constant Concern, and the drums are still the drums.

My Solo Project is one of my favorite albums that I've been introduced to in the last couple years, and held to that standard, Our Constant Concern doesn't stand up. Taken on its own, its a good album, but falls into a lot of common sophomore album traps, like duplicating the recorded sound, but backing it up with inferior song writing. As much as it'd be against what they've built their reputation on, this new batch of songs would offer much more if fleshed out by a full band.

Reviewed by Jeremy Keller
A staff writer for LAS, Jeremy Keller uses his uncanny ability to intellectualize sports for the greater good of mankind.

See other reviews by Jeremy Keller



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