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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
Stone\'s Throw

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

August 23, 2007
A collection of breakbeat drum tracks, Bumps is not a formal album meant to be judged under the standard A+ to D- grading scale. My goal is to evaluate it as thus.

Known collectively (along with Doug McCombs and Jeff Parker) as iconic indie stalwarts Tortoise, individually Dan Bitney, John Herndon, and John McEntire are known as three exceptional musicians and sound creators. Each has airtight tempo keeping ability, technical chops, and a style that is able to be both funky and manicured to atmospherics and precise dynamics. With Bumps, a project coordinated by Stones Throw colleague Egon and executive produced by Stones Throw head Peanut Butter Wolf, the intention was not to showcase the three drummers' well-documented collective attention to detail, but rather to show how downright funky they can be, with an added focus of being used as beats for future hip-hop and mix tracks.

Across 23 tracks all clocking in under the 2:02 time mark, Bumps is layered with drum kits and percussion, the Bitney-Herndon-McEntire trio all bits funky and hip. While the cuts are all short, they take no time in getting their point across. Some of the beats are glossed over with production/recording effects that are dirty, speaker-blown, and warpy, all distinct colors putting the breaks in somewhat different sonic atmospheres.

"Can You See?" is the beat to Standards' "Seneca" filtered through an effect that makes it sound as though it were recorded in the barrel of a tin garbage can. "Sniper Growl" uses an effect layer that attaches a frumpy, tonal bass tone to every bass drum kick, and a tightened, frazzled sharpness to every snare strike. At the other end of the spectrum is "Nashira," an extremely clean textured joint with layered 16th-note snare and hi-hat patterns that give it an ethnic dance groove. Also worth noting is the drumming of "Intermission Pts. 1 and 2," which has some great ghost note diddles rocking through it, and "Swingland Hit," probably the most sample-ready package of the lot.

Looking at Bumps as an intentionally instrumental, completely cool anomaly of a recording, anyone with a sense of rhythm and an appreciation for grooves will enjoy every last thump. Choosing to examine it by the same standards as Led Zeppelin's III, however, might leave one yearning for more. In short, get your head on straight before hitting Bumps.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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