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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #514 (Vol. 11, No. 5). This edition is for the week of January 25--31, 2010.

"Edge of Darkness"  by Mike Smith
Forgotten Horrors: Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things  by ED Tucker
January Albums  by Terence Nuzum
Ahoy! Pirates In Pop Culture  by Lisa Scherer
Curse of Japanese Toy Shopping  by Jason Fetters
I Love St. Pete @ ARTpool  by John Miller
Love Is... .... Movie Notes .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith
The Audio Philes by Terence Nuzum

January Albums

Album Of The Month:
Vampire Weekend: Contra- The flaxen-haired beauty on the cover invoking the image of a 80's college yuppie may make you think that Vampire Weekend are still playing on their Kinks-meets-Talking Heads-meets Paul Simon's Graceland debut album but don't be fooled. Gone are the quaint Ray Davies guitar riffs. Instead they are replaced with reggae rhythms funneled through "Confusion" era New Order. This is displayed best on the song "White Sky". Ezra Koenig's Paul Simon/Peter Gabriel vocal nuances have remained the same except when taking a Thom Yorkish croon detour on the album closer "Contra" and the downright David Byrnish "California English". While "Taxi Cab" is the only real dark or slow song on the album there is a sense as is most always with sophomore albums a tendency to get a bit more artistic. "Run" best exemplifies this as it starts off as a slow ditty with a bouncy back beat that eventually consumes the song as it builds to a dance pop climax. The albums best song is "Under The Gun" a poppy driving number that wouldn't sound out of place in the Britpop 90's. Of course there is also a bit of the old style on the album in the form of the pop knockout "Cousins" which boasts a sped up schizoid riff behind lyrics of hereditary fame. An almost perfect album that tows the line between artistic and Top 40 pop. And while it has various styles they never seem too far from each other stylistically. Swapping African Rhythms, Kinks riffs, and yuppie pop for dance hall, reggae, and 80's electro pop Contra has emerged as an album taking a step forward while also not alienating fans.

Spoon: Transference- Spoon ups the guitar for this one giving us riffy pop rock with a hint of Zeppelin and darker lyrics than usual for indie-rocks favorite band. Not as poppy or jazzy as past efforts but for those who love the earlier albums (Girls Can Tell in particular) will welcome the return to the more garagey side of the band.

Surfer Blood: Astro-Coast- Florida band makes good. This was already making the bootleg rounds as early as August last year and it totally lives up to the post Pitchfork review hype it has been getting. It's Garage Punk funneled through a wave of Brian Wilson echo chamber, and like its title it dwells in the surf guitar genre, but unlike retro acts it isn't straight forward or noticeable to the casual listener. Instead its brilliant guitar rock is simply informed by the echoey and twangy ghost of the sea and surf. Who says Florida has no good bands? They will be huge.

Audiophile's Year End Lists

Artist of the Decade: Radiohead

No band more perfectly captured both the public's fascination and their fears of technology like Radiohead. When Kid A dropped way back in 2000 it was obvious this was a classic. It was an album capturing the Y2k paranoia and the possible Terminatoresque impending doom of a world run by machines. An album that sported mostly Aphex Twin and Autechre beats instead of vocals that mind bogglingly went to number one in America the week it came out. Radiohead progressed with us in this techno world. As we became less wary of technology their music reflected this by embracing the guitar once again and melding it into their new electronic sound on the anti-Bush Hail To The Thief. On their latest album In Rainbows they like us fully embraced the good that can come of computers and used the Internet as a means of self distribution. No band since Pink Floyd has represented artsy like Radiohead. They were in the last decade the band all others must measure up to.

Best albums of 2009 (from greatest to least)

1. Bear In Heaven: Beast Rest Forth Mouth
2. Them Crooked Vultures:Self Titled
3. The Flaming Lips: Embryonic
4. The Dead Weather: Horehound
5. Neko Case: Middle Cyclone
6. Arctic Monkeys: Humbug
7. Dinosaur Jr: Farm
8. The XX: Self Titled
9. The Black Crowes: Before the Frost (double LP vinyl track order only)
10. Super Furry Animals: Dark Days/Light Years
11.Mastodon: Crack The Skye
12.Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
13.Camera Obscura: My Maudlin Career
14.Boston Spaceships: Zero To 99
15.Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs
16.Shrinebuilder: Self Titled
17.Yeah Yeah Yeahs: It's Blitz
18.Os Mutantes: Haih...
19.Fever Ray: Self Titled
20.Vivian Girls: Everything Goes Wrong

Honerable Mentions (just some damn good albums)

1. Bob Dylan: Together Through Life
2. Built To Spill: There Is No Enemy
3. Dead Man's Bones: Self Titled
4. U2: No Line On The Horizon (yes they finally made a good album again)
5. Baroness: Blue Record
6. The Manic Street Preachers: Journal For Plague Lovers

As you may have noticed Audiophiles has gone back to the Digital Divide format that I swore not to return to but since the departure of Music Emporium someone has to carry the flag for new music reviews. So until someone takes the spot, Audiophiles goes monthly and will be a column focusing mainly on new music releases and will have an Album of the Month spotlight. Enjoy and play it loud!

"The Audio Philes" is ©2010 by Terence Nuzum.   All graphics (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.