Nov. 8, 2007
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As winter begins to rear its blustery head, let's take a look back at a handful of this fall's major indie-rock albums and see how they stand up against conventional wisdom with our reoccurring feature, Overrated/Underrated:

The Good Life – Help Wanted Nights

Metacritic Score: 60

Consensus: All too familiar

My Take: Underrated. After winning over reviewers with their 2004 Album of the Year—which, while not the album of that year, made a mighty valiant effort—Tim Kasher's non-Cursive (don't call it a side-project) band The Good Life couldn't catch a critical break with their follow-up. "The likes of this album have been released, oh, a million times over, in the past 8 years—it's not bad, not good, just a drop in a calm, tepid, flat ocean," read one typical review. I disagree, though. On the surface, Kasher's sadsack songs about relationships past their expiration date may come across like every other post-Neil Young relationship album, but Kasher writes with more wit and insight than 90% of his contemporaries. Help Wanted Nights does lack the dramatic arrangements and surprise left-turns of Album of the Year, but a stripped down Good Life is still better than no Good Life at all.

Simian Mobile Disco – Attack Decay Sustain Release

Metacritic Score: 73

Consensus: Excellent

My Take: Overrated. Some reviews would have you believe this disc is an Daft Punk-style bacchanal, but it's considerably tamer than that. Try as they might, these thin, minimalist electronica compositions inevitably fall into the background.

Enon – Grass Geysers…Carbon Clouds

Metacritic Score: 78

Consensus: Fun stuff

My Take: Accurately rated. Although Enon's mish-mash of frantic, guitar-centric indie-rock and synthy dance-pop, both played with an emphasis on big hooks and brevity, sounds less revelatory than it did on their 2002 breakthrough High Society, the group still throws down one hell of a party. They get added points of beefing up the guitars and rocking out at a time when that kind of bombast is sadly going out of style.


The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear the case to determine if Wisconsin Republicans’ redistricting maps are too partisan. Do you believe the U.S. Supreme Court will order Wisconsin to redraw our legislative maps so the majority of legislative districts are competitive and voters will actually have a real choice between a Democrat and Republican?

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