Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    2014- Top Albums
    It was a down year for albums, I think. There was lots of great music, but I would only call my #1 album here great. The rest range from really good to good, but they all have some weak songs or filler. This led to the list being filled by musicians who have previously released music better than their new albums (Grouper, Ryan Adams, Pure X, etc). The three team-ups were each revitalizing for everyone involved, and besides Pinata they didn't get enough attention.
ALSO NOTE: The D'Angelo album is amazing, but I haven't had enough time to evaluate it. I'm certain it would end up in my top 5, possibly my album of the year.

  1. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
    I wasn't even a Lykke Li fan until she went all Zola Jesus on this one. Goth Lykke Li released one of the most emotional and one of the most catchy albums I've heard in a while
  2. Ariana Grande – My Everything
    Don't shoot me but I like this album better than Beyonce's latest. It's ok though I still like Queen Bey more.
  3. Fennesz – Becs
    Did no one else listen to this? Really an excellent electronic/ambient album, reminds me of the olden days of Gas and, well, Fennesz.
  4. Beck – Morning Phase
  5. Broken Twin – May
    Has the best top 5 songs of the year, with some filler.
  6. Eno/Hyde – High Life
  7. Freddie Gibbs/Madlib – Pinata
  8. Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden
  9. Nothing – Guilty of Everything
    I like this more than Deafheaven from last year, more shoegaze/less black metal.
  10. Spoon – They Want My Soul
    Has a top 5 Spoon song ever (“Inside Out”), but a bit uneven.
  11. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
    I have thought/talked about the career of Ryan Adams more than any other musician in my life. I don't even know what this would sound like to someone less indoctrinated into his corpus/less privy to all his references.
  12. Fatima Al Qadiri – Asiatisch
  13. Makthaverskan – II
    Swedish pop-punk!
  14. YG – My Krazy Life
  15. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
    My favorite LDR album
  16. Posse – Soft Opening 
    Look it's Yo La Tengo II! I hope to enjoy you for the next 25 years, Posse.
  17. Babyface/Toni Braxton – Love, Marriage, and Divorce
  18. Pure X - Angel
  19. Tony Molina – Dissed and Dismissed
    It's the new Weezer album! Wait, old Weezer released an album this year?
  20. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
  21. Grouper – Ruins
    Sadder than the Sun Kil Moon record.
  22. VHS Head – Persistence of Vision
    Winning this year's Jam City award for glitchy music to grade to
  23. Frankie Cosmos – Zentropy
    Really good and earnest, reminds me a bit of teenage girl Jonathan Richman.
  24. Modern Baseball – You're Gonna Miss it All
    Wish this came out when I was in high school. It sounds like it did.
  25. How to Dress Well – What is This Heart
    I hated this when I first heard it because I wanted more traditional white-boy soul, but it grew on me. I still want more traditional white-boy soul though (looking at you Autre ne Veut).   

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Here's a list, in no particular order, of some of my favorite songs of 2013. NOTE: I excluded all songs from my favorite albums list and emphasized on songs that I encountered on an individual basis, partially because I didn't want to list every Daft Punk song. Again, no order whatsoever, although the Mariah, Broken Twin, Banks, and Julia Holter songs are among my absolute faves.

Ian Isaih - Freak U Down
Ciara - Body Party
Phosphorescent- The Quotidian Beasts

Tweens - Be Mean

Denzel Curry - Threatz

Todd Terje - Strandbar
Hop Along - Sister Cities
Mapei - Don't Wait
Eagulls - Nerve Endings
The xx - Together

FKA Twigs - Water Me
Justin Timberlake - Strawberry Bubblegum
Low - So Blue
Ace Hood - Bugatti
Broken Twin - Out of Air
Mariah Carey ft. Miguel - #Beautiful
Soft Metals - Tell Me
2 Chainz - Feds Watching

Julia Holter - World
Sean Nicholas Savage - Lonely Woman
Var - The World Fell
Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Day
Ariana Grande - Honeymoon Avenue

Vampire Weekend - Step

Basement Jaxx - What a Difference Your Love Makes
Divine Fits - Ain't That the Way

Sophie - Bipp

Savages - She Will
Chris Malinchak - So Good To Me

Banks - Waiting Game
100s - Life of a Mack
Odonis Odonis - Are We Friends
RaVaughn - Best Friend

Ghost BC - Year Zero
Pure Bathing Culture - Dream the Dare

Monday, December 23, 2013

1. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Give in. Lose yourself to dance. "I am the beginning, the end, the one who is many... I am Random Access Memories."

2. My Bloody Valentine - m b v

How amazing is this album? What would they have had to do not to be overlooked in the 8-15 range on year end lists?

3. Kanye West - Yeezus

4. Rhye - Woman

They delivered on those early singles and how.

5. Joanna Gruesome - Weird Sisters

Such a perfect band for me: silly retro 90s tweecore

6. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest

7. Moonface - Julia with Blue Jeans on

Devastating. Also maybe the only outright sad album on my list?

8. Yuck - Glow and Behold

Amazing to lose your band lead/singer and make what MAY be a BETTER album? Gin Blossoms shit right there.

9. Danny Brown - Old

Listen to it as an album.

10. Julianna Barwick - Nepenthe


11. Austra - Olympia

Has maybe my favorite 5-song set of the year, but with some filler. so #witchy

12. Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time

13. Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe

So cool.

14. Caitlin Rose - The Stand-In

It took a lot to get me interested in an alt-country album. Caitlin did it.

15. Blood Ceremony - The Eldritch Dark

My favorite metal album of the year sounds more like Jethro Tull than Deafheaven

16. Pure X - Crawling up the Stairs

Fav Austin band releases their best record.

17. Zola Jesus - Versions

Better than the originals.

18. Haim - Days are Gone

19. Pusha T - My Name is My Name

20. The Knife - Shaking the Habitual

So good, so hard to listen to.

21. Factory Floor - S/T

Totally delivered on all the debut hype.

22. Potty Mouth - Hell Bent 

Amazing sloppy debut. Band I most want to hang out with.

23. Colleen Green - Sock it To Me

Always overlooked because of deceptive simplicity.

24. Cassie - Rock a Bye Baby

My favorite R&B nasty girl releases an excellent DRRTY mixtape

25. Eleanor Friedberger - Personal Record

I forgot; this should be higher but I'm too lazy to change this list.

26. Califone - Stitches

It bums me out that everyone overlooks califone when they consistently release excellent records.

27. Darkside - Psychic

28. Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety

29. Psychic Teens - Come


30. Laura Marling - Once I Was an Eagle

I know I'm forgetting stuff, sorry! Honorable Mentions include over-anticipated releases from FIDLAR, CHVRCHES, Mazzy Star, Savages, and Julia Holter. Those albums were good but not as good as I wanted them to be. Also still need to process the Beyonce.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Some of my Favorite Music Videos of 2013
I know I forgot a lot.

Odonis Odonis - Better
This is a cheap, unoriginal music video, but I love how it reminds me of old Austra videos, and the cult dancing is solid. The cheap masks are pretty creepy too.

Dizzee Rascal - I Don't Need a Reason
As absurd and awesome as the song

Solange - Loves in the Parking Lot
Solange seems to do no wrong.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Sacrilege
The fancy reverse narration doesn't get in the way of a good music video.

Ciara - Body Party
Sexy song, sexy video

Haim - Falling
Oh just some cute Stevie Nicks wannabes in what seems to be a witchy Abercrombie and Fitch shoot? YES PLEASE

Pissed Jeans - Romanticize Me
Simple idea flawlessly executed

Ghost BC - Year Zero
Nice Mini-horror movie for a really catchy pop song.

Pusha T feat Kendrick Lamar - Nosetalgia
Simple and in your face

Disclosure - When A Fire Starts to Burn
Maybe it takes a sermon to get me into Disclosure?

No Joy - Hare Tarot Lies
Love the creepiness of this video.

Mykki Blanco- Kingpinning
My favorite visual rapper makes so many great videos. This one is his most simple, making the basic rap video interesting, His live show with Boychild was transcendent.

Beach House - Wishes
Still pretty bored by Beach House, but every Eric Wareheim video is must-see

Savages - Shut Up
Best live performance video, I think... but I think I'm forgetting something.

Their videos got a little too slick for me, but I like the Depeche Mode vibe here

Blood Orange - Time Will Tell
Huge fan of people-dancing-alone videos

Austra - Reconcile

Taylor Swift - 22
Don't Pretend you don't like it. I want her T Shirt

Milosh - Slow Down
So simple and emotional and great

Joanna Gruesome
This and the next video are my favorites of the year, and weirdly similar.

LIZ - U Over Them
I want this on repeat forever.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Top 10 Movies of 2012
  1. The Kid with a Bike
    The only masterpiece this year is the best movie by the most consistently great filmmakers of the century. A movie that makes all other Dardenne movies better in retrospect, and inherits Bresson's title of secular scripture. Stages the best miracle in film that I can think of offhand.
  2. The Master
    After trying to make the Western perverse with There Will Be Blood (hint: it already was), Anderson takes on the other great American genre: the Romance. Still doesn't quite earn the relationship that the actors give it (is that a genre convention?), but the motorcycle scene is special, as is the “Slow Boat to China” scene, if unearned.
  3. Damsels in Distress
    Stillman once again manages to show compassion for his characters while decidedly not identifying with them; in other words, the opposite of the alt-American comedic tradition of Woody Allen and Wes Anderson (closer to Altman). Realism is not the point in a movie that is about frivolity.
  1. 5 Broken Cameras
    The best documentary I saw all year also tells one of the best narratives. An incredibly explicit political film also tells an incredibly personal story. A better film about filmmaking than “This is Not a Film.” I can't believe that Sugar Man bullshit won the Academy Award.
  2. Zero Dark Thirty
    The antithesis of Zodiac does a better job telling us just what someone would do for certainty, and it is more terrible than I could imagine. The “100%” scene is so dark and politically disturbing, and the final shots are among the most haunting of the year. People who criticize this film's politics don't seem to appreciate how open it is to letting them articulate their problems with it. You can't make a politically “correct” film about counter-terrorism and have it be any good.
  1. The Deep Blue Sea
  2. Prometheus
    The inverse of Alien. Whereas Alien was excellent for its claustrophobia, Prometheus makes us afraid of openness. Alien was tight and focused; Prometheus is convoluted and all over the place. But the movie's pessimism is profoundly affecting, beautiful and uncompromisimg. Shaw's faith is appropriately underexplained and unflinching. Appropriate quote from Melancholia (which would be a good double-feature partner): “The earth is evil. We don't need to grieve for it.”
  1. Django Unchained
    Not a great film, but its cruelty and brutality confirms that Inglourious Basterds was. Tarantino's interview with Gates is worth a read. Worthy of all the debate it has created.
  2. Bernie
    Jack Black gives the best acting performance in several years. A darkly hilarious movie that gets explores religiosity and sexuality without getting preachy or reductive.
  3. Ruby Sparks
    I have no defense for liking this rom-com that most people I respect will despise. I think it does a great job of deconstructing the Manic-Pixie-Dreamgirl fetish, though, even while engaging with it (wouldn't it have to?). And towards the end it contains a perverse scene of cruelty the likes of which every Romantic Comedy should aspire to.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Top Tracks of 2012

On reflection, it seems my favorite songs of the year fall into two general categories: intimate, introspective ballads (xx, rhye, perfume genius), and agressively fun/loud party songs (solange, drake, FIDLAR).
 1. The xx - Angels
 I don't understand how this song, and this album, didn't get more credit/buzz. I want this song to become a standard that is covered in hotel lobbies after several decades.
 2. Perfume Genius - Hood
Beautiful, heartbreaking.
 3. TRUST - Sulk
The best song from the best new band of 2012. Like a better, darker Depeche Mode single.
 4. Solange - Losing You
Best pop song/video of the year.
 5. FIDLAR - Cheap Beer
So glad they could best last year's excellent "Wake Bake Skate." Makes me want to skateboard/be 19.
 6. Rhye - Open (Living Room Version)
I also considered the excellent "The Fall," as well as the studio version of this song, which was unfortunately (but appropriately) used for that Victoria's Secret commercial. But this stripped down acoustic version shows just how lovely and sexy the songwriting is.
 7. Japandroids - The House that Heaven Built
First heard this live in the Fall of 2011, and haven't been able to shake it since.
 8. Fiona Apple - Werewolf
9. Angel Haze - New York (King Krule Rework)
A remix that really transforms the original while staying true to it.
10.Sky Ferreira - Everything is Embarrassing 
11. Drake (f. Lil Wayne) - The Motto
No but seriously.
 12. King Tuff - Bad Thing
Makes me want to start a band. It would be fun!
 13. Light Asylum - Shallow Tears (12" version)
 14. Dum Dum Girls - Lord Knows AND Divine Fits - Shivers
Two great songs that pay homage to "Shivers" by the Boys Next Door - My most listened-to track of 2012 by far.
 15. Father John Misty - Hollywood Forever Cemerey Sings
 16. Chromatics - These Streets Will Never Look the Same
Better than "Kill for Love," which is saying something.
 17. Metz - Wet Blanket
 18. Jeremih - Fuck You All the Time (Shlomo Remix)
Thanks for the tip John!
 19. Andy Stott - Numb
 20. A Place to Bury Strangers - Onwards to the Wall
Why did no one talk about this EP? Sounds like vintage JAMC

Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011 Top albums

Without frills, pictures, or further ado:

1. The Beach Boys – SMiLE Sessions
You know that line from Barenaked Ladies' “Brian Wilson”: “just listening and re-listening / to Smiley-Smile”? That's me.
2. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
At first I was disappointed with the album after the obvious greatness of “Vomit,” but while not all the songs are as grandiose, they all develop into much more than they seem.
3. The Weeknd – House of Balloons / Thursday
4. Beyonce – 4
My top 25 songs of the year would have 3 from this album. Could be even higher if it weren't for that atrocious first single.
5. Beirut – The Rip Tide
By far my favorite Beirut album comes when he ditches the fancy instrumentation and lets his songwriting (and voice) come through relatively unadorned.
6. M83 – Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
7. Bon Iver – S/T
8. Real Estate – Days
Pretty standard 90s-sounding alt-rock (Yo La Tengo?) executed to perfection. Yes, thank you.
9. Destroyer - Kaputt
10. King Creosote and Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
Not sure why no one (besides embarrassing NPR) is into this album.
11. Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer
So much preferable to any Fiery Furnaces album, to me. A big surprise for me.
12. Ryan Adams – Ashes and Fire
Best Ryan Adams album since Jacksonville City Nights. That maybe isn't saying much, but I'm impressed.
13. Cloud Nothings – S/T
Every year there's some new indie rock band (usually teenagers) that makes me nostalgic for high school and getting excited about some energetic but flawed “rock” album (see also: #25). It's silly and my friends rarely identify with these picks.
14. Apparat – The Devil's Walk
15. The Rapture – In The Grace of Your Love
Rapture deliver again. Not sure what happened to them in pop/hipster consciousness. Is this how 30-somethings talk about Wilco?
16. Kendrick Lamar – Section 80
Wonderful samples and laid-back flow.
17. Escort – Escort
I love disco unironically.
18. Teirus Nash - 1977
19. James Blake – S/T
Everyone seems to have forgotten about poor darling James Blake. James, I never loved you, but I didn't forget you either.
20. Tycho – Dive
Not exciting but infinitely listenable and never boring.
21. Cults – S/T
22. Jens Lekman – An Argument With Myself
Jens has a spot reserved on any year-end list for me, even if all he releases is a silly little EP.
23. Drake – Take Care
24. Wild Flag – Wild Flag
25. Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong

Also, like Nick, I found myself listening more and more to ambient or modern classical music while I worked. It is hard to rate these "ignorable" or "mood" albums alongside the pop albums above, so I'll just list them (in no order) below:

Olafur Arnalds – Living Room Songs
Swod – Drei
Disk Jokke – Sagara
Blanck Mass – S/T
Hauschka – Youyoume
Bohren and Der Club of Gore - Beileid