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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Full albums:

  • The Strange Boys, And Girls Club1
  • Pete Rock, PeteStrumentals and Soul Survivor II2
  • tUnE-yArDs, W H O K I L L3
  • Busta Rhymes, Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front4
  • Leaders of the New School, T.I.M.E.5
  • Action Bronson, The Program EP
  • Asher Roth, Pabst & Jazz
  • Nas, Illmatic

Random Excellence:

  • A Tribe Called Quest, “Footprints”
  • Saves the Day, “This is not an Exit”
  • Raekwon, “Canal Street”
  • The Hold Steady, “The Sweet Part of the City”
  • Foo Fighters, “Alandria”

Songs of the Week:

  • Van Halen, “Dancing in the Street”
  • The Roots, “You Don’t See Us”
  • Steve Winwood, “Split Decision”
  • Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, “On and On”
  • Notorious B.I.G., “Just Playing (Dreams)”

Reviews:

1. Let’s not beat around the bush here: this dude can’t sing. He’s also backed by a band pumping out some truly awesome music as influenced by the 1950s as the early 2000s. It’s fittingly garage rock and incredibly aware to the point that I can get over the fact that I wasn’t really a big fan of his voice at the get-go. His voice is sort of like Joe Strummer’s: The first listen makes you wonder how those assholes calling themselves The Clash got away with calling themselves “the only band that matters,” but you don’t want to listen to anything else after a couple of listens.

2. ILLER BEATS THAN A FUCKIN’ UFC MATCH INSIDE A HOSPITAL.

3. Seriously, I had to look up whether this vocalist was a boy or a girl. She or he did a whole lot of singing that I abhorred, though shim was lucky the beats were pretty good. And yet, that’s another major problem I have with this album: I feel like this is part of the same Lana Del Rey movement. We have our white women (s/he) singing about the hard times they’ve faced while living in the ghetto. They’re stuck in some place right between faking it to make it and actually living in a ghetto that has become so symptomatic of the “hipster” diagnosis.

I’m not saying it’s really a new movement, I’m just frustrated by the execution. Stealing from black musicians is by no means a new trend; Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones are guilty of a kind of black hero worship that frequently borders on blatant theft. But holy fuck could Plant sing, Jagger entertain (and sing better than average), Page pull the hottest riffs out of Satan’s eardrums, and Richards concoct the hip-shaking grooves to end it all.

And then the plight of the hipster makes it okay to envision Williamsburg or Portland or some other bullshit place with access to a million different amazing things the heart of eternal suffering. I think I understand part of it–there’s a very real chance I was clinically depressed while living in Crown Heights, but it was way more terrible than Williamsburg–but I think I’m frustrated that the mentality is not so much, “Hey, everything’s fucked up! Let’s dance!” but more “Everything’s fucked up and I’m sad.” Because, no, young female white privileged person, you did not grow up on welfare. Your life was not getting pregnant at 16 and debating whether or not to even bother with a GED. You didn’t steal clothes that you turn around and sell so you can eat.

Yet, I know it’s supposed to be symptomatic of our times: the Occupy movement was pretty much crushed by a billionaire who thought it was a personal insult. The Republican debates continue to happen seemingly on a nightly basis because no one really seems to be able to express what they’re really angry about. Instead, they talk about gays, taxes, and moon bases–because if we can’t fix our own country, we might as well fuck up the moon? So I understand why this is the kind of album than dominate all the super-indie charts for “Best of 2011,” but I just can’t sign up.

Someone remix that shit with a rapper lacing the track, son. You know what? Somebody teach that mist-her how to spell, too.

Deep breaths.

4. Sometimes I wonder if Busta just has a terrible taste in beats. Dude’s pretty great at rapping and a lot of the material from his cannon will probably always be considered classic material, but I bet 90% of his instrumental CDs sell $0–and not because no one buys CDs any more. This really is a particularly good album, but sometimes I was so distracted by what was supposed to be bolstering him that I overlooked his raps.

5. This is sort of like what Ice Cube is to N.W.A. or Q-Tip is to A Tribe Called Quest. Sure, it’s catchy as fuck and kind of a masterpiece from a very specific era, but there’s no way Busta Rhymes wasn’t coming out on top–he ran this rodeo.

Comment:

I recently updated my social playlist after a round of minor critiques and unwarranted brags by friends about the quality of their social playlists. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about your choice in music–it’s one very specific person who boasts about having the best beats playlist to all their Twitter friends, and checking in on the health of their beats reveals they only have 58 songs. For the love of all things holy, my social playlist has 340+ songs on it, is constantly in need of repair, and has never been perfect in its existence.

Deep breaths.

At any rate, I took the critiques into consideration, adjusted in iTunes and uploaded the entire playlist to Spotify to replace the older version. To my surprise, quite a few songs were not available. Then I realized it was entirely my fault.

You see, I have an unrelenting pet peeve: I find nothing in iTunes as insufferable as Gracenote’s method of citing songs. By God, Gracenote. You’re right. I was definitely looking for that one-song album where Jay-Z and Nas finally squashed their beef, came together and only recorded “Success” for their one-off EP, American Gangster.

No! You fucking fuck! Jay-Z spent all the time in the studio recording a goddamn album, Nas showed up and laced the track with a single verse! He doesn’t get to be the other half of the artist who produced that song! Sweet mother of things that are pervasive into modernity as religious idols, what did he do, handpick the producers and the song order like his name started with the eighth letter of the alphabet? Do they call him “Mister Z”? No! He isn’t the fucking album artist! He’s featured on that song for, as I’ve noted, pretty much just a verse! He gets credit for naught but being featured on the song! Sweet underworld dweller and ruler, I’ve used so many exclamation points out of sheer frustration–despite my hatred of them as well!A

And so I edit my personal iTunes library to mirror my stance on this issue. But what does that mean for Spotify? Since they rely on the same classification system, it means Spotify is equally your neighborhood helmet child. “What is this? “Hero (Feat. Keri Hilson)”? BaaaaaadurrrrB, I don’t know what that means. Oh, you like “Hero” by Nas and Keri Hilson? NO WAI, me tew. Check out these other songs by Nas and Keri Hilson”–BUT THERE ARE NONE BECAUSE “NAS AND KERI HILSON” IS NOT A BAND, YOU FUCKING SHITTY SHIT.

And suddenly, my work is doubled on two services because they use the same faulty classification system. Indeed, these smack desperately of the clichéd “White People Problems,” but they are a very real problem that I consider to be a global issue. When you’re citing someone in something as permanent and widespread as Gracenote, you have to get your shit right. It’s why I trust books like Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style or AllMusic.com: they’ve put a well-documented amount of work into correctly citing reasons why they define things the way they do. I can point to them because I knew the list of higher authorities (for my American life) is few and far between.

But if the source I’m forced to settle with is dictating bullshit, nonsensical rules, I will rebel. Indeed, it might just be a whiny-white-people blog post, but all the rules I’ve experienced dictate that they are wrong. So I will continue to edit song artists as the only silent middle finger I know how to give to Gracenote. And as such, this will also have to be the last time I write about their incompetencies, since complaining never solved most things. It’s the closest I’ve come to having full-blown OCD, and I will cling to it until they recognize the error of their ways.

A. “An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes”–F. Scott Fitzgerald
B. This is a potentially offensive reference to what I imagine as an onomatopoeia that an anthropomorphic Gracenote CDDB would say out loud. However, consider how this is probably more offensive to the mentally handicapped with which you would normally associate such a stereotypical noise: Gracenote will never be as intelligent as the mentally handicapped. Indeed, the mentally handicapped kids I’ve met are always the happiest people I’ve ever encountered–they seem to be free of the burden of endless conscious decisions and stresses. I sometimes envy them. But Gracenote is just a robot incapable of emotion, deader than dinosaurs, and stupider than the Kardashian family. (BOOM! TOPICAL!) The moral of the story is, I apologize to all mentally handicapped ladies and gentlemen for deigning to classify Gracenote as anywhere near as amazing as you are. Please keep smiling and bringing smiles.

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To perhaps simplify last year’s resolutions a little, I hereby resolve to:

  • Construct a list of every questionable grammar rule, homophone or definition that gives me any kind of trouble. I’m talking about the difference between lay and lie, double check and double-check (would you believe one’s a verb and the other’s a noun? Totally not interchangeable. You can pick your brains up from the floor at your convenience), each other and one another, that and which, lay and lie, etc. This way, presumably, I’ll have to look them up a whole lot less.
  • Make a concerted effort to figure out how many hours of sleep I really need to function. I’m suspicious that 7 isn’t enough and that more than 9 is too much unless I’m catching up on sleep I’ve lost all week. Wherever that sweet spot is (say, if I really do need a full 9 hours of sleep), I want to get there so work requires less awake juice and I can get back to liking coffee because it’s delicious.
  • Double-check (‘sup!?!) my work before I tweet, text or send an email I’ve typed on my phone. I have a bad habit of typing it all, hitting the send button, reading it over, and realizing there’s at least one error (and it’s not Autocorrect’s fault).
  • Read on the subway. Last year I might’ve read two books in my spare time. That’s ridiculous. I still have a stack of unread magazines that date back to April. It’s embarrassing. Realistically, I won’t be reading my magazine collection on the subway, I’m just citing a very specific example of why my life in general needs more reading time.

Full Albums:

  • Young Jeezy, TM:103 Hustlerz Ambition1
  • Starfucker, Starfucker2
  • My Morning Jacket, Circuital3
  • Lemon Jelly, Lost Horizons4
  • MF Doom, Operation Doomsday5
  • Freddie Gibbs, Cold Day in Hell6
  • Saves the Day, Stay What You Are
  • The Weeknd, Echoes of Silence7
Random Excellence:
  • TV on the Radio, “I Was a Lover”
  • Taking Back Sunday, “Set Phasers to Stun”
  • Tame Impala, “Desire Be Desire Go”
  • The Roots, “Get Busy”
  • GZA, “7 Pounds”

Songs of the Week:

  • Cults, “Oh My God”
  • Warren Zevon, “Werewolves of London”
  • Tom Vek, “The Lower the Sun”
  • Saves the Day, “Jukebox Breakdown”
  • Interpol, “Success”

Reviews:

1. I remember an episode of WTF where someone told a story about the only time Lorne Michaels was on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon set. It might’ve been Anthony Jeselnik, but the thing that Lorne said was something like, “The hardest thing about starting a new show is that you’re not there until three years later when you’re there.” I feel like that’s totally been the story of Young Jeezy and Rick Ross’ entire careers. I used to laugh at every song of theirs, but they sort of became major figures in the rap game…because they were there all the time. Recently, Jeezy took a break. Though that didn’t harm any of his rhymes here, I think it completely damaged his perception. Like he’s been napping or something. But he’s still Jeezy, doing the Jeezy thing. It’s even a solid album, and, more surprisingly, the first time I’ve been interested enough to listen to a whole Jeezy album. I mean, if you can get Ice Cold and Hova on a song together, then fuck it–I’ll totally listen to your entire album. And admire it.

2. This was half incredible and half garbage chip tune. As far as I can tell, their best might only ever be “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second.” Which, surprisingly enough, everyone’s probably heard before, so don’t go diggin’ too deep in ye olde catalog.

3. These bros and their goddamn country music. They get me all excited with “Holdin’ on to Black Metal” and their eponymous tracks, then they be puttin’ me to sleep with their boring country shit. I swear to God, if I was producing their albums, I would’ve mashed the last two together with only the rocking, funky, black-man-stuck-inside-a-white-man’s-body guitar licks and had one of the best albums out in four years. But I can’t, so I just skip the songs I don’t like.

4. Few things play like this at work. Just sink into it because it’s good. And the lyrics are all just samples from other things, so you can just drown it out. I heard of them while reading Lifehacker and immediately dismissed them because the opening sentence was so grammatically mangled that it barely made sense. I talked to one of my friends, though, and he thoroughly recommended them. So, in turn, I will now recommend them to you. They got the beat.

5. I’mma go buy me a stockpile of anthrax, nukes, AKs and M4s–I don’t ever want Doomsday to go away. [Ed. Note: Dear Federal Agents (mad ’cause I’m flagrant), I mean that in the strictest sense of hyperbole. I am fully aware that buying illegal arms for myself will not prevent a CD, MP3, or vinyl pressing from disappearing, thus I have no actual interest in prison time. Good morrow.]

6. This is what I’m talking about. Remember last week when I was talking shit about Danny Brown? Why isn’t this guy potentially getting signed to G-Unit? Then again, does anyone really want to be signed to G-Unit? The point is, if people can fight about “real rap” dying these days, I will use this man as Exhibit A for the defense.

7. Oh man, what a Michael Jackson cover. Crazy good, though I think it might truly be the best song on the album. It seems like his production techniques are improving, but still nothing’s as hooky as his first album. Dude can still sing, though. Good news all around.

Comment:

I went to a psychic a while back, something I’ve literally never done before. One of the things she told me was to keep things closer to the vest. I sat there in complete shock, because how the fuck am I going to do that? My hobby is writing about music I love and my job is writing about websites and apps I love. When I think of a joke, I don’t want to be the only one laughing–not only is that a colossal waste of a joke, but it’s also a great way to make me look like the neighborhood crazy person.

So I’ve been wondering if she was talking specifically about the weekly Comment. As if I’m giving away all my secrets here or something. My Social Security number might be seventeen schvifty queue, but there wasn’t a deadline or anything. Am I supposed to not talk anymore about anything? Or was it a two-week thing where I was in extreme danger of getting caught looking up LEGO prices at work?

I know a lot of people don’t put a lot of stock in it, but I think a part of me just might. My Mom always said things like “You just have to put your good intentions out into the Universe and the Universe will answer,” even before The Secret had everyone flipping their wigs to launch their thought rockets into space. So it makes me wonder if I really do take a lot of stock in it. I have friends who regularly go to that shop, but see the other lady (who is supposedly way better and scarily accurate) and they get oddly specific readings. Mine was incredibly vague, so I wonder if that means I get to just say whatever I want like usual. I think I secretly want it all to be right so I can have something like Life’s Cheatcodes–yet I still don’t want to have to spend all my time censoring myself or building thought rockets.

Full Albums:

  • Danny Brown, The Hybrid1
  • MF Doom, Mm…Food2
  • M83, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
  • Adele, 1988
  • Beyonce, 4
  • The Cool Kids, Tackle Box
  • Justice, Cross
  • Outkast, ATLiens
  • Raekwon, Unexpected Victory
  • TV on the Radio, Nine Types of Light

Random Excellence:

  • Styles of Beyond, “Second to None”
  • Sly and the Family Stone, “Underdog”
  • Left Lane Cruiser, “Heavy”
  • Jay-Z, “Sweet”
  • Cults, “Bad Things”

Songs of the Week:

  • Outkast, “Decatur Psalm” and “ATLiens”
  • Bar-Kays, “Holy Ghost”
  • Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, “All the Places”
  • Cults, “Oh My God”

Reviews:

1. I guess this is the kid, right? I think I gotta work my way past his voice first–it sounds more like desperation than aggression and confidence. Maybe, though, that’s what people see as authentic Detroit rapping these days. Maybe it also has something to do with how I’ve never been a big Eminem fan. Either way, I’m going to have to give it another listen or two to figure it all out.

2. I’ve never heard an album like this with such a hugely extended metaphor. Or eight. It’s like a rap, beat and sample master class sometimes. I’m pretty sure if someone forced him to make all of Ghostface Killah’s beats, their great grandchildren would still have fondue fountains–of gold.

Comment:

I don’t know if this is saying more about my resolve than I intend it to, but I’m still mulling about a couple of resolutions. I don’t want to bullshit my way through them if I know I’m not going to do them. But we’ll see what I come up with.

To be honest, I’m surprised The Descendants got the kind of circulation it has. It’s not that the reviews are wrong, it’s certainly a good and beautiful movie–but it’s a difficult one. My theater has it listed between Ghost Protocol and Game of Shadows. Not to shit on those two movies (I’ve seen the latter and intend to see the former), I’m just saying, sandwiched between two popcorn stuffers with more explosions than layers of thought is this movie speaking in metaphors whose antagonist is a dying, comatose matriarch who doesn’t say so much as a single word.

It even seems to have been purposefully set in Hawaii to make it more difficult to deal with: right from the beginning, they address how it’s not that beautiful vacation land where people go to get away from everything for the people who live there. People have lives there. Almost systematically, something unbelievably shitty would happen then the cinematographer got to go to town (but the opposite of town: beautiful beaches and valleys and the like). The only thing keeping the whole ship from going under might’ve been the setting. That is, it’s a little bit of a black comedy masked by a beautiful drama.

I think I remember seeing some review calling it the comedy of the year. I’m no stranger to hyperbole, but it really is a very funny movie. It’s just not a gut-busting, raucous romp through the perils of old age–that lady’s in a goddamn coma. But I laughed out loud a few times and felt uncomfortable just as many times. They’re the kind of funny things that no one should really laugh at and, in a theater, no one really does.

Which is to say it’s a challenging movie. It’s funny, it’s bleak, and it’s thought provoking. It’s good enough to make me surprised that it’s not in an art house.

Full Albums:

  • Wild Flag, Wild Flag1
  • Washed Out: Within and Without and Life of Leisure2
  • SuperHeavy, SuperHeavy3
  • Faces, Ooh La La4
  • AraabMuzik, Electronic Dream5
  • Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, I Learned the Hard Way6
  • Shabbaz Palaces, Black Up7
  • Asher Roth, Pabst and Jazz8
  • Various Artists, Drive: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack9
  • Justice, Cross
  • Raekwon, Unexpected Victory10
Random Excellence:
  • The Wildbirds, “It’s Alright Now”
  • The Police, “Message in a Bottle”
  • Queens of the Stone Age, “Regular John”
  • Left Lane Cruiser, “Justify”
  • Ladyhawke, “Manipulating Woman”

Songs of the Week:

  • Parliament, “Flashlight”
  • Sebastian, “Love in Motion”
  • Washed Out, “Feel it all Around”
  • Thievery Corporation, “Lebanese Blonde”
  • Outkast, “Decatur Psalm”

Reviews:

1. At first I was kind of annoyed with Carrie’s singing: I wanted her to just sing like she was on the choruses, then I realized she was intentionally singing a little like Debbie Harrie during the verses. I’m obviously not familiar enough with here other work to have caught onto that from the get-go, but it’s not all bad. The music is really quite good, though I the reviews lead me to believe it would rock a little harder. Not quite the all-female Queens of the Stone Age or something, but something with a little more distortion or something. Yet, it’s still a good album I’ll be listening to, probably for a while. “Racehorse” alone is reason enough for me to keep coming back for more.

2. This guy reminds me a lot of Toro y Moi–and not because it’s just another dude who sits in his basement making music. It’s heavily electronic, whirling, and choral, but the only song that really sticks out for me as a cohesive song is “Feel it all Around”–and that song is incredibly addictive. I should also mention this is the intro song for Portlandia, IFC’s TV show that enabled me to shake hands with Lorne Michaels and promptly flip my shit on Twitter. So this song will probably always be inextricably linked to a night of so much awesome that I had to go home early to keep from passing out.

3. I can’t believe I missed this one when it came out. I can’t figure out how something this awesome slipped right past me. It’s such a dense album and such a super group that they seem almost too good at naming their own album. It’s rock, soul, reggae–things you’d never think needed to be on the same album. Of course, those are the easiest categories to pick up because each vocalist is heavily associated with each genre, but this is just plain good music. I’m not going to bullshit you and say they invented a new genre of music or something stupid like that, but I’ll say they made an excellent album that takes a lot of time to process and fully understand. I’ve only scratched the surface and I like it.

4. I swear to God, Ronnie Wood is one of the most underrated rock guitarists in the history of rock. He’s the lead guitarist for the goddamn Rolling Stones and who gets all the press? Keith Richards, rhythm guitarist. I mean, it’s not all that bad, but come on: All Faces seemed to be capable of doing was melting faces with awesome guitar work and more blues riffs than a poor, black busker in Chicago in the twenties.

5. Here’s a perfect exemplification of why I talk shit about Pitchfork frequently, but hopefully not to excess. The numbers on this one are 8.2 and they’ve been fawning over it for weeks. I think it’s pretty okay. They’re solid songs, but I’m not really a big fan. They might be better with rappers over them to distinguish them a little, but as they are, not too much stands out for me. I didn’t feel like it was particularly new or different even though that’s all Pitchfork could talk about.

6. It’s funny how the music sounds like it’s from the seventies and the lyrics sound like they were written last year. This is a beautiful album by some very talented musicians.

7. I felt like this one and Electronic Dream were very similar in their production methods. They both seemed very indie and sparse while trying to leave room for the rapper. Like the emphasis was never really supposed to be on the beats all that much. However, this album had someone to deliver a message on it, so it was much more comforting, though still a little strange for me.

8. This is the kind of production I was looking for. Seriously, I’m embarrassed to say I love this album. Not to grace him with too many backhanded compliments, but Asher’s not that terrible a rapper–but oh my goodness, this production. It’s rare to hear this kind of music still being produced, something straight out of the early nineties, and it’s a pleasure to have an oasis of jazz-based production in a sea of electronic whizzes and terrible dubstep. Someday I may even learn to like his rhymes.

9. Here’s something you should never do, from someone who has experienced it: Listen to this album while walking around Times Square. You’ll never know if that tourist in front of you is about to kill you because that other tourist passing you on the right totally just tried to stab you. Every car is going to hit you and everyone is blocking your escape routes. It’s one of the tensest albums I’ve ever heard, but it’s somehow still gorgeous–only in the right settings.

10. This is the most poorly mixed album I’ve ever heard. I kept trying to not let that get in my way of listening to it as a new album, but I judged it and do not want to listen to it much more, if at all, because there are few things as annoying as having to change volume levels on every track because each transition is making you deaf. I’d think, “It’s okay, fight through it–this is Chef. It’s worth it,” only to find myself dismayed and frustrated. Besides, those lines at the end of “Silk” are absolutely garbage. I mean, it’s got C.L. Smooth on it (MAD PROPS), but that other dude doesn’t get to call himself a rapper when he rhymes “payout” with “way out,” “play out,” “day out,” “lay out,” and “AK out” as an afterthought. Sure, I get that you mixed it up a little, but you’re really just rhyming “out” with itself. At least “Chupa Cabra” and “MTV Cribs” are legit. Busta always seem to bust like pipes breakin’ left and right because of rust, ya’heard? Like, with his rapping. Don’t be gross.

Comment:

Since I was a kid, probably 10 or 12, one of the things I used to do most was probably watch Saturday Night Live with my family. I was that kid who could reference things like Mr. Bill and John Belushi when none of my friends had any idea what the fuck a Blues Brother was. For a lot of my life, Lorne Michaels was that mysterious man who wrangled all the people who made me laugh until I cried at least once a week. It was always clear to me that he was the kind of boss I’d always want because everyone who works for him has a job I want.

So when he and the entire cast were sitting next to each other at the season premiere of Portlandia, I could barely contain my excitement. I can name every cast member and usually read at least one article about them per day.

My girlfriend and I were standing between the entrance and the bar so I could see Lorne Michaels (haha, like I’ll ever walk over there and talk to him, right?). Some guy working for IFC walks by and tells us the area we’d been standing next to was no longer reserved, which didn’t really matter because I had no interest in even walking through it. We keep looking around and I keep naming hilarious celebrities.

Then I turn around and Mr. Michaels is standing by himself right in that restricted area, all by himeself and looking for people. I make the three steps toward him and mumble some kind of something that might’ve been, “Mr. Michaels, I’m a huge fan. The season finale–midseason finale–was phenomenal. I’m a huge fan. Thank you so much.”

He just bowed twice and said “Thank you” with a smile.

After a little recovery time, Ad Rock walked up to the bar, passing no more than five feet from me. Ad Rock, the guy whose albums I’ve been listening to since I was in high school, whose last album is on my Best List of Best Albums for the Best 2011. Throughout the rest of the night, I shook other cast members’ hands and chickened out when I made eye contact with Nasim Pedrad.

In fact, I forced my girlfriend to leave early because I reached a point where I couldn’t keep standing two feet away from Reggie Watts and David Cross. I could no longer take literally rubbing up against John Mullaney as he kept backing into my girlfriend and me.

I didn’t want that to be the moment when I peaked; I’d always wanted to meet these people when I was one of them; when I wasn’t getting all my news about them from blogs, but from them. I was a point of collapse probably both from emotional exhaustion and a slight feeling of guilt, like I didn’t yet deserve to be there.

So I think the next time I name drop here, I’ll really have to have earned it.

(Kristen Schaal, Todd Barry, Bill Heder, Fred Armisen, Jay Pharoah, Bobby Moynihan, Jason Sudeikis, Amber Tamblyn, Julie Klaus, Andy Samberg, Vanessa Bayer, Carrie Browenstein [of Wild Flag and Portlandia], Mike Birbiglia!!!!!!!!1!!!!!1!!!!!!)

Full Albums:

  • The Black Keys, Brothers, Chulahoma and El Camino
  • The Clash, The Clash
  • Driver F, Chase the White Whale
  • Faces, A Nod Is as Good as a Wink…to a Blind Horse
  • GZA, Liquid Swords
  • Lupe Fiasco, Friend of the People: I Fight Evil
  • Mayer Hawthorne, How Do You Do

Random Excellence:

  • Otis Redding, “The Happy Song (Dum-Dum)”
  • Yeasayer, “O.N.E.”
  • Ghostface Killah, “9 Milli Bros.”
  • The Rolling Stones, “Happy”
  • Passion Pit, “The Reeling”

Songs of the Weeks:

  • Tom Vek, “We Do Nothing”
  • TV on the Radio, “Caffeinated Consciousnesses”
  • The-Dream, “Fast Car”
  • The Police, “Message in a Bottle”
  • Big K.R.I.T., “I Got Drank”

Reviews:

Nothing to see here.

Comment:

I’m trying to think up some resolutions for myself, so those might be out soon. In the mean time, I hope you had a wonderful holiday and that your 2012 will be just as amazing and full of delightful rewards. Insert Mayan joke here!

New Albums:

  1. Left Lane Cruiser, Junkyard Speed Ball
  2. Adele, 21
  3. Mayer Hawthorne, How Do You Do
  4. Terius Nash, 1977
  5. Tom Vek, Leisure Seizure
  6. Foster the People, Torches
  7. Jay-Z and Kanye West, Watch the Throne
  8. Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
  9. M83, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
  10. Beyoncé, 4
  11. TV on the Radio, Nine Types of Light
  12. The Black Keys, El Camino
  13. Friendly Fires, Pala
  14. Money Making Jam Boys, The Prestige
  15. The Weeknd, House of Balloons
  16. Lupe Fiasco, Friend of the People: I Fight Evil
  17. The Strokes, Angles
  18. The Roots, Undun
  19. Kendrick Lamar, Section.80
  20. Childish Gambino, Camp
  21. The Sheepdogs, Learn and Burn
  22. Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
  23. Mastodon, The Hunter
  24. Big K.R.I.T., Return of 4eva
  25. Tame Impala, Innerspeaker



Albums that Were New to Me:

  1. Left Lane Cruiser, Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table
  2. Driver F, Chase the White Whale
  3. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, The Main Ingredient
  4. The Replacements, Pleased to Meet Me
  5. Big K.R.I.T., K.R.I.T. Wuz Here
  6. Tom Vek, We Have Sound
  7. Left Lane Cruiser, All You Can Eat
  8. The Replacements, Let It Be
  9. Faces, A Nod Is as Good as a Wink…to a Blind Horse
  10. Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life
  11. The Replacements, Tim
  12. Lupe Fiasco, Enemy of the State
  13. Eddie Money, Greatest Hits: Sound of Money
  14. Oasis, (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory
  15. Big Punisher, Capital Punishment
  16. Booker T. & The MG’s, Green Onions
  17. Bar-Kays, The Best of the Bar-Kays
  18. Thin Lizzy, Dedication (The Very Best of Thin Lizzy)
  19. Slim Harpo, The Best of Slim Harpo
  20. The Meters, Rejuvenation
  21. Television, Marquee Moon
  22. Miike Snow, Miike Snow
  23. Slick Rick, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick
  24. The Ike Reilly Assassination, Salesmen and Racists
  25. Metric, Fantasies



Best List of “Best of 2011” Lists

As you might’ve noted above, I opted not to craft tiny blurbs explaining how I ranked each album. I figured I’ve been writing those blurbs all year; however, for this list I’ll provide some blurbs. I’ve spent a lot of my time writing about music because it’s one of my greatest passions. I also used to write pretty consistently about movies, cooking, and other interests. So, since I have other interests outside of music, here are a couple of the best lists I’ve seen that reflect those interests as closely as possible.

  1. NPR’s “The 20 Unhappiest People You Meet In The Comments Sections Of Year-End Lists” As someone who works in editorial, there are few things that take the fun out of any day as people who write in to complain. I can handle critiques from people I respect, but when you send me a complaint from an EarthLink account or criticize my work with willful ignorance, I’m already in the right. Most of the stuff I’ve written doesn’t cost more than a couple of minutes. Maybe just think less of me and move on. This battle cannot be won by the commenters or the complainers; I’ll write circles around those fools because it’s what I do for a living. If they were truly better or completely in the right, they’d probably be doing my job–but they’re not.
  2. Splitsider’s “The Year’s Best Humor Writing 2011” I haven’t read every single piece on this list, but the ones I have are beyond excellent. You can pick any link from this list and I guarantee you’ll get at least one belly laugh. For something not nearly as comprehensive, but also full of great and greatly humorous moments, consider Time Out New York‘s “Best Comedy of 2011” list.
  3. Rolling Stone‘s “50 Best Albums of 2011” There’s a lot of really great stuff on here that I agree with and even some stuff I need to check out because they keep cropping up on everyone else’s lists. Though there are some other lists out there that might come closer to resembling my bizarre interests, I frequently side with Rolling Stone about new music. Pitchfork might write more insightful reviews, but their abstract numbering system and incessant need to be judgmental than everyone else kind of pisses me off. So this is a good list that’s probably a little bit more lenient and reasonable, particularly for the general public.
  4. Roger Ebert’s “The Best Films of 2011” I don’t really know how not to side with Ebert when it comes to movies. Everything I’ve seen on this list deserves its spot, and everything I haven’t seen has been on my “to watch” list for a while. Terri was admittedly a little strange and my Dad and sister tell me The Tree of Life was terrible, but I’m not going to hold that against Ebert. This is still probably the best movie list you can find with quality movies throughout.
  5. Metacritic’s “2011 Television Critic Top Ten Lists” There’s 21 phenomenal shows on here and not a single one is a bullshit reality television program. It’s all finely scripted comedy and drama. Sure, there’s no way in Hell I’m ever going to watch more than one episode of American Horror Story (I’ve already made the mistake of watching one whole episode and I paid for my mistake dearly with many lost hours of sleep), but I know that people who watch it get really involved in it and love it completely. And that’s something you can say about all the shows on this list. They’re well-respected programs that have had a great year. Fringe was absolutely on fire this year. Community was unstoppable. And if you don’t agree with the Metacritic list, they have all the other lists they’re compiling from provided…with all your favorite shows down there. It’s a list to end lists.