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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!!!!!!)

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