Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: December 2012

New Albums:

  1. Kendrick Lamaar, Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City
  2. Killer Mike, R.A.P. Music
  3. Schoolboy Q, Habits and Contradictions
  4. Jessie Ware, Devotion
  5. Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream
  6. El-P, Cancer for Cure
  7. Gary Clark, Jr., Blak and Blu
  8. Driver Friendly, Bury a Dream
  9. Big Boi, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
  10. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist
  11. Nas, Life is Good
  12. Childish Gambino, Royalty
  13. Escort, Escort
  14. Muse, The 2nd Law
  15. The Darkness, Hot Cakes
  16. Oddisee, People Hear What They See
  17. Big K.R.I.T., Live from the Underground
  18. Black Moth Super Rainbow, Cobra Juicy
  19. Twin Shadow, Confess
  20. Homeboy Sandman, The First of a Living Breed
  21. Rye Rye, Go! Pop! Bang!
  22. Jack Black, Blunderbuss
  23. Santigold, Master of My Make-Believe
  24. Baroness, Yellow & Green
  25. Air, Le Voyage Danse la Lune

Albums that Were New to Me:

  1. Ice Cube, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted
  2. Homeboy Sandman, The Good Sun
  3. Fitz & the Tantrums, Pickin’ up the Pieces
  4. Ice Cube, Death Certificate
  5. Scarface, Mr. Scarface is Back
  6. Ghostface Killah, Bulletproof Wallets
  7. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
  8. Ohio Players, Fire
  9. Iggy Pop, Lust for Life
  10. Gary Clark, Jr., The Bright Lights EP
  11. Mobb Deep, The Infamous
  12. Gang Starr, Daily Operation
  13. Clutch, Clutch
  14. Andrew W.K., I Get Wet
  15. Baroness, Blue Record
  16. Statik Selektah, Well-Done
  17. Black Sheep, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
  18. SuperHeavy, SuperHeavy
  19. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
  20. Two Door Cinema Club, Tourist History
  21. Wild Flag, Wild Flag
  22. Tedeschi Trucks Band, Revelator
  23. Pretenders, Learning to Crawl
  24. Travis Barker, Give the Drummer Some
  25. Pete Rock, PeteStrumentals

Best List of “Best of 2012” Lists:

I was actually so overburdened by even seeing headlines for 2012 roundups that I started ignoring them. Luckily, I decided to read the only one here, and it’s fairly all encompassing so I don’t have a problem with having this one as this year’s only best list.

  1. The New Yorker’s “The Hundred Best Lists of All Time.”

Full Albums:

  • Paloma Faith, Fall to Grace1
  • Dam-Funk, Adolescent Funk2
  • Sadat X, Love, Hell, or Right3
  • Wiz Khalifa, O.N.I.F.C.4
  • Future, Pluto5
  • Black Moth Super Rainbow, Cobra Juicy6
  • Driver F, Chase the White Whale7
  • Led Zeppelin, IV8
  • The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St.
  • The-Dream, Love King [Deluxe Edition]
  • Gary Clark, Jr., Blak and Blu9
  • Metric, Synthetica Deluxe10
  • Wu-Block, Wu-Block11
  • MFSB, The Best of MFSB: Love is the Message12
  • Sky Ferreia, Ghost EP13
  • Soundgarden, King Animal14
  • Ulver, Childhood’s End15
  • The Sheepdogs, The Sheepdogs16
  • Bumpy Knuckles, Ambition17
  • Travis Barker, Give the Drummer Some18
  • The Alchemist, Russian Roulette19
  • Calvin Harris, 18 Months20

Random Excellence:

  • The Secret Machines, “First Wave Intact”
  • Eric Pyrz, “Call on Me”
  • The Clash, “Police on My Back”

Songs of the Weeks:

  • Mylo, “In My Arms”21
  • Driver F, “I Have Better Things to do Tonight Than Die”
  • Wiz Khalifa, “Time”
  • The-Dream, “Body Work/Fuck My Brains Out”

Reviews:

1. She has some pipes, but I don’t think she has the team behind her that she needs. “30 Minute Romance” was really the strong point for me, but I didn’t find myself excited to hear the next song or to go back and replay the album. It almost feels like a lounge act more comfortable singing covers–a serious waste because she can really sing.

2. Boy, oh boy. That title really says it all. I was excited to look this one up because he just did an amazing remix of a Mayer Hawthorne song and his “Amaretto Sunset” is funky as hell, but this whole album’s quite literally stuck in his teenage years. Some songs are excellent, but it’s mostly a lot of repetition and obsession with everything a fourteen-year-old loves. Normally, that’s something you could get away with, but the obsession here dug a little too deep. Which is heartbreaking, because I know he’s a funky dude capable of much funkier things.

3. God, these beats were either excellent or just shy of excellent. I almost wanted to just sit back with the instrumental version, but it’s not like Sadat’s retired or the guest list is terrible or anything. This here’s a funky rap album full of head nodding.

4. Let me settle in for this, because what the fuck, every music reviewer ever? The general consensus on this album seems to be somewhere along the lines of “He’s too high” or “Can you believe this guy only raps about being high and having money? How high can you get?” But let’s take a step back.

Remember when his last album was called…yeah, I’m going to let this one sink in…ROLLING PAPERS? The crap did you thing that was a reference to? An impending divorce? A debatably witty reference to Mick Jagger or–holy crap, this one’s a stretch–how this rapper is picking up momentum, but collecting only lots of rhyme drafts from his journal? Why do you think his face is…here it comes…made of smoke on the cover?

Take it back to the mixtape before that and you have a little piece of magic called Kush & OJ. What are you going to tell me happened there, he misspelled “plush” while he was rapping about how much he likes waking up to orange juice and…sleeping on soft pillows high in the air? Seriously, you can’t write something that blatant off, particularly considering every. single. skit. on the tape. Radio W.E.E.D.? C’mon, son. Reviewing music can’t be your real gig.

So to have his “sophomore album” filled with weed references and wealth is absolutely no surprise to me. In fact, it’s exactly what I’d hoped for, given his well-established record of striving and smoking. I mean, I don’t even smoke, but I’ve always liked how every one of his albums has been edging closer to a the perfect party album. I’m saying it’s not my vice, but it’s an album celebrating a vice that really seems to make people feel good–a feel-good album, if you will. It sounds better than his major label debut and even gets back to his funkier, dankier roots. I mean, no one can escape “Time.”

5. If I had to give this a ranking, I guess it would settle in somewhere around a 5/10. It’s sort of like T-Pain meets every trap song ever, with a confusing lyricist who falls somewhere between singer, rapper, gangster, and gangster of love. It’s almost as if he wanted to be equal parts R. Kelly (ipso facto, greatest featured performer on the album), The-Dream, T-Pain (because Autotune), Drake (without the weepy R&B), and Wacka Flocka (because Lex Luger–style trap beats). And that rating’s because I honestly don’t know whether to go back and listen again or pretend I’ve never heard it before.

6. Whoa. You guys, whoa. It’s like Animal Collective got high with Starfucker and had a whisper-singing contest. I don’t mean that in a bad way–I know Animal Collective isn’t entirely cool anymore–because what I’m saying is that this is a psychedelic indie wierdfest full of new noises and lots of layers. My favorites are “Windshield Smasher,” “Hairspray Heart,” and “Dreamsicle Bomb,” but that doesn’t mean any of those things are right for anybody else.

7. Listened to this album three songs through, added a song to the Songs of the Week section–as per usual.

8. Rolling Stone released a collector’s edition in honor of, well, how important they’ve been to the history of music–or because it was their 40th anniversary. A close friend (for my girlfriend’s eyes: it was my girlfriend’s best friend and current roommate) was traveling and bought this edition thinking it would be a normal Rolling Stone. She was going to just throw it away and was shocked when I volunteered to take it and read every page (PUN!).

Sure, the Zep’s not on Spotify, but, as I explained to that friend, one of the most pivotal moments in my music history was discovering I in my dad’s vinyl collection. At the time I discovered it had been my uncle’s, so I cushioned it in sweaters the next time we traveled to see him so I could return something I was sure was as important to him as it was to me. Some time passed and my dad appeared to have forgotten about that day. Skip some more time and I remember building some LEGO kit in my room when my dad knocked. He sort of mumbled, as if he was embarrassed that he was suggesting it or, more likely, worried that I wouldn’t like it, “Hey, I picked up a CD you might like. Check it out,” while standing in the doorway, arm outreached with I pointing at me.

I told him, “Oh, yeah, I love that album. I listened to it on your turntable before I returned it to Uncle [____].” He smiled, and I played that album like I’d never heard it before.

Reading each article was like seeing the band anew. I didn’t realize they were a lot of the source material for Almost Famous. I had no idea they’d had such serious issues with the media. I had no idea the media (this issue of Rolling Stone, specifically) could beat that rivalry like a dead horse. I had no idea how truly essential Bonzo’s drum beating had been to every Zeppelin song. Well, I had some idea, particularly about “Four Sticks,” but it still made me want to go back and revisit their peak.

9. Here’s a stupid idea: He omitted the “c” and the “e” to symbolize how the entire album is missing something, like how a broken heart yearns for its partner. Yep, that’s a little contrived, but holy crap that guy can sing, play guitar, and generally write the pants off a song. I think “The Life” has been done better on his EPs, but this album’s still a blues barn burner for the ages.

10. I couldn’t hear anything that struck me like their last album’s work. They’re a unique band, but this was not better than their previous one, particularly considering how a lot of the bonus material is acoustic versions from that album.

11. This is probably some of the scariest and oldest rap to come out in the last year. It has feet equally in the early nineties and the Twitter generation and it’s awesome.

12. “Something for Nothing” (trust me, you’ll love it), “Back Stabbers,” and “T.S.O.P.” were delightful, but I had a hard time with this. Despite the musical prowess of this giant producer/session musician/accomplished artist collective, it’s still too close to classical music for me.

13. This was kind of terrible, but at least “Red Lips” is pretty good. I went into it looking for Skylar Grey songs, but she does not seem to be on Spotify besides the songs I already know. Nonetheless, a talented woman perhaps in need of less acoustic sleepers.

14. Who would have ever thought they’d get back together? Who would have ever though it’d be this good? Who would’ve ever thought “Non-State Actor,” “By Crooked Steps,” “Blood on the Valley Floor,” or “Rowing” would restore faith in modern music?

15. I got excited. This was billed as a black metal album. I felt like I was listening to Steppenwolf and a sleeping pill. The only thing black about it was how sad it is was how childhood ends. And metal? I guess that applies if all the strings they play are metal, but this band’s as metal as Nickelback, yo. I definitely came close to tracking them down and trying to book a real metal band for them so they understand how music works–instead of napping.

16. Noooooooope, the only song on here that bested their last album was “Feeling Good,” even if it’s because they’re at least not talking about Facebook anymore.

17. I don’t think the rapping really caught up with the excellent beats. The eponymous jam and “Animalistic” were, far and away, the stand outs that contributed to making this as funky and soul-ridden as necessary to make me want to keep listening to Statik.

18. The only unifying thing here is the drumming. What a bizarre concept, right? From straight-up rap to the kind of rap-rock that made Limp Bizkit famous, it’s weird to see all of these guests in the same place, particularly considering that the drummer became famous in a punk-rock band. But it’s a weirdness that works. Since it’s not really a band coming together to examine their idea of how the world works, there’s a whole lot of depth and ideas here. It’s not all good, but it’s sure as shit not bad.

19. Jesus, speaking of depth; this is like three or four albums’ worth of beats at once. Not all of it’s good, but when The Alchemist shines, he’s deep in the heart of a mothercluckin’ goldmine. There’s absolutely every reason ever to keep listening to his work. The man’s made what I feel are modern classics and is producing music for great artists. He’d be a household name if he finally just partnered up with Action Bronson. Well, Bronsolini’s subjects and lines are a little blue for modern radio, but I’m just saying I think he’d experience the kind of success Ryan Lewis is having with Macklemore. But then again, neither of those two guys are really household names yet either.

20. It’s so confusing to me that this guy went from indie electronica darling to one of the biggest guest singers and producers in modern music. Seriously, whip out “The Girls” in any social situation and people are going to dance despite never hearing it; play his stuff with Rihanna, and you’ll get something between “OMIGAWD WE’RE DANCING TO THIS RIGHT NAOW” and “Oh god, this song again?” And yet, there’s still little gems on this album. “Mansion” and “Here 2 China” are little delights that probably won’t get heard by many despite their excellence.

21. I’ve been sleeping on Mylo for a long time, but I also can’t seem to find a lot of his stuff wherever I need to. Regardless, this came up on a Pandora playlist in the office and I haven’t stopped playing it since.

Comment:

Wow, what a couple of weeks, you guys. I’m under the impression I wasn’t the only one, particularly after  my complete frustration with Friday’s events and the resulting post. I also had my apartment fumigated twice, had to replace an iPod, a lot of friends’ relationships came to an end, and, perhaps more intensely, it’s the holidays (meaning too many events and celebrations and people and a general lack of relaxation).

Much of it I can’t solve, but I know that and will be making no attempt to solve it. After witnessing and experiencing some absolutely abhorrent things in the past couple of weeks, I still feel things are going to get better. It’s because I think I’ve cited the following quote before on this blog, but life is hard and death is easy. We have to fight for so many things to enjoy anything. Just for example, waking up has been one of my least-favorite things since I was conscious, but once I finally do it every single day, I get to experience the greatest things on earth—like my friends, my coworkers, my girlfriend, my family, and people who have said or done things as awesome as all of the people I just listed.

And I know this sounds crazy after the comment’s first paragraph, but I have a list of a couple of reasons outside of those people I’ve just listed that are exactly why I’m going to be fine. These songs, despite absolutely not hearing them for the first time, still give me the goose bumps. Whether it’s because the song’s emotions tug on my heartstrings or it’s because it reminds me of an absolutely beautiful moment in my past, these are five artworks that feel like punches to the gut, making me more aware of how pristine these three to eight minutes of my life are:

Led Zeppelin, “When the Levee Breaks”; David Bowie, “Heroes”; Jessie Ware, “Taking in Water”; Pretty much any artist with a guitar, “Traveling Riverside Blues”; and The Rolling Stones, “Ventilator Blues.”

I found out about today’s slaughter when we were eating lunch in the office.

The tone immediately went from, “Can you believe we got a free, delicious meal? We should totally eat there forever” to “Those kids that survived will never be the same.” “Where were you when 9/11 happened?” “Remember Columbine?” “It’s teachers and kids; those kids will never feel safe in school again.” “Who thinks it’s okay to kill kids?”

Just months earlier, there’d been a similar tragedy in a theater involving a machine gun and a man without the right thought process. And the tweets, Facebook posts, news updates, revealing pictures on Tumblr, and sad feelings started outpouring.

But nothing changed.

All we got was another guy with a machine gun and more bullshit social media. We had town hall questions central to the presidential election. We had whole communities lose a generation. And we got some fucking tweets.

So I thought I was going to be prepared for that. Maybe I’d be up to learning more details. Maybe I’d be ready to learn just how many people died this time. But as I tried to go about my day as if nothing had happened–I don’t deal with senseless murder well and tend to try to distract myself with happier things–I still found the Facebook posts and tweets seeping through those attempts. So I started reading some of it. I found myself willing to rally behind a lot of the “Fuck the NRA” ideas or “When kids die, that should be enough–at the very least–to ban automatic weapons” concepts, but when the more “heartfelt” comments started creeping in was when I lost my mind.

It was the all-caps-lock-outrage posts about the kids dying. It was the idea that you have to hug your family now. Now you have to hug your family–because family’s never been important before. But the posts that pissed me off most were the posts about people’s hearts going out to Connecticut.

What is your heart, a boomerang? My god, you’re a real hero here. You sent your heart and your prayers to Connecticut? And it came back? That’s really far, I bet the postage was expensive. You’ve sacrificed a lot with your heart donation.

So I tweeted the only thing I’ve said about it all day on any social platform (besides what I’m typing): “I’m not reading any of your gun-related social media posts and breaking news updates until you call your Senator or your Rep.” Because nothing else solves this. Everyone is sad about it, but digging deeper into the details of who this man was (is?) or how he came to the decision to bring a gun into a school doesn’t fucking solve anything. No one cares if you’re sad about it, because we’re sad about it, too. You’re not the first person to have emotions, just the first person to tell us all about it.

And that’s when I totally checked out of social media (as well as television and news sites) for the day. I already know what happened. Here’s your archetype: Lonely person feels lonely. Without using the proper psychiatric jargon, a screw got too loose and made that person feel like their potential had gone unrecognized. That person came to the conclusion that people will notice them when they achieve revenge on _____ group of people or ensure humanity understands their greatness by killing _____ group of people and living to tell the tale.

I don’t want to know. There are too many absolutely beautiful things and people in this world for me to focus on someone who needed help, slipped through the cracks, and did something absolutely abhorrent. To get back to one of the lunch questions, this is a human who missed out on the counseling that would have helped them understand society’s rules–specifically, the rule that we don’t kill (or touch) kids. There were signs, but something went wrong and this person was set free in a society that did not subscribe to the same rules they did.

But more importantly, it’s your job as a member of that very society to understand that what we’re doing right now is missing the main two issues: mental health and gun reform. Fucking Christ, what animal needs to be hunted with an automatic machine gun besides the most dangerous game. Yes, I’m saying we can have automatic guns in the military for freedom or whatever, but what zombie horde (OF CHILDREN) are you fighting off that you need a machine gun? But even before that, let’s talk about basic healthcare. I’m not entirely sure we need to have a mental screening before gun purchase so much as we need a healthcare system that can carry the load of a mentally unwell person desperately in need of help.

Maybe you’ve had the flu. Maybe you’ve had, I don’t know, blood poisoning or ringworms or something. Try this on for size instead: the entire chemistry in your fucking brain is off. There’s no “Hey, guy, check out this quick-fix penicillin. Boom, polio over” or what have you. What you have is a history of, shit, to quote an excellent movie and its title, violence. Sometimes violent people do violent things. But there are people who can help those very people or come very close.

And until either you or those specially trained people are helping them, shut the fuck up about how you much you care. Seriously, put up or shut up. Yep–in this case, specifically–either drive to Connecticut to help grieving parents get to and from funerals, hearings, ceremonial events or fucking call someone in Congress. Your social moment did nothing. I literally could not give two more shits about how angry you are because I’m just as angry. Don’t share another goddamn link about who this murderer was or where things went wrong because we have all already heard the story. The glorification just escalates the next one.

At the most basic level of American politics, maybe your congressperson of choice is firmly for or against reform. But there’s a tide here. Your call lets them know they’re in the right or wrong–they can either change sides or bolster the thousands. Unless you’re protesting with signs, email campaigns, letter writing, pitching in in CT, etc., those people making the laws don’t know what’s happening or they’re being paid too much to ignore the repetitive news coverage–and those are the people making changes, not the twenty-second literacy test where Facebook asks you “What’s on your mind?”