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Full Albums:

  • Big Boi, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
  • Big K.R.I.T., Return of 4eva
  • Friendly Fires, Pala
  • The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America
  • Ice Cube, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted
  • Left Lane Cruiser, Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table
  • Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream
  • Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
  • The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St.
  • Schoolboy Q, Habits & Contradictions
  • The-Dream, Love Vs. Money
  • The Weeknd, House of Balloons
  • Free Energy, Love Sign1
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away2
  • Iceage, You’re Nothing3
  • Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob4
  • Solange, True5
  • Toro Y Moi, Anything in Return6
  • New Order, Lost Sirens7
  • Parquet Courts, Light Up Gold8
  • The Lumineers, The Lumineers9
  • Local Natives, Hummingbird9
  • Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic10
  • Drake, Thank Me Later

Random Excellence:

  • Wiz Khalifa, “Never Been”
  • Usher, “’40′”
  • A Tribe Called Quest, “The Chase, Part 2”
  • Thin Lizzy, “The Boys Are Back in Town”
  • Asher Roth, “Charlie Chaplin”
  • B.B. King, “The Thrill Is Gone”11
  • Barry White, “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little Bit Longer, Baby”
  • Coheed & Cambria, “Feathers”
  • Daft Punk, “Arena”
  • Interpol, “Lights”
  • Joe Bonamassa, “Story of a Quarryman”
  • Method Man, “Bring the Pain”
  • Money Making Jam Boys, “Friday Night Street Fever”
  • Notorious B.I.G., “Gimme the Loot”
  • Otis Redding, “Satisfaction”
  • Seasick Steve, “Back in the Doghouse”
  • Steve Winwood, “Split Decision”

Songs of the Weeks:

  • Usher, “There Goes My Baby”
  • Big K.R.I.T., “Hometown Hero (Remix Feat. Yelawolf)”
  • Childish Gambino, “We Ain’t Them”
  • Drake, “Up All Night”12

Reviews:

1. A lot of the critics seemed to be a little hard on these bros. I think they made another album similar to their last one. Which is to say, they made another album that sounds like uprooted seventies bubblegum rock. It’s not the greatest album out there, but it sure sounds pretty.

2. Maybe it’s because I was listening while working on something that required a lot of focus, but not a lot of this album grabbed me like Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! did. Well, “Finishing Jubilee Street” did, but there was a definite split between the two albums–they’re both just as smart, I just couldn’t get into this music as much.

3. For some reason, it sounds like it’s the kind of thing that would normally be right up my alley, but I didn’t like a single song on here. They kept coming really close, but I think I found their music aggressively grating and difficult to listen to. Which isn’t to say they’re bad: a ton of people seem to love them, but I know I can’t.

4. After getting “Walking with a Ghost” and many subsequent remixes beaten into my head by Victoria’s Secret and many other places, I completely expected this to be total bullshit and way too much hype. Which is probably for the best because it blew me right off my feet. I guess I should have already known they can write the shit out of a catchy hook, but it was just such a relief to have the kind of music backing them that makes me actually want to listen to them a lot, but perhaps finally without the difficulties associated with Vickie’s or too many acoustic guitars.

5. I’m about to swim upstream on this one and I don’t like it. I know people consider her the indie BeyoncĂ©, but I can’t see it (besides the whole family thing). From lyrics to beats, it didn’t grab me like her older sister or all the Tweets and reviews told me it was supposed to. “Didn’t Let Me Down” was the highlight for me, but not enough to justify perpetuating the hypefest.

6. I’ve shitted on Toro Y Moi a lot before, I’ll admit it. The guy’s been the master of making entire albums with just one song I actually enjoy and another 10 that come only kind of close. But, counterintuitively, his worst-reviewed album is the one I enjoy most. The experimentation feels like it’s finally solidifying into something more cohesive, something with a closer eye for both songs and consistency.

7. Apparently this is a collection of the songs cut from their last album; not that I could really tell. What I heard was a solid band making some nifty beats that I very nearly got out of my seat to dance to. But compared to their body of work, it’s just an okay band. If anything, this is the gateway drug for their biggest hits.

8. Like Iceage, these bros had the punk street credit I’m normally attracted two with the kinds of riffs that, sadly unlike Iceage, actually captured my interest. It’s a headbanging, creative, catchy good time.

9. I had an interview recently where my (potential) employers asked what kind of music I like. I explained my affinity for rap, rock, indie, and other sorts of things like that, but I stumbled a little when trying to explain this current trend I’ve been noticing that I can’t stand. I was thinking mostly of a Mumford and Sons music video I’d recently seen, but I’d also just listened to these two bands and unintentionally grouped them together. When I described the style as a sort of indie-country thing, they understood what I meant and seemed to agree it’s been increasing in popularity. I honestly can’t even tell these two bands apart. If I had to name the band for any of these songs in order to keep breathing, I’d probably gladly be balled up in the fetal position on the ground, suffocating–likely in the hopes that that at least could make the noises stop. Don’t get me wrong, I know these bands are in the middle of their salad days, I just could not be bothered with the motherfuckers, even after they eventually get tossed, yo.

10. This might be the best new album I listened to in a month. The modern roots are equally Tame Impala and Free Energy, but every listen also hearkens right back to bands like The Jimi Hendrix Experience or Black Sabbath and so on. The 21st Century label seems like mislabeling, but that’s just the line they walk: is it new, is it old, is it somewhere in between? Doesn’t matter so long as the songs keep coming.

11. Oh, the drums and bass on this song. Eh, for that matter, everything on this song. It’s a little over six minutes, but sometimes I think if anyone could replicate all the noises and pitches going on here, I’d never need to listen to new music. I have an uncle who lives in the Hamptons and always has music on; whenever I’m there, I sometimes have this nagging feeling in the back of my head that that’s one of the things that I missed out on in my youth, or that it’s something I want to have when I’ve settled down. And whenever this song comes on, it seems to fit the profile of songs I’d be able to listen to for an entire day, if not weeks and months and years.

12. You know what? If he just made songs like this all the time, I think we’d all finally be able to tolerate him.

Comment:

Most of my worldly possessions are in storage, I’m living in a friend’s room while she’s out of town (well she just landed here, but I have the room for the rest of the month), and I’m a part-time employee for a company that went to SXSW without me.

I mean, things are rough right now, but let’s examine some of the bits and pieces. Even my friends who actually live in Austin have a hard time with South By, probably because it’s a sudden onslaught of people trying to soak in all the culture they want to absorb at normal rates. Then add the fact that every year, some company’s app is predicted to be the next up-and-coming thing you can’t live without. But last year’s highlight was an app called Highlight that sucked a lot–it was basically Foursquare combined with the kind of creepiness that makes me cringe and a battery-draining power that could shut down a nuclear power plant. Luckily, this year’s event didn’t seem to have a raging app that everyone couldn’t live without, but the Austin I know and love still involves more friends, less creepiness, and less out-of-proportion hype. I don’t really need to be there during SXSW.

Then with the first two items, this is probably as close as I’ll get to living like a Buddhist monk for a while. Granted, I formatted a hard drive in my girlfriend’s computer that enabled me to (at this very moment) type on a Macbook a friend gave me. That translates to two laptops (one Mac, one Windows), an iPod, an iPad, an iPhone, a bunch of clothes, bags, dress shoes, paperwork, etc. So it’s not really the most Buddhist life you can imagine, it’s just…close. The distractions are minimal and the objectives are focused. I have deadlines and a wedding to fly to (in Austin, no less!) tomorrow. I’m a paring knife: honed for accuracy and aimed only at whatever I need to cut the fuck up.

Stay sharp out there, amigos.

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