Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top 20 Albums of 2008

20. Ladytron - Velocifero
19. Starflyer 59 - Dial M
18. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
17. Coldplay - Viva la Vida
16. Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward (UK Edition)
15. …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead - Festival Thyme EP
14. Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
13. Los Campesinos! - Now Hold on, Youngster!
12. Flight of the Conchords - Flight of the Conchords
11. Have a Nice Life - Deathconciousness
10. Deerhunter - Microage/Weird Era Cont.
9. Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
8. M83 - Saturdays = Youth
7. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
6. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
5. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
4. Why? - Alopecia
3. Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul
2. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
1. Children 18:3 - Children 18:3

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top 20 Songs of 2008

Here's my opinion on the twenty best songs of the year. I'm not going to go quite as in depth as I did yesterday with my favorite moments, since - truth be told - there's a fair bit of overlap here.

Anyway, without further ado...

The Top 20 Songs of 2008

20. My Morning Jacket - Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Part 1
19. Coldplay - Lost!
18. Ladytron - Black Cat
17. The Hush Sound - Honey
16. Elbow - Grounds For Divorce
15. Oasis - Bag it Up
14. People in Planes - Pretty Buildings
13. Los Campesinos! - Death to Los Campesinos!
12. Children 18:3 - Time and Wasted Bullets
11. Why? - The Hollows
10. Sigur Rós - Inní mér syngur vitleysingur
9. Deerhunter - Nothing Ever Happened
8. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
7. Crystal Castles - Untrust Us
6. Oasis - The Shock of the Lightning
5. Bon Iver - Blindsided
4. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - Buriedfed
3. The Magnetic Fields - Three-Way
2. Grizzly Bear - While You Wait For the Others
1. The Hold Steady - Constructive Summer

Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 20 Moments in Music (2008)

Favorite Albums are one thing, favorite songs are another, but every once in a while everything boils down to a single moment of absolute bliss. The album could suck, the song itself could fail to impress, but when that one part hits, you lose it every time.

These are the 20 moments from 2008 that set me on fire every time I hear them. Where possible, I've linked to streams or MP3 files of the tunes in question, so that you can listen along and enjoy as much as I have over the past year.

20. Machinae Supremacy - Gimme More (SID)

Machinae Supremacy play SID-Metal (a sort of Comodore64 enhanced metal sound). Britney Spears plays pop music. Ironic metal covers have long since run their course, and aren't exactly all that much of a novelty anymore, but this one is special. It's not a technically fantastic solo or anything, but it comes at the perfect time, just as the absurdity of the whole cover threatens to overwhelm the song.... they break right on through to the next level. It's so ridiculous that it's awesome.

Myspace (Song is in player)

19. Coldplay - Violet Hill
"I took my love down to Violet Hill..."

Viva La Vida was a seemingly small adjustment for Coldplay. They still have their big choruses, they still seem like they're trying to relive the britpop glory days, and Chris Martin still has his poofy hair. Unlike X+Y, however, the songs seem to have a little more meat to them. Nowhere is this more evident than "Violet Hill". Featuring a driving beat, it comes dangerously close (in Coldplay terms) to rocking (again, this being Coldplay, that's a relative term). The kicker here, however, is in the waning seconds of the song. Chris Martin's gone melodramatic before, but here - backed by nothing but a light piano - his voice nearly cracks under the weight of the words he's trying to get across. It succeeds in getting the emotion out in a way that was tried a failed so many times on X+Y.


18. 3Oh!3 - Don't Trust Me
"...if he says he's got beef..."

3Oh!3 is normally an almost painfully ridiculous rap band. On "Don't Trust Me", however, they jump ship and rock out some almost painfully ridiculous synth-driven power pop. It's complete with 'ho' references, as well as a mind-boggling bridge where tell a girl to "do a Hellen Keller, and talk with your hips". Needless to say, the song is fantastic, but the height of the fun is found in the first verse, where the singer sneers "...and tell your boyfriend if he says he's got beef, that I'm a vegetarian and I ain't fuckin' scared of him". It's jaw-droppingly stupid, and mind-shatteringly great at the same time. More songs should be this fun, and more lyrics should be this willfully insane.

Purevolume (Song in player)

17. Ladytron - Black Cat
"The Perfect Opening Track"

The instant the drums hit on Velocifero leadoff "Black Cat" is golden. Once the opening synth lines start hitting (first the ominous low blaster, then the heavenly main melody), it takes the whole thing to a glorious new level of sugar-coated sweetness. In "Black Cat", Ladytron have constructed the perfect opening track to this year's guilty pleasure album of the year.

16. Elbow - Friend of Ours
"Love ya, mate"

"Friend of Ours" is a song about a friend of the band's who passed away. From the strings in the beginning to the understated lyrics, it's filled with more feeling than most bands ever manage. It all comes to a head around three and a half minutes in, with a soaring bridge, and then the piano starts. It's only five notes, but it wedges itself into your head so well that it feels like an entire song gets played out in the last minute. We should all be so lucky to get songs like this written about us.

15. The Magnetic Fields - California Girls
"Merritt goes homicidal"

"I hate California girls" Steven Merritt sings in this fantastic reverb drenched tune. Offenses like "get[ting] off like squirrels" and "breath[ing] coke and having affairs with each passing rock star" do nothing to endear the blond-headed targets of his wrath to him. Suddenly the last verse gets twisted, with Merritt picking up a battle axe before fading out the song repeating "they will hear me say, as the pavement whirls... I hate California girls...." A demented (and fitting) end.

MySpace (song in player)

14. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - The Betrayal of Roger Casement & the Irish Brigade
"Catharsis, Part 1"

The Trail of Dead do epic in almost every song. On this, the last track on their new EP (and album teaser) Festival Thyme, though, they really go for it. After minutes of extremely noisy building, it all breaks free with a blast. The part in question only lasts for about 20-30 seconds, but it's so big that it grabs your attention and lands its knockout punch. Not bad for a fully instrumental throwaway track.

13. Have a Nice Life - Holy Fucking Shit: 40,000

Suffice to say, Tim Macuga does not write happy songs. "HFS40K" is as hopeless as most everything, with lyrics relaying fatalistic messages over (oddly enough) the same strange beat you hear for the first couple of seconds of "Da Da Da"

Then it hits. The song lives up to its name in full by slamming into gear about three and a half minutes in with a wall of distorted guitar and raw drums. For the next two minutes, the listener is treated to the sound of the world flying apart at the seams before an acoustic guitar comes in to put an unearthly coda on the whole thing.

12. Los Campesinos! - My Year in Lists

Like all LC! songs, "My Year in Lists" is verbose and ridiculous. This would make pretty much any band tremendously irritating, but somehow they come out all the more endearing for it. 'Lists' is incredibly short, coming in well under two minutes, but they make every second count. Just after the chorus, they begin speaking "I treasure with fondness the day..." before jabbing the word "before" in like a punch, making the phrase stand "I treasure with fondness the day (before) I met you." It shouldn't be even half as clever as it is, but it is. It's harsh, and cruel... and clever and hilarious.

...and it only takes one word.

11. Jesper Kyd - Access the Animus
"Catharsis, Part 2"

This song, off of the Assassin's Creed soundtrack, takes its time getting to where it's going. It takes seven minutes, in fact; slowly meandering along it's path. Sounds flutter in and out of the mix almost haphazardly, false starting a couple of times, only to settle back down, getting to the point where you don't think anything will come of it. After about seven minutes, it finally wakes up growing into more of a monster by the second until it finally erupts into a massive swell of strings and takes off - then it dies down again. It's maddeningly short, and leaves you wondering if the nine and a half minute length is really worth it - but it is.


10. Crystal Castles - Air War

"Air War" is insane. For those who don't know, Crystal Castles create electronic music built around 8-bit synth (think of your Gameboy) and almost banshee-like female vocals. "Air War" doesn't feature the banshee vocals quite as much, instead going with a barely comprehensible female speaker reading a passage from Jame Joyce's Ulysses. Featuring the band's trademark halting 8-bit sounds, the song goes into a slight lull around a minute in, before the voice rushes back half-shouting the word "WAR!!". It's as ludicrous as it sounds, and almost impossibly jarring the first time you hear it (especially considering the fact that the song tries to outdo itself by turning up the musical intensity a notch). It all adds up to a surreal pleasure.

9. Portishead - The Rip
"Will I Follow??"

If all you knew about "The Rip" was the lyrics, it would already be creepy, with talk of wild white horses taking the singer away to "the dark underneath." During the end of the second chorus, though, it really takes a turn. Beth Gibbons sings - much as she did in the first - "Will I follow?". Only this time, it gets drawn out... for a LONG time, until it sounds digitized and cold. The song builds around the voice as it prepares for it's end. It's incredibly eerie - and remarkably effective.

8. The Hold Steady - Constructive Summer
"Raise a toast to St. Joe Strummer"

Stay Positive kicks off on a great note with "Constructive Summer". The song goes on about the travails of small town life and the virtues of escapism drinking on top of the local water tower. After a short bridge - which serves as the only slowdown the song offers - the band roars back to life as Craig Finn belts out "Raise a toast to St. Joe Strummer, I think he might have been our only decent teacher." It's not incredibly deep, but it does rock, and sometimes (as in this case) that's enough.

7. The Magnetic Fields - Three Way (live, 2/29/2008 Herbst Theatre, San Francisco)
"Three Way!"

I've made no secret of my love for "Three-Way", the short instrumental song that leads off Distortion. This is the live version of the song, and it sounds remarkably good stripped of all its fuzz and guitar distortion. What gets it a spot on this list, though, is the "Three way!" shout at the end of each breakdown. Unlike in the original, where it somehow made perfect sense to punctuate every third of the song with a shout of innuendo, in the distortion-free live setting it sounds awkward. A half-embarassed laugh ripples through the crowd, and the band goes on. By the second and third time it happens, you realize it: it's entirely appropriate and works just as well as it did in the studio. It's exactly the type of moment live shows were made for - a subtle nuance to the song that you can't get out of a studio recording.


6. Children 18:3 - LCM
"Kicking you in the face...... again"

This track led off 2006's "Songs of Desperation", but it's been overhauled. The sinewy garage rocker has been put on steroids and placed as track #2 on Children's Tooth and Nail debut. The effect is almost enough to knock you out of your chair. As "All My Balloons" comes to close, you get hit with that delcious riff seemlessly, only this time it sounds fuller. I won't be including the song itself on my songs list tomorrow, since it's a remake (though it would probably place in the top 5 if I did), but the effect of placing it second on the album is too great to ignore on this list.

5. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - Buriedfed
"Everyone I know walking beside me..."

"This is my last song about myself..." and so begins "Buriedfed", one of the year's darkest (and best) songs. The song builds in intensity with every verse, with Miles practically shouting by the later verses. Just when the song feels about to fly apart, the bridge comes, and everything is momentarily calm. It's a short respite, but it's awe inspiring, the background vocals "Ah-ing" make you feel like you're out there on the empty street in the middle of the night.

Audiomuffin has the MP3

4. Why? - The Hollows
"My God..."

If I were to simply pick lyrical moments from Alopecia, I could nearly fill this list. My personal favorite moment, though, comes on "The Hollows". Yoni Wolf's lyrics, as always, are relentlessly confrontational and uncomfortably descriptive. The crux of the song comes in a short snippet where he shouts "My God! The clock's always stuck tellin' 11:11, or 3:32!" the moment to act is passing, and all anyone can do is stare dumbly at the clock.

3. Grizzly Bear - While You Wait for the Others (live, 02-27-2008: KCRW)
"All we want... want... want..."

This song hasn't even been released yet. It was recorded in a studio for the 'Morning Becomes Eclectic' radio show. The track itself is great, with a chorus to die for. When it gets to the bridge, though, it where it really shines, lead singer Edward Droste sounds almost pleading, singing "all we want... want... want...." before breaking into one last chorus. The last one sounds the same as the first, but somehow feels like a crashing wave. The brilliant breakdown has a lot to do with that.


2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - We Call Upon the Author

"We Call Upon the Author" is a heavy song wrapped in a sneering package. Throughout the song, Nick Cave outlines the horrible, the bizzare, and the outright wrong in the world, all the while calling for answers. The genius of it all is found in the breakdown that separates the sections of the song. Explanations are dismissed with a shout of "Prolix! Prolix! Nothing a pair of scissors can't fix!", and with that the storm rages on - shouting for answers that he'll just cut down to size, anyway.


1. The Hold Steady - Slapped Actress
"Man, we make our own movies"

Nothing needs to be said about this one except that it's the best way to end a CD that I've ever heard. Listen for yourself.

There you have it. Please post your thoughts, as well as moments you've enjoyed in 2008.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Revisionism: Year End List (2007)

Since this is just last year's list, there really isn't TOO much movement. The top spots are all pretty solid, so instead of completely rearranging the list, here's the awesome stuff I've heard from 2007 that didn't make it on the original list. Also, the stuff that seemed awesome initially, but has faded in time.

Lupe Fiasco - The Cool (I got this CD the last of '07, hardly enough time to make an informed decision about it. Turns out it's pretty fantastic. Lupe has a certain presence about him that a lot of his contemporaries don't have - or even try for. He can flow with the best of them, but doesn't lean on that fact on every song.)

Burial - Untrue (They call it "dubstep". Whatever it is, it makes for awesome headphone music.)

Gob - Muertos Vivos

M.I.A. - Kala (Everyone's heard 'Paper Planes', but anyone who's purchased the CD based on that song is in for a crazy ride. Dance, Hip-hop, world, and tribal styles all fuse to form some of the most interesting music I've ever heard. The fact that it's heart-speeding toe-tapping ear candy just comes as an added bonus.)

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (Filled to the brim with more goodness. The "carbon" freakout at the end of 'The Parting of the Sensory' is incredibly surreal)


Fratellis - Costello Music (Music like this has a short shelf life. It had it's time, but it's not something that will get put in time and time again.)

Burning Brides - Hang Love (It's got a kick, but Leave No Ashes is so much easier 0 and more enjoyable - to listen to.)

Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, The Angry Mob ('Ruby' still rules, but nothing else compared.)

2007 was a good year for music. I still listen to most all of the CDs that I had marked as top 20 last year. This look back over the past week has been eye-opening. Here's hoping I don't have to do this again in 6 years.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Revisionism: Year End List (2006)

Near the end of 2006, I started taking a deeper look into indie music. The results didn't initially show up in my year end list (with the exception of the number spot, but more on that in a second.) This was the year I discovered that rap music could kind of rule in certain contexts (T.I. - What You Know being one of those contexts). It's a little embarrassing to be making these discoveries at age 23, but the underground doesn't buzz very loud when you live in the middle of nowhere.

Original List (Link)

10. Mewithoutyou - Brother, Sister (They've softened in the sonic sense only. The lyrics carry the same bite that A->B Life's did - and almost more in some cases.)

9. Starflyer 59 - My Island (They've long since abandoned the more shoegaze-y sounds of their earlier stuff, but these songs sound awesome anyway. The less droning, more immediate guitars do Jason Martin's songs well.)

8. Children 18:3 - Songs of Desperation (I've noted numerous times, but 'LCM' was truly a revelation the first time I heard it. It's since been cleaned up and fleshed out quite a bit, but the more garage-y quality still has it's merits.)

7. Incubus - Light Grenades (Mm... It's got some very good songs, and it's got some sort of 'meh' moments on it, as well. Kind of middle of the road for them, but 'Anna Molly' still brings it.)

6. Gym Class Heroes - Cruel as School Children (Travis McCoy is no one's idea of an amazing rapper, but this CD is extremely enjoyable. Why should I have to affix 'guilty pleasure' status on it? Songs about MySpace can be cheesy as hell, but that doesn't make 'New Friend Request' any less hook filled or fun.)

5. People in Planes - As Far As the Eye Can See (The opening line to 'Baracuda' sold me on this CD more than possibly any 20 seconds of a song ever has. The rest of the CD is good, 'Baracuda' is killer.)

4. Lacuna Coil - Karmacode (I suppose in some alternate universe, these guys get massive play on all the radio stations, while Evanescence is relegated to endlessly playing Club1 while emo kids hold conversations in the mosh pit and make out. I sort of prefer that alternate universe.)

3. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere (Let's get this straight - 'Crazy' is the biggest song of this decade. It rules in every way imaginable. If this were a song list, Crazy would hold positions numbered 1-10. That being said, what I said about Gnarls Barkley - that the rest of it is "extremely good" - isn't entirely accurate. There's a lot to love ('Smiley Faces', etc.) but there's also plenty of very skippable songs. Luckily 'The Odd Couple' came along this year. I'm sure we'll hear about that next week.)

2. My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade (I stand by this. It's a great CD.)

1. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - So Divided (Okay, I'll admit it. I got caught up in some serious ToD love upon discovering them and sort of gave them one of those 'Lifetime Achievement' awards. This isn't their best CD... or their second best.... or maybe even their third best, and it's pretty certainly not the best CD to come out in 2006. Source Tags and Codes earned this spot. This exact spot is pretty much why I decided to take up this endevour in the first place - well... that and that inexplicable Souljahz thing in 2002... I mean...... seriously??)

And now... the revised list

10. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere (Sketchy as it sometimes gets, the highs are SO high...)

9. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - So Divided

8. Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton - Knives Don't Have Your Back (Soft piano songs backed by the lightest of arrangements aren't supposed to have this weight. Emily Haines tears her heart open and lays it on the table for the world to see. The result is emotional, raw music that grabs the attention and doesn't let go.)

7. My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade

6. The Decemberists - The Crane Wife (Who would have thought they'd have come out with something like the epic prog-rock 'The Island'? Who would have thought the concept would flesh out so well?)

5. Shiny Toy Guns - We Are Pilots (Easily my favorite 'guilty pleasure' album ever - though for how many spins I've gotten out of it, can I really call it a guilty pleasure? In the end, it doesn't matter either way, this CD is just awesome.)

4. Viva Voce - Get Yr Blood Sucked Out (They've come a long way since 'Hooray For Now', but the vaugely druggy fuzz still comes flying out of Anita Robinson's guitar, and that makes it all good. They've stripped away some of the pop from their earlier releases, and the tunes have a certain immediate feel to them as a result.)

3. P.O.S. - Audition (In yesterday's post, I mentioned how nice it is to have a rap-rock artist focus on the rap side. P.O.S. does this better than anyone I've soon. He fuses guitar lines that one would think completely incompatible with rap - Underoath? Song of Zarathustra?? - and somehow makes them sound like they were meant to be rapped over in the first place. His show at First Avenue prompted me to pick up as much of his discography as I could find. This is the pinacle so far - fiercely political without being preachy, streetwise without being either condescending or dismissive. This is honestly one of my favorite CDs, period.)

2. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (This is real rock from a real rock band. I dismissed it upon hearing Craig Finn's voice, but it's since grown on me to the point where I could safely say it's in my top 15 favorite albums ever.)

1. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (You know up there, where I said 'Crazy' was the song of the decade? Well... it is, but 'Wolf Like Me' has to be included in the discussion. The wall of guitar and effect sounds like the most furious storm of bees ever, and the intensity in the lyrics matches in pound for pound. That being said, I initially panned the rest of the CD as weird and a little bizzare for my tastes. I couldn't have been more wrong. This CD is easily in my top 5 ever. There's maybe one or two skips, and the bonus songs aren't incredible, but there's so much to absolutely love about this CD that it seems like second nature to just love it. One kind of funny note from this post in which I discuss new CD purchases. The idea of Eve 6 being as good as TV on the Radio is an amusing one to me now.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Revisionism: Year End List (2005)

We pick up where we left off. I was closer to the mark in 2005 - 5 of my original picks stick around from the revised list.

Original List

10. Jimmy Eat World - Stay on My Side Tonight (There's one extremely good song on this EP. All the other songs range from decent ('Over') to godawful ('Drugs or Me - Styrofoam Remix'). I guess one song was good enough here?)
9. Project 86 - And the Rest Will Follow (This is probably the weakest effort by Project 86, but I got really into their other stuff around the time I listened to this one, so it had a carryover effect.)
8. Death Cab for Cutie - Plans (Poppier and more radio-ready than Transatlanticism, this CD has some killer tunes, but isn't quite as good.)
7. Coldplay - X+Y ('Viva La Vida' shows this CD to be a pretty big swing and a miss. Everything's either overblown or overly obvious, and with a couple of exceptions, there's not a lot to go back to.)
6. Foo Fighters - In Your Honor (This CD does not have a weak track on it. Since there's 20 songs on it, that's quite a statement.)
5. Fall Out Boy - From Under the Cork Tree (Haha, don't get TOO excited to not see this one on the revised list. It'd probably make #11 if it was expanded a little.)
4. Ra - Duality (Meh. Fairly generic pop-metal that I fell for when I first heard it. Haven't listened to it in well over a year.)
3. Gorillaz - Demon Days (This is all over the place, and I love just about every track on it. Still awesome, and deservedly made this 'band' huge.)
2. Rosefield Rivals (A guilty pleasure, but one I badly wish was still around. I've only ever dug up 6 songs from this group - five of which are on this disc - but they've gotten a TON of play.)
1. Oasis - Don't Believe the Truth (It's Oasis - more importantly, it's Oasis at least trying to get back to what made them awesome; big rock songs. Dig Out Your Soul does a little better job than this one, but after Standing on the Shoulder of Giants and Heathen Chemistry, it was nice to see that these guys still had a little left in them.)

Revised List

10. The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema (Great guitar pop-rock. Listen to 'Sing Me Spanish Techno' or 'Bleeding Heart Show' and try to not have the choruses wedged in your head for the remainder of the day.)
9. Death Can For Cutie - Plans
8. Kanye West - Late Registration (It's rapidly becoming hip to hate Kanye West. Whether there's good reason for that or not, this CD shows that he's extremely good at what he does. As much as I actually kind of like 808's and Heartbreak, I'm hoping that it's a phase, and that he gets back to making more great CDs like this one.)
7. Rosefield Rivals
6. Flipsyde - We the People (It's odd to find rap-rock music that focuses more on the rap side than the rock side. These guys had great flow and cutting lyrics - it's a shame that their new CD sounds like it will be as generic as can be.)
5. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (The guy makes beautiful, irresistable music. If not for pure nostalgic value, this CD would probably take number one walking away.)
4. Oasis - Don't Believe the Truth
3. Gorillaz - Demon Days
2. Foo Fighters - In Your Honor
1. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - Worlds Apart (A lot of people hated the shift Trail of Dead made toward proggy meanderings. I loved it. There's not a single misstep on the entire album, and nearly every song is fantastic in its own way.)

Moving forward, tomorrow I take a look at 2006.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Revisionism: Year End List (2004)

It's Christmas, so no write-ups. Just know that I'm actually not all that disgusted by my original list for 2004 - that being said, there are zero carry-overs from my original list to my revised. Also, number 1 really shouldn't be all that surprising.


10. Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway
9. Mewithoutyou - Catch For Us the Foxes
8. Mutemath - Reset EP
7. Halo 2 Soundtrack
6. Project 86 - Songs to Burn Your Bridges By
5. Lostprophets - Start Something
4. Falling Up - Crashings
3. Incubus - A Crow Left of the Murder
2. Skillet - Collide
1. Relient K - Mmhmm


10. The Hives - Tyrannosaurus Hives
9. Green Day - American Idiot
8. Viva Voce - The Heat Can Melt Your Brain
7. P.O.S. - Ipecac Neat
6. My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge
5. MF Doom - MM.. Food
4. Further Seems Forever - Hide Nothing
3. Sum 41 - Chuck
2. Jimmy Eat World - Futures
1. The Arcade Fire - Funeral

Funeral is epic. That's really the only thing that needs to be said. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Revisionism: Year End List (2003)

We move on to 2003. It's a little embarassing, I suppose.

Original List: Link

10. Thrice - Artist in the Ambulance (I actually haven't heard this one in a while. It could actually be pretty good. I may have to check it out again.)

9. P.O.D. - Payable on Death (Wow, seriously? Listen to 'Wildfire' and tell me that P.O.D.'s self-titled has any place in anyone's list.)

8. Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown (I still wish they'd play more of their superior older stuff in concert, but I'll admit that I backlashed against Switchfoot pretty hard after this CD. From what I'd heard in '03, this deserved to be higher.)

7. Starflyer 59 - Old (Since buying this CD, I've slowly started appreciating Starflyer's music more and more. If the revised list was expanded to 20, you can bet this one would've parked around 11 or 12.)

6. MxPx - Before Everything, and After (Eh, it's got a couple catchy songs, lots of filler... it's an MxPx CD, what could one possibly expect?)

5. Powerman 5000 - Transform (After 'Destroy What You Enjoy', I really went cold on PM5K. That being said, I can still put this CD on every so often and - with liberal use of the skip button - enjoy enough of it to call it a decent, if unremarkable, CD.)

4. Julianna Theory - Love (Another decent CD, has some good melodies that makes up for the fact that it's aged kind of poorly.)

3. Thousand Foot Krutch - Phenomenon (I can't think of a band that I've gone more cold on than TFK. With maybe 2 exceptions, this CD does nothing for me.)

2. Relient K - Two Lefts Don't Make a Right, But Three Do (It's still their best CD. They never achieved this mix of humor, wit, and big hooks again.)

1. Linkin Park - Meteora (Ah, hell... What can I say? I have a soft spot for their first 2 releases.)

On to the Revised list...

10. Mew - Frengers

9. King Geedorah - Take Me To Your Leader (Doom's flows - when he's actually rapping - are ridiculous as ever, but the real treat is the off-the-wall beats. If you like strange hip hop and old monster movie references - or if you need a starting point into MF Doom's stuff, you owe it to yourself to listen to this.)

8. The White Stripes - Elephant (The formula never sounds like a formula, and it never sounded better than here.)

7. Atmosphere - Seven's Travels (With 19 tracks, there's plenty of songs to love - and a couple fo skip - but overall, this is my favorite Atmosphere CD.)

6. The Black Mages - The Black Mages (These are Final Fantasy instrumental metal arrangements. From that sentence alone you'll be able to tell whether you'll like this CD or not.)

5. Viktor Vaughn - Vaudville Villian (My favorite MF Doom alias. V goes from demented to sly to witty to just plain weird... in almost every song. It's almost all nonsense, but it's AWESOME nonsense.)

4. Linkin Park - Meteora

3. Fountains of Wayne - Welcome Interstate Managers (The first half is chock full of pure, unaduterated awesome. The second half is nearly unsalvageable. Luckily the first half comprises about 10 tracks.)

2. Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism (Deservingly got them their big break, this is the music they were making JUST before they got on the hipster's nerves.)

1. Cold - Year of the Spider (If this CD was comprised of 'Remedy' played 10 times, it would merit inclusion on this list. There's literally not a weak track on the CD. Disagree if you want, but you'll only be missing out on one of the only alt-metal CDs that's really, truly worth your time.)

The only consolation I really take is that I had the sense to leave 'Peace of Mind' off of the list. That CD was truly wretched from the first spin, and has only gotten worse with time.

2004 tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Revisionism: Year End List (2002)

I've decided to take up the rather embarassing task of looking back on and revising some of my year-end lists of the past. I say 'embarassing' because... well, just look.

Top 10 of 2002 (Original List)
Original Post

10. John Reuben - Hindsight (okay, so I'm wondering just how many CDs I listened to in 2002. I remember being pretty disappointed with this CD. I'm not sure how it got on my list - I'm thinking the bottom few spots were pretty random.)

9. Souljahz - The Fault is History (I mean, seriously... how else do you acount for this?? I remember thinking maybe 2 songs off of this CD were 'okay'. The fact that this is at number 9 has always baffled me. I can't imagine CDs that would've have been bumped from the list in order to make room for these.)

8. 12 Stones - 12 Stones (There's a couple of decent songs on this CD, but there's a LOT of skippable post-grunge and mediocre alt-rock.)

7. 38th Parallel - Turn the Tides (I used to be sort of into rap-rock. Good Lord, this was only 6 years ago???)

6. Linkin Park - Reanimation (This one's not SO bad. I mean, it wouldn't make the top 20 now, but there were a few perfectly serviceable tracks on here. There's a lot of filler, though.)

5. Pax217 - Engage (I used to like this one quite a bit. I listened to it a while back, and it hasn't aged well at all.)

4. 30 Seconds to Mars - 30 Seconds to Mars (I still like this one better than 'A Beautiful Lie'.)

3. Chevelle - Wonder What's Next (It's still their best one.)

2. Grits - The Art of Translation (They have their good moments, and I still like this CD, but too often they sound like a less-adventurous Outkast; particularly on 'Seriously'.)

1. Blindside - Silence (Wow. Number 1? I remember enjoying this, but I can't imagine ever liking it enough to put it at number 1)

It was actually a pretty good year for music - some of my all-time favorite CDs come from that year - but you wouldn't know it from looking at that list. Here's the new-and-improved version.

2002 Revised list

10. Lacuna Coil - Comalies

9. Eminem - The Eminem Show (Even if he was running out of ways to be provocative, he still had moments of brilliance here.)

8. Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head ('Viva la Vida' has made me take a look back at all of Coldplay's previous output with renewed interest. 'Parachutes' and 'X+Y' still sound pretty generic, but this one is actually pretty fresh).

7. Chevelle - Wonder What's Next

6. Mewithoutyou - [A-->B] Life (They may have smoother some of the edges down a bit and tightened up the lyrics on subsequent releases - all of which are fantastic - but they never sounded more firey than here.)

5. Broken Social Scene - You Forgot it in People (It's rightly labelled a classic. Every song works, which is quite a feat, all things considered.)

4. Project 86 - Truthless Heroes (Cynicism and sarcasm abound. Truthless Heroes paints a portrait of American pop culture that's almost impossibly bleak. I strongly disliked this CD when I first heard it. Truth be told, I wasn't ready for it.)

3. Quarashi - Jinx (There is absolutely no reason to put this CD this high up, except it's one of the most enjoyable albums I've ever heard.)

2. Sigur Rós - ( ) (It's all sung in a made up language, no liner notes or song names, tracks that run upwards of 13 minutes - how is this music that popular? Because it's the most haunting music I think I've ever heard. People called this one "funereal", and I'd have to agree, but Track 8 is still one of the most cathartic musical experiences ever.)

1. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - Source Tags and Codes (ToD took their earlier 'rough around the edges' material and refined it. The result is possibly my favorite CD ever. The album has near perfect pacing - blasting when it can, softening when it needs to. All albums should have this mix of intensity, passion, and abandon.)

Tomorrow I'll take a look at 2003.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Year-End Extravaganza!

At this site, we believe in lists. We also believe in inactivity. It seems I've gotten the inactivity part down pretty well, so what better way to jump back into the blogging fray than to post lists for 11 straight days?

Therefore, here's how the next couple weeks are going to pan out (I'll be going back to this page and editing in links as they become fleshed out).

Tues, December 23rd: Revisionism: 2002 Year End List
Wed, December 24th: Revisionism: 2003 Year End List
Thurs, December 25th: Revisionism: 2004 Year End List
Fri, December 26th: Revisionism: 2005 Year End List
Sat, December 27th: Revisionism: 2006 Year End List
Sun, December 28th: Revisionism: 2007 Year End List
Mon, December 29th: Top 20 Favorite Moments in Music - 2008
Tues, December 30th: Top 20 Favorite Songs - 2008
Wed, December 31st: Top 20 Favorite Albums - 2008
Thurs, January 1st: Top 30 Most Listened to Tracks - 2008
Fri, January 2nd: Looking Forward to 2009

Also, in the coming weeks, I'll be doing a bit of design work to the site, because as of now, it's sort of unappealing in every way a site can be. This will be a small step towards making some additions and expansions around here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Obviously the Falcons and Vikings have played each other since this game (in fact, we destroyed them 24-3 just last year), but for whatever reason, tomorrow's game has the added playoff implications that could add just a little bit of payback if the Vikings were able to pull it out.

Much has been made recently of the Vikings closing out the season against Arizona (2003's 'epic' defeat immortalized via YouTube and Techmo Bowl here), Atlanta (1998 NFC Championship), and the New York Giants (continuously the bane of Minnesota's existence, but especially in the 2000 NFC Championship). Nothing's going to wipe away 1998 entirely, but who would have thought that Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte would lead a team that could have a chance to at least dull it a bit?

As it turns out, Lindsey bought tickets to this game (for our anniversary) knowing none of the backstory, and obviously not knowing it was going to have such weight. We'll be braving lousy roads to get there, hope the game lives up to its potential.

Monday, December 15, 2008