Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I went back to L.A. and Monique went with me (we met the great Beau)
I saw Kevin Garnett finally win a much deserved NBA title
I saw Radiohead live... for free!
I had a mole removed from my chest, something that I should have done years ago
I saw "There Will Be Blood" at Neon movies in Dayton, OH
I saw the Dodos live at Earlham college around 1:00 a.m.
I saw Wolf Parade live at Southgate House (after a 3 year wait)
I learned how to grill the perfect steak
I got back into watching Major League Baseball after a 16 year lapse
I saw Modest Mouse live for the 9th time
I co-hosted yet another great/memorable Halloween party
I started playing the Powerball
I voted for Barack Obama and saw him elected to be our 44th president
I helped to finally finish decorating and furnishing our spare room
I made a concentrated effort to sharply decrease my level of procrastination
I started waking up even earlier (7:30 a.m. instead of 8:30 a.m.)
I saw the Colts lose the AFC South for the first time in 5 years (as I predicted it in August)
I discovered the wonderful world of zip/rar files
I put a sizeable dent in my pursuit to see at least 90 of the AFI Top 100 Films
I saw the Yankees miss the MLB playoffs for the first time in 13 years
I did not eat the following for 365 days: McDonalds, Burger King or Taco Bell
I became part of the 'Rate Your Music' community
I began creating a 'MicroMix' for each season of the year
I started watching "Good Eats" and learned the science/joy of cooking (thanks Alton)
I tried soy milk
I got into Leonard Cohen (as I suspected I would several years ago)
I continued to be surrounded/supported by the people who make me who I am: my friends
at 5:12 PM
Here is a short list of the songs I will be listening to pre/post midnight:
The Dismemberment Plan - "The Ice of Boston"
Counting Crows - "A Long December"
Justice - "One Minute to Midnight"
Guy Lombardo - "Auld Lang Syne"
Death Cab for Cutie - "The New Year"
The Walkmen - "In the New Year"
u2 - "New Year's Day"
Tokyo Police Club - "Citizens of Tomorrow"
at 8:15 AM
Monday, December 29, 2008
Yesterday was the final week of the NFL regular season, thus it is time for me to hand out the "hardware" (read: ingnite arguments). Here are my picks for the top prizes of the 2008 season.
MVP: Matt Cassel, New England Patriots QB
I don't know if this pick is based on astonishment, bias or both. Tom Brady goes down with a season-ending knee injury in week 1, the Patriots send in backup Matt Cassel who has not started a game since high school. The outlook for the Pats season was bleak to say the least. Week by week, Cassel proved everyone wrong by going out and winning games with a depleted offense. Cassel led New England to an 11-5 record and they barely missed the playoffs. No one would have believed that scenario in September, including me.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons QB
Peyton Manning, Indianpolis Colts QB
DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys LB
Chad Pennington, Miami Dolphins QB
Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers QB
Team of the Year: Miami Dolphins/Atlanta Falcons (tie)
To go from a 1-15 season to winning the AFC East the following year is nothing short of amazing. Bill Parcells gets a lot of the credit for changing the culture and expectations of the franchise. First year head coach Tony Sparano gets even more credit for leading the Dolphins to an 11-5 record to end the season. The Dolphin players bought into their new system and the reward was going from 1st pick in the 2007 NFL Draft to and AFC East title in 2008.
The Atlanta Falcons lost the face/backbone of their franchise not to injury, but to prison! With Michael Vick behind bars (and not the ones on his face mask), things did not look good for the "dirty birds" for about the next decade. In steps first year head coach Mike Smith and rookie quaterback Matt Ryan. Optimism was high in Atlanta, but genuine hope for the 2008 season was all but a fleeting daydream. The Falcons enter the playoffs with an 11-5 record and show no signs of slowing down.
New York Giants
New England Patriots
Rookie of the Year: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons QB
Rookie quaterbacks are typically served up as a main course for opposing defensive linemen over the span of 16 weeks, but not in the case of Matt Ryan. Atlanta selected Ryan with the number 3 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft to fill the vacany left by the aforementioned Michael Vick. Matt Ryan showed promise in his days at Boston College, but no one could foresee the 16 touchdown passes and 3440 yards passing yards that lie ahead. Ryan has lead the Falcons back to the playoffs and in my mind is a shoo-in for this award.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans RB
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens QB
Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots LB
Coach of the Year: Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons/Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins (tie)
Mike Smith left his job security as defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars to the immense challenges of being the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Inheriting a 4-12 team that just lost its star quaterback and essentially, its identity. Smith would ultimately beat the odds by the end of the 2008 season. Leading the Falcons to an 11-5 record and an NFC wildcard spot, Mike Smith found a way to win week in and week out and is very deserving of this award.
Much like Smith in Atlanta, Sparano left his comfortable duties as the Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach for the Miami Dolphins...who just so happened to be coming off a 1-15 season. Sparano motivated his players to expect to win as opposed to lose and they did just that. Riding the success of their "wildcat" offense, Sparano lead the Dolphins to their first division title in 8 years! From the 1st pick in the 2008 NFL Draft to the 1st round of the 2008 playoffs, Sparano is the clear pick to win the honor of coach of the year.
John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals
Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers
Most Disappointing Team: Cleveland Browns
The Browns entered the 2008 season with high expectations, which were never met. Coming off the success and promise of their 2007 season, the Browns were lead by newly re-signed quaterback Derek Anderson, 2007 1st round pick Joe Thomas and a fleet of supremely talented offensive players. The result: an embarrasing 4-12 season in which the only highlight was a Monday Night victory over the New York Giants. With head coach Romeo Crennel a lock to be fired within the week, the Browns only hope is to start heading in the opposite direction...fast.
at 9:36 AM
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Here is a list of my 10 favorite "Christmas-ish" movies:
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas
This is the only thing that still gives me that echoing feeling of being a kid at Christmas time.
2. Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas
I will have none of that Jim Carrey, live action version that came out in 2000. The original is still a stunning piece of storytelling combined with imagery.
3. It's a Wonderful Life
Call me soft, call me what you will...this is one of the most heart-warming tales ever told. Minus the angel factor, this could be listed under sci-fi if you really think about it. I still cry each time.
4. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
It's one of those that it doesn't matter how many times you see it, it is still funny when you see it again. "Every time Catherine would turn on the microwave, I'd piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour" - Cousin Eddie.
5. Edward Scissorhands
While not widely considered a "Christmas" movie, I consider it one. Edward made it snow and as we learn in the beginning...it had never snowed until "he came down here".
6. Home Alone
I went on my first "date" to see this. As a 10 year-old at the time of its release, this wasn't entertainment, this was a blueprint for how to handle abandonment. A modern Christmas classic. John Hughes was/is a genius.
7. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Kevin McCallister lost in the big apple, why not? It worked for the producers, despite the extremely low possibility that they would actually lose track of this kid again somehow.
8. Frosty the Snowman
This is another one of those warm and cuddly kid feelings. When 'Frosty' came on, you knew that for the next 30 minutes, your life was going to be filled with joy and hope. Professor Hinkle, that damn magician, didn't have to lock Frosty in the greenhouse with the poinsettias did he? Asshole.
9. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
I think the only reason I like this one as much as I do: I knew that it was only a matter of time before I would be unwrapping my presents. So essentially, this was my indicator that Santa would be in the vicinity sooner than later.
I had seen and heard so many versions of 'A Christmas Carol' that by the time "Scrooged" came out, I was already jaded at 8 years old. Needless to say, this version was welcome in my world. I remember watching this and my mom coming in the room, looking at the t.v. and asking me..."what in the hell are you watching?"
*Note: I did not forget to list 'A Christmas Story', it simply would not ever make my list. I am not saying it is a bad movie, I'm just saying I don't seem to love as much as everyone else does (or seems to think they do).
at 8:14 AM
Monday, December 22, 2008
Here is a list of my 20 favorite X-mas songs. Not all of them are considered traditional X-mas songs per se, but...I don't really play by the rules all the time.
1. Vince Guaraldi Trio - "Christmas Time Is Here"
2. Joni Mitchel - "The River"
3. The Bee Gees - "First of May"
4. John Lennon - "Happy Xmas (War is Over)
5. Thurl Ravenscroft - "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch"
6. Dolly Parton - "Hard Candy Christmas"
7. Wham! - "Last Christmas"
8. Wings - "Wonderful Christmas Time"
9. Alabama - "Christmas in Dixie"
10. Elvis Presley - "Blue Christmas"
11. Danny Elfman - "Grand Finale" ('Edward Scissorhands' Soundtrack)
12. Ben Folds Five - "Brick"
13. Counting Crows - "Long December"
14. Merle Haggard - "If We Make It Through Decemeber"
15. Dan Fogelberg - "Same Old Lang Syne"
16. Sufjan Stevens - "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!"
17. Bing Crosby - "Silent Night"
18. RUN D.M.C. - "Christmas in Hollis"
19. Jim White - "Christmas Day"
20. John Prine - "Souvenirs"
at 8:05 AM
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Grouper - "Heavy Water" (Phaseone Remix)
Kanye West - "Love Lockdown" (Flying Lotus Remix)
MGMT - "Kids" (Pet Shop Boys Remix)
at 8:33 PM
Friday, December 19, 2008
Pitchforkmedia Honorable Mention Albums of 2008:
Pitchforkmedia Top 100 Songs of 2008:
at 7:56 AM
Thursday, December 18, 2008
My latest production is available to stream/download.
Winter 2008 MicroMix:
(in order of appearance)
Pivot - "O Soundtrack My Heart" (Snippet)
Steve Miller Band - "Winter Time"
Alaska in Winter - "We Are Blind and Riding the Merry-Go-Round"
French Kicks - "All Our Weekends"
The Cure - "Pictures of You"
Atlas Sound - "Winter Vacation"
Godley & Creme - "Cry"
Stars - "Going, Going, Going"
Deerhunter - "Heatherwood"
No Age - "Things I did When I Was Dead"
The Velvet Underground - "Pale Blue Eyes"
Lykke Li - "Time Flies"
Flying Lotus - "Auntie's Lock / Infinitum (Feat. Laura Darlington)"
My Other Micromixes:
Summer 08' MicroMix:
Fall 08' MicroMix:
at 8:10 AM
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
2008 was another great year for music, and maybe the most diverse in my recent memory. Here are my top ten albums and honorable mentions:
1. Girl Talk - "Feed the Animals"
The bottom line: you cannot listen to this entire album without falling completely in love with what Greg Gillis has done with the "mash-up" genre. This was my most anticipated album of 2008 and it delivered big time. The samples are much more focused than the 2006 release "Night Ripper" and the result is an amazing homage to pop/rock/hip-hop/electronica/etc. I listened to this album beginning to end about 150 times since it was released back in June...and it only gets better each time.
"Play Your Part (Pt. 1)"
"Play Your Part (Pt. 2)"
2. Kleerup - "Kleerup"
This is the "sleeper" of the year, maybe even the last three years. Swedish producer Andreas Kleerup released this amazing showcase of electronica meets guest vocals. I think Kleerup created what Moby attempted to create on this years "Last Night" and fell short of. The entire album feels like it was a musical re-creation of 1990...and that is a good thing.
"Until We Bleed (Feat. Lykke Li)"
"Thank You For Nothing"
3. Wolf Parade - "At Mount Zoomer"
The three year wait for their follow-up to "Apologies to Queen Mary" was not easy. My second most anticipated release of 2008 was met with wide eyes and open arms. Their sound had changed...and this wasn't a bad thing. I can't define how or why it changed, it just did. I think many critics/fans weren't ready for the new sound and prematurely shelved the record without a proper listen. I got to see most of the album performed live about a month ago. When they played the wall-of-noise guitar part of "Call It a Ritual", I closed my eyes and went somewhere else for about 11 seconds.
Animal In Your Care
Call It a Ritual
4. Kanye West - "808s & Heartbreak"
Very few artists understand the music industry like Kanye West does: re-invent yourself before it is necessary to. The 2007 release "Graduation" was one of the best hip-hop releases of the decade, let alone the year. Why not follow it up with another hit machine? The answer: life happened. Kanye's life fell apart as a result of the death of his mother, a break-up with his fiance and ulimately gaining the success he worked so hard to obtain. The result: two weeks spent in Hawaii creating what would become this album. Emotional pain tends to create great art and this is a shining example of that. Critics and fans can say whatever they want about this album, but in the end...this is an amazing record that isn't getting the praise it should because it doesn't play by the rules of the music industry.
"Amazing (Feat. Young Jeezy)"
5. The Walkmen - "You & Me"
Once the darlings of the indie/garage revival, the Walkmen returned to the praises of fans and critics alike with "You & Me". The entire album is an impressive display of infectious songs that all sound familiar, while somehow not sounding too familiar to each other. After three proper album releases, the Walkmen have put out their best and most focused work to date.
"In the New Year"
6. M83 - "Saturdays = Youth"
The best description for this album is "rich in sonic textures". The entire album feels like 1987 all over again. Released in April, this became the album on which my entire spring/summer was based. I have been into M83 for the last three years and this album is their obvious progression towards more of an electronic pop sound and I have no complaints with their chosen direction.
"Kim & Jessie"
"We Own the Sky"
7. The Killers - "Day & Age"
Now don't get me wrong, there are some horrible musical moments within "Day & Age". However, the stunning and spine tingling moments created within these 10 tracks far outweighs the weak parts. The Killers followed up the 2006 release "Sam's Town" with equal parts Pet Shop Boys pop and early 70's David Bowie glam rock. Brandon Flowers proves once again that he is one of the best lyricist of the last ten years (maybe ever). I don't think this album is what critics or most fans expected/wanted but I think it is deserving of pure praise for its sensibilities of pop music and human emotion.
"A Dustland Fairytale"
8. Cut Copy - "In Ghost Colours"
This Melbourne, Australia group simply put, released one of the best electro-pop/dance-punk albums of the last couple years. 'In Ghost Colours' is an uptempo assault of mixed genres and "can't sit still" beats. Lead vocalist Dan Whitford has gone on the record as saying that the sound of 'In Ghost Colours' is the closest the band have come to the sound they're after. With influences ranging from the late 60's to early 90's, Cut Copy bang out 15 tracks of glowing dance party pop.
"Strangers in the Wind"
"Lights and Music"
9. Santogold - "Santogold"
2008 was the year of Santogold. You could not turn on the t.v. without hearing at least one of her songs on a commercial. Santogold's debut album is absolutely remarkable. Santogold's goal of the album was to "help break down boundaries and genre classifications" and she did just that. With a sound that could only flourish in the current world of internet driven press, Santogold proved that she was much more than a "flash in the pan".
"I'm a Lady"
10. Crystal Castles - "Crystal Castles"
I had a conversation in my kitchen in late 2007, and this served as my introduction Crystal Castles. I spoke with a friend who had just seen them live a week prior and had nothing but great things to say about them. Three months later their first full-length album was released. I've been hooked ever since. 18 tracks of Atari sounds + Karen O-esque vocals. Amazing.
Atlas Sound - "Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel"
Bradford Cox is not exactly fun to look at...but listening to, now that's a different story. This is one of those records that feels like an out-of-body experience. Pure ambient pop with layers of dark edges. The haunting sounds of Bradford Cox's voice echo throughout this album, which was recorded using a musical software program. Maybe even more interesting is that all of the lyrics on the album were created as they were being recorded on the first take.
(in no particular order)
Diplo/Santogold - "Top Ranking (Mixtape)"
Kings of Leon - "Only By The Night"
TV on the Radio - "Dear Science"
High Places - "03/07 - 09/07"
Animal Collective - "Water Curses EP"
Stars - "Sad Robot EP"
French Kicks - "Swimming"
Hot Chip - "Made in the Dark"
The Dodos - "Visiter"
Alaska in Winter - "Holiday"
Lil' Wayne - "The Carter III"
High Places - "High Places"
Deerhunter - "Microcastle/Weird Era Cont."
Fleet Foxes - "Fleet Foxes"
Damien Jurado - "Caught in the Trees"
Air France - "No Way Down EP"
T.I. - "Paper Trail"
Lykke Li - "Youth Novel"
Wilderness - "(k)no(w)here"
She & Him - "Volume 1"
The Game - "L.A.X."
Fuck Buttons - "Street Horrrsing"
Nas - "Untitled"
Hercules and Love Affair - "Hercules and Love Affair"
Lindstrøm - Where You Go I Go Too
at 8:06 AM
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
My 50 favorite songs of the year:
1. Kevin Drew - "Untitled 2"
2. Girl Talk - "Play Your Part (Pt. 1)"
3. Girl Talk - "Play Your Part (Pt. 2)"
4. Wolf Parade - "An Animal In Your Care"
5. Wolf Parade - "Call It a Ritual"
6. T.I. - "Live Your Life (Feat. Rihanna)"
7. Crystal Castles - "Vanished"
8. Santogold - "Starstruck"
9. M83 - "Kim & Jessie"
10. Kleerup - "Until We Bleed (Feat. Lykke Li)"
11. High Places - "From Stardust to Sentience"
12. Cut Copy - "Strangers in the Wind"
13. TV on the Radio - "Family Tree"
14. The Killers - "A Dustland Fairytale"
15. Lil' Wayne - "Shoot Me Down (Feat. D. Smith)"
16. Hercules and Love Affair - "Iris"
17. Hot Chip - "Wrestlers"
18. The Walkmen - "Four Provinces"
19. M83 - "We Own the Sky"
20. Santogold - "Icarus"
21. Death Cab for Cutie - "Cath..."
22. Kanye West - "Street Lights"
23. Damien Jurado - "Go First"
24. The Walkmen - "In the New Year"
25. Animal Collective - "Street Flash"
26. Wolf Parade - "Language City"
27. The Dodos - "God?"
28. Kings of Leon - "Revelry"
29. Kleerup - "Thank You For Nothing"
30. Santogold/Diplo - "Get It Up (Feat. M.I.A. & Gorilla Zoe)"
31. Kanye West - "Amazing (Feat. Young Jeezy)"
32. Leona Naess - "Heavy Like Sunday"
33. The Killers - "Neon Tiger"
34. The Game - "My Life (Feat. Lil' Wayne)"
35. Deerhunter - "Agoraphobia"
36. Death Cab for Cutie - "Bixby Canyon Bridge"
37. The Killers - "This is Your Life"
38. She & Him - "Sentimental Heart"
39. Kleerup - "Longing for Lullabies (Feat. Titiyo)"
40. The Killers - "Human"
41. TV on the Radio - "Halfway Home"
42. Black Kids - "Hit the Heartbrakes"
43. Stars - "Undertow"
44. Xiu Xiu - "I Do What I Want, When I Want"
45. Cyndi Lauper - "Into the Nightlife"
46. T.I. - "No Matter What"
47. Alaska in Winter - "We Are Blind and Riding the Merry-Go-Round"
48. Fuck Buttons - "Sweet Love for Planet Earth"
49. Friendly Fires - "Paris (Aeroplane Remix) Feat. Au Revoir Simone"
50. Kid Cudi - "Man on the Moon (The Anthem)"
at 8:17 AM
Monday, December 15, 2008
Here are the top 25 songs I discovered in 2008, that were not released in 2008:
1. Electrelane - "Cut and Run"
2. Moby - "Chord Sounds"
3. The Killers - "Sweet Talk"
4. The Killers - "Leave The Bourbon on the Shelf"
5. MGMT - "Electric Feel"
6. Karen Dalton - "Something On Your Mind"
7. Thursday - "Running from the Rain"
8. UNKLE - "Heaven"
9. Q Lazzarus - "Goodbye Horses"
10. Don Williams - "Good Ole Boys Like Me"
11. Jackson C. Frank - "Dialogue"
12. The Kinks - "Animal Farm"
13. Godley & Creme - "Cry"
14. Psychedelic Furs - "Ghost in You"
15. Aphex Twin - "Xtal"
16. Moby - "Forever"
17. Roy Orbison - "In Dreams"
18. Don McLean - "Castles in the Air"
19. Electrelane - "To The East"
20. The Field - "A Paw in the Face"
21. Pixies - "Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf Version)"
22. Brian Eno - "Discreet Music"
23. The Clash - "Straight to Hell"
24. Van Morrison - "Slim Slow Slider"
25. April Wine - "Just Between You & Me"
at 7:51 AM
Thursday, December 11, 2008
There were some serious disappointments in the album release department this year. The following list includes groups that have put out at least A) one good record or B) multiple great records in the past. I had high hopes for each of these albums, however, I was ultimately left with a bad taste in my mouth.
1. My Morning Jacket - "Evil Urges"
2. The Magnetic Fields - "Distortion"
3. Squarepusher - "Just a Souvenir"
4. Silver Jews - "Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea"
5. Death Cab for Cutie - "Narrow Stairs"
6. Spiritualized - "Songs in A&E"
7. Cold War Kids - "Loyalty to Loyalty"
8. Tokyo Police Club - "Elephant"
9. Moby - "Last Night"
10. Ghostland Observatory - "Robotique Majestique"
at 8:23 AM