Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category

Favorite Movies of 2015

February 15, 2016

I didn’t see everything that came out in 2015, so it is entirely possible that in a year’s time when I eventually get caught up this list would be completely changed. But that’s my problem, not yours.

The Best

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1) Mad Max Fury Road:  Fury Road tells a story with glances and actions. It might be the best film in the genre, maybe even the best of all time. I’ve seen it twice and both times I felt like I was watching some kind of miracle. Charlize Theron says it all with her eyes, Tom Hardy says it with “It’s not my blood.”

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2) Magic Mike XXL: A tale of a bunch of friends going on a road trip and having the best time as they meet people, have parties, and try to be their best selves. Channing Tatum is in his natural element, being charming and dancing. The workshop dance to “Pony” is an obvious tip of the hat to Fred Astaire, and the final sequence at the convention is one of the great finales, with an incredible build and payoff. Magic Mike XXL is more fun than we deserve.

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3) Furious 7: 

It could have all gone wrong but it all went so right. Despite all the setbacks and tragedy, Furious 7 is a wonder to behold, incredible action cinema, and it has Jason Statham fighting The Rock AND Vin Diesel. The franchise peak, at least until the next one.

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4) The Hateful Eight: I liked how everyone is actually, truly, totally hateful in a real awful, genuine way. I had a friend message me just disgusted by the Sam Jackson sequence involving the son of the old Confederate soldier and he was kinda right, it is a little homophobic and cruel. But that is the point! Up to that moment in the film, we have no reason to dislike Jackson’s character, but then there we are, confronted with the terrible ugliness. And it only gets worse.

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5) Creed: Rocky Balboa’s Philadelphia is a vivid and real place, established over 6 films spanning over 30 years. Creed inserts itself effortlessly into this world, knows the rhythms and the people and just exists, like a stunning slice of life piece as well as a boxing movie. This one plays in such a way that I could be convinced that these characters are actually out there, living their lives and having this human adventures right now. The training montage ending with the street bikes is an all timer.

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6) It Follows: The creepiness of this film is unmatched. Arguments about whether it follows it’s own rules seems like it is beside the point, since I am all in on the mood. The panning shots of nothing that might not be nothing but maybe they’re nothing and I’m just paranoid, that is the type of thing you can’t fake.

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7) The Martian: No, it’s true, this movie is hilarious.

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8) Knock Knock: McCarty and I love Keanu Reeves more than most people, maybe all people, besides his parents and close friends. But this one looked like an MRA fantasy come to life. And it kinda is! But it’s also Eli Roth’s best movie, with actual tension from frame one, through the “chess match” sequence, culminating in probably the best single scene of Keanu Reeves’ career. If you’re a Keanuhead, this is a must see.

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9) Blackhat: I recently showed Blackhat to my wife, and she kept saying “This is so Michael Mann.” And it is. Michael Mann has reached a point, probably since Miami Vice in 06, where he isn’t interested in anything except gleaming surfaces, serious men, and his take on “realism”. The behind the scenes feature on the Blu ray has actors talking about reams of backstory and multiple takes on neck stabs to make sure they’re done right. Mann is so concerned about the details because somebody better be.

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10) Unfriended: This movie is stunning. Creating tension from being unable to delete a .avi file? The unease of a blinking cursor? This movie does it. I go to the movies to see things I’ve never seen before, and I had never seen anything like this. We’ll be talking about Unfriended for a long time.

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11) Chi-raq: I think Spike Lee doesn’t have filter and he just goes for broke and it can be particularly polarizing. But this worked for me, as allegory and as a simple tone poem.

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12) The Diary of a Teenage Girl: This level of honesty and truth in film isn’t normally allowed so for most of this film it felt like a miracle. Obviously, everyone should see it.

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13) Bone Tomahawk: Kill of the year.

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14) Wild Card: Jason Statham plays a compulsive gambler and tough guy investigator that people know can be trusted to help them out in a jam. He can also kill a group of people with just a spoon. The big spoon kill finale is of course superb but the gambling breakdown sequence shows that Statham has more range than people give him credit for.

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15) Ex Machina: Oscar Isaac is a gift to cinema and he’s never been bad in anything. He literally elevates this whole movie to essential viewing.

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16) Mission Impossible Rogue Nation: LOOK AT THAT SCREEN SHOT!

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17) Kingsman: The Secret Service: Church sequence obviously, but Colin Firth needs extra notice for not slumming it up and actually giving a shit in this wacky comic book movie. But yeah, that church sequence fucked the game up.

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18) The Gift: The ending is so cruel and awful. Who knew you could still drop something like this in the summertime? Jason Bateman finally achieves his scumbag calling.

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19) What We Do In The Shadows: Werewolves not swearwolves, the hypnotized police officers finding safety violations, the lovable Stu. And other funny parts that are better just being experienced.

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20) Clouds of Sils Maria: Kristen Stewart is great in this, because she actually holds her own against Juliette Binoche. The Primal Scream “Vanishing Point” sequence is very visceral and true.

The Worst

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Jupiter Ascending: A folly on a scale rarely seen. Miscast and overwrought to the point of tedium. Gets pretty much everything wrong. Eddie Redmayne is one of the worst to ever do it. Of course he has an Oscar.

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Jurassic WorldPandering horseshit. Dull and derivative, probably the most pointless sequel ever made…

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Terminator Genisys: Except for this one. Tries to not only ripoff the original films but also retcon them out of of existence. Just another in the long list of crimes committed by Jai Courtney.

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The RevenantFor all of it’s flaws as an adventure tale: too boring, too clean looking, the overshadowing Leo torture narrative, the final shot of this film is what truly sinks it for me. Only a director like Iñárritu would indulge an actor’s ego like that. It’ll probably pay off too. A shame.

Future Film that Time Forgot

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We Are Your Friends: Zac Efron’s instantly dated and woe-begotten EDM film doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be, jumping from bro-down farce to romantic drama back around to message movie on Life Right Now, with a music making montage that doesn’t tell us much about how electronic music is really made. Somewhere there is an interminable 3 hour cut where Efron’s bro posse gets the full subplot they demand(but don’t need) and Wes Bentley’s alcoholic guru either gets help or a proper comeuppance. At least it has the decency to end with the characters basically back where they started, as failed actors, wanna be door men, and in Emily Ratajkowski’s case, late for school on the first day of class. Girl, you’re never gonna get that degree.

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Best Music of 2015

January 14, 2016

2015 went in directions I never could have anticipated. Here is what I loved this year.

Best Albums of 2015

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1. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

What a triumph. After an almost ten year hiatus, to return and be this great? Sleater-Kinney are one of the greatest bands to ever exist and No Cities is chokablock with burners. Corin Tucker still wails, Carrie Brownstein is still a guitar god, and Janet Weiss is still one of the greatest drummersalive. This album is so powerful and true, it crushes and makes my heart ache with joy. Album of the year, band of your life.

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2. HEALTH – Death Magic

Like being engulfed in a supernova but you can hear a tender voice whispering sweet nothings as the flames consume your body. Imagine the noise of a collapsing building restructured with a melody. The proper follow up “Die Slow” demanded.

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3. Madeon – Adventure

Dance album of the year. Finally someone makes the sequel to Discovery that Daft Punk couldn’t be bothered with. Adventure has about five peak moments and never lets up. My most listened to album of 2015.
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4. Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION

Jepsen is now two for two for great albums that were ignored by the general public. Like KissE•MO•TION is front to back pop bangers, impeccably produced and performed. Jepsen is over here making fucking albums, ALBUMS! and people don’t even care. Hope she never stops, “Run Away With Me” and “Making The Most of the Night” already classics.

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5. Capsule – Wave Runner

Yasutaka Nakata first came on my radar when I was advised by many a twitter denizen to listen to Perfume’s 2013 album Level3. That album sounds like being executed by a thousand lazer synths at once. It’s incredible but eventually overwhelming. Nakata produces for Perfume but Capsule is his main band and he has a long career of various pop and dance meldings and experimentation. Wave Runner is actually straight ahead dance pop for the most part, but it’s more aggressive than what I am used to hearing. Every song sounds like it was made for a space launch.

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6. Drake – If You’re Reading This Its Too Late

I keep thinking I don’t like Drake that much and then I listen to this repeatedly for a month.

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7. Daniel Johns – Talk

The surprise of the year was the r&b album from the former lead singer of Silverchair. Mostly midtempo, Talk isn’t going from some white guy lover man schtick, instead displaying a wounded vulnerability that Silverchair tended to overpower with it’s alt rock thud. Johns is a confident crooner, and the production is wonderfully varied and unique.

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8. dumblonde – Dumblonde

The production shimmers and it sounds like the vocals were chopped and filtered and sprinkled around the tracks like ornaments. Danity Kane is the worst thing that created the best things.

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9. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

A double album without the feeling of being worn down by the length. Staples raps with fury and with a smirk and the beats are undeniable.

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10. Local H – Hey, Killer

Local H are one of my all time favorite bands. They are responsible for two of my all time favorite albums and their live show is without peer. Hey, Killer is a better than solid collection of crushers, peaking with “John The Baptist Blues”, which has one of those riffs that makes life worth living.

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11. Future – Dirty Sprite 2

Can a mumble and a gurgle be profound? I say yes. Future raps of opulence and excess overwhelmed by sadness. Is this guy ok? Someone check on Future!

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12. Janet Jackson – Unbreakable

One of the greatest to ever do it, still doing it. This is one of those front to back, bring a smile and bring a tear kinda albums.

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13. Girls’ Generation – Lion Heart

The accusing tone of “songs made by committee” holds less weight to me than say, a film made by committee. A great pop song can be written by someone alone, just flowing out of them as the muse hits. Or it can be made in the lab, tinkering so that the chorus is bigger and the verses are tighter and the whole package races out the door like a spaceship at lift off. That is what this album delivers, carefully crafted and molded pop/dance without a speck of dust or grit. In a way, it is perfect.

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14. Failure – The Heart is a Monster

My senior year of college I became a Ken Andrews obsessive after hearing the album Make Believe he released under the On moniker. I went back and got all his other shit, did an embarrassing interview with Andrews for my college radio station(the recording is in my basement somewhere, safe from us all), devoured his other solo and side project work (Year of the Rabbit is a used bin staple, but it rocks), and of course meeting other Ken Andrews fanatics in my travels. The uniting principle for all of us Andrewsheads is his first band Failure and their 1996 opus Fantastic Planet, one of those cult pieces that burrows deep inside a small audience and has them still talking about and obsessing some 20 years later. The Heart is a Monster is a direct sequel to FP and it ended up being even better than anyone could have hoped. For the hardcore Andrewsheads it is a fulfillment of long held hopes and dreams.

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15. Fall Out Boy – American Beauty/American Psycho

FOB’s strange pop comeback barrels on, and for every strange left turn decision that I have trouble reconciling (Big Sean on the last album, the Munster’s sample on this one), they still deliver some career best work(“Jetpack Blues”, “Fourth of July”) and make a song with SebastiAn (“American Beauty/American Psycho”) that sounds just a like a SebastiAn song. So, good. And the remix album for this was not half bad either.

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16. Empress Of – Me

This one reminded me of when Bjork made albums with beats and melodies you could dance to and play over and over again.

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17. Destroy This Place – Animal Rites

Not to discount the previous Destroy This Place albums, but this is the first one that sounds like a real, fully fleshed out Band. The influences are obvious but the tracks aren’t boneheaded, and if you thought the last Foo Fighters album was a dud this one picks up the slack. “No Apologies” is a particular triumph as it is one of the great closing tracks. Great closing tracks are so few and far between! These guys are on a roll.

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18. Dr. Dre – Compton

Dre didn’t owe us shit but he dropped this anyway. I guess there is a backlash to this album but it knocks and I didn’t think Dre was into knocking anything anymore.

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19. Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School

This thing has a weird gurgle sound on the keyboard for the first half but the songs themselves are solid and the back half is all hits. Best thing Alan has done since “Parking Lot Nights”.

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20. Eagles of Death Metal – Zipper Down

My kneejerk response was too slight, but it has grown on me with repeated listens and the riffs are strong. I was also foolish in not realizing that “I Love You All The Time” is a new one for the canon.

 

Honorable Mentions

Grimes – Art Angels
John Carpenter- Lost Themes
Shamir – Ratchet
Jack Ü – Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü

 

Best Songs of 2015 

Cool For The Summer

 

 

  1. “Cool for the Summer” by Demi Lovato: “Cool for the Summer” was my most listened to song this past year. It is a perfect piece of pop design, with the kind of blow-out-the-speakers chorus that Max Martin has become the master of creating. Demi Lovato imbues the track with the obvious sexual fire but also a yearning humanity that I don’t get from someone like Katy Perry. Other artists perform, but Lovato owns this track. There are many ways to sell the “bodytype” line, Lovato made it legendary.
  2. “Back Together” by Robin Thicke featuring Nicki Minaj: Robin Thicke is the most hated man in pop music, and all he did was be kinda skeevy and have a drug problem. In comparison to Justin Bieber and R. Kelly, he’s practically a saint. So this comeback track failed to do just that, but it still stands a supreme piece of production and writing by, yup, Max Martin. My wife and I listen to this song a lot.
  3. “A New Wave” by Sleater-Kinney: This is the feeling of infinite possibilities, set to music.
  4. “Run Away With Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen: Jepsen bringing that sax fire. Bowie would be proud.
  5. “Cool On Fire” by Daniel Johns: The best groove on the album.
  6. “10 Bands” by Drake: Fuck it, let’s not even discuss it, man.
  7. “tender green life” by dumblonde: The vocals are pitched up almost to a chirp, and the coo over the chorus is inspired. The whole thing sounds like “You know what would be crazy? If we did THIS!” But 11 times.
  8. “John the Baptist Blues” by Local H: Monster riff milked for 6 glorious minutes. Rock n roll heaven.
  9. “L.A. LOOKS” by HEALTH: The closest HEALTH will get to being poppy, and the closest to a love song. “It’s not love but I still want you.”
  10. “Sign” by Girls’ Generation: On an album of pop perfection, this one is the most perfect.
  11. “Solid” by Ty Dolla $ign featuring Babyface: No drums! Just the guitar and that hook. When the notes go higher and then ring in unison, ohhhhhhhhh baby.
  12. “Keep Searchin'” by R. Kelly: R. Kelly is probably a sexual predator. That said, he still possesses one of the greatest voices on the planet. It’s tough. His new album is ok, but this bonus track is some wonderful throwback shit. Almost sounds like Michael Jackson near the finale. Oh, Michael was problematic too.
  13. “To Ü” by Jack Ü featuring AlunaGeorge: Best drop of the year.
  14. “Wolves” by Kate Pierson: Kate Pierson has a hall of fame voice. Her work in the B-52s is peerless. Her solo album is a fun jaunt, and this track is it’s peak.
  15. “All Day” by Kanye West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and Paul McCartney: The definitive version is live with flame throwers, but the studio version is also fire.
  16. “B Boy” by Meek Mill featuring Big Sean and A$AP Ferg: What? Big Sean on a good song? 2015 was out of control. Best song that Meek Mill kept off his album.
  17. “Coffee” by Miguel: I thought the new Miguel album was a disappointment(Please no more California Songs) but “Coffee” was a strong single and closest to the sound I loved on his last album.
  18. “Right Here, Right Now” by Giorgio Moroder featuring Kylie Minogue: Moroder dropped the ball on his album but “Right Here” is a flames collaboration with Kylie, who tends to pull greatness from her producers. If the rest of album wasn’t a stinkfish I’d say make a whole project together.
  19. “Nightclub Amnesia” by Ratatat: Every Ratatat album has a song that makes you forget that Ratatat albums are largely boring filler.
  20. “Dreamin’ Boy” by CAPSULE: “Are you ready?”

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Best Music of 2014

December 30, 2014

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2014 felt like 2009, a year with a couple stand out records but an off year since we didn’t have any new Kanye. So goes Kanye, so goes the year.

I listened to as many albums as I could get ahold of this year and even as it ends I’m still finding stuff I missed or should have spent more time with. Much love to Rich Gang, Guy Gerber and Puff Daddy, Charli XCX and A$AP Ferg.

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1. Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World

I just wrote and then deleted a long autobiography about my relationship with Death From Above 1979’s first album, about the mythology created about the band with my wife and my friend Lauren, about the times that Sebastien was a jerk and Jesse was the coolest dude ever. But I don’t want to bore you. Death From Above 1979 are back, and this album rules. The production is cleaner but the songs are still brutal, ferocious, and instantly danceable. A joke we make is that Jesse’s bass is tuned to “awesome” at all times. I mean that in the truest sense. This band inspires awe in me. This record leaves me awestruck. It is a triumph and I am so happy they’re back. 10 years was worth it. Sebastien is still a jerk but that is why we love him.

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2. Keys N Krates – Every Nite

Trap dance? I don’t know the official term but Every Nite is all bangers.

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3. Duck Sauce – Quack

Another long wait that was worth it. A-Trak told a podcast in 2011(!) that this record was done and mixed and it finally came out this year. A-Trak is the partner that Armand Van Helden has needed his whole career. Van Helden has certainly created some masterpiece singles in his lifetime but a full cohesive album? Not until Duck Sauce. A-Trak is a people pleaser and he works well to accentuate Van Helden’s strengths and keep all his goofing around contained in the skits. This is dance floor nirvana.

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4. The Afghan WhigsDo to the Beast

Greg is back and he brought tunes. This is a divisive record since Rick McCollum isn’t featured on it but it still sounds like the Whigs to me and Greg is in fine form. In the sea of reunion cash ins, this is a record with purpose and spirit.

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5. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun

After the slump of 2011’s The Hunter, …Round The Sun is a nice return to form. Killer riffs abound and these guys still know how to write a hook. Standing ovation.

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6. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

El-P made me a believer with his production on Killer Mike’s 2012 R.A.P. Music. I didn’t exactly see the light on the first Run The Jewels but the sequel definitely hit my sweet spots. The raps are vicious and the beats are there to match them.

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7. Brody Dalle – Diploid Love

Brody Dalle’s post Distiller’s career has been largely silence, with the exception of the Spinnerette project, which took a promising EP and expanded into a disappointing album. Diploid Love is a total success, with Dalle playing nearly everything and just rocking faces. Dalle’s voice still retains that trademark rasp and she sounds like a Beast.

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8. Klaxons – Love Frequency

Is this really the last Klaxons album? Bummer. This one is more like the Myths of the Near Future with laser synths and less guitar. Rachel thinks it sounds like 2007 which is great! 2007 was great!

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9. Sloan – Commonwealth

Sloan seem to be on an every other album thing with classics at this point in their career. After roaring back with Never Hear The End of It in 2006 they released the short and relatively subdued Parallel Play. That record is mad underrated. Then in 2011 they dropped The Double Cross which is a fucking masterpiece so it makes sense that Commonwealth would be more chill. Of course, it only takes a couple listens to realize that Sloan still have it and will always have it, that their songs will imprint into your mind and you’ll be singing them forever.

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10. Skrillex – Recess

He could have just made 11 bangers and said “That’s a wrap” but instead he sought out some interesting collaborations, and just tried to see what would stick. Not as hard hitting as Bangarang, this would be the thoughtful Skrillex album. Still has some dance jams but he is in a headier place. If this one left you wanting there is always the Dog Blood stuff which are all face melters.

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11. Ariana Grande – My Everything

I was hoping for this to be 2014’s Kiss and while it didn’t quite get there it still has plenty of jams. Songs with Zedd, The Weeknd, A$AP Ferg, all fire.

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12. Stars – No One Is Lost

Despite their claims, I thought Arcade Fire really shit the bed with their “dance music” attempts on Reflektor. Stars made similar claims on the run up to No One Is Lost but hey, they came through. Only the title track and the closer have that club feeling but the rest of the album is a more than solid collection of indie rock jams, and as someone with little stomach for indie rock these days that is saying something.

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13. We Are Scientists – TV en Français

I’m a We Are Scientists fan for life so every record goes into immediate rotation. This one is more chill with less rockers but these guys still know how to crafty punchy tunes. I’ll take it!

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14. Slipknot – .5 : The Gray Chapter

My expectations were low to non-existent for this album. Paul Gray dies, they kick Joey Jordison out of the band, the last record was just ok, was this album even going to exist at all? I should have realized that nothing gets a metal band invested like the death of bandmate. Like Back In Black and Down III.5 is all righteous fury and chewed anger. And they have “Custer”, which is an immediate instant classic. I read they’re closing their shows with it now.

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15. DJ Quik – The Midnight Life

DJ Quik is a legend and genius and all of his albums are great. Same with this one.

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16. Spoon – They Want My Soul

Spoon are so good at this point that it is easy to underrate them or just plain take them for granted. This album is more top quality Spoon for us Spoon loving masses.

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17. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time

This album sounds like these weird instrumental albums my dad used to play when I was growing up. I think they were like new age or something like that. Listening to this reminds me of being 10 years old but not in any specific way. I say this because I can’t describe the feelings this album elicits any other way. It’s really good and it makes me feel like a child.

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18. YG – My Krazy Life

As I type this I read that YG and DJ Mustard are feuding. If so, get this last document of their fruitful collaborations.

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19. French Montana – Coke Boys 4

I joked in January that this was the best album of the year but then I kept listening to it and I guess I love French Montana?

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20. Katy B – Little Red

I don’t think this record caught on because they waited over 2 years to captialize on the excitement of “Aaliyah”. Drop this album in Spring 2013 and you might have had something. That said, it still has plenty of fun dance cuts and hey, they included “Aaliyah”!

Best Songs of 2014

  1.  Swet Shop Boys “Benny Lava” Heems of Das Rascist drops of one off EP with the jam of the year. I heard he’s quit music and working in an office now which is total bummer because dude has bars.
  2. Federal Reserve featuring Cam’ron, A-Trak, Juelz Santana & Dame Dash “Dipshits” This promised a Dipset return that didn’t happen but while you play the track you feel like Cam and company are set to take over the world. Dame Dash with best spoken word outro of the year. Also A-Trak!
  3. Death From Above 1979 “Virgins” The first 10 seconds of this song are the greatest 10 seconds of your life.
  4. Keys N Krates “Are We Faded” Yes.
  5. Death From Above 1979 “Trainwreck 1979” The comeback single that said that everything will be alright and the boys are back.
  6. Stitches “Brick In Your Face” This was the year of Stitches. He has a gun tattooed on his face and he loves cocaine. Also video of the year.
  7. Future featuring Pharrell, Pusha T and Casino “Move That Dope” Pharrell has the best verse on this track and there are a LOT of great verses on this track.
  8. Bobby Shmurda “Hot Nigga” Free Bobby.
  9. Duck Sauce “Time Waits For No-One” This is the great sequel to “U Don’t Know Me” that we’ve been waiting 15 years for.
  10. Dej Loaf “Try Me” The nicest song about murdering your enemies.
  11. Hercules And Love Affair “Do You Feel The Same?” These guys can’t make a full record but they’re usually good for one jam and this song is a JAM.
  12. La Roux “Uptight Downtown” La Roux followed up a five year absence with 9 songs, 1 of which was this one, totally great, and then eight forgettable whiffs. But yeah, this one rules.
  13. Ariana Grande feat. A$AP Ferg “Hands On Me” These two sound absolutely jubilant about having sex.
  14. Drake “0 To 100” Swap in “We Made It” or “6 God”, Drake dropping loosies and still running shit without an album.
  15. A-Trak & Lex Luger “Ohmygosh” A-Trak also also worked with Lex Luger this year and made some bangers so basically A-Trak was running shit in 2014.
  16. Drake “Trophies” More Drake.
  17. Brody Dalle “Don’t Mess With Me” Noted.
  18. The Afghan Whigs “Algiers” This sounds a lot like the True Detective theme song which is also a pretty good song and hey a not bad show have you watched True Detec-
  19. Kylie Minogue “I Was Gonna Cancel” This Kylie album felt slight but had a few wonderful moments, this Pharrell production being the highlight.
  20. Designer Drugs “Crystal” BANGER BANGER BANGER BANGER BANGER!
  21. Young Money featuring Tyga, Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Wayne “Senile” This beat is insane and I can’t believe they let Tyga rap on it but Nicki and Wayne drop flames and thus it is a classic.
  22. French Montana featuring Jadakiss “88 Coupes” Harry Fraud needs to do a Ghostface album, stat.
  23. Run The Jewels featuring Zach De La Rocha “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)” As a longtime Rage Against The Machine fan, I was excited for this and the fact that it actually delivers on it’s song title is remarkable.
  24. Basement Jaxx “Never Say Never” The Jaxx have been just ok since crushing shit on Kish Kash in 03 and Junto is a nice return to form. “Never Say Never” is their best single since “Good Luck”.
  25. Nick Jonas “Teacher” I’m as surprised as you. The rest of the album is a snooze though.
  26. Nicki Minaj featuring Beyoncé “Feeling Myself” Nicki Minaj released “Only” as a single instead of this and I just can’t wrap my mind around it.
  27. Sloan “You Don’t Need Excuses To Be Good” Chris Murphy is a golden god.
  28. Slipknot “Custer” New classic.
  29. Beyoncé “7/11” The self titled album ended up on my list last year but this track is as good as about half the songs on that one.
  30. Disclosure featuring Mary J. Blige “F For You” Disclosure are inherently boring but Mary J. Blige makes this a first class banger for the ages.

Best of Movies of 2014

December 23, 2014

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This was not a hard list to make. In the past I have agonized over these things, moving them around for days and days, fretting over placement. What a waste of time! But this list came easy because I followed my heart.

The Best

1. The Raid 2 

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Best action, best violence, best payoff, best everything. How can you hype something in your head and it still exceeds your wildest dreams? The answer is The Raid 2. I think I’ve covered everything I love about this movie in various other places or if you’ve ever met me in person but let me just reiterate that nothing is beating this bad boy for a long time. The bar has been raised. Never forget that at the U.S. premiere someone had a seizure and they had to stop the movie. The Raid 2 is so good it might kill you.

2. The Guest

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I loved how they kept showing you that David is a bad guy but then have him do something cool as hell, like intimidate a high school principal or casually smash a guy’s head into the wall and then fuck that dude’s girlfriend. “This guy is bad, right? So why does he rule?” The grenade toss is highlight reel hall of fame shit and put it in the Smithsonian.

3. Whiplash

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There is a moment about 3/4’s the way through that a few people say is too over the top and throws the movie into some crazy realm. And definitely when that scene happens the first thought is “Whoa movie! You are getting crazy! Settle down, baby.” But then Miles Teller tries to play the drums while covered in blood and I got it, it worked. The movie is all about playing till you bleed and about playing so well while mouthing “Fuck you” to your archenemy. The best archenemies are the ones who might be your friend but then turn on you but you could almost be each other. Dr Doom and Reed Richards, Wolverine and Sabretooth, heck DeNiro and Pacino in HeatWhiplash even has it’s own version of the restaurant scene!

4. John Wick

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Keanu Reeves is a national treasure and a legend. The Matrix, Point Break, Speed, classic status. His legend is secure, he directed The Man of Tai Chi and fucking crushed it, and still he made head shot masterpiece John Wick because he wants you to know that he is still a legend who will barrel roll and pop you in your right eye.

5. Blue Ruin

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Everything goes wrong in Blue Ruin and just keeps going wrong for a while and never really goes right. It’s sad but also hilarious, like when a character gets shot with an arrow and tries to remove it like DeNiro in Ronin and then realizes fuck it and goes to the hospital.

6. Nightcrawler

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Jake Gyllenhaal is a fucking creeeeeeeep in this movie. Also I believe that the person he plays is very real and true.

7. Edge of Tomorrow

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Tom Cruise in a mech suit fighting aliens. NO CONTEST CLASSIC STATUS.

8. Snowpiercer

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I like how people watched this movie and said things like “That train didn’t make sense, where did the rich people sleep?” What is it like to be dead inside? Bong Joon-Ho has about 5 classic set pieces here, the classroom being the most obvious but that ax fight is goddamn poetic. This is also the film I get the most texts about, after The Raid 2. “Did you see Snowpiercer, Lorin? Seems like your thing.” You are correct, everyone. Awesome movies are indeed my thing.

9. Only Lovers Left Alive

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Literally two vampires spooning and playing shoegaze. Masterpiece.

10. Under The Skin

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Scarlett Johansson lures men into her van and then rips their guts out and leaves just the skin. This was really good.

Honorable mentions

The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Wasn’t that ending like the saddest fucking thing?

Boyhood

original

Relatable.

Sabotage

USA Today keeping readers informed about Arnold shooting people in the spine.

USA Today keeping readers informed about Arnold shooting people in the spine.

Goriest Arnold Schwarzenegger movie ever made. At one point they’re just stapling people to the ceiling and shoving main characters into fridges. INSANE.

Underrated

300: Rise of an Empire, Hercules, Pompeii

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These movies had no obligation to be any good and yet they were all wonderful romps. Pompeii is a John Snow and Mr. Echo team up movie against Jack Bauer! 300 Part 2 is a prequel, sequel and sidequal all at the exact same time. Eva Green shoots a flaming arrow into a monster which causes a domino effect explosion and she just turns and walks away like, “This is what I do.” And Hercules had The Rock casually murdering dudes as one does.

Worst Movies

Birdman

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I’ve gone on the record.

They Came Together

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I think I hate David Wain movies.

Godzilla

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Every defense of this movie is verbal gymnastics trying to say boring is not boring.

Need For Speed

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Everyone is embarrassed and sad about being involved. Also people keep getting out of their cars and not racing! Get back in your car!

Lorin saw all the movies nominated for Best Picture. Give him a kiss.

March 1, 2014

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The morning of the Oscar nominations I was surprised that I had already watched eight of the nine films nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards.  I saw their promotional campaigns, caught some trailers and thought, “Heck, I’ll check that shit out. Why not?” This never happens, as I stopped seeking out Oscar bait films and even after a film is Oscar-nominated(and subsequently becomes an Oscar-winner) I don’t run out to see it. The Artist and The King’s Speech can win all the awards they want, doesn’t mean I gotta subject myself to their tyrannical middlebrow ways. (If I’m going to watch a black and white silent movie I’ll watch Buster Keaton, who was straight killing it back in the day. You see Sherlock Jr.? Fuck outta here with The Artist.) So I realized, if I just went to see the one remaining nominated film, I would have seen them all and I could knock out a nifty blog about all the films.

Philomena

Learning lessons!

So I went to see Philomena and it was fine, you guys. Total middlebrow, “funny” without actually being funny, more soft chuckle than loud guffaw. Sassy old lady teaches stodgy middle aged man how to, well, not be so stodgy I guess. And he teaches her that the Catholic church did her dirty. It was hardly the worst, not close to the best, but the theater was warm and my friend and I were easily the youngest people in the theater by 30 years. So it was classic Oscar bait. Won’t offend anyone too much(the Catholic church is shown as shitty, but not totally shitty), and it has that “gay people are real people too” bent but without actually giving any significant speaking roles to gay characters. If this thing had dropped in 1995 it would have looked like Santana at the Grammys, only at the Oscars, and instead of holding Grammys they would be holding Oscars. Y’know, that’s not a great comparison. Forget about it.

Shit.

Oh shit!

Did you see Gravity? That movie is Fucking Awesome. People got real bent out of shape about Sandra Bullock’s back story but I thought my wife made a good point when she said, “It was going to be one of three things: dead husband, dead kid, or sexual assault. I admire their restraint.” As do I! You see some of these people bagging on Gravity like it’s 2 hours of Sandy crying about her kid, when it’s actually 90 minutes of Sandra trying not to fucking die in space! It’s amazing that Rachel and I didn’t break our hands watching this movie. Ebert used to talk about movies where you would bruise your partner’s forearm from squeezing it because shit was so tense. Gravity is the quintessential bruised forearm movie. Heck, forget bruised, you and your friend/lover will both need hospital care for your broken arms because Gravity Never Stops. Just like real gravity, it’s always holding you down, quite literally pinning you to your seat, for fear of being demolished by a passing burning satellite dish. Sandy doesn’t get a single moment to chill between dodging debris and explosions and making sure she has enough air. My dog for life Alfonso Cuaron directed, so no surprise that the movie is hot fire. Cuaron previously directed Children of Men, which is hall of fame, lifetime pass greatness. Cuaron could blow up a hospital of legless babies and blind puppies and we’d be like, “Al! Holy shit! Jeez, man! What did you do? Be careful! That is fucked up. Oh my god, all those legless babies. Fucckkkkkkk…………..Jail? Nah man, it’s cool, see ya later.”

Your dad

Captain Phillips is solid work from a director I don’t like that much. Paul Greengrass bears the responsibility for 90% of all American action movies containing barely any shots where the audience can tell what is going on. The second Bourne movie has Matt Damon in a car and apparently something happens. I dunno, AND I WATCHED THE MOVIE. Captain Phillips doesn’t have this problem. You can clearly see what is going on the whole time. And what is going on is life, man! Tom Hanks is just trying to move some shit in his boat and these pirates are just trying to hijack so they can just keep living under horrible tyrant conditions. Captain Phillips is the quintessential dad movie. Every critic hates the conversation Tom Hanks and Catherine Keener have at the beginning of the movie but that is an exact conversation that my dad has with my mom all the time. All dads. All moms. Captain Phillips is life.

This is actually tagged "old-people-watching-tv.jpg"

This is actually tagged “old-people-watching-tv.jpg”

Nebraska is fine and understated and legitimately funny. Once again, total dad movie. The scene where all the old people watch tv and talk about stuff they can barely remember, I’ve lived it! Everyone with grandparents has lived it. It was too real.  That said, the best performance in the movie is from Will Forte, but he was once again snubbed by the Academy.

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Dallas Buyers Club is a perfectly fine, minor film. It’s been positioned as a major work and some kind of acting tour de force by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. McConaughey is good, Leto is turrible. I enjoyed this movie while I watched it, in a very “sticking it to the jerks” kind of way. The jerks in this case are doctors, who only care about profits and killing people instead of helping them. Classic movie doctor stuff. Since I heard that the actual guy McConaughey portrayed was a bi-sexual dude, it’s kinda lame that they had to concoct this whole homophobia angle, essentially saying that there wasn’t much story there and they had to change an essential aspect of the main character’s life in order to give him an “arc”. But seriously, Jared Leto sucks so bad, don’t give him an Oscar.

Buffering

Buffering

Would Her work if the OS were voiced by someone other than Scarlett Johansson? The glut of internet videos that have parodied the film seem to prove that it would not work at all. I feel like anyone who bought in to this relationship between a man and his OS was just seeing Johansson in his head and thinking, “Well, yeah, it’s Scarlett Johansson. This makes sense.” Why else would Spike Jonze replace Samantha Morton as the voice of the OS, except to replace it with the voice of one of world’s hottest sex symbols? Plus the world it presents does not make any sense. Joaquin Phoenix’s job makes no sense. Everyone’s pants make no sense. This whole movie was like the Emperor’s New Clothes.

What a buncha dummies.

What a buncha dummies.

But I do not begrudge Her and it faded from my thoughts not long after I walked out of the theater. Unlike American Hustle, the worst film of 2013. Now certainly movies like 47 Ronin and A Good Day To Die Hard are ostensibly “worse” but American Hustle, this fucking movie. Where to begin? David O. Russell has managed to top his terrible track record, after the shitshow that is The Fighter and the abomination of I Heart Huckabees. Those movies are total garbage but American Hustle feels especially terrible since Russell is trying to imitate Martin Scorcese and failing in every way. American Hustle has all the important features of a post Three Kings Russell work: shit acting, no sense of tone, and camera work that is straight up amateur hour. Amy Adams is next level terrible. I could feel the entire audience recoil every time she uttered that “Australian/British/nope” accent. I can suspend disbelief pretty far, but none of my group of friends could grasp how any of the characters in the movie ever thought her accent was genuine. My good friend McCarty is a big David O. Russell fan, and even he said to me, “Yeah, Amy Adams is really bad in this.” When Bradley Cooper’s character gets all upset that he had been “duped”, there was a collective sigh of exasperation in the theater. These characters, what a bunch of dummies! Not to mention that David O. Russell managed to make a Scorcese ripoff that is devoid of all the sex, drugs and violence audiences flock to decadent 70’s era movies to experience. One gun is fired in the whole movie! In a goddamn flashback! Jennifer Lawrence is miscast as a woman at least ten years older than Lawrence can actually portray. How are we as an audience supposed to believe that Christian Bale would cheat on Jennifer Lawrence with Amy Adams? Fuck outta here!  And that twist? Who didn’t see that coming? Why did this movie that cost millions of dollars to make look like it was shot in your grandma’s basement? Why does it look like dinner theater Goodfellas? Shoulda called this thing Garbage Town USA.

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12 Years A Slave is intense. You saw it, you know what I mean. It’s impressive in the way it never stops to let you get a breathe and collect yourself, because slaves didn’t get that option either. This movie is great in just about every way that a movie can be great. Will any moment in film be able to duplicate the combined sensation of elation and dread like the Paul Dano beating scene? Oh man. I’d never felt anything like that before. I can’t say it’s my favorite movie, but if it won all the awards I would not be mad about it.

Balling out of control

Balling out of control

The Wolf of Wall Street is nuclear powered craziness, top down no stop fuck your shit up insanity. 3 hours this fucking thing just beats you senseless. At one point I thought, “Oh shit, I guess it’s powering down.” I was wrong! It was just a fake out, because then they’re driving boats through hurricanes and blowing up planes! Leonardo DiCaprio is hall of fame in this one, physical comedy master class. Who knew? We knew! We all saw him going buckwild in Django Unchained last year. How’s he gonna top this one? He might not! Who cares? Scorcese shamed everyone in the directing game. Bow down to the master.

Would it have killed the academy to put an even ten movies up for best picture? Throw Inside Llewyn Davis a bone. For a best picture list this isn’t half bad. You got a couple instant classics, some easy crowd pleasers, a few dad movies, one lame-o stinker and only one total piece of shit. For the Oscars this is not bad at all. But honestly, my favorite movie of 2013 was Spring Breakers. Franco, Korine, and Benson got robbed.

Spring break foreverrrrrr

Spring break foreverrrrrr

Lorin Kozlowski’s Favorite Movies of 2013

1) Spring Breakers

2) The Wolf of Wall Street

3) Fast and Furious 6

4) Gravity

5) Before Midnight

6) This Is The End

7) You’re Next

8) The World’s End

9) Evil Dead

10) The Counselor

Lorin’s Favorite Music of the year 2013

December 30, 2013

2013 turned about to be the year when every major artist in the game dropped a big album and maybe half of them were any good. For every triumph like Yeezus or Hesitation Marks you’d have a disappointment like Magna Carta Holy Grail or Random Access Memories. I could write a whole thing on the let down albums this year. Nah. Too easy.

20) Stay Trippy – Juicy J

Those Rubberband Business mixtapes were my shit and Stay Trippy was a long time coming and totally worth the wait. All bangers about strippers and drugs, which is what we as human beings want from Juicy J. “All I Blow Is Loud” and “Gun Plus a Mask” are instant classics and “The Woods” is probably the best thing Justin Timberlake did all year.

19) Heartthrob – Tegan and Sara

“Love They Say” is pure beauty and sadness. So is “Closer”. Whole thing has this weird mix of happy/sad going on. I’ve never really cared for Tegan and Sara before this album and I know there was talk about Heartthrob as some kind of craven grab at popularity but these songs sound real good, and real true. Getting a budget doesn’t mean you can’t still be true! And everyone wants to be popular! Who are we to tell Tegan and Sara they can’t put food on their families?

18) Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke

If this guy could dance he would have the world on a string. Still, everything on this album is better than both those bloated 20/20 thuds. Breezy and fun, done in 40 minutes.

17) Trap Lord– A$AP Ferg

All you need to know about this album is that the chorus to “Dump Dump” is

“I fucked your bitch, nigga, I fucked your bitch

I fucked your bitch, nigga, I fucked your bitch

She suck my dick, nigga, she suck my dick

She suck my dick, nigga, she suck my dick”

16) Artpop– Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is overstudied and not nearly as good as she thinks she is. And yet, this album is fire. So many bangers, just vicious shit. Purposely ugly in all the ways that appeal to me, yet with these huge neon hooks. The hook for “Sexxx Dreams” is like a laser to the face. “Aura” is a monster.

15) B.O.A.T.S II: #MeTime – 2 Chainz

2 Chainz goes front to back here, just casually dropping bangers and classics like it is just the most natural thing in the world.

14) Save Rock and Roll – Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy are one of my favorite bands. Their three album run in the mid 2000’s is some hall of fame shit. They don’t get any respect though because their audience is largely girls and old men like to write rock history. Save Rock and Roll is weird and actually doesn’t have a ton of guitars on it, but it still has great hooks, fantastic singing from Patrick Stump, and a song about masturbation. The boys are back.

13) Nothing Was The Same – Drake

2013 was my year of Drake. I know why people don’t like him and sometimes I still don’t like him but I think he has more songs I like than dislike and Nothing Was The Same is pretty good. I think it could have used a couple more bangers like “Started From The Bottom” but that wasn’t what he was feeling at the moment. But did you hear “Trophies”? Shittttt.

12) Excuse My French – French Montana

This may be the last we hear from French Montana. The album flopped and people have already moved on but this album has tracks. Hot fire all over and these beats, son. Diddy paid good money for these beats and it would be a shame for all of us to ignore them. Also, the ignorance of “Pop That”, “Marble Floors” and “Ocho Cinco” all on the same album is awe inspiring. May French continue to be worried about nothing.

11) Dynamics – Holy Ghost!

The first three songs are kinda eh but then it makes a huge jump in quality and you can forgive those first tracks and come to like them a little bit. I saw these guys live this year and they aren’t very interesting performers but the songs sounded good and while they can’t really pull off their ballads live, those tracks are the best songs on Dynamics. “I Want To Be Your Hand” is an instant classic.

10) Matangi– M.I.A.

This album should have been called Bangers. M.I.A. never fell off, really. I’ve gone back to MAYA a few times and it is still hit and miss but who doesn’t have a moment like that? We keep giving Jay-Z second chances. Matangi is easily M.I.A.’s best album, no contest. The production is vicious, she still doesn’t give a fuck, and unlike her other records it isn’t back loaded, it’s just loaded.

9) My Name Is My Name– Pusha T

I still listen to Hell Hath No Fury all the time. I bought Till The Casket Drops even though the reviews were bad. I listened to No Malice’s solo album(terrible, btw). I rocked that Play Clothes mixtape for like half of 2009. I’ve listened to the Re-Up Gang record at least 4 times. I really really like The Clipse. My Name Is My Name is largely flames, Pusha T goes hard, Kanye hooked him up with some hot beats(“No Regrets” oh shit), dude is back. I wish The Clipse were back but this is great. Best Pusha track of the year is “Millions” off of the Wrath of Kaine mixtape.

8) Hesitation Marks – Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails have never made a bad record. This is a fact. Look it up. Every album is good to great, though us hardcore Nailheads can argue over which is which. (Year Zero is my shit). Hesitation Marks isn’t a return to form, thank god, it’s just the next step. There are dancey songs and funky songs and songs that are slow like “Hurt” and it is all fine and good.

7) Black Panties– R. Kelly

What do I do with you, R. Kelly? How do I reconcile your past actions with the music you made and continue to make? It’s tough. And tougher for the victims of your crimes. Black Panties is a really good album. The track with Future is next level. “Legs Shakin'” is bananas. “Every Position”, totally nuts……Man. I dunno.

6) Long.Live.A$AP – A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky is a cool dude. That’s what he sells, being cool as shit. The first half of this album is like riding in a haze of cool(and weed smoke). Then he drops “Fucking Problems” and “Wild For The Night” and your heart level jumps up and you freak out and start breaking things and then you simmer down again. Then “Ghetto Symphony” comes on and you level a city.

5) Old– Danny Brown

If you ever bad mouth Danny Brown on Twitter, Danny Brown Stans will come out of the darkness and flood your mentions with anger and vitriol. “Danny Brown is the truth!”, they will scream. “Danny knows what is going down in these streets!” He does! I agree! This album is great, leave me alone.

4) Beyoncé– Beyoncé

Like the rest of you, I’m still digging into this one, but it’s highlights are plentiful. “Drunk In Love” and “Blow” were early favorites, and “XO” gets better with every listen. I was rocking “Bow Down/I’ve Been On” since January so “***Flawless” is of course my shit. Frank Ocean is still boring, though.

3) Yeezus – Kanye West

I like how nothing is going right for him in “I Am A God”, which everyone seemed to miss. Oh well, Kanye foreverandeverandeverandever.

2) For Professional Use Only – Araabmuzik

Araabmuzik got shot this year by some guy trying to steal his chain. Araab lived, dropped a sick remix album, kept on keeping on. Plus, you’re asking for trouble trying to rob the guy who made “This For The Ones Who Care”.

1) Paramore – Paramore

I started to like Paramore a lot after those two guys left the band and some astute blogger somewhere pointed out that all the songs on their last album were about how those two guys were just a bunch of assholes. That they quit because they were concerned about “keeping it real”, whatever that means in the pop/punk scene, which is the phoniest scene around. This album is a great rebuke to those guys, and really anyone who shit on this band, because the songs are sooooo good. Songs about being adults, and moving forward, and living your life after hard shit happens. I listened to this album a lot, and it was a no brainer when I had to pick my favorite of the year. “Ain’t It Fun” is a nice final “fuck you” to those guys who quit, but it could also just be about lazy people. There are levels to this shit.

Best songs of 2013
1) “This For The Ones Who Care” – Araabmuzik

2) “Fo Real” – Future featuring Drake

3) “Do What You Want” – Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly

4) “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake featuring Majid Jordan

5) “Fucking Problems” – A$AP Rocky Featuring Drake, Kendrick Lamar, & 2 Chainz

6) “Suit And Commercial” – The Hood Internet (Daft Punk/Justin Timberlake)

7) “Higher” – Just Blaze x Baauer featuring Jay Z

8) “All You’re Waiting For” – Classixx featuring Nancy Whang

9) “Going With You” – Sebastien Grainger

10) “I Told Em” – French Montana

The Best Albums of 2011: A list

January 20, 2012

Do you need an introduction? Well, I liked all these albums.

20) Patrick Stump – Soul Punk

Fall Out Boy stan for lyfe. Stump has his Timberlake moment and he nails it. The lyrics are cheesy but that’s because he has no time for winks and artifice. Dude wants to dance, girl.

19) Wild Flag – Wild Flag

Carrie wanted to rock again so she assembled a wrecking crew and done wrecked some shit.

18) Spank Rock – Everything Is Boring and Everyone Is a Fucking Liar

Spank Rock has important things to say and ideas to relate but thankfully he still makes booty jams. Go with what you know.

17) Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

In the Foo Fighter’s documentary Back and Forth, Dave Grohl points out that it was miraculous that There Is Nothing Left To Lose won a Grammy and it was recorded in his basement. He was equally incredulous when Wasting Light was nominated this year since it was recorded on tape in his garage. For his next one he should put Butch Vig in his pantry and Pat Smear in the laundry room.

16) Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – Lost In Translation

A really good rapper who loves to rap about being under appreciated and getting head. Well, someone appreciates you, eXquire.

15) Beyoncé – 4 (Deluxe Edition)

The regular version is fine but you need the deluxe version for the song where she convinces her companion (Hov one presumes) to stay home from the club and makes the point that if he stays home he gets to have sex with Beyoncé. Well played, B.

14) Rival Schools – Pedals

Walter still sounds tougher than he looks and Ian is still a casual guitar god.

13) Justice – Audio, Video, Disco

In a way, Justice are taking a piss. But their interviews are so sincere and they say things like “My favorite book is the Bible” and aren’t kidding. They already did their half ass version of Don’t Look Back and now they’re doing a variation on Boston, except their spaceship crashed.

12) Cut Copy – Zonoscope

Divisive, this one. If In Ghost Colours cured cancer than this one took care of scoliosis.

11) Limp Bizkit – Gold Cobra

Wes Borland saved up all his best riffs and didn’t even use them in his own fucking band. It’s like he knew one day he’d want to put on the ol’ body paint and play “Break Stuff” for the millionth time. Fred Durst is now full on hilarious and lacking in apparently any self awareness, naming a song “Douchebag” and taking it’s chorus to homoerotic realms previously unexplored. He also refers to himself by the name “Polar Bear”, as his rhymes are indicative to the native climate of Siberia.

10) DJ Quik – The Book of David

DJ Quik is the kind of guy who will brag about things that no one else brags or even necessarily cares about. But that’s because Quik only deals in tangibles. He really does play piano, write his own rhymes, and once pistol whipped his sister for black mailing him. Also he still has all of his hair.

9) The Rapture – In The Grace Of Your Love

Jesus saves? Alright, just this once. Seeing as you brought all these jams with you.

8) Win Win – Win Win

Banger city, population: these guys. The Glenn Beck parody is on point too and I don’t generally fux with skits.

7) Das Racist – Relax

They’re still funny but most importantly the beats are fire. I’m not mad they put “Rainbow In The Dark” on it since “Rainbow In The Dark” rules so who gets mad when a good song comes on? Not me, that’s for sure.

6) SebastiAn – Total

SebastiAn took his time putting out his debut album, some might say past the sell by date of this particular sound and style of music, in this case ’07 era blog house filter disco. But that stuff is great! And unlike dubstep you can dance to it. Everybody still likes to dance, right?

5) Lady Gaga – Born This Way

What a thrill to have Lady Gaga finally take her philosophy to making music videos and applying it to her music. That philosophy of course is more, more, more, steal, steal, steal. Love it. Her videos are still shit though.

4) Fred Falke – Part IV

Daft Punk make boring soundtracks now and Mylo won’t come out of his house except to yell at Kylie Minogue so Fred Falke rolled up his sleeves and did the hard work for them. I don’t want to say Fred’s a genius or anything but this thing is front to back bangers so maybe he is. Have him take a test and get back to me.

3) Sloan – The Double Cross

Sloan are great. They made another great album. They’ve taken Diddy’s words to heart.

2) Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne

The first time I listened to this album I thought it was good. Then I listened to it again and I thought it was still good but maybe had some other issues. I went back a third time to check out those issues but also to listen to the three song stretch of “Niggas In Paris”, “Otis”, and “Gotta Have It” which is the best 9 minute stretch of any album this year. I went back a fourth time and really started to enjoy the new lyrics on “That’s My Bitch”. The fifth time through I was in traffic and just kinda vibed with it. The sixth time I listened to it I had taken a break so it was all fresh and new again. Definitely started to appreciate Jay’s fire on “Why I Love You” but had started skipping “Made In America” at this point. On my seventh listen I was more amused than irritated by “Lift Off”, which only exists because Kanye was dying to use that NASA sample. On my eighth listen I pondered why they didn’t figure out some way to work “H.A.M.” into the equation instead of as a bonus track. On my ninth listen I was sure that someone should have told RZA to calm down with the ghostly wails on “New Day” so we could actually hear all of the lyrics. That said, just hearing these guys say “Me and the RZA connect” is treat enough. On my tenth listen I reconciled the fact that even if “Who Gon Stop Me” samples dubstep these guys at least take it’s bludgeoning sound to a logical conclusion and take that shit all the way over the top with Holocaust references, since dubstep is sorta the Holocaust of music scenes.  I just listened to Watch The Throne for fun after that. Good album!

1) Friendly Fires – Pala

Friendly Fires are too pure for this world. Even their sad songs are iridescent dance jams. Ed MacFarlane sings like he might die tonight and we’ve got to make the most of it, right now. “Are you ready, there’s not much time.” “Where are we going?” “I don’t know, but we’re going to dance the whole way!”

Best Albums of 2010

February 5, 2011

25. Shut Up, Dude by Das Racist

“Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” was my shit but I figured that would be it from these guys. Like Detroit Grand Pubahs and “Sandwiches”. Instead, they drop Shut Up, Dude with tracks like “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Who’s That? Brooown!” Can we talk about those laser synths in “Rainbow” and how they make life worth living? Because they do. The rhymes are funny and non-sensical and smart/dumb. I talked to someone recently who said they hate “joke rap”. Well, what is the alternative? Sometimes we laugh so not to cry.

24. Barbara by We Are Scientists

This was supposed to be the return to form record, kids! One album too late I guess. Ten tracks, all straight ahead rockers just like the first album. Some people like that kind of thing (me! Rachel! McCarty!), some people do not. However, this was the album where the liner notes were so “clever” that they became tedious to read. Quit it with that winky shit, WAS. It is remarkable that a band like We Are Scientists isn’t more popular. I think they made a fatal error somewhere down the line of being too accessible for the indie crowd and too punchy and fun for the radio. Have you listened to the music that falls under the “Rock Radio” banner? Shit’s unbelievable.

23. Love Letter by R. Kelly

R. Kelly albums have always been spotty, so to get one that you can let sit without having to skip a track? Goddamn miracle. The batshit craziness has been shunted to the side for most of Love Letter, the better to let R. Kelly remind you that he can sing, girl. And that he can bring you a catchy groove you’ll be humming for days(“Not Feeling the Love” is particularly infectious). Love Letter is not a throwback record as much as it is a record to remind all of us that R. Kelly might be a crazy dude but he started out in the game writing great songs. Dude is back.

22. Pilot Talk by Curren$y

Curren$y’s flow is sick and he has a great ear for beats. Usually loping, low key beats that match Curren$y’s smoked out persona of a guy who likes to get high, drive slow and play video games. The premise of tracks like “Address” and “Life Under The Scope” follow a similar through line of “Motherfuckers are out to get you but if you’re cool as fuck, don’t matter”. Makes sense to me.

21. Apollo Kids by Ghostface Killah

Last year’s Ghostdini was the first Ghostface Killah record that I didn’t like very much. What a sad turn of events. But hope springs eternal and here we are with Apollo Kids, a return to the Ghostface we know and love. Ghostface raps over soul beats, Trife shows up, and one song starts with Ghostface yelling at someone. Good to have you back, Ghost.

20. Real Life Is No Cool by Lindstrøm & Christabelle

Lindstrøm takes time out of his busy schedule of making super long and occasionally boring “dance” songs and cuts this supremely satisfying record with Christabelle, a flat voiced ingenue in the grand tradition of Nico and Kate Moss on that one Primal Scream record. This album kills. One track sounds like an outtake from Off The Wall but instead of Michael you get the soft coos of Christabelle, who has a charm all her own.

19. Head First by Goldfrapp

I didn’t think Goldfrapp would rebound from their last album but surprise of surprises they did. Head First is Goldfrapp’s warmest record with lyrics about putting on tight jeans and strutting out into the world. Who can’t relate to that? She also straps an ex-lover to a rocket and shoots him into space. All of this is backed by upbeat synth lines with just the slightest touch of grit. But it still has that slinky smoothness I associate with all quality releases from Ms. Goldfrapp and company.

18. Illumination by Miami Horror

A direct decedent of Daft Punk’s Discovery, Illumination is awash in giddy electronic dance joy. “I Look to You” and “Holidays” are the kind of funk samplers that Daft Punk used to make their stock and trade. Since those guys can’t be bothered with making good music anymore Miami Horror have picked up slack. More please.

17. Maniac Meat by Tobacco

Shit’s crazy. Sounds like a fuzzed out guitar run through a vacuum cleaner sound effect on top of break beats. Beck sings on a couple tracks and the rest sound like serial killer voicemails. RECOMMENDED!

16. Fenech-Soler by Fenech-Soler

I’m always in the mood for quality dance rock. Always. It makes my daily commute go faster and gives me something to bop along to while I sit in bumper to bumper traffic every damn day(You rock, Pittsburgh!) Fenech-Soler’s self titled record is the best dance rock record to come along since that Friendly Fires album, which you might recall was BALLIN’! Fenech-Soler is similarly ballin’ with plenty of jams as well as some slow burners that many bands of their ilk can’t pull off. Range, everyone should have it.

15. Surfing the Void by Klaxons

Klaxons walk the fine line of being inherently strange with the content of their lyrics while also maintaining an accessible rock sound with plenty of hooks and energy. No easy task when you frequently reference intersteller travel and Pynchon. Surfing The Void is one of the best sophomore records I’ve heard in awhile. It took it’s time in the making but is assured and powerful. And it still sounds like Klaxons, which is what we all liked about them in the first place, right? Man, what MGMT did was some bullshit amirite?

14. Sisterworld by Liars

I read an interview with Liars where they explained that Sisterworld is a dark, sad and scary record precisely because the world around us is a dark, sad and scary place. Nearly every track has a moment that hangs you in the air, like a threat of violence. Liars are still making difficult records, but they’re remembering to include songs in the mix.

13. Hologram Jams by Jaguar Love

What an unlikely group. The two lead singers from Blood Brothers writing pop jams using a drum machine. Topics include staying up all night on caffeine and candy and riding a mastodon to prom. Hologram Jams is what I pretend high school was like sometimes. The closing cover of “Piece Of My Heart” is on some hall of fame shit. Anyone who says the first JL album is better is fucking crazy since that first album doesn’t make me want to burn down houses!

12. Tourist History by Two Door Cinema Club

Props, claps, and fingers snaps for Lauren Guastella for bringing this album into all of our lives. Sure she didn’t produce or play on it but she did send me an email linking to a torrent of it.  And I hated it. I know! What was my problem? Tourist History is front to back joy. The guitars practically sparkle and the tempo never slows down enough to make you even *think* about not dancing. Sure, Two Door Cinema Club aren’t reinventing the wheel but a wheel can’t dance so who cares?(more dancing)

11. Amoral by Violens

I think I took to Twitter one day to decree upon Amoral the rating of Amazeballs. I don’t just throw that rating around randomly at whatever album I happen to be listening to on my phone at any given moment. A person can only award that rating when the music they’re listening to creates the perfect mesh of “amazing” and “ballin'”. Tough, I know. Amoral not only merges together “amazing” and “ballin'” but also takes time out to recall the better parts of 80’s radio and 2000’s dance rock. The peanut butter and jelly of musical tastes.

10. Bag Raiders by Bag Raiders

While no one can lobby for the records on this list(this is all me, baby) they can certainly do their best to get me to reconsider an album. Lauren Guastella urged me to reappraise this album by constantly exclaiming “Son! JEEZUS!” whenever we talked on the phone. Girl is right. Bag Raiders are quite a bit better than the 2nd rate Cut Copy tribute artists I originally took them for. Beats for days, giant hooky choruses. It’s like the girl said, “Son! JEEZUS!”

9. Diamond Eyes by Deftones

A track like “Rocket Skates” is Deftones at their Deftoniest. The guitars are hard and abrasive and the riff is sick. Chino is screaming “GUN! RAZORS! KNIVES!” Like I said, Deftones doing Deftones. “876-Evil” is Chino perfecting that spacey midtempo thing he always forces these guys to do but it doesn’t always work but shockingly here it does. He slows it down a couple other times and it is goddamn gorgeous. A pretty Deftones album? Yup, snuck in there in between those guns and knives.

8. Last Train to Paris by Diddy-Dirty Money

I never considered the concept of a contemplative Diddy. Reflecting on his high life antics, his love ’em and leave ’em relationships. That sounds like a terrible album in the making. Instead it’s his best work, a concept album where the concept is Diddy, who he was and who he has become. He drops in on the album when he wants to and is absent for entire stretches to allow his myriad guest stars a chance to shine while still talking about Diddy. The beats are sublime, a true mesh of R&B and electronic grooves from a smattering of mostly unknown producers that holds together as a cohesive statement. I guess Diddy’s “Make it hot!” production mentoring style really works.

7. This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem

While we could talk about the thoughtful melancholy vibes that LCD Soundsystem call up whenever James Murphy writes a song like “All I Want” or “Home” this is old news. We know he knows how to write great songs like these and I hope he continues to do so for a long long time. But what about the rave-ups? Tracks like “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” and “North American Scum” tend to be ignored because they’re fun. Don’t dismiss these tracks, especially since Murphy finally perfected his formula with “Drunk Girls”. “Drunk Girls” is stupid brilliant. Don’t sleep.

6. Flockaveli by Waka Flocka Flame

“Pow Pow Pow Pow Pow Pow Pow Pow
Shoot first, ask questions last.
That’s how these so called gangsta’s last.
Waka Flocka Flame 1017

Pow Pow Pow Pow, Bitch I’m bustin’ at ’em”

The opening lyrics of “Bustin’ At Em”

Hardest album of the year. Waka Flocka Flame might not be the greatest rapper(ok, definitely not) but he brings a swagger and energy that is undeniable and he’s backed by producer of the year Lex Luger. Kid is 19 and is already killing it dead. Luger has taken the Mannie Fresh drum sound and amped it up a few RPMs because it sounds more awesome and menacing that way. Waka raps mostly about dying in these streets, killing and robbing and stealing for his dawgs, fucking up the club and that the record industry is wack. All true.

5. Love King by The-Dream

For a guy who fashions himself a Love King The-Dream spends a large chunk of time on Love King fucking up his relationships. Buying his girl a make up bag because he cheated (“Make Up Bag), thinking about old ex’s and second guessing current flames (“Nikki Pt. 2”, “Yamaha”), The-Dream isn’t what you’d call a reliable guy. BUT he is an incredible songwriter and the songs on Love King are spectacular. “Yamaha” is the best Prince song Prince never wrote and “Panties to the Side” the best self deprecating/boastful song ever written (“I’ll never be the hot act, I’m too cold”). The deluxe version features “Veteran”, a track remarkable for making douchebaggy behavior in the club appear admirable and endearing. Only The-Dream could pull off that feat.

4. Black Light by Groove Armada

At the time of it’s release a review pegged Black Light as a divisive record, one that will split Groove Armada’s fanbase down the middle between those who will love it and those that will loathe it. This prediction has proven accurate and obviously based on it’s appearance on this list, I fell in the former category. Black Light is Groove Armada are their most expansive. Live instruments, zero instrumentals, guest vocalists on every track, a sound rooted in 70’s and 80’s pop, with nods and homages to Fleetwood Mac and Roxy Music, to choose the more obvious references. GA don’t completely abandon their dance moments from previous albums(“Paper Romance”, “Time and Space”) but they spend most of Black Light‘s running time trying to sound like a band and succeeding.

3. Further by The Chemical Brothers

A good album by The Chemical Brothers seemed like a distant possibility. A bad one seemed more likely after the sad shit that was We Are The Night. I still wince at the mere mention of “The Salmon Dance”. Which makes Further such a surprise.  The biggest surprise is that it hits, hard. The Chems don’t sound like elder statesmen here, they sound like still vital innovators, twisting and tweaking their sound in exciting new directions. Best Chemical Brothers album ever. “Swoon”- best Chemical Brothers song ever.

2. Flesh Tone by Kelis

Kelis is a mom now and because she’s a mom she decided to make an album packed with dance bangers about how great it is being a mom and that she hopes she can be a good mom but hey life is tough we’ll figure it out as we go along. Of course she did. It’s great. Dance party from beginning to end, inspirational without ever being cheesy, and I don’t know how Kelis’s baby doesn’t turn out to be an awesome person. She wrote Flesh Tone for him, and it’s incredible! He’s going to be great.

1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West

See that title? A bit much, right? Could lose a word and probably wouldn’t hurt it. But then that wouldn’t be what Kanye had wanted, which is to be too much. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a masterpiece of excess, it’s big not because Kanye wanted it to be big but because it had to be big. There was no other way to do it. He could have called it Go Big or Go Home and you know Kanye isn’t going home anytime soon. Can’t wait for when he tops himself again next summer. Shout out to “All of the Lights” and “Power” for being baller tracks.

Best Songs of 2010
  1. Paper Romance – Groove Armada
  2. Piece of my Heart – Jaguar Love
  3. All of the Lights – Kanye West
  4. Yamaha – The-Dream
  5. Dancing On My Own – Robyn
  6. POWER – Kanye West
  7. Alive – Goldfrapp
  8. Swoon – The Chemical Brothers
  9. Drunk Girls – LCD Soundsystem
  10. Song for Baby – Kelis

Favorite Albums of the 2000’s: 10 – 1

December 2, 2010

Albums 100 – 91

Albums 90 – 81

Albums 80 – 71

Albums 70 – 61

Albums 60 – 51

Albums 50 – 41

Albums 40 – 31

Albums 30 – 21

Albums 20 – 11

10.  Primal Scream – XTRMNTR (2000)

XTRMNTR is awesome for a bunch of reasons, the main reason being that it is fucking bad ass. Primal Scream aren’t inherently bad ass but they pulled it off here. If you didn’t know anything about their other work(which I did not at the time of release) you would have figured them to be screaming revolutionaries with a big plan to burn it all down and start anew. Actually, they’re hippies(self loathing hippies). ANYWAY, XTRMNTR is generally angry, loud, and funky. So many great bass lines, or the same bass line on a different song. I know Kevin Shields was involved in this record but all my props go to the guy who wrote the bass lines. They rule. Bobby Gillespie’s atonal singing sounds positively amoral. Has anyone referred to this album as a giant boot to the face?

9.    Ghostface Killah – The Pretty Toney Album (2004)

Dude is incredible. Ghostface Killah is one of the greatest rappers to ever do it and he has an amazing ear for beats. No one, NO ONE, has as many consistently great rap records as him. The Pretty Toney Album finds Ghostface more soulful than usual, of course more soulful for Ghostface still means more references to “pussy” than one might expect. “Run” is another in the long list of great Ghostface crime songs and “Beat The Clock” is Ghostface arguing with himself to rap as fast as he can about anything at all AND WINNING. Well, his mind promises vengeance one day.

8.    The Strokes – Is This It (2001)

My favorite song on Is This It is “Alone, Together”. It contains my favorite Strokes lyric coincidentally: “Life is unreal/can we go back to your place”. Is there a better representation of being a young shallow guy? Nope. There is a striking honesty in that line that I’m sure plenty of critics caught on to that caused them to christen The Strokes as rock’s saviors. Every stupid(also not stupid) rock song is about getting girls, but The Strokes had a sly sense of humor about it. If only they’d stayed funny forever. Is This It is a quintessential “first record”, showing off a band who have honed themselves to their peak abilities and can only be harmed by all the rewards their success will bring.


7.    Ghostface Killah – Fishscale (2006)

Ghostface hones his craft. So many classics it’s surreal: “Shakey Dog”, “The Champ”, “Be Easy”, “Whip You With Strap”, “Big Girl”, “Kilo”. Ghost does every kind of track on this record and it is murder.  Ghostface is an emotional rapper and performer and he never traffics in anything but the truth. When Ghost raps to the girls doing cocaine on “Big Girl”, he may have supplied them with the coke but he isn’t blind to their lost potential. Ghostface thrives on the details, be it the brief history of a tenement denizen he passes on the stairs on “Shakey Dog” or the explicit ways in which he has dissed you on “Be Easy”(fucked your sister and given you urine to drink). Fishscale may not have reignited his career but it is a star-affirming work all the same.

6.    Fall Out Boy – Infinity On High (2007)

Infinity On High is Fall Out Boy’s “we are not a fluke” album. “The Take over, The Breaks Over” is the kind of punchy pop rock that no one does better than FOB. And “I Have All This Ringing in my Ears and None on my Fingers” is, title aside, Fall Out Boy at their finest. This is also the record that everyone realized that Pete Wentz’s lyrics are actually funny, sorta witty and way more interesting than about 95% of the lyrics in rock music today. Listen, I know most people don’t get or understand my love of this band. It’s admittedly tough to explain, but let me try. Catchy songs, great singer, genuine emotion; these are all the things I hear when I listen to Fall Out Boy. Pete Wentz is someone who loves a turn of phrase and Patrick Stump is the only guy who can take these lyrics and make them anthems. (Seriously, no one else can deliver these lyrics). The rest of the band developed in one album from a shaggy group to a tight unit who couldn’t just play their instruments well, but with skill and style. Great band, great album.

5.    Jay-Z – The Black Album (2003)

The greatest album by the world’s greatest rapper. Reasonable Doubt might be more consistent but The Black Album is Jay-Z at his career peak. “P.S.A.”, “99 Problems”, “What More Can I Say?”, hell, what more can I say? The Black Album is the ultimate Jay-Z primer for anyone who’s ever asked, “Hey, why is that Jay-Z guy so popular?” Because he spits insane fire all over this album, son! Jay-Z is at his best when he has something to prove, and with TBA he had to prove that there are none greater and that he cannot be topped. So he grabs up a murderer’s row of producers (Just Blaze, Kanye, Rick Rubin, Timbaland) and just kills it over their beats. Their best work produced Jay’s best work. The film Fade To Black is a nice addendum to The Black Album as it follows Jay-Z through the recording of the album and shows his process. His process: killing it. For a the best summation of my thoughts on The Black Album, see the the guy’s face at 2:33 in this clip.

4.    Radiohead – Kid A (2000)

Kid A is a bit of an obvious choice, but obvious because it is so obviously great. I’ve easily listened to it more times than any other Radiohead record. I recall at the time of it’s release people talking about Kid A in fearful, hushed tones. “Kid A is too quiet.” “The sound on it is so cold and distant.” “What happened to the guitars?” Then and now, I haven’t a clue what these people were talking about. Kid A is easily Radiohead’s best and warmest record because it was such a dynamic change for the band. Kid A is exciting precisely because Radiohead weren’t doing an easy record, they were experimenting and trying out new ideas and larks. I’ve heard a million songs and albums with guitars. There are so many other instruments in the world and Radiohead know how to play them! Let them.

3.    Daft Punk – Discovery (2001)

The joy inherent in the first 5 tracks on Discovery are the basis for Daft Punk’s career thus far. They were certainly genius’s on Homework but Discovery is the dance party that everyone truly rallied around. When people get excited about Daft Punk, it’s because of “One More Time”, or the guitar solo on “Digital Love”. Daft Punk seem on track to never top Discovery but asking them to do that is a pretty tall order. Like I said, have you heard this fucking thing? I’m surprised they can still get out of bed in the morning and consider putting out any other music.

2.    Death From Above 1979 – You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine (2004)

Sebastien Grainger goes through plenty of emotions(passionately) on You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine. He vacillates between slick lover man and impassioned angry jerk from track to track, so one moment’s rough embrace is followed by a track of screamed recrimination. Which is all to say that Grainger is complicated guy with issues and Jesse Keeler wrote some fucking monster riffs. These guys were made for each other which is why they can’t stand each other anymore and dissolved the band. Reverse soulmates. I’ve actually met them both briefly, and from those encounters I found that Sebastien came across like someone with somewhere else to be and lacking in patience while Jesse was  thoughtful and genuine. Polar opposites really. That these guys were able to hash it out long enough to make this masterpiece is both a mystery and gift.

1.    Queens of the Stone Age – Rated R (2000)

Just one of the greatest albums of all time. This record came along in the summer of 2000 and changed my life. This was the album that explained to me that music is wide and varied, that the rules do not apply because there are no rules. Rated R is eleven tracks of “Fuck the rules. Who made the rules, anyway? Fuck them too.” Drug songs of course but also in-jokes, eight minutes of manic horns to close out the record, and RIFFS. The guitars crunch out every riff and they’re some of the greatest riffs ever too. Josh and Nick were just starting their too brief partnership of awesomeness and much like Jesse and Sebastien, they utilized their differences to great effect. This is why all great bands end. Too many great ideas and powerful egos in one room, eventually something has to give. But before the implosion, they gave us Rated R.

Favorite Albums of the 2000′s: 20 – 11

October 9, 2010

Albums 100 – 91

Albums 90 – 81

Albums 80 – 71

Albums 70 – 61

Albums 60 – 51

Albums 50 – 41

Albums 40 – 31

Albums 30 – 21

20. The Strokes – Room On Fire (2003)

This is how you make a second album. A whole lot like the first one, but faster. I’ve met people who love Is This It but hate Room On Fire. Those people are ridiculous. Every band should follow The Strokes’ lead. “Reptilia” and “Under Control” are insta-classics. We should be so lucky to live in a world where The Strokes nailed it on their second record. The third one still sucks.

19. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm (2005)

Kele Okereke is a great singer with a penchant for heartfelt delivery and writing angular guitar lines. I don’t think he likes doing the latter so much anymore but on Silent Alarm he made a strong case for being the king of that shit. Backed by the amazing Matt Tong on drums, Silent Alarm is straight dance rock murder.

18. Fall Out Boy – Folie à Deux (2008)

If you’ve ever watched the Pantera episode of Behind The Music(the best episode of Behind The Music) you might recall the part where Phil Anselmo expresses regret for his estrangement from Vinnie Paul and says, (paraphrasing) “I need Vinnie Paul in my life, and Vinnie Paul needs me in his.” This same bit of narcissistic attachment can be applied to the relationship between Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz. These guys need each other. Bad. Fall Out Boy only succeeded because of that strange alchemy of Stumps vocals and songwriting mixed with Wentz’s twisting, punny lyrics of self-deprecation/revenge fantasies. Folie a Deux is a triumph, and of course the only way to follow up this victory is to implode. I pour a drink.

17. Sleater-Kinney – The Woods (2005)

What is it like to write a classic? Better yet, when does one realize they’ve written a classic? Do the band members nod and smile during playback of the demos or is it earlier? Maybe during the recording faze, when a member lays down a particularly ripping guitar lead. I’m curious if any of the member’s of Sleater-Kinney could answer this question for me, since THE WOODS is classic from front to back. “The Fox” starts out by burning your face off and the rest of the album turns you into kindling.

16. Interpol – Antics (2004)

Antics rules. I like to equate it to Carlos D actually pulling a gun out of that holster and shooting someone. “Not Even Jail” is a monster, a bulldozer. I didn’t think these guys had it in them. Front to back sleek menace on top of riffs and the usual Paul Banks “that could be construed as either good or bad lyrics” lyrics.

15. Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires (2008)

One of the greatest debut records of all time. Oh, that was fun to write. Friendly Fires arrived fully formed, strutting and confident with songs, son. I could list a couple here but then I would have to list them all. I will mention that about half these songs are about heartbreak and regret yet they sound like the fun distilled into music. “Lovesick” is the most enjoyment you’ll ever have dancing to a song about leaving some coldhearted shrew.

14. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)

Spoon are always tough to describe. They make stripped down indie rock(by definition) what never sounds generic or obvious. Certainly those words can’t be used to describe “The Ghost of You Lingers”. Or “Black Like Me”. Whenever I hear of a band sounding “Spoon-like” I know they’ll have some angular guitars but none of Britt Daniel’s screechy passion and honesty.

13. Jay-Z – The Blueprint (2001)

Jay-Z is just great you guys. On The Blueprint Hov lets you know why he is great. He’s great because he dealt drugs so you don’t have to. He’s great because he’s not looking at you dudes he’s looking past you. He’s great because you don’t know. Now get your damn hands up.

12. Local H – Here Comes The Zoo (2002)

One of the greatest rock records of all time.  Seriously, one of the greatest rock records of all time. “5th Avenue Crazy” is about getting beat up by some crazed drug addled chick who just wants your money for cocaine. “Rock and Roll Professionals” is a bitter attack on more popular rock bands that “sell out” but it doesn’t matter because it rocks faces. “Half Life” has the line, “You’re born with nothing better make it enough/Half life a kick in the teeth/the alcohol will be your only relief”. One of the greatest rock records of all time.

11. Spoon – Kill The Moonlight (2002)

Britt Daniel can do soulful. He can do screechy. He can make his guitar feedback, or he can strum it with care and concern. Britt Daniel can do anything.