Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gonna miss the beach, miss the things that grow...

I'm not going to say I was scared of listening to anything from the new Antony and the Johnsons. Terrified might be a better word. That voice is just so... fragile. Beyond fragile. Everything I've heard by them has been suicide-note intimate, and just so emotionally wrought and dramatic, always tottering on the edge of tears. It may as well be delivered from the edge of a cliff. Emotion like this is a pretty easy way to make me uncomfortable. But just like with the last album, I couldn't keep looking away, and was, again, surprised by the beauty. It's not an easy listen, I'll say that much.

Then there's the the cover art. Is there a shuddering emoticon? That thing's like a cross between Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Grey Gardens.

Tonight I take my groceries and I drift away...

I had a whole review of the Springsteen album ready to go and a large chunk of it was devoted to the pure embarrassment that is "Queen of the Supermarket"(seriously - it ends with the rhythmic beeping of a supermarket scanner, though for all intents and purposes it could be the sound of your respect for Springsteen on life support), but it seems the internet beat me to it. Well played, internet; I doff my cap to you. But... I'm not willing to call it the worst Springsteen song ever: the man did write "Part Man, Part Monkey."

Monday, January 26, 2009

With so many words and so little to say...

If you're nostalgic for the late-90's, you need to check this out immediately, another KEXP Song of the Day. This blew my mind, even moreso than the Gaslight Anthem. If a time machine was invented and the only thing that it was used for, before being destroyed by a group of rogue scientists, philosophers, and "Stargate: Atlantis" fans, was to take this band back ten years so they could open for Fastball, then that time machine would have served its most noble purpose.

Flare into the whirr of the snack machine, muted screams of an old regime...

Andrew Bird reminds me of someone who's real fussy about his terrarium or one of those people who leaves behind an unpublished 1000-page illustrated children's story when they die. So whimsical and yet, so tightly wound. And oh, with the whistling. I can never get into a full album but I like songs, such as "Fitz and the Dizzyspells," which I think is the name of a street gang in The Last Mimzy. Because of his new album, this guy's been all over the music podcasts to which I subscribe and I finally broke down and listened to said song when it was the KEXP song of the day.

This podcast thing is new and wondrous to me, and the music podcasts have really pointed me in some new directions (like Mt. Eerie and Mates of State). But on the other hand: seriously, I'm just getting into podcasts now? I feel like someone's out-of-touch dad sometimes. "Hey, you hear about this Netflix thing? Movies, right to your mailbox. Amazing! What a country!"* Not my dad, though, My dad's fucking with it.

*The chance of that last part being said goes up significantly if your dad is Yakov Smirnoff. And he had only recently heard of Netflix.

And we kissed as if nothing could fall...

You know what Garfield hated? Mondays. You know what he loved (besides lasagna)? Stealing content from Pitchfork about charity comps. So this one's for you, Garfield (kisses fingers, pumps chest, points to heaven).

I had heard about this a bit ago, and had forgotten what it was called, who was involved, et. al. and etc. Long story short, there's a War Child comp coming out in February* where the twist is: a bunch of older artists select the newer artists who would cover their songs. So we get the Hold Steady covering Springsteen (insert sex-face emoticon here), and this: TV on the Radio doing "Heroes."*

Now, I had been thinking recently about cover songs and what the point was. Sure, an artist gets to perhaps show some respect to something that inspired him, but what does it mean for the listener? And what's the point if it's just a note-for-note echo? Covers should pay respect while perhaps bringing a new perspective to something that maybe has an iconic status.

And this is what a cover should be. Know that "Heroes" might be one of my favorite all-time songs, and the cover respects the original while bringing something new to the party. But it doesn't eff with it just for the sake of effing with it. You're not going to mistake this for the original, but it touches all the right notes at all the right times (mostly iconic guitar lines). It's TV on the Radio covering Bowie, not trying to sound like Bowie or forcing some song into the TV on the Radio mold.

I don't know if I've been this excited about a charity comp since No Alternative, which is the charity comp version of DiMaggio's hit streak - it shall never be topped.

Speaking of charity, I don't think I was being very charitable to my digestive system or my blood sugar when I went to town on this family pack of Pull-n-Peel Twizzlers. Ugh. And let it be know that right after I wrote "ugh" I reached into the bag for another one. I don't know how to say this, but I'm on the road to dee-ah-beat-es?

* What is it about February and buzzed-about charity comps? It's like 1987 all over again, when the movie-going public had to make the choice between three body-switching comedies (18 Again; Like Father, Like Son; and Vice Versa). Some people like to throw Big in there, but that's just stupid; he doesn't switch places with anyone. Christ, you people disgust me.

* Of course, we also have McCartney choosing Duffy to cover "Live and Let Die." Paul, this is the kind of thinking that leads to Michael Jackson buying the Beatles' catalog out from under you nose.

This field of tears won't yield me a penny...

I've been listening to the songs that will be on the Dark Was The Night compilation, which comes out in February and benefits the Red Hot Organization, and a song a day will be streaming from their MySpace page between now and then.* (Is there any reason to be on MySpace anymore besides streaming music and taking that first step towards not being able to live within 10 blocks of an elementary school?) I think I'm most looking forward to Sharon Jones' cover of "Inspiration Information." And while I'm looking forward to picking this up, I tend to associate their compilations with those of my youth, which all seemed to involve Madonna remixes and Cole Porter covers, which always depressed the hell out of me.

Today's entry: The Decemberists. How long is the song, you ask? Seven minutes! Oh my. The Decemberists long winded? Color me shocked. I'll go on record: I'm not a Decemberists fan. They are... well, pick one: twee, pretentious, overwrought, smug. I mean, you can only get away with singing so many songs about the sea (oh, the cruel sea and how it separates the sea-faring from those who love them on the shores of shipping towns!) and girls in tattered dresses singing cockles. And even stuff that doesn't involve that - e.g., "Valerie Plame" - is usually bogged down by a sound of someone very impressed with themselves. That being said, "16 Military Wives" is a gem.

This song, though, commits the worst sin of all and goes nowhere. Did I mention it was 7 minutes long? That's a long way to go for nothing. But: banjo!

*I'm sure some more of the tracks are floating around on the internet; while they only stream for a day, I'm sure some enterprising soul found a way around that. I'm not sure how it's done, but if I had to guess, it would involve holding a tape machine up to the computer speakers. I'm just stuck on how to get it from tape to computer, but I leave that to the nerds and scientists.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Somebody stop me, there's nothing to do...

I've slept on Wolf Parade because, well, I only have so much room in my life for Wolf bands, and I had my heart set on AIDS Wolf because it sounded so fucking edgy. And while I'm officially excited about the Handsome Furs - the guy from Wolf Parade and his lady love - I'm totally prepared for them to be a new-millenium Boss Hog: all promise and sexual tension but really just solid yet uninspiring output. At the very least, these songs sound like the soundtrack to your next coke party, and who hasn't been looking for that? Try playing Okkervil and your next coke party and see if anyone dances.

You might come for the twitch and shake of "I'm Confused" but you'll stay for "All We Want, Baby, Is Everything," with its mash up of Springsteen, Orbison, stuttering western hook, and choose-your-synth-tinged-80's-band. The latter gets the dough, while the former gets the glory.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I don't want to talk about war between nations...

You know what the new U2 song reminds me of? "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" from one of those Batman movies where Joel Schumacher was the villain. Over-processed guitar, one of the laziest bridges heard in a long time, winking apocolyptic imagery, some half-baked Middle Eastern influence in the chorus left over from the "Mysterious Ways" video: the perfect recipe for a b-side, the lure-in track on a greatest hits comp, or something you'd contribute to a politically conscious action movie. Instead it's the lead single from the new album. Oh boy.

Nothing about this sounds remotely original or inspired. It's like a sampler of their past sounds: "Vertigo," "Bullet the Blue Sky," and any song from the period that died with Pop, where they thought they were being ironic and no one really liked it once we thought about it and they seemed angry that we didn't get the joke but still scaled back and recorded All That You Can't Leave Behind. Hell, I half expect Bono to sing this "in character" while wearing devil horns and a general's uniform, while some multimedia art installation plays out behind him.

And people have the power to redeem the work of fools...

The "Oddly Hopeful" Mix

1. Radiohead - "Everything In It's Right Place"
2. David Bowie - "Heroes"
3. R.E.M. - "Begin the Begin"
4. Patti Smith - "People Have the Power"
5. Bill Withers - "Lovely Day"
6. Death Cab for Cutie - "Grapevine Fires"
7. Van Morrison - "Brand New Day"
8. Pulp - "The Day After the Revolution"
9. Joshua Morrison - "Home"
10. Dee Dee Sharp - "Ooh Child"
11. Bruce Springsteen - "The Rising"
12. Hold Steady - "How A Resurrection Really Feels"

Friday, January 16, 2009

You said, "ain't this just like the present, to be showing up like this..."

A few nights ago, talking to a friend over e-mail, I suggested that Bon Iver could be nothing more than an indie-endorsed Jack Johnson, that it's possible he may perform barefoot, and every song could be about waking up on Sunday mornings next to his favorite lady. Who's to say he's not another guitar troubador with a fake southern slur hiding limited vocal range, winking at the girls in the front row? (Actually, there's probably a lot of people who would argue against that and would probably be right.) But more and more, I can't stop listening to "Blood Bank". I've listened to it 28 times on iTunes alone, and God knows how many times on my now crapped-out iPod. It's got atmosphere to spare and feels perfect after 9 consecutive days of snow.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A song can throw a switch and it can sell you some half truths...

Merge Records has a free sampler for download on their site. It's nice to know that despite all the critical acclaim and money that bands like Arcade Fire and Spoon have brought them, Merge will still release music that sounds like it was recorded in a trashcan, and at least one member of the band was surprised at the end when he found that the tape recorder was on. I'm looking right in your direction, Music Tapes.

I think I'm warming up most to Wye Oak, and I'm also reminded that I should listen to more American Music Club. On the other hand, the creepy singing-saw version of "Jingle Bells" that closes it out? Haunts my dreams.

And I'm still on the fence about She & Him: I still think Ms. Deschanel's voice is a bit on the flat side and I would argue that "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?", while adorable, is just as superficial as any song that uses autotune. I guess the best thing I could say is it's pleasant enough. Shrug. But Ms. Deschanel herself? Oh my. I could watch that video on YouTube until I get a polite and literate, but slightly melancholic, cease-and-desist letter from Ben Gibbard.

We ain't much to look at, so close your eyes, here we go...

A few thoughts about the show tonight before I shiver myself to sleep.

*Waitresses at shows: I've seen them at two Chicago venues so far. Bad idea. They're constantly elbowing through and I'm constantly waiting for them to drop all their drinks. The waitress at the show tonight was always near me; I felt like she was part bear and I was made of honey.

*Missed connection - You: blonde bangs combed to one side; disturbingly landscaped chin-strap beard; hoop earrings; button-down, long-sleeve shirt with cuffs unbuttoned; taking lots of pictures then discussing said pictures with companion. Me: lack of pretension.

*I have no empirical proof, but do all dance-punk songs have to do with hearing a song on the radio, dancing, and this somehow relating to a political liberation?

*The description of the headlining band as "San Diego's answer to the Strokes"? Dead on, except they forgot the Vampire Weekend comparison. Bands should never wear bright Oxfords on stage. To me, The Strokes plus Vampire Weekend is like hate crimes multiplied by sitting on your balls. I left early, preferring cold to annoying bands.

*Missed connection - You: guy with childish furry hat that, while warm looking, looked like you hunted and killed the stuffed animal of a little girl and were now on the hunt for its kin. And you danced like no one was watching (except everyone). Me: attention from your parents as a child.

*You will never know panic until you think you've lost your hat at a bar on a January night in Chicago. I felt like the mother in the Duracell commercial who thought her child was abducted.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Choo-choo Charlie had a pretty good band but he couldn't understand why no one would go...

I'm going into a show tonight at Schuba's totally blind, and there are two reasons why the night worries me. First, the arctic conditions outside. Second, the headliner was described in Time Out Chicago as "San Diego's answer to the Strokes."

And I wonder which song they're gonna play when we go. I hope it's something quiet and minor and peaceful and slow...

I've heard the The Gaslight Anthem compared to Springsteen, which is plain wrong - they sound much closer to John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band. I don't mean that as a slight (well maybe kinda-sorta), but it's just the plain truth. And their sound trafficks in nostalgia for times they weren't even around to feel whistful for. They actually have a song called "Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts" for God's sake. I'm not even sure these guys are actually old enough to feel nostalgic for the release of Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!

But that's just one component of their sound. They also remind me, in some vague way, of the late 90's, before emo became some monolith of pretentious band names (not that it was much better before that) and I was still exclusively wearing Doc Martins and dress shirts one-size too big. This reminds me of stuff like Knapsack: good for a few listens, harmless, maybe even mix tape-worthy. (Knapsack's "Catherine the Grateful" had a permanent spot, for a few years, as the first song on the second side of any mix tape I made). It may even remind me of, and some of my older friends may call this heresy, Seaweed. I may be persuaded to nod my head when I hear the songs; hell, I may even pump my fist at a show. But that's not going to last, and that CD is going to fall to the depths of my collection, rescueed for a three-song nostalgia session, probably during one my many move-ins to new apartments.

I downloaded "The '59 Sound" and smart money says I should probably call it a day there. But I've never been that smart.I'll probably get their album at some point, but I'll bet you in a few years I'll see it for real cheap and kick myself.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I know that I've got issues, but you're pretty messed up too...

Speaking of lady singers for whom I'm in the tank, Kelly Clarkson's new single came out today and it sounds like Kelly's stump speech to become the grand marshall of the every gay pride parade in 2009.* So take that as you will, but I'm disappointed. It starts out so promising with a guitar line that recalls "Since U Been Gone" but then some bleating beats and subtle autotune come in. God, I hate autotune. That being said, I've already listened to it multiple times and I'll probably buy it on iTunes.

God, what song does that chorus sound like? It's driving me cuckoo clock.

*As a straight man prone to broad generalizations, I'm more than willing to concede that the gay community can teach my people many things on a variety of topics: fashion, interior design, margarita recipes, compassion, personal hygiene and fitness, bitchy comments, etc. Hell, if I'm not mistaken there's a whole basic-cable cottage industry based on this. But one thing I refuse to concede: music. Oh sweet lord that's a train wreck. Come on. Scissor Sisters? More like... um... Poop Sisters? Am I right? (Takes sip from martini, purses lips.)

You know, they call them killer whales, but you seem surprised when it pinned you down to the bottom of the tank where you can't turn around...

It's always great to get a new Neko Case song; it's no secret that I'm in the tank for her. Her voice reminds me of a phrase Toni Morrison once wrote: "warm like a tumble of bells." She was in full control of her powers at the Hideout Block Party last year, although I think she suffered just a bit in the outdoor setting.

Fox Confessor was a great album - dark, dreamy, atmospheric - but in these economic times, wouldn't you rather have an jangly, uptempo, country-tinged number like this one? After just now getting off the phone with my school loan people, I vote yea. It's like how when during the Great Depression, Roosevelt commissioned the Lindy Hop because he was "sick of this blues shit; America needs to dance, not hear about how some guy in Missisippi been done wrong!"*

I can't say the song is a world changer (or even as good as the Crooked Fingers song she sang on last year), but it's a cold beer on a warm day. I can't say I can identify with being a maneater, but the next line - "but you're still surprised-prised-prised when I eat you" - is what I say to my Double-Stuff Oreos everyday.

*Calvin Coolidge, on the other hand, was fine with the blues and saw no reason for government to get between the bluesman, the woman who done him wrong, and the American listening public. He once said, "the market will correct itself!" to which Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon responded "Uh... the blues market?"

Monday, January 12, 2009

All the boys loved you, but I was a mess. I had to watch them try and get you undressed...

I realized today that there are few lines that crush me more than "you can even bring your baby" in Pulp's "Disco 2000". I really can't put my finger on it, but walking around today it popped on, and I realized how much it kills me, and it always has. Also, I was looking for the shoe department in Macy's at the time, which is soul-crushing on its own level.

But I found the direct opposite of soul crushing when searching for "Disco 2000" on Hype Machine: Nick Cave covering said song. I'm trying to think of something that I've seen or experienced recently that would top this, and I got nothing. I might have to go back to November 2007 when I got Fudgie the Whale for my birthday to even come close.

Oh, the glory that God has made, and the complication you could do without when I kissed you on the mouth...

I know I'm past fashionably late to this party, but how about Sufjan Stevens' Illinoise? Am I right (both on being late to the party and the fact that said party is delightful)? I thought Michigan was alright, but maybe not as deserving of the praise it got. But now that I've sat down with Illinoize I'm starting to understand the devotion his fans have for him. I mean, I don't like to throw the word around, but this is some rapturous music. I think it's going to keep me company through the blizzards due this week. That, and the Spaghetti-O's and Cherry Coke I just picked up from Walgreens.

One disappointment: there's no song about a scared 32-year-old in Humboldt Park worrying about teenagers riding BMX bikes and wearing oversized white t-shirts at 2 in the morning. It could be called "For Michael, Who Has to Pay Extra for Cabs to Drop Him Off in the Alley Behind His Apartment". I'll leave it to Sufjan to decide whether to end that in an exclamation point or four.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sometimes we talk over dinner like friends, then I go and kill the bottle...

Lately I've been listening to a fair amount of post-"Lovefool"-era Cardigans, specifically this* and this. There's sometimes a catch in Nina Persson's voice that I've always found fetching. That, and she's pretty easy on the eyes.And you know, I think they got a raw deal. They weren't the best band in the world, but "Lovefool" really wrote checks that their asses couldn't cash. The stuff they've come out with after that seems to vary between trying to distance themselves from that song and trying to write stuff that will just get them back into the public's good graces by appealing to the middle ground. It's just a shame with a band with some talent gets saddled with the stink of one-time success.

Point being: I stumbled on some new stuff she's been working on, A Camp, and it's not bad. She's in cahoots with her husband and ex-Shudder to Think guitarist Nathan Larson, and it actually reminds me a bit of his solo stuff (if you can pick up a copy of his I Must Learn to Live Alone, it's well worth whatever marked-down price it's sure to be sold for). Unfortunately, no matter how good the album is, it's gonna be "the new album from that Lovefool chick."

*The odd framing device this song uses, where she's addressing her man like a dog, is pretty cringe-worthy; there's no way around that. But once you get past that, it's clear sailing.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The music will provide the light you cannot resist...

You know what I've noticed? The backlash against the multitudes of top album lists on the web. The crux of the argument may be that since everyone has a top albums list it's sort of like flooding the market with $1 bills, and the "currency" is rendered worthless. Or, to quote The Federalist Papers, which, when confronted with opposition to the ratification of the Constitution, stated, "opinions are like assholes: everybody has them and they all stink. But Patrick Henry's stinks most egregiously." Of course, that last part has no influence on today's discussion. But my response to the backlash, which came to me after days of thinking of the perfect rebuttal, can be summarized thusly: eat a bag of dicks. Since when has music criticism been worth anything? And wow, the web is now full of people infatuated with their own opinion? That is some crazy stuff. Stick it in your Facebook status update.

I fully realize I'm pissing into the wind with any list of favorite albums, and my opinions don't matter, and I haven't come within spitting distance of hearing even a small fraction of the stuff released this year. But I know for me to make a top-whatever list allows me to go back and re-evaluate the year. And you know what? It's gonna be flawed. And it might be laughable. But such is life and I know I'm imperfect and laughable. What counts is my mom still thinks I'm perfect and.. unlaughable... at? She pretty much told me so after she Irish-guilted me, over Thanksgiving, into shaving my brilliantly scruffy (and oddly red) beard, because, in her words, it made me look like a jerk off. So thanks mom.*

The other thing is, with all the top ten lists out there, it forces anyone who cares to re-evaluate, if even momentarily, what was listened to and what should be checked out. It's like the world comparing notes. God forbid a self-centered and blustery medium like the internet allow people to compare notes. Take, for example, Fleet Foxes: lots of people like it but I've avoided it. But maybe these other cats are on to something, and I'll keep it in the back of my head. Vampire Weekend, on the other hand, can keep their khaki-tinted, Ivy League afro-pop and enjoy their moment in the Paul Simon-plagarizing, cultural-pickpocketing sun. I'll avoid that crap until the day I die. And trust me, once you critics out there eat that bag of dicks, I'll respect your opinion and take it under advisement. Perhaps the bag you ate was most tasty. Of course, I'll still put that in the "no" pile with Vampire Weekend. But I may just, at a wine and cheese party one day, pass along the knowledge that, according to popular opinion, a bag of dicks pairs quite nicely with a Rioja purchased at Target. It will make me look well-informed and worldly.

That being said, my opinion here is pure gold. Buy futures in it. Print this out, cash it in at the bank, and buy a hovercraft with a rear-mounted machine gun. Or ignore it like a smoker's pole in front of a bar as you see if you can toss your cigarette into the sewer drain by the sidewalk that empties into one of this country's embattled waterways:

1. R.E.M. - Accelerate
Word most overused when describing this album after a few beers: "Lean" (We also would have accepted "muscular" but not "return to form" because not only is it misleading, but it's a phrase. Sorry.)
2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!
Word most overused when describing this album after a few beers: "Literate" (We also would have accepted "biblical" but then people would have thought you voted McCain-Palin.)
3. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins
Word most overused when describing this album after a few beers: "Lyrical" (We also would have accepted "Literate" but after using that to describe the Nick Cave album, no one wants to sound like they're limited in the superlatives department.)
4. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
Word most overused when describing this album after a few beers: "Beer" (Mostly used in connection with "soaked" or another like-minded modifier. We also would have accepted some form of the eff bomb, as in: "Man, the fucking Hold Steady... just..." before trailing off and staring at some odd corner of the room or down into one's plastic cup with a bemused look and everyone involved in the conversation slowly backs away.)
5. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
Word most overused when describing this album after a few beers: "Eclectic" (Also, "multicultural" if you're secretly racist.)

*Coincidentally, when I was home for Christmas, my mom recommended that I read The Federalist Papers. And I'll tell you what I told her: I'm lucky if I can get past "Rose is Rose" on the comics page without wondering if Bravo is rerunning an episode of Top Chef that I've seen 100 times already. Also, I heard new judge Toby Young is a total See You Next Tuesday. Me-rowr!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

So twist and whisper the wrong name. I don't care and nor do my ears...

Rules stay the same: one song per artist. But this year... I don't know. Maybe it's because I didn't have a working computer for most of the year, but a lot of stuff left me cold. I'm therefore keeping my list short for, you know, integrity's sake. There was stuff I liked, but I was far from falling in love with it. You know the drill (or maybe you don't): number, artist, song, pithy comment.

1. Frightened Rabbit - The Twist
By far the most listened-to song on my iTunes. You know what else I discovered this year? Those microwavable noodle dishes at Trader Joes. They come in Chinese-takeout-shaped boxes; you mix a packet of noodles with a packet of sauce, microwave for two minutes and there you go. Tasty as hell. If the peanut satay noodle were a song it would be in my top three most-played songs; iTunes Genius would be recommending pad thai and vegetable green curry.

2. Blitzen Trapper - Furr
My friend Brian turned me onto this song. While I didn't understand its charms at first, when it finally hit me, it was like an avalanche. Also hitting me like an avalanche: the Phillies world championship. When I got home after watching it, I cried; I cried, to quote The Beeper King, "like a big, dumb homo." Couldn't help it.

3. R.E.M. - Supernatural Superserious
Welcome back boys. Not necessarily a classic song, but as comforting as warm butter. A comforting R.E.M. single, a Phillies championship and Obama in the White House. Not a bad year, besides the whole shitty economy thing.

4. Crooked Fingers - Your Control
Bachmann tapped into a gold vein when he dueted with a lady on "Call to Love". Then the MFer ups the ante by bringing in Neko Case to duet. He's like the guy who first put peanut butter on a banana.

5. Mates of State - Get Better
How did I not find out about these guys until now. I'm still warming to the album, but good gravy, why has the world kept this secret from me?

6. Death Cab for Cutie - Cath...
I've had some good friends get engaged recently, and good on them. I look forward to making them regret the decision to go open bar at the wedding. But if I were to lay an SAT-analogy on you, it would go like this - "Cath...": Marriage :: Poltergeist: Buying a house on an Indian burial ground.

7. Kathleen Edwards - Buffalo
Oh God, Canadian girls who like hockey... Kathleen Edwards makes me want to buy an old Chevy and move to Canada. Another thing that I loved this year? A friend recommended a website (which I hasten to name because of an irrational fear of it getting shut down) that streams pretty much any game over the internet. As a result I have been watching a metric shit-ton of hockey and look forward to having an informed opinion on the Anaheim Ducks' third defensive pairing. Also, I watched the World Junior Hockey championship round the other night. Ladies? I'm single.

8. MGMT - Time to Pretend
Kind of ruined by the fact that it was prominently featured in the ads for the movie "Sex Drive". By all accounts, which are not numerous, "Sex Drive" was actually pretty good - word is it accomplished in spades what it set out to do, which was to make a funny teen sex comedy. Of course, to quote Larry the Cable Guy, that's kind of like not shitting your pants when you fart.* Still, I would love to see what the original director attached to the project would have made. That director? Jane Campion.

9. Okkervil River - Singer/Songwriter
I've pretty much decided that Will Sheff is the best lyricist going today. Bordering on genius. I was thinking in the shower the other day, so I says Ghost, I says, it might be that all other lyricist pale in comparison to Will Sheff at this point.He's just too good. It might be good that I threw aside my dreams of becoming the voice of my generation years ago when I realized compared all my failed crushes to Judas ("the blood is on your haaaaands..." Then I struggled with a rhyme for "hands"). Then I got out of the shower and realized I hadn't washed the conditinoner out of my hair. And it wasn't leave-in conditioner. It takes a while for the shower to heat up, so I just washed it out in the sink. Me, I am far from genius. Also close to genius? Norm MacDonald's roast of Bob Saget.

10. Hold Steady - Sequestered in Memphis
Don't remember the last time I was more excited for a song. Could never live up to the hype, but came surpringly close.

Honorable Mention:
Fucked Up - Twice Born
Santogold - LES Artistes
School of Seven Bells - Half Asleep
Bon Iver - Skinny Love
TV on the Radio - Halfway Home
The Roots - Rising Up*
Joshua Morrison - Home
Katie Nash - Foundations
I'm From Barcelona - Headphones
Drive-By Truckers - Self-Destructive Zones

Songs not of this year but still awesome
Edwin Starr - 25 Miles
I've been trying to find out what song this was for years and I finally found out when it popped on at the Sidebar in Baltimore (the setting for Kavanaugh's on The Wire - the place where they have the Irish cop wakes) and the bartender told me what it was. A few months later, that Shazaam app for iPhone came out. I don't have an iPhone, but still... coincidence? (Yes, totally.)
The Cardigans - Godspell
Oh, Nina Persson... you still got me.
Portastatic - You Blanks
"And every horse I dream about is pulling a hearse..." That's all well and good, Mac, but I hope that doesn't have anything to do with the prospects for a new Superchunk album.
Arcade Fire - (Antichrist Television Blues)
I think I finally "got" this album. So hooray for me.
Georgie James - Only Cause You're Young
You left us too soon, Georgie James.
Pavement - Date w/ Ikea
Sufjan Stevens - Chicago
Never was a huge fan of Mr. Stevens but this won me over. Also: I moved to Chicago! Huzzah!

*Full disclosure: that's not a Larry the Cable Guy line. That was all me. I just wanted to have my cake and eat it too: make a poop joke and not have it be attributed to me. But really, which is worse: making a poop joke or pretending to know a Larry the Cable Guy quote besides "git 'er done" (which is hilarious)? That's the sort of existential dilemma only French philosophers and fan fiction authors can adequately address.
*True story: I actually ran into ?uestlove on the street in Chicago soon after moving here. I was, like, shaking excited. That's me. But I'm not sure which was more embarassing: the fact that after playing the "I'm from Philly" card, he asked me where I was from and, staring at the pavement I muttered "uh, actually the suburbs"; or the fact that he was on his way to a frozen yogurt shop. Actually, he's ?uestlove, he can do whatever he wants. Hope you enjoyed your berry blast!

So everybody put their best suit or dress on, and make believe that we are wealthy for just this once...

New Year's Resolutions:
1. Write more
2. Be less obvious

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