Monday, January 21, 2008


Wow! Our kitties are on I Can Has Cheezburger.

The picture was taken in one of their get-into-as-much-trouble-as-possible moments. For the record, Daniel was not stuck.
This is kinda neat, just a couple of weeks after getting linked on Largehearted Boy.
(Completely different subject, but we saw Cloverfield. I was sooo expecting to be disappointed after being hyped up since early summer. Guess what. It was freaking awesome!! It gradually went from "oh crap this is so cool" intense to "oh crap this is uncomfortable" intense.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I give Rivers Cuomo a lot of shit on this blog. However, his recently released set of demos.... well it ain't bad.

There are several reasons I give Rivers a lot of shit. First of all, I love the guy. I really do. But listening to his previous couple of albums, I just don't get that love flowing through me. The first couple of Weezer albums were great. They helped define who I am. At the time, it broadened my horizons to the underground (Pavement, Sonic Youth) that I never knew existed. Weezer really stood out in the crowd.
Recently, though, Weezer just blends into the crowd they helped influence. And I hate that they don't attempt to separate from it.
That being said, on with Alone.
The simple reason I like it is that it's full of tunes from Weezer's best era. And it helps re-establish my faith in this guy because that sound still sounds good. I never grew out of Weezer. They just got bad.... or lazy, or whatever. I can still listen to the '90's Weezer albums and get worked up. I listen to Make Believe and I want to throw up. Simple. It's not my fault. It's their fault.
I love finally hearing some of Songs from the Black Hole. They sound freaking great. The songs from the hiatus years are nice too. I love the "Buddy Holly" demo. It's all great!
Suddenly I'm excited for their new album. I'm pretty cautious with that excitement though. There is one song on Alone that was supposed to be on that new album. It's called "This is the Way." And it is AWFUL!! Seriously Rivers? You wrote a song that bad?? Don't blow this buddy. Some of us are still actually cheering for you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Oh yeah!!

I bought that on Friday!
It's a 37" LCD. Actually, if you're really a nerd about it, it's this one.
Originally I wanted a 42" plasma, but this one blew me away. We did some shopping around at Target and Best Buy before settling on this one.
I'm glad I didn't go bigger. It fits perfectly in my living room. Also, it just barely fit in my car, leading to about ten minutes of panic in the Circuit City parking lot. It was right before closing time and something told me that the idiotic stock room workers wouldn't stay late while I rounded up a truck. Eventually we got it, with some severe squishing. When we got home it took fifteen or more minutes to get it out of my car.
Now I'm living it up in HD. So cool. I'm loving watching the NFL Playoffs in full HD. We picked up a couple of Blu-Ray discs for the PS3 (Pan's Labyrinth and Big Fish). I'm planning on ordering up a nice Korean fix too (Old Boy and The Host).
Dammit this is sweet!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunless Shortlist: Albums 2007

I know I say this every year, but I really mean it this time. 2007 was an unbelievable year for music. Usually when I do this list, I struggle to put together a full list. Usually the last picks are filler.

This year I struggled to put everything I loved into this list. It's pretty amazing that Apostle of Hustle, Band of Horses, Bill Callahan, the New Pornographers, Of Montreal, Phosphorescent, and the White Stripes are not here. I loved their albums this year, but couldn't make room.

There are a couple of albums I wanted but didn't get (Sunset Rubdown, LCD Soundsystem, about fifty Robert Pollard albums). I guess that's a good thing for now.

This was also the year all my favorite bands sold out. You couldn't sit through any commercial breaks without hearing songs by Feist or Spoon or the New Pornographers or Wilco or Andrew Bird or Of Montreal, blah, blah, blah. That's fine. I like money too, so it's hard to blame them. Plus it's nice to hear my favorite bands at random moments throughout the day.

Anyhoo, on with the show:

Top 15 Albums of 2007

15. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

The first great album of 2007. I always thought the Shins were a little overrated, but they killed it on this album. There are a couple of blah moments, but the rest of the songs are amazing. Their best album to date in my book.

14. The Apples in Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder

This is the Apples in Stereo’s masterpiece. It’s long (especially compared to their other releases) and at a couple times seems repetitive, but it is a wonderful album. A perfect summer album. It makes you feel great to listen to, but it’s moody and thoughtful as well.

13. The Fiery Furnaces - Widow City

The Fiery Furnaces keep getting more and more accessible with every release. Doesn’t matter to me, I love this band. I love the concept to this album: Make a modern-sounding album using only ‘70’s equipment. It works, and it is fierce.

12. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

So the new Wilco isn’t the best album of the year? Their two previous albums were my favorites of 2002 and 2004. This is still a great album, just not my flavor in comparison. Like I said when this was released, this album isn’t a step forward or a step backward. It’s a step sideways. It turned off plenty of people, but these are my boys. Well at least Sky Blue Sky gets the coolest album cover of the year, hands down.

11. Panda Bear - Person Pitch

Okay so I’m not cool enough to make this the number one album of the year. I’m not even cool enough to put it in the top ten. Doesn’t matter, I love this album all the same. It drones, but it’s never boring. It’s very complex and can be difficult to understand, but this isn’t a car stereo album. It’s a headphones album.

10. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

Not as good as Funeral, but this album really grew on me over time. They sound like they are holding back a bit, but they don’t sound nervous. I didn’t get that at first. These guys are as confident as a band can be right now. Why not? They are superstars now. But they deserve it. They are that good.

09. The Good, the Bad, & the Queen - s/t

Maybe the most overlooked album of the year. I’ve said it a million times before here: Damon Albarn can do no wrong. There were moments that knocked me out when I first heard them, and the rest came with time. I love this album.

08. John Vanderslice - Emerald City

Oh JV. How do you keep making albums I love? When will you do something I hate? I don’t think it’s possible. Another stunning album from the perfect studio rat.

07. Okkervil River - The Stage Names

It took me quite a while to truly appreciate this album. I liked it at first. I really liked it a month later. Now I love it. It’s not overly complicated. It’s a little simple, but not a pop album. Just.... just go get it.

06. Radiohead - In Rainbows

Since getting this album on January 1st, it’s completely taken me over. I’ll be analyzing this album more than any of their others since Kid A. This album is simply stunning. It’s hard to listen to when I drive because I get so lost in its sound. It’s the perfect Radiohead album. You can’t compare it to any of their other albums, but you can at the same time. Confusing, but that’s the point right?

05. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

I don’t know what else to say about this album. I’ve been talking it up since I bought it and immediately put it in my stereo. It’s Spoon at their pinnacle, but I’m guessing they’ll keep getting better.

04. Feist - The Reminder

The moment I stopped comparing it to Let It Die was the moment I could truly appreciate it. It’s a rollercoaster listening to this album, and it’s a blast the whole way. It’s fun. It’s sad. It freaking rocks. It’s just beautiful all around. She became a little overplayed as the year progressed, but she is still as charming as ever. She also put on the best concert I saw all year. And it was before the iPod commercial, so the high school girls in attendance were minimal. That’s good!

03. The National - Boxer

This was the year this band took over my life. I can’t remember the last time a band has made me obsess this much in just a couple of months. I’ve sucked up their discography and studied it at length. They are just amazing, and will keep getting better. I’m telling you, the National is the next Wilco. Yeah, actually that’s a good comparison.

02. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

Holy crap, this album shakes my bones. It’s so clever, I can’t help but laugh when I think about it. It’s so beautiful, I get goosebumps singing it to myself. In just a few years, Andrew Bird has flawlessly transformed himself from bit-player to headliner. This is the kind of mad scientist songwriter you write books about, except I think he’s a pretty normal guy. His concert I saw this summer was amazing too. It was almost dreamlike. Oh, you’re so cool.

01. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam

Okay, so I never thought I’d have an Animal Collective album at the top of my list. I never thought they’d ever be on one of these lists, period. I guess I was never cool enough to get them. Well I didn’t suddenly get cool this year, these guys just put out one amazing album. It’s weird and it’s sweet, all within a song. This was their year, with this album and Panda Bear’s solo album. They took over the world this year. They deserved to take over the world. To me, they transformed themselves from David Lynch-like (or overly pretentious) freakshows, to stunningly viable artists in a year’s span.


So 2007 was killer for music. 2008 has me pretty fired up too. New stuff coming from Cat Power, REM, James, and Weezer. Look at February 19 (American Music Club and the Mountain Goats) and March 18 (Destroyer and DeVotchKa)! Hell yeah!!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sunless Shortlist: Songs 2007

Wow, that was a pretty mean-spirited way to end my first post of 2008. Let's make up for that.

I have now officially listened to In Rainbows 1.5 times now. And it is freaking great. But damn Radiohead is putting a cramp on my favorite album list. Now I have to find a way to squeeze this album in, but after I listen to it enough. Damn you Radiohead for being so damn good!

Let's kill the time with the addition of another shortlist. This one is not in any order but alphabetical:

Top 15 Songs of 2007

Animal Collective - "For Reverend Green"
Holy cow, what a perfect song. Avey is the full embodiment of chaos in this song. He sings so sweetly and breaks down into a stunning primal scream at seemingly random moments. After a hundred listens, this song still stuns me.

Apples in Stereo - "7 Stars"
Most Apples in Stereo songs are happy songs. This song sounds awfully happy, but there is some kind of weird mood here that grabs your attention. It’s beautiful. It’s not necessarily sad, but it’s unexpectedly moody. I love that.

Arcade Fire - "Intervention"
Up to “Intervention,” it sounds like Arcade Fire is holding back on Neon Bible. This song kicks the door down. That church organ sounds so badass coming out of my car. This is a song to scare the neighbors.

Andrew Bird - "Heretics"
I’m making this list choosing only one song per artist. Otherwise there would be a couple more Andrew Bird songs here. “Heretics” is one step above the other songs on his latest album. It’s remarkable. The moment the strings kick in still gives me chills after hearing this song a million times.

Feist - "I Feel It All"
Same as Andrew Bird, it was difficult to pick one song by Feist. I could’ve picked the most intense song, or the most beautiful song. I picked the most fun song on her latest album. This song is a freaking hit, man. The live version I saw in DC this summer was even better. This is one of those instantly-in-a-good-mood songs.

Fiery Furnaces - "Duplexes of the Dead"
The crescendo is predictable, but it’s still shocking. Really, can any Fiery Furnaces song be truly predictable? This may be the fiercest sound this band has ever recorded and it surrounds you and takes over your brain.

The Good, the Bad, & the Queen - "History Song"
Listen to this song on a stereo with the bass cranked. Paul Simonon plays with a nonchalant, but gut-busting force. It’s like getting punched in the stomach over and over again, but you asked for it so it feels great.

Jens Lekman - "Shirin"
The whole album is sweet like sugar, but this song stands out. The songs all sound like a confused sensitive boy lost in Motown, but this is the moment he finds himself. Even though he sounds like he’s still confused. Just beautiful.

Most Serene Republic - "Battle Hymn of the Republic"
The Most Serene Republic sometimes is a little much. There are always like a hundred people playing at once, but this method works perfectly on this song. Oh God, the drums just kill me on this song. It’s wonderful and it works getting you worked up.

National - "Fake Empire"
This song should win some sort of award for the being the perfect opening track. You are out of breath by the time the song ends. And just listening to the piano opening the song, you wouldn’t predict that in the slightest. The lyrics are simple, but you just get them. This song has everything anybody would want out of a song.

Of Montreal - "The Past is a Grotesque Animal"
Heavy, heavy duty stuff here. Twelve minutes of intensity. The music and fearsome lyrics never stop flying at you. “Let’s tear our fucking bodies apart!” I have chills thinking about this song.

Shins - "Australia"
This song is begging to be attached to a memory. It’s weird. It sounds like it reminds me of a key point in my life, but I don’t know what. Man, it’s a fun song though. You have to sing along. It forces you. Oh and I love James Mercer’s Robert Smith impression.

Spoon - "The Underdog"
The centerpiece of a great album. This is the quintessential Spoon song. Everything is just right on this song.

John Vanderslice - "Kookaburra"
There are three songs working at once here, and they blend beautifully. It’s sad, and it rocks. A flawless experiment in rhythm and melody. JV’s voice and the music are never on the same page, but they blend together perfectly. Not a cute song, but the kookaburra is a cute bird.

Wilco - "On and On and On"
What a stunning way to close an album. There are so many cheery moments leading up to this song, which tears them all apart. This is something to sing as your plane is crashing. Ooh, that’s morbid! Maybe the most emotion ever heard out of Jeff Tweedy.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Yay New Year!

Hooray for my favorite holiday! I just love getting stupid and I love that whole drunk-but-sentimental feeling. I usually attend some sort of big bash for New Year's Eve, but this was the first one in around a decade that I had no plans.

It was fun though.

Molly and I had a nice dinner and martinis at Cheesecake Factory. Then came home to drink champaigne and play with the kittens and watch CNN's absolute TRAINWRECK of a show. (Seriously, it was very funny and uncomfortable to watch.) We went to bed around 3:30am, as opposed to after 7am the last couple of years.

Haven't done a thing today. I did pick up the new Radiohead and Rivers Cuomo's demo disc. Oh and watched Mizzou absolutely destroy Arkansas! Hell yeah!!

Well it may be several more days before I release my favorite albums list, so I'll separate the festivities:

Most Disappointing Album of 2007

Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
When everybody was calling Conor the next Dylan, I thought they meant Bob not Jakob. Ouch. Seriously, this album sucks. Oh and thanks for releasing the only descent song on this album as a single. God, there is nothing redeeming about this album! So disappointing.
Oh and the cover.... is it cool? No! It's only cool to subscribers of Highlights magazine.
Damn, what happened to this guy? I still go back and listen to his older stuff and love it. It's not like I outgrew him. He just got crappy. You are not Springsteen. Don't even try. You just sound corny.