Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2008

#1 Sebastien Tellier - Sexuality
Vintage Serge Gainsbourg meets Justin Timberlake. Easily my favorite album of this year and in my top 10 of all-time. A full 360 of an album that is diverse and superb at every moment. The closing track “L’Amour et La Violence” (The Love and The Violence) is haunting and pure genius. I could easily listen to this album on repeat for ages and did so in 2008. The album is immaculately produced by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk and blends all the talents of Sebastien Tellier from his previous work. A great driving album, a wonderful time-piece, and something I won’t stop praising for years to come.

#2 Young Jeezy – The Recession
True Story; I had 30 minutes to kill so I stopped by Second Spin. It was Tuesday (aka new release day) and they were playing a hip-hop record in the store. After walking around for 20 minutes I was like, man, this record sounds good…so I bought it. It was Young Jeezy – The Recession and it’s a great record. Who’d of thunk a southern rapper could have predicted the economic downturn? “Black President” (feat. NaS) should be one of the tracks of the year.

#3 Torche - Meanderthal
This album is a ripper. Heavy enough to scare off the masses, yet melodic enough to warrant some rock radio play. The album is great from start to finish and addictive. I heard this in a listening station and was taken aback by it. I look forward to anything and everything Torche.

#4 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus!!! Dig!!! / The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford OST
Nick Cave at the Hollywood Bowl was everything I could have wanted from a Bowl show. Whereas Dig!!!... is a wonderfully blunt record which has hints of Grinderman (my last year’s #1 album) , his soundtrack work with Warren Ellis is equally as powerful. Nick Cave is superior to most and in the last couple of years he has hit a creative stride that I’m in love with.

#5 Lykke Li – Youth Novels
This is a superb album. Great pop songs, great production, great everything. I give Lykke Li props as this album was released over 2 years ago in her home Sweden yet she continually tours and performs for US audiences despite her obvious tire of repetition. I was extremely impressed with this and look forward to her next output.

#6 Sigur Ros - Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
I picked up this album because I knew when it came out that I would be going to Iceland later on in the year for Airwaves. Although not a typical Sigur Ros album I definitely loved it. At first it didn’t sound like a typical Sigur Ros album but after a few listens the songs stood out enough to make me forget.

#7 Lindstrøm – Where You Go I Go Too
A few years back I got my hands on a live mix of Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas and was floored by the coming of nu-disco. Since then I have been salivating for everything Lindstrøm. At SXSW I saw him “spin” (totally laptop) in a cowboy bar and he was great, but it was not the place for him to be. This album is 3 tracks of perfect desert driving music. Electronic overtures.

#8 Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing
Live at the Reykjavik Art Museum sealed it for me. I was saddened to have to venture into the “experimental” section at Amoeba when this is really just an Electronic record. Sure there are some huge Noise aspects but the album itself is an atmospheric tidal wave of drone fused melodies. Fuck Buttons is up my alley and I’m cool with that.

#9 The Kills – Midnight Boom
I remember when the Kills first started gaining hype and I saw them a few times in NY and bought the introductory EP and then album. I liked it, but wouldn’t consider myself a fan. Then the next album dropped and I happened to see them on that tour by chance, still like it, but eh. Finally it came at this year’s SXSW when I happened to be at a party and they took the stage. I gave the typical, “I’ll give it a song or two” thought and I was very surprised when they blew me away. The new songs they played were superior to the old and the live set-up was great. A very good album from a now matured “shtick-y” band.

#10 Genghis Tron – Board Up The House
Hipster metal. 3 bearded scholar types playing some heavy metal without a drummer. This album has a few things I love mixed with some annoyances, yet it all comes together nicely. Ambient layers along with songs about zombies, but with a fair amount of screaming. Immaculate production (Kurt Ballou, did Torche too).

#11 Abe Vigoda – Skeleton
These guys are my buddies and I’d been eagerly awaiting the release of this bad-boy for ages. Tropical-Punk from Pomona kids is unique and interesting. I expect these guys to move onward and upward for some time into a Talking Head’s like group. Go LA.

#12 Human Highway – Moody Motorcycle
I really like Nick Diamonds, even though I’ve heard from numerous sources he’s a complete a-hole. I loved the first Islands record, the second one was kinda boring, but I was definitely impressed with Human Highway. “The Sound” is a great hit, and the title track is just as good.

#13 Duffy - Rockferry
I buy lots of records; common fact. I didn’t know what to expect from Duffy except I heard she sucked live and was not as pretty as creative camerawork has made her out to be. She can sing though, the songs are good, and this is a good album. Lots of haters out there with so many solo songstresses this year, but Rockferry is a very good album.

#14 Retro Stefson - Montana
The best band nobody has ever heard of….from Iceland. Manu Chao’s Radio Bemba Sound System meets Vampire Weekend. The best live show I’ve seen in ages, especially from a band whose ages range from 16-20.

#15 The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of The Understatement
Another “shot in the dark” when I picked up this album yet I was taken aback by it. A lot more mature than the Arctic Monkey’s and a great theme along with the perfect use of strings.

#16 Yeasayer – All Hour Cymbals
Soggy Brooklyn-ites who ooze hipness, yet I can’t get over the style, sound, and songs on this album. A great mood record that trails off a bit at the end but is still strong and memorable.

#17 Bun B – II Trill
RIP Pimp C. This year I decided that hip-hop should be incorporated more into my lifestyle and Bun B was big on that. A good banger of a record, perfect for the treadmill and my new-used Honda Accord.

#18 Booka Shade – The Sun And The Neon Light
I am a fan of electronic music and was happy to be impressed with the new Booka Shade. They killed it live at Coachella and was the first electro group to land the whole “adding my own vocals” to tracks. A good rhythmic piece with some great house aspects.

#19 Tricky – Knowles West Boy
I am on a few mailing lists in which I get advances of some weird records. Upon getting the Tricky album I didn’t know what to expect but it’s my duty to listen to everything. This is a phenomenal record that isn’t all over the place like some of his recent outings. Lots of mellow gems on this bad boy.

#20 Glasvegas - Glasvegas
“Geraldine” is a hit, a true single. The rest of the album takes a while to grow but is still solid. Lyrically there are some problems and I don’t like some of the borrowed classical music, but it’s nice to see a new Scottish band coming up with a solid debut. I smell sophomore slump like a mofo though.


Flops/Total Bummers

Why did the Killers have to go with Jacques Lu Cont (aka Stuart Pierce) for their new album? Do 2 good remixes and a Madonna album warrant such a move? Result: Another bad record by the Killers. Whoopee. Lyrically a tadpole compared to 90% of what is out there and just misguided. Great photos too, you all look dumb.

Wal-Mart Exclusives: Seriously, not cool. First the Eagles, then Bryan Adams…why force me into the retail version of Lucifer? I can’t handle going to Wal-Mart, I just feel as if I’m killing puppies by giving them my hard earned dollar. Is music retail so bad that Wal-Mart takes over? Why let that happen?

More Hate ’08 coming soon…

Best Live

The Warehouse Project (October - Manchester, UK): Under a train station, a maze of post-industrial northern England brick walls. The line-up was Tricky, The Whip, Late Of The Pier, Rev and the Makers, and a ton more, but the vibe was pure party and the atmosphere is what any good show should be.

Yelle (Coachella): I give Yelle props because she was headlining a small ten t at Coachella up against some huge headliners and she delivered an amazing show that was filled with kids. Her album had barely surfaced in the US but there were all these kids going nuts for her. Kids are the future right? The best live act I saw at Coachella that year, seriously…that must say something.

Bryan Adams (Acoustic at The Roxy): Okay, most people know my love of Bryan Adams is superior to few. I had the chance to go with Los to see him play almost 3 hours acoustic 5 feet in front of me at the Roxy and it was pure class. He did it because he wanted too, he was having fun and playing as long as he wanted, and I love him. Icon.

Ricky Hatton TKO-ing Paulie Malignaggi (MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV): Okay, not music but watching Ricky Hatton pummel Paulie Malignaggi live in Vegas in November was one of the best experiences of my wee life. Liam and Noel of Oasis walked his belts into the ring and Ricky delivered by beating Paulie into submission. Forever “…walking in a Hatton wonderland.”

Conclusion: Final Thoughts

This year was a great year for new music, far better than others. Lots of “Best of Lists” were filled with debut albums and I think that is a great sign. Sure, industry changes, blah blah blah, but this is art, so we must all embrace creativity. I like nothing more than hearing a debut album that is amazing and gets me giddy. This year, I have to give props to one thing that made my life so much easier. Zune, the Zune Marketplace, and the Zune Pass. I don’t work for Microsoft, but my friend Megan does and she gave me a Zune player and I decided to drop the $14.99 a month (the cost of a CD) to “lease” all the music from the Zune Marketplace. Um, amazing. I highly recommend it to everybody I know. Sure, you don’t own MP3’s but you have the ability to “download” anything you want and put it on your Zune player. Every Tuesday I get newsletters that let me know what records are coming out and to the Marketplace I go downloading anything that sounds interesting. If I don’t like it, then I delete it. ‘Brick and Mortar’ record stores are few and far between and I can think of 10 that closed in 2008 that I was familiar with. Entertainment is all around us and I don’t expect people to buy lots of CD’s when they are hard to find and money is far from plentiful these days. Yet the Zune Pass gave me the chance to embrace all types of music, not just the new stuff. Having the ability to download a catalog is pretty sweet and lots of records you can’t even find in stores (like Rod Stewart’s “Tonight I’m Yours” (1981)). Enough of my Zune sales pitch that a few of you may have become accustomed too. Embrace the future already, listen to new music and do whatever it takes to find it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

People I Hate




Manus Boonjumnong (Boxer, Thailand)...he's the shithead in blue.

He's a boxer out of Thailand that is the 2004 Athens Olympic Gold Medalist and the 2008 Beijing Silver Medalist in the light welterweight class. He fights in the "Olympic style" which basically means that he is good at scoring points but if you took off the helmet and put him in with anybody else for a full 12 rounds then he would crumble like the little bitch he is.

Olympic style boxing has evolved into one of the most frustrating and boring displays in recent Olympic history. They are so concerned with "safety" that you barely touch the guy and viola...a point. What was terribly present in the Beijing Olympics was that those of Asian countries (or Asian descents) scored a lot more points for doing the exact same thing as everybody else...it was a sham and may have ruined Olympic boxing for generations to come.

Now back to dipshit Manus. After his Athens 2004 Gold Medal he was awarded over $600k from the Thai boxing association for winning Gold...call it extra incentive. What'd he do...he partied, he squandered it in clubs and it was so bad that he was given a bag of clothing and put on a plane to Cuba to train there and "get in shape" for Beijing 2008. Okay, he partied...whatever...my problem lies with his cocky attitude. He dances around the ring and showboats which pisses me off royally. Where-as other boxers in Beijing were cautioned and warned (+2 points to your opponent) for showboating, Manus got away with it, and continued to score with is pussy punches. The judging favored him due to his history, what a bummer. His attitude was so annoying that going into his Gold Medal match with a feisty Dominican I was praying for a knock-out.

Luckily, there was no way to NOT judge the fight against Manus in a true display of his true colors. The Dominican came out firing and coming forward and took Manus way off guard. He burrowed in like a rodent and was landing great shots on the inside and poor Manus was starstruck. Manus has long arms...most fighters with long arms can only fight on the outside, meaning scoring points based on stepping back and tagging your opponent on his way in...longer arms, less danger of getting tagged by your opponent. My favorite though was when Manus was down a few points going into round 3 (of 4) and he couldn't adapt. A true champion boxer would change there style to get points, but Manus is a one-trick pony who could only do what he always does, but this time he had no chance. At one point in the fight Manus was even given a standing 8 count due to the powerful punches landing on his chin...he was still cocky and played it off like it was no big deal, but guess what...standing 8 counts = points for your opponent and lots of momentum. Adios Manus, you suck, I hate you, and I hope I never hear from you again.

Olympic boxing motto; get ahead early and then pot-shot when your opponent is forced to come after you. There is nothing pretty about Olympic boxing right now, it's boring to watch, the judging is horrendous, there are clear favorites, and it's not a true display of the sport.

I love boxing, but Beijing was a disgrace....such a disgrace that they are talking of eliminating boxing from the Olympic program. That sucks.

Boo Beijing Olympic Boxing.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

For some reason, i'm all about blogging again. I like writing, i find it exciting, even if nobody reads it. It's been a while for my opinionated nonsense.

Here are a few things I want to talk about:
-Albums of 2008 that rip so far (we have had some winners)
-and other stuff.













Sebastien Tellier - Sexuality (Record Makers)

This album came out at the end of February in France and England and is just classic. It's produced by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (1/2 of Daft Punk) and it's absolutely stellar. Imagine Justin Timberlake's latest album mixed with vintage "erotique" Serge Gainsbourg. The album is beautiful, melodic, and perfect. Easily one of my favorite albums EVER, and a mainstay in the music i listen to on a weekly basis. "L'Amour Et La Violence" is simply one of the best 'coked-out 80's songs' in history...which sounds awkward...so i'll just say it's an epic atmospheric gallant. I love this album so much that I would put it out in the US if i had the funds...finally Record Markers is going to do so (along with American Apparel) and i'm sure many people will be impressed. The production and songwriter are both impeccable and the album is a true wonder. I champion Sebastien Tellier no doubt and I could not speak higher of this album.













Genghis Tron - Board Up The House

"Hipster Metal" sans drummer. 3 nerds from Upstate NY whom kill it with a powerhouse of a metal album on Relapse. This album is a shredder and the title track is about Zombies which I can definitely relate to. When in the mood for something heavy, look past the goof-ball name and pop this bad-boy in. I have sung the praises of this band, and i'm going to toot my own horn. When the Faint were looking for opening acts for their tour, I said "GENGHIS TRON" and they listed...voila, 4 dates on the tour. I'm stoked on that, yeah...my own horn. The lead singer's name is Mookie too, which i like...reminds me of the goof-ball NY Met.













Torche - Meanderthal

Sticking on the 'heavy' vibe is Torche, on Hydrahead. I didn't really expect to like any 'heavy' albums this year, i've mostly been listening to shit, but wowsa...amazing stuff from these guys. Carlos said it best "it kinda sounds like Foo Fighters" but with more balls. This is a great album, melodic, forceful, and a great listen. This is what rock should be sounding like, this is what Queens of the Stone Age USED to sound like and should have progressed into. They suck shit now and Torche should take their place. Hell, I would sign them to a major label in a second. Develop these cats and you got a hit. I also hear they are amazing live.

okay, no more JPEGS of Album covers...here are some other hits with little or no info, do the research.

In Alphabetical Order:

Abe Vigoda - Skeleton
LA Tropical Punk boys on No Age's PPM label. I'm stoked for these young'ns they got a great album and are going to do some nice little things. Plus I signed them.

Armand Van Helden - Ghettoblaster (2007 yeah, but it rips)
"I Want Your Soul" is a deep house track that is just amazing. Armand is consistently a trailblazer. And he is now in the old-school NY hip-hop fashion vibe which should reinvigorate him.

Booka Shade - The Sun & Neon Light
Germany's greatest export right now, a great electro house act that ruled Coachella. A great album start to finish that flows and beats.

The Courteeners - St. Jude
Manchester's newest. It's cutesy, and the lead singer is named Liam and acts like a douche. I'm sold on it.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig
Furious new album that shows Nick Cave is on a hot-streak for great albums. No nonsense, just great tunes. Really stoked to see him in Sept at the Hollywood Bowl for the first time.

No Age - Nouns
I give it to them, they are doing a good job and I like them. Go LA.

Titus Andronicus - The Airing Of Grievances
Camus referencing post-hardcore...of course i'll love it. This album is a bleeder and only works when you listen from the beginning to the end.

Yelle - Pop-Up
A) French B) Electro C) The best thing I saw at Coachella...very kitschy and a winner. It's just "cute" okay, it works.

Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals
Great atmospheric record. Toured with MGMT and did a good job. A fun listen.

OKAY, now old shit that I 'discovered' recently

Bryan Ferry - Boys and Girls (1985)
Post "Avalon" solo record that is amazing. Very 80's, great synth layers and some really good songs.

Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love (1985)
Great, great, great album. "Running Up That Hill" is an amazing pop song. David Gilmour found her...even better. Title track still relevant today as it has been covered by Mystery Jets and others. Great 'period-piece' album.

Jacques Brel
French singer. Chansons cest magnifique. Reminds me of the best trip of my life, Paris with Jen over Christmas '07. Very nice.

"Baker Street" song - Gerry Rafferty (1978)
Easily still one of the best riffs ever, as played by a saxophone. Just so good. This song is going to play at my wedding. Probably right after "Heaven" by Bryan Adams. I didn't discover this recently, but I try and listen to it as often as possible and I love talking about it.

I am going to post more, I swear. Oh my 1 valued reader. I got into a Yelp War...it was sweet. I am playing soccer again, yay. Manchester City is back in the news with a new coach and some summer signing extravaganzas. Important shit going down. Let's talk. "Be Kind Rewind" best movie of 2008.

Love,
Josh