Friday, January 1, 2010

solid decade

growing up in the 90's allowed me to experience rap's golden years and the underground becoming mainstream.  the end of the 90's was a dreadful mix of boy bands and rap-metal (yuck).  the 00's however, issued many albums that could not be categorized or placed into one genre.  the albums below are the best of the decade because they shifted the way we listen and label music, as well as how albums are made and marketed.  many left turns (Beck making a fabulous acoustic album?) coupled with pop sensibilities make these the best albums of the 00's. i doubt many will agree with my #1; whether you like him or not, he's the artist of the decade.

#25 The Shins – Oh Inverted World

#24 Cursive – The Ugly Organ

#23 Clipse – Hell Hath No Fury

#22 Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antartica

#21 Justin Timberlake – Future/Sex/Love Sounds

#20 Spoon – Gimme Fiction

#19 Outkast – Speakerboxx/ Love Below

#18 Killers – Hot Fuss

#17 Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

#16 Postal Service – Give Up

#15 Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

#14 The National - Boxer

#13 Beck – Sea Change

#12 Bon Iver – For Emma Forever Ago

#11 Bright Eyes – Lifted or the Story is in the Soil

#10 The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday

#9 Broken Social Scene – You Forgot it In People

#8 Sigur Ros – ( )

#7 Deathcab for Cutie – Transatlanticism

#6 Wilco – Yankee Foxtrot Hotel

#5 Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker

#4 Radiohead – Kid A

#3 The Strokes – Is This It

#2 Arcade Fire – Funeral

#1 Kanye West – The College Dropout

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

best books consumed in 09

my continuous, fragmented professional reading, a requirement of my day job, leaves me with an insatiable appetite for fiction...mostly fiction involving anit-heroes and that ever-gnawing hole in the character's (our) gut that pokes the question, "can one be virtuous and flawed at the same time?"  these books were not all published in 09, yet they have impacted me during this amazing year.

#10) Sway: A Novel -  Zachary Lazar
a fresh (historic fiction) take on a band and era that has been analyzed ad nauseam.

#9) Daemon - Daniel Suarez
a scientific look at what may happen in the future when our emotions become just as blurred as the line between technological advancement and mass control. think plausible Matrix.

#8) Goodnight Nebraska - Tom McNeal
a heartbreaking look at small-town life and the choices that eventually end up defining a person.

#7) The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly
connelly's best book since echo park examines the death of newspapers and the roles race still play in our justice system.

#6) The Night of the Gun - David Carr
a memoir that stemmed from countless hours of research including interviews with former dealers, junkies, hanger-ons, and his family of the past and present. this book makes you think about all those glorious, blurry nights and how others may have perceived them differently.

#5) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larson
a stunning "locked door" mystery that burns to the very end.  just the beginning.

#4) The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larson
luckily for us, stieg larson completed his 'millennium trilogy' before his untimely death.  with backstories firmly in place from the dragon tattoo, we follow lisbeth salander into many engrossing situations which no reader could have envisioned.

#3) The Killing Circle - Andrew Pyper
"what all of us share, is our wishing for more, but wishing has a dark side. it can turn those who were once merely strangers into the competition."  pyper's  book does not reveal the true purpose and/or its genius until the last sentence. caution: sleep with your lights on.

#2) The Magicians - Lev Grossman
billed as 'an adult harry potter,' lev grossman delves into his character's abyss much further than this generic description may potrary.

imagine what happens when the novelty of magic, drugs, and sex wears off.  what would you do then?

#1) Beat the Reaper - Josh Bazell
with some of my favorite books being the contortionist handbook, fight club, and kiss me judas, it did not surprise me that i fell for this book instantly. however, rooting for an anti-hero with this much vigor was indeed my guilty pleasure of the year.   an ex-mafia hit-man, currently in a witness protection program and employed as a doctor, leads to many fast-paced conundrums--every single one of them enjoyable.

side note: the rights to this book were just bought and leonardo dicaprio will produce and star in the movie. follow the link for more. more details below.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

best music of 2009

#20 Kid Cudi: Man on the Moon

a breath of fresh air for hip-hop...even though his mixtape is much stronger than this major label release, he has changed the game of hip hop for the better. check out: man on the moon

#19 Handsome Furs: Face Control
one of the driving forces behind wolfparade put out a strong album full of synth undertones and taught hooks.  check out: legal tender

#18 Jesu: Opiate
slow-core at its best.  severely distorted guitars and fuzz fill the room as one's mind wanders to early 90's pumpkins and hum.  check out: losing streak

#17 Brand New: Daisy
brand new never makes the same move twice and each album is a new listening experience that ages well with time.  plus they are channeling nirvana's in utero... check out: you stole

#16 Girls: Album
the back story of christopher owens is tragic and fascinating at the same time.  his voice and writing exude his complicated travels and his band delivers at almost every turn. a great, great listen.  check out: hellhole ratrace

#15 Volcano Choir: Unmap
unfortunately we did not get a new album from the amazing Bon Iver this year; however, their lead singer, justin vernon, guests on this spacious wall of sound.  vernon gives us Bon Iver fans just enough to hold out for their next release.  check out: island is

#14 Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Its Blitz
a powerful left turn for the new york trio.  synth replaced their previously stunning guitar work with no loss of power and attitude.  large hooks loom with concise structures....this is a good thing.  check out: hysteric

#13 Lee Fields & the Expressions
channeling ottis redding and sam cooke is damn hard.  lee fields gets damn close and it's enough to call this easily the best soul album of 2009.  the backing band are on point and lee's soul bleeds through your speakers with every cut.  check out: love comes and goes

#12 Dinosaur Jr: Farm
the 90's vets are back with another lesson in guitar, musicianship, and indie rock at its best.  never a big fan until lately, this album has been a constantly spinning in 09.  check out: i want you to know

#11 Cursive: Mamma I'm Swollen
moving away from the political focus of happy hollow, mamma i'm swollen delves back into the emotions of self-loathing, insecurity, and intercourse.  everything a good album should be about.  check out: what have i done

#10 Julian Casablancas: Phrazes for the Young
god, i cannot wait for a new strokes album.  check out: 11th dimension 

#9 Japandroids: Post-Nothing
two guys. one guitar. one drum set.  distortion.  lyrics about french-kissing french girls with wet hair and canadian pinups.  turn your speakers up to 11 and enjoy.  check out: wet hair

#8 Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion
the most accessible AC album yet.  mind-boggling structures mixed with beach boys(esque) harmonies cement the band as the leader in pushing the boundaries of music once again.

#7 Grizzly Bear: Veckamist
staggering gorgeous harmonies and arrangements.  bands should strive to make an album this breath-taking at all times.  check out: while you wait for others

#6 Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca
with talking heads comparisons abound, one must stick only their toe into the hype machine.  however, the flurry of oohs and ahhs will entice and hypnotize.  not an easy listen at first, but one that is rewarding after multiple experiences.  check out: fluorescent half dome

#5 Discovery: LP
an album that digs up postal service's past.  all the right blips, beats, and tempo changes to make a grown man dance.  check out: so insane

#4 Passion Pit: Manners
placing two indie, dance albums in my top 5 is not typical; boy do they make the body move.......and smile.   check out: little secrets

#3 Sunset Rubdown: Dragonslayer
the other (best) half of wolfparade conjures up medieval imagery, sorcery, and lost love.  spencer krug can compose like no other.  in the fifth minute of dragon's lair i long for this album to be 12 tracks longer. check out: idiot heart

#2 The Antlers: Hospice
a dark, dark haunting album that weaves themes of hospitals, sylivia plath, and perfect white noise into a touching narrative on relationships and their core existence.  the least accessible album on this list, but the most rewarding.  new details are revealed on every listen as a new nerve is touched and exposed.  this album is not for the faint of heart nor the casual listener, but it is an exercise in the power music can hold over one's mood and feelings.  check out: kettering 

#1 Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus 
phoenix is a gift.  they are a band that does absolutely everything correct.  front-to-back this album succeeds and delights.  to find someone in the world that does not like Phoenix would be a long, arduous chore. this is a must buy for even the casual music listener.  it will not disappoint.  check out: 1901