Archive for the ‘Best of’ Category

Best of 2014: Albums

So much for having a top 10 this year, I was so close but there were a few duds. This years top 5 is definitely stronger than last years though. Also, this year ends the 6 year streak of female artists having my favorite album. Spoiler alert?

5. Sharon Van Etten- Are We There
Favorite songs: Your Love is Killing Me, Break Me

4. Kimbra- The Golden Echo
Favorite songs: Everlovin' Ya, Love in High Places

3. St. Vincent- St. Vincent
Favorite songs: Huey Newton, Psychopath

2. Spoon- They Want My Soul
Favorite songs: Victory, Ghetto Woman

1. Sondre Lerche- Please
Favorite songs: Legends, At Times We Live Alone

Dishonorable mention:

The New Pornographers- Brill Bruisers. Together was an underrated more subdued album, this is them trying to recreate Twin Cinema and falling short. Also, you have Neko freaking Case in your band, why do you need a female guest vocalist?

Looking forward to in 2015:

The Church, Twin Shadow

Best of 2014: Books

I ended up reading 8 of the 12 books on my reading list for the year, mostly at the beginning of the year and then I kind of gave up and read whatever I wanted.

I just barely met my 25 book goal, mostly because I wasted a month trying to read Infinite Jest.

Here's my favorite books I read this year

  1. The Son- Jo Nesbo
  2. The Power of Habit- Charles Duhigg
  3. Blind Goddess- Anne Holt
  4. Police- Jo Nesbo
  5. Mad World- Lori Majewski & Jonathan Bernstein

Best of 2013: Albums

This was a lazy year for me. I didn't spend as much time as I would've liked listening to new music. I'm honestly surprised I even listened to 10 albums this year. Even so there were some albums I really enjoyed (although not 10 of them). I think 2014 is going to be really good, so I'm hoping for a top 10 again.

5. Neko Case- The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You...
Favorite songs: Ragtime, Local Girl

4. David Bowie- The Next Day
Favorite songs: I'd Rather Be High, Heat

3. The National- Trouble Will Find Me
Favorite songs: Fireproof, Humiliation

2. Janelle Monae- The Electric Lady
Favorite songs: Victory, Ghetto Woman

1. Jessie Ware- Devotion
Favorite songs: Running, Taking In Water

Dishonorable mention:

Tegan & Sara- Heartthrob. I get that they've always leaned towards pop and that this is their full on pop album, but it's just not that great of an album. The pop songs were better when they weren't trying so hard to be pop.

Looking forward to in 2014:

EMA, St. Vincent, Emm Gryner

Best of 2013: Books

After barely making my goal of 35 books last year, I set this year's goal for 20 books. I ended the year at 26 books.

Here are my 5 favorite books I read this year. Again, I only read a few books released in 2013, so not enough for a separate list.

  1. The Absent One- Jussi Adler-Olsen
  2. Top of the Rock- Warren Littlefield
  3. Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn
  4. Faceless Killers- Henning Mankell
  5. Caveat Emptor- Ken Perenyi

Best of 2012: Albums

This was a stinker of a year musically. There were some albums that I really enjoyed but definitely not enough of them. Plus, albums that I was looking forward to turned out to be disappointing (I'm looking at you, Beach House). So here's my pathetic list of albums I actually really liked this year.

5. Kimbra- Vows
Favorite songs: Settle Down, Plain Gold Ring

4. David Byrne & St. Vincent- Love This Giant
Favorite songs: Who, The One Who Broke Your Heart

3. Twin Shadow- Confess
Favorite songs: Run My Heart, The One

2. Divine Fits- A Thing Called Divine Fits
Favorite songs: Baby Get Worse, Shivers

1. Sharon Van Etten- Tramp
Favorite songs: Give Out, Leonard

Dishonorable mention:

2012: seriously, it was that bad of a year.

2011 album that should've made last year's list:

Raphael Saadiq- Stone Rollin'

Looking forward to in 2013:

Atoms for Peace, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Neko Case

Best of 2012: Books

I met my goal of reading 35 books this year...barely. The job thing kind of slowed me down towards the end of the year. My goal for next year will definitely be less ambitious.

Here are my 5 favorite books I read this year. I only read a few books released in 2012, so not enough for a separate list like I did last year. I highly recommend the top 2.

  1. Ready Player One- Ernest Cline (I read and listened to the audiobook that's how much I loved it)
  2. I Want My MTV- Craig Marks
  3. The Keeper of Lost Causes- Jussi Adler-Olsen
  4. We Need to Talk About Kevin- Lionel Shriver
  5. The Help- Kathryn Sockett

Best of 2011: Albums

This year, I listened to more new-to-me music than I probably have in a decade. Between new releases, going through David Bowie’s discography and discovering the awesomeness that is The Church, my ears have been busy. Not to mention starting the year by listening to every song on my mp3 player.

For new releases, this was the year of the grower for me. Out of all the albums I heard, only two I actually liked the first time I listened to them (21 and Kaputt). There were a number of albums I was ready to write off before giving them one final listen and having the songs click for me. I think overall this was a good but not great (or particularly deep) year for music. My top album is hands down the best album of the year for me, although I really love all the albums in my top 5

10. Bright Eyes: The People's Key
Favorite songs: Haile Salassie, Shell Games

9. Okkervil River- I Am Very Far

Favorite songs: The Valley, Show Yourself

8. Emm Gryner- Northern Gospel
Favorite songs: Heartsleeves, Fast Exit

7. Sondre Lerche: Sondre Lerche

Favorite songs: Ricochet, Domino

6. Adele- 21
Favorite songs: Rumour Has It, I'll Be Waiting

5. Destroyer- Kaputt
Favorite songs: A Savage Night at the Opera, Kaputt

4. St. Vincent- Strange Mercy

Favorite songs: Dilettante, Chloe in the Afternoon

3. Beirut- The Rip Tide

Favorite songs: Port of Call, The Rip Tide

2. EMA- Past Life Martyred Saints

Favorite songs: Red Star, Butterfly Knife

1. PJ Harvey- Let England Shake

Favorite songs: The Colour of the Earth, In the Dark Places


Dishonorable mention:

Tune-yards: First, the alternating capitalization is just stupid, second, they're just a worse version of Vampire Weekend with a female singer.

James Blake: Boring with borderline awful singing


2010 album that should've made last year's list:

Twin Shadow- Forget


Looking forward to in 2012:

Isidore, Janelle Monae, Twin Shadow, David Usher

Best of 2011: Books

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an end of year book list, but with getting a Kindle and a library card this year, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I've split the list in 2 parts, one for books released this year and the other for other books I read for the first time this year.

2011 Favorites:
  1. The Art of Fielding- Chad Harbach
  2. Poke the Box- Seth Godin
  3. 1Q84- Haruki Murakami
  4. The Marriage Plot- Jeffery Eugenides
  5. Headhunters- Jo Nesbo

Other Favorites:

  1. The Likeness- Tana French
  2. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest- Stieg Larsson
  3. After Dark- Haruki Murakami
  4. In the Woods- Tana French
  5. Middlemarch- George Eliot

Best of 2011: Things

Time to wrap the year up with a neat little bow. What better way to do that than with lots of lists? Today's list is all the random things I enjoyed this year.

Nail polish: best cheap diversion

Tumblr: best way to keep my sanity

A month in Texas: best trip

Blue Bell Southern Blackberry Cobbler: best ice cream

The Church: best new old band

PJ Harvey's first 2 albums: best albums I should've listened to sooner

"A Month of Sundays": best new favorite song

Homeland: best new show

Misfits: best streaming show

Portal 2: best game to play

Skyrim: best game to watch

Unfocused: best thing I made

Glitter berries: best cross stitch I wish I'd come up with

Top 10 Albums of 2010

Very promising start to the decade: 2010 had a group of solid albums (with the exceptions mentioned later on) and was overall far better than 2009. Lots of first timers this year.

Bit of housekeeping: 2009 only had 9 albums, and I said I'd add a 10th at some point. Well, I got lazy and never got around to adding that last album until now. I'm not going to get into revisionist history and reorder the list to add this album, but if I were to completely redo the list, it definitely wouldn't be 10th. 2009 updated!


10. LCD Soundsystem- This Is Happening: I never know what to say about electronic music, so I'll leave it at that.

Favorite songs: One Touch, I Can Change, Dance Yrself Clean


9. The New Pornographers- Together: I had to listen to this album a lot before deciding that it wasn't Challengers Part II. I'm not really sure where the band is going musically and I feel like they're on the verge of jumping the shark altogether. But this album is pretty solid, with the exception of tracks 4-6. Listen to the album while skipping those songs and tell me it isn't better. Really what I think I want to hear is a Dan Bejar/Neko Case album.

Favorite songs: Daughters of Sorrow, We End Up Together, Up in the Dark


8. Broken Bells- Broken Bells: I was never a fan of The Shins. I thought they were overrated for what they were. So I was surprised by how much I've enjoyed this album. 
Does Danger Mouse make everything better (with the exception of The Black Keys)? Maybe I'll have to go back and listen to The Shins again.

Favorite songs: The High Road, The Mall and Misery, The Ghost Inside


7. David Usher- The Mile End Sessions:  I've always thought that David Usher was at his best doing primarily acoustic stuff. By far his 2 weakest albums are more pop-rock leaning with questionable production choices. The bulk of the songs on The Mile End Sessions come from those albums. Take away the crap production and slow things down and the songs are vastly better. The best songs, "Everyday Things" and "Kill the Lights", both from his last album, are almost unlistenable in their original versions.  The one new song, "Fall to Pieces", is another highlight, and hopefully a glimpse into what his next album will be like.

Favorite songs: Everyday Things, Kill the Lights, Sparkle and Shine


6. Spoon- Transference: I'm surprised by how few lists this album is showing up on. I think that it's not getting the credit it deserves because unlike Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the band isn't doing as many new things (like using horns). But this album is great from top to bottom, just like the last 4 Spoon albums. They never have or will be the flashiest band out there, but no one does minimalist groove driven indie rock better.

Favorite songs: Nobody Gets Me But You, Trouble Comes Running, Out Go the Lights
 

5. Janelle Monae- The ArchAndroid: It takes some serious talent and ambition to pull off as many different genres and styles as Janelle Monae does on this album.You listen to this album and you can hear the showmanship that she is bringing to the table. Old school showmanship that involves not oversinging, using real instruments and quality songwriting.

Favorite songs: Locked Inside, Cold War, Tightrope


4. Emm Gryner- Gem and I: I've been waiting for this album for 3 years. In that time it went from being a "normal" Emm Gryner album to a duets album. I was a little reluctant at first because the pre-duet versions I'd heard were so good, but there was no reason to be. The collaborations are all solid and bring a wide variety of voices into the mix.

Favorite songs: Boy With an Affliction, Top Speed, Troublesome


3. The National- High Violet: At a loss for what to say about this album. It seems darker and almost more ominous than Boxer, which may be why I like it more.

Favorite songs: Conversation 16, Afraid of Everyone, Runaway


2. Beach House- Teen Dream: When I first heard Beach House, their music seemed good but the songs were almost indistinguishable from one other. On Teen Dream, they found variety and lightened the mood enough to keep me from falling asleep while listening. It still sounds like Beach House, just a better version of Beach House. "Norway" was easily my favorite song the first half of the year, partly because it reminds me of a kind of awful Fleetwood Mac song that's a guilty pleasure of mine.

Favorite songs: Norway, Silver Soul, Zebra 


1. Robyn- Body Talk: This year, Body Talk was my go-to album when I couldn't decide what to listen to. Full of well-crafted pop/dance songs from top to bottom, it seemed that I had a different song stuck in my head every day. If the general listening public had any sense, this album would be a massive hit. Even the songs from the 2 mini albums that didn't make it to the full length are some of my favorites from this year. The acoustic versions of "Hang With Me" and "Indestructible" prove once again that a well written pop song will still sound great even when it's stripped down.

Favorite songs: Indestructible, U Should Know Better, None of Dem


Dishonorable Mention:

The Black Keys- Brothers: Of course they've become more popular than they've ever been after releasing one of their worst albums. It's all downhill from here.

Vampire Weekend and any company using their music in their commercials: DIE

Looking Forward to in 2011: Adele (loving the first single), John Vanderslice, PJ Harvey, Sondre Lerche

Best of the Decade: Full List

Just as a final look...my complete best of the decade list all in one place.

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  1. Radiohead- In Rainbows (2007)
  2. Spoon- Gimme Fiction (2005)
  3. Radiohead- Hail to the Thief (2003)
  4. Neko Case- Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006)
  5. The National- Alligator (2005)
  6. Emm Gryner- Goddess (2009)
  7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Fever To Tell (2003)
  8. The New Pornographers- Mass Romantic (2000)
  9. John Vanderslice- Time Travel is Lonely (2001)
  10. The Good Life- Black Out (2002)
  11. The New Pornographers- Twin Cinema (2005)
  12. Neko Case- Middle Cyclone (2009)
  13. Spoon- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
  14. Thom Yorke- The Eraser (2006)
  15. Nikka Costa- Pebble to a Pearl (2008)
  16. Adele- 19 (2008)
  17. The Good Life- Help Wanted Nights (2007)
  18. Tegan and Sara- The Con (2007)
  19. PJ Harvey- Uh Huh Her (2004)
  20. Radiohead- Amnesiac (2001)
  21. Imperial Teen- On (2002)
  22. Death Cab For Cutie- The Photo Album (2001)
  23. David Usher- If God Had Curves (2005)
  24. PJ Harvey- Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (2000)
  25. Interpol- Turn On the Bright Lights (2002)
  26. Spoon- Kill the Moonlight (2002)
  27. Radiohead- Kid A (2000)
  28. Duffy- Rockferry (2008)
  29. Those Peabodys- Those Peabodys (2001)
  30. Spoon- Girls Can Tell (2001)
  31. Neko Case- Black Listed (2002)
  32. Bright Eyes- Fevers and Mirrors (2000)
  33. Sondre Lerche and the Faces Down- Phantom Punch (2007)
  34. Death Cab For Cutie- We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes (2000)
  35. Cursive- Domestica (2000)
  36. The Long Winters- The Worst You Can Do is Harm (2002)
  37. Kings of Leon- Aha Shake Heartbreak (2005)
  38. Sondre Lerche- Heartbeat Radio (2009)
  39. John Vanderslice- Emerald City (2007)
  40. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- It's Blitz! (2009)
  41. The Faint- Danse Macabre (2001)
  42. St. Vincent- Actor (2009)
  43. Cursive- Happy Hollow (2006)
  44. Emm Gryner- Songs of Love and Death (2005)
  45. Tegan and Sara- So Jealous (2004)
  46. Grizzly Bear- Veckatimest (2009)
  47. The National- Boxer (2007)
  48. David Usher- Hallucinations (2003)
  49. Neko Case and Her Boyfriends- Furnace Room Lullaby (2000)
  50. Emm Gryner- Girl Versions (2001)
  51. Bright Eyes- Lifted, or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (2002)
  52. John Vanderslice- Pixel Revolt (2005)
  53. Paddy Casey- Addicted to Company Pt. 1 (2008)
  54. Sondre Lerche- Faces Down (2002)
  55. Franz Ferdinand--Franz Ferdinand (2004)
  56. Those Peabodys- Unite Tonight (2003)
  57. The Brand New Heavies- Get Used To It (2006)
  58. PJ Harvey- White Chalk (2007)
  59. Emm Gryner- Asianblue (2002)
  60. Sondre Lerche- Two Way Monologue (2004)
  61. Kings of Leon- Youth and Young Manhood (2003)
  62. Gnarls Barkley- St. Elsewhere (2006)
  63. Maxwell- BLACKsummers'night (2009)
  64. Sonic Youth- Murray Street (2002)
  65. Cursive- The Ugly Organ (2003)
  66. Nikka Costa- Can'tneverdidnothin' (2005)
  67. Placebo- Sleeping With Ghosts (2003)
  68. Queens of the Stone Age- Songs for the Deaf (2002)
  69. Sondre Lerche and the Faces Down Quartet- Duper Sessions (2006)
  70. Ed Harcourt- Here Be Monsters (2000)
  71. John Vanderslice- Romanian Names (2009)
  72. Cursive- Mama, I'm Swollen (2009)
  73. The Sheila Divine- Where Have My Countrymen Gone (2001)
  74. Placebo- Meds (2006)
  75. The Black Keys- Rubber Factory (2004)

Best of the Decade: Part 3

It's the final countdown!


25. Turn On the Bright Lights--Interpol [2002]

Interpol is one of the most difficult bands for me to judge. I always like their music more than I think I do, so they're prone to be over or underrated. But I think it's safe to say this is their best album.

Highlights: Obstacle 2, Say Hello to the Angels, Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down

24. Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea--PJ Harvey [2000]


PJ Harvey's sleekest, most produced album showed another side of the singer and the versatility of her talent.

Highlights: We Float, Kamikaze, The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore

23. If God Had Curves--David Usher [2005]


David Usher has had the daunting task this decade of trying to recapture the magic of a superb debut album. If God Had Curves is the closest he's come so far. More acoustic than his other albums, this album captures some of the raw qualities of Little Songs.

Highlights: Souring, See You Fall, Long Goodbye

22. The Photo Album--Death Cab For Cutie [2001]


I didn't know it at the time, but this was the beginning of the end of Death Cab as a quality band. Back in 2001 though, I loved this album because of it's wintry feel and everyday-ness of songs.

Highlights: Blacking Out the Friction, Debate Exposes Doubt, I Was a Kaleidoscope

21. On--Imperial Teen [2002]


A very solid indie pop album full of catchy songs and boy-girl vocals. A favorite of mine during the summer.

Highlights: Our Time, Ivanka, Baby

20. Amnesiac--Radiohead [2001]


Kid B for the win! That's right, I put Amnesiac higher than Kid A. I am a Radiohead blasphemer. In putting this list together, I realized that I actually like Amnesiac more than Kid A. Obviously they are very similar in sound, and while Kid A has some amazing songs, as a whole I enjoy Amnesiac more.

Highlights: Dollars & Cents, Pyramid Song, Knives Out

19. Uh Huh Her--PJ Harvey [2004]


Opposite in many ways from her previous album, Uh Huh Her is much more raw. I enjoy the rockier, edgier tone that the songs take on the album.

Highlights: Shame, Cat on the Wall, The Darker Days of Me & Him

18. The Con--Tegan and Sara [2007]


Diverse in sound, yet cohesive, The Con is full of catchy indie pop songs that easily get stuck in my head.

Highlights: Knife Going In, The Con, Back in Your Head

17. Help Wanted Nights--The Good Life [2007]


Storytelling is Tim Kasher's greatest ability, and on this album he weaves together the lives of bar patrons who I imagine live in a town where everyone has a story to tell.

Highlights: A Little Bit More, Heartbroke, Your Share of Men

16. 19--Adele [2008]


The biggest omission from my 2008 list (rendering it obsolete), I spent most of 2009 listening to this album on repeat. The contemporary soul/jazz sound of the album is well executed and Adele's voice is mature beyond her years .

Highlights: Cold Shoulder, Melt My Heart to Stone, Best for Last

15. Pebble to a Pearl--Nikka Costa [2008]


One of those albums with great variety and depth. What I enjoyed most about this album were the variety of styles throughout. You get 70s funk, acid jazz, 90s R&B, blues, 60s soul...a little bit of everything, and it's all done well.

Highlights: Keep Wanting More, Pebble to a Pearl, Keep Pushin'

14. The Eraser--Thom Yorke [2006]


Thom Yorke is a treasure.

Highlights: The Clock, Harrowdown Hill, And It Rained All Night

13. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga--Spoon [2007]


What I love about this album is that it mixes "classic" sounding Spoon songs with songs that incorporate elements from soul and R&B. You can hear where the band is going but you also hear where they've been.

Highlights: Eddie's Ragga, Black Like Me, You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb

12. Middle Cyclone--Neko Case [2009]


Repeating what I said on my 2009 list...Another high quality album, still an amazing voice, hard to pick favorite songs. There's not much left to say.

Highlights: Magpie to the Morning, This Tornado Loves You, Vengeance is Sleeping

11. Twin Cinema--The New Pornographers [2005]


Polishing their sound from previous albums, Twin Cinema is The New Pornographers at their best. Excellent contributions from all the players. Well crafted quirky pop songs at their finest.

Highlights: Jackie, Dressed in Cobras; Falling Through Your Clothes, Streets of Fire

10. Black Out--The Good Life [2002]


Black Out is the story of someone who is dealing with a failed relationship and not coping with it particularly well. The relationship is the catalyst but not the whole story. The emotions throughout the album are complex and never cease to feel authentic.  As Bright Eyes sings in "Nothing Gets Crossed Out", "Tim I heard your album and it's better than good."

Highlights: Drinking With the Girls, I am an Island, The Beaten Path

09. Time Travel is Lonely--John Vanderslice [2001]


For me, this is the classic JV album. It has most of my favorite songs on it, and really set the tone for his following albums. While his sound evolved over the rest of the decade, it's great songs like "Keep the Dream Alive" and "You Were My Fiji" that provided the foundation for what was to come.

Highlights: My Old Flame, Time Travel is Lonely, You Were My Fiji

08. Mass Romantic--The New Pornographers [2000]


The upbeat poppiness of this album is infectious from the moment it starts. You feel as though you're having as much fun listening to it as the band had while recording it. And while maybe not the most polished album, the potential for great things was clearly there.

Highlights: Jackie, Mass Romantic, The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism

07. Fever To Tell--Yeah Yeah Yeahs [2003]


The right mix of new wave and punk, the attitude of this album is what makes it go.

Highlights: Y Control, Black Tongue, Maps

06. Goddess--Emm Gryner [2009]


A near perfect album that captures winter as it was intended to. Of all the albums she released though the decade, Goddess feels the most natural. I think Goddess is the beginning of a wonderful new phase of Emm Gryner's career and I'm excited to hear what comes next.

Highlights: Killing Spree, Match, Die Evergreen

05. Alligator--The National [2005]


More approachable than Boxer, Alligator has a mix of cockiness and insecurity that makes it instantly engaging. Yet despite that, I really don't know what any of it is actually about.

Highlights: Karen, All the Wine, Baby We'll Be Fine

04. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood--Neko Case [2006]


Fox Confessor has a 40s/50s country (place not music) feel to it, which makes it stand out from her other albums. "Maybe Sparrow" has become one of my all time favorite songs, and solidified my opinion of Neko Case as one of the best voices and talents of the decade.  

Highlights: Maybe Sparrow, That Teenage Feeling, The Needle Has Landed

03. Hail to the Thief--Radiohead [2003]


Most people's least favorite Radiohead album of the decade, is one of my favorites. While not a game changer like Kid A, Hail to the Thief takes that same sound and gives it more of an edge while making it less ominous.  

Highlights: Myxamatosis, A Wolf at the Door, A Punchup at a Wedding

02. Gimme Fiction--Spoon [2005]


Spoon is one of my favorite bands, yet I've found it very difficult to pick a favorite album of theirs. However, the album that I seem to come back to more than the others is Gimme Fiction. Probably because some of my favorite Spoon songs are on this album. The simple bassline groove of "I Turn My Camera On" and the acoustic driven "I Summon You" highlight one of Spoon's most diverse albums.

Highlights: I Summon You, The Delicate Place, I Turn My Camera On

01. In Rainbows--Radiohead [2007]


Before listening to this album I never knew there were albums that made other albums sound almost unlistenable in comparison. The layers of sound create such richness and fullness that when I'd listen to something else it would sound thin and bare. Like the difference between a fully furnished room and an empty one. Luckily this experience was only temporary, since that would pretty much ruin music for me. The best example of this is "Nude", easily my favorite on the album and an amazingly gorgeous song. The understated nature of the album along with the sense of the band's cohesiveness make this their best album of the decade.

Highlights: Nude, 15 Step, House of Cards


Happy New Year!

Best of the Decade: Part 2

Moving along to the next group....


50. Girl Versions--Emm Gryner [2001]
Highlights: Straight To You, For What Reason

49. Furnace Room Lullaby--Neko Case and Her Boyfriends [2000]

Highlights: Whip the Blankets, Furnace Room Lullaby

48. Hallucinations--David Usher [2003]

Highlights: In This Light, Hallucinations

47. Boxer--The National [2007]

Highlights: Squalor Victoria, Racing Like a Pro

46. Veckatimest--Grizzly Bear [2009]

Highlights: Ready, Able; Cheerleader

45. So Jealous--Tegan and Sara [2004]

Highlights: I Won't Be Left, Walking With a Ghost

44. Songs of Love and Death--Emm Gryner [2005]

Highlights: Running Back, Dearg Doom

43. Happy Hollow--Cursive [2006]

Highlights: Hymns for the Heathen, Big Bang

42. Actor--St. Vincent [2009]

Highlights: The Bed, Save Me From What I Want

41. Danse Macabre--The Faint [2001]

Highlights: The Conductor, Glass Danse

40. It's Blitz--Yeah Yeah Yeahs [2009]

Highlights: Zero, Dragon Queen

39. Emerald City--John Vanderslice [2007]

Highlights: White Dove, The Parade

38. Heartbeat Radio--Sondre Lerche [2009]

Highlights: Easy to Persuade, If Only

37. Aha Shake Heartbreak--Kings of Leon [2005]

Highlights: Four Kicks, Day Old Blues

36. The Worst You Can Do Is Harm--The Long Winters [2002]

Highlights: Give Me a Moment, Medicine Cabinet Pirate

35. Domestica--Cursive [2000]

Highlights: Making Friends and Acquaintances, The Radiator Hums

34. We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes--Death Cab for Cutie [2000]

Highlights: For What Reason, Scientist Studies

33. Phantom Punch--Sondre Lerche and the Faces Down [2007]

Highlights: She's Fantastic; Airport, Taxi, Reception

32. Fevers and Mirrors--Bright Eyes [2000]

Highlights: Arienette; Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh

31. Black Listed--Neko Case [2002]

Highlights: Deep Red Bells, Things That Scare Me

30. Girls Can Tell--Spoon [2001]

Highlights: Anything You Want, The Fitted Shirt

29. Those Peabodys--Those Peabodys [2001]

Highlights: Hazzard Co., Party at My House

28.
Rockferry--Duffy [2008]
Highlights: Hanging On Too Long, Rockferry

27. Kid A--Radiohead [2000]

Highlights: How To Disappear Completely, Optimistic

26. Kill The Moonlight--Spoon [2002]

Highlights: Paper Tiger, The Way We Get By

Tomorrow (hopefully *crosses fingers*)...the best of the best!

Best of the Decade: Part 1

After a year long trek through the decade in music, it's finally time to post the results. I originally intended for this to be a top 50 list but decided that wasn't enough, and 100 was too many, so 75 it is!

I did use some very loose criteria to create the list, but unlike some other best of the decade lists, there were no limits on the number of albums an artist/band could have. Cause that's stupid, and kinda defeats the purpose of the list. Needless to say, there will be multiples. Suck it up.

And on to the show!

75. Rubber Factory--The Black Keys [2004]
Highlights: Stack Shot Billy, When the Lights Go Out

74. Meds--Placebo [2006]

Highlights: Broken Promise, Follow the Cops Back Home

73. Where Have My Countrymen Gone--The Sheila Divine [2001]

Highlights: Wanting is Wasted, Some Kind of Home

72. Mama, I'm Swollen--Cursive [2009]

Highlights: Cliquot, The Penalty

71. Romanian Names--John Vanderslice [2009]

Highlights: Romanian Names, Carina Constellation

70. Here Be Monsters--Ed Harcourt [2000]

Highlights: Something In My Eye, Wind Through the Trees

69. Duper Sessions--Sondre Lerche and the Faces Down Quartet [2006]

Highlights: (I Wanna) Call It Love, The Curse of Being in Love

68. Songs for the Deaf--Queens of the Stone Age [2002]

Highlights: No One Knows, Gonna Leave You

67. Sleeping With Ghosts--Placebo [2003]

Highlights: Special Needs, Sleeping With Ghosts

66. Can'tneverdidnothin'--Nikka Costa [2005]

Highlights: Swing It Around, On & On

65. The Ugly Organ--Cursive [2003]

Highlights: A Gentlemen Caller, Staying Alive

64. Murray Street--Sonic Youth [2002]

Highlights: The Empty Page, Plastic Sun

63. BLACKsummers'night--Maxwell [2009]
Highlights: Cold, Love You

62. St. Elsewhere--Gnarls Barkley [2006]

Highlights: Go-Go Gadget Gospel, Feng Shui

61. Youth and Young Manhood--Kings of Leon [2003]

Highlights: California Waiting, Wasted Time

60. Two Way Monologue--Sondre Lerche [2004]

Highlights: Track You Down, Two Way Monologue

59. Asianblue--Emm Gryner [2003]

Highlights: Symphonic, Young Rebel

58. White Chalk--PJ Harvey [2007]

Highlights: The Piano, Silence

57. Get Used To It--The Brand New Heavies [2006]

Highlights: Right On, I Just Realized

56. Unite Tonight--Those Peabodys [2003]

Highlights: Denim and Diamonds Forever; River Deep, Mountain High

55. Franz Ferdinand--Franz Ferdinand [2004]

Highlights: Michael, Cheating on You

54. Faces Down--Sondre Lerche [2002]

Highlights: Sleep on Needles, No One's Gonna Come

53. Addicted to Company Pt. 1--Paddy Casey [2008]

Highlights: Refugee, U'll Get By

52. Pixel Revolt--John Vanderslice [2005]

Highlights: Radiant With Terror, Continuation

51. Lifted, or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground--Bright Eyes [2002]

Highlights: Nothing Gets Crossed Out, You Will? You? Will. You? Will. You? Will.


Tomorrow...the next 25!

Best of the Decade: Songs

Time to look back on some of my favorite songs of the decade. I think trying to rank songs is a hundred times more difficult than albums, so I've put them in appropriate groups. To keep things from getting out of control, no more than 2 songs from a single album made the list.

MTV Division

"B.O.B."- Outkast (2000)
"Cry Me a River"- Justin Timberlake (2002)
"99 Problems"- Jay-Z (2003)
"My Love"- Justin Timberlake (2006)
"S.O.S."- Rihanna (2006)
"Umbrella"- Rihanna (2007)

Even Better Than the Real Thing Division (Covers)

"For What Reason"- Emm Gryner (2001)
"Straight to You"- Emm Gryner (2001)
"Runnin' Out of Fools"- Neko Case (2002)
"Number of the Beast"- Zwan (2002)
"Mad World"- Gary Jules (2003)
"River Deep, Mountain High"- Those Peabodys (2003)
"Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter"- Nikka Costa (2005)
"Running Back"- Emm Gryner (2005)
"Dearg Doom"- Emm Gryner (2005)
"He Hit Me"- Grizzly Bear (2007)
"Running Up That Hill"- Placebo (2007)
"Let My Love Open the Door"- Sondre Lerche (2007)
"Too Little Too Late"- Department of Eagles (2008)

One Trick Pony Division (Quality songs on otherwise sub-par albums)

"Smile"- Remy Zero (2001)
"Amitriptyline"- John Vanderslice (2002)
"Notes In His Pockets"- The Good Life (2004)
"Myriad Harbour"- The New Pornographers (2007)
"Arizona"- Kings of Leon (2007)
"All You Ever Wanted"- The Black Keys (2008)
"Neighbors"- Gnarls Barkley (2008)
"A Little Better"- Gnarls Barkley (2008)
"Permanent Scar"- O+S (2009)


The Rest of the Best

"How to Disappear Completely"- Radiohead (2000)
"Half Sorry"- Emm Gryner (2000)
"For What Reason"- Death Cab for Cutie (2000)
"Whip the Blankets"- Neko Case (2000)
"Haligh, Haligh, a Lie, Haligh"- Bright Eyes (2000)
"Jackie"- The New Pornographers (2000)
"We Float"- PJ Harvey (2000)

"You Were My Fiji"- John Vanderslice (2001)
"My Old Flame"- John Vanderslice (2001)
"Anything You Want"- Spoon (2001)
"The Fitted Shirt"- Spoon (2001)
"Blacking Out the Friction"- Death Cab for Cutie (2001)
"Party At My House"- Those Peabodys (2001)
"Hazzard Co."- Those Peabodys (2001)
"Glass Danse"- The Faint (2001)

"I Am An Island"- The Good Life (2002)
"Paper Tiger"- Spoon (2002)
"You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will."- Bright Eyes (2002)
"Lover I Don't Have to Love"- Bright Eyes (2002)
"Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down"- Interpol (2002)
"Harder Better Faster Stronger"- Daft Punk (2002)
"Sleep On Needles"- Sondre Lerche (2002)
"No One's Gonna Come- Sondre Lerche (2002)
"Our Time"- Imperial Teen (2002)

"Special Needs"- Placebo (2003)
"Myxamatosis"- Radiohead (2003)
"A Punchup At A Wedding"- Radiohead (2003)
"In This Light"- David Usher (2003)
"Maps"- Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2003)
"Y Control"- Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2003)

"White Plains"- John Vanderslice (2004)
"Walking With a Ghost"- Tegan and Sara (2004)
"I Won't Be Left"- Tegan and Sara (2004)
"Cat on the Wall"- PJ Harvey (2004)
"Shame"- PJ Harvey (2004)

"Radiant With Terror"- John Vanderslice (2005)
"Jackie, Dressed in Cobras"- The New Pornographers (2005)
"Falling Through Your Clothes"- The New Pornographers (2005)
"All the Wine"- The National (2005)
"Karen"- The National (2005)
"Swing it Around"- Nikka Costa (2005)
"Four Kicks"- Kings of Leon (2005)
"Souring"- David Usher (2005)
"See You Fall"- David Usher (2005)
"I Summon You"- Spoon (2005)
"I Turn My Camera On"- Spoon (2005)

"Maybe Sparrow"- Neko Case (2006)
"That Teenage Feeling"- Neko Case (2006)
"Queen of the Boys"- Emm Gryner (2006)
"(I Wanna) Call It Love"- Sondre Lerche (2006)
"Hymns for the Heathen"- Cursive (2006)
"The Clock"- Thom Yorke (2006)
"Harrowdown Hill"- Thom Yorke (2006)
"Crazy"- Gnarls Barkley (2006)
"Feng Shui"- Gnarls Barkley (2006)

"Nude"- Radiohead (2007)
"The Piano"- PJ Harvey (2007)
"The Penalty"- Beirut (2007)
"A Little Bit More"- The Good Life (2007)
'Your Share of Men"- The Good Life (2007)
"Eddie's Ragga"- Spoon (2007)
"Now, Now"- St. Vincent (2007)
"Knife Going In"- Tegan and Sara (2007)
"Konichiwa Bitches"- Robyn (2007)
"Phantom Punch"- Sondre Lerche (2007)
"She's Fantastic"- Sondre Lerche (2007)

"Melt My Heart to Stone"- Adele (2008)
"Cold Shoulder"- Adele (2008)
"Bangers & Mash"- Radiohead (2008)
"Hanging On Too Long"- Duffy (2008)
"Rockferry"- Duffy (2008)
"Keep Pushin"- Nikka Costa (2008)

"Killing Spree"- Emm Gryner (2009)
"Match"- Emm Gryner (2009)
"Zero"- Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2009)
"Ready, Able"- Grizzly Bear (2009)
"Magpie to the Morning"- Neko Case (2009)
"This Tornado Loves You"- Neko Case (2009)
"Donkeys"- Cursive (2009)
"Save Me From What I Want"- St. Vincent (2009)
"Easy to Persuade"- Sondre Lerche (2009)


Tomorrow....albums!

Best of the Decade: Concerts

To get this best of the decade party started, here's a list of some of my favorite shows. I have crazy amounts of crap from the early part of the decade, when I went to the most shows. Although most of it is stored away, if possible, I've tried to include "memorabilia" from the shows.

In chronological order...

beck_ticket.jpg
Beck
Austin Music Hall...Austin, TX...January 25, 2000

Second show of the decade for me, this was the first show of Beck's tour for Midnite Vultures. This show is mostly memorable because it's where I met one of my best friends who was with me at almost every other show on this list, and many many others that aren't.

.........................

Death Cab for Cutie

Emo's...Austin, TX...February 13, 2001

First time seeing Death Cab, so that was super exciting at the time. Even though it was in February, it was crazy hot during the show. The band looked like they were going to pass out, but they still put on a great show.

dcfc-feb01.jpg

.........................

The New Pornographers 
La Zona Rosa...Austin, TX...March 2001 (SXSW)

First time at SXSW, had heard and liked one New Pornographers song, which was enough to get me to the showcase they were performing at. The schedule at SXSW is super tight, you get 30 mins and that's it. The band was pushing their time but Neko Case begged to do one last song, which happened to be with Ray Davies (who was the keynote speaker that year). They performed the Kinks' "Starstruck", which had never been performed live before. Shame I'd never heard the song.

newp-sxsw.jpg
The setlist is Mass Romantic minus "Jackie", omitted because Dan Bejar wasn't there.

.........................

John Vanderslice
Emo's...Austin, TX...September 5, 2001

First show I was ever on the guest list for, this was the first of many many JV shows. Found out later that this was his first tour, which makes it even more special. Also, it's probably the only time I ever heard "Everything Changed", one of my favorite JV songs.

jv-sep01.jpg

.........................

The Faint
Emo's...Austin, TX...June 24, 2001

Interrupted my oh-so-exciting summer vacation to visit Austin for this show. Awesome awesome show, lots of fun and dancing. Turned my aforementioned friend into a Faint fan. This was the beginning of really feeling at home in Austin.

.........................

John Vanderslice
Stubbs...Austin, TX...February 24, 2002

Second time seeing JV. Britt Daniel opened, JV was awesome and before and after the show we ended up chatting with him and his band.

jv-feb02.jpg

.........................

Death Cab for Cutie & The Dismemberment Plan
(Death & Dismemberment Tour)

Emo's...Austin, TX...March 5, 2002

One of my most anticipated shows, it lived up to the expectations. It was one of those perfect shows with 2 bands I really liked on the bill. It was the first time I saw The Dismemberment Plan. Sadly, I only got to see them one more time before they broke up.

Death Cab's Setlist:
dcfc-dndtour.jpg

.........................

Spoon

Austin City Limits Taping...Austin, TX...December 3, 2002

Even though this was a taping, the band played a normal set and were really on fire that night. Somewhere I have a crappy tape of the show when it aired (ahh, the days before YouTube). I can be seen in a few of the crowd shots. 

Ticket:
spoon_acl_ticket.jpg

........................

The Good Life

The Glass House...Pomona, CA...October 28, 2007

Radiohead
Hollywood Bowl...Hollywood...August 24, 2008

Emm Gryner
Hotel Cafe...Hollywood...November 18, 2008



Tomorrow....favorite tunes!

Top 9 Albums of 2009

Starting today there's going to be a week of music related posts, starting with my favorite albums of the year. It's earlier than usual to make time for all the other fun stuff in the days to come.

2009 was better than 2008, but not as good as 2007. I think the year was really front-loaded. Hardly anything came out after June, making for a pretty sad second half of the year. Maybe bands wanted to be nice and give people plenty of free time to work on their best of the decade lists:) I opted for a top 9 instead of 10 because I really couldn't come up with a worthy 10th album I wouldn't regret 2 months later. Maybe down the road I'll add a 10th album. Edit: 10th album added!


10. Maxwell- BLACKsummers'night: This album has a stupid title, but that's the worst thing about it.  Well executed contemporary soul music, back on par with his debut album.

Favorite songs: Cold, Love You

9. PJ Harvey & John Parish- A Man A Woman Walked By: This album is almost like a collection of outtakes from PJ Harvey's solo albums, but you do get to hear PJ Harvey at her weirdest (this decade at least), so that's something.

Favorite songs: Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen, Black Hearted Love

8. Cursive- Mama, I'm Swollen: I enjoy this album, but I can't help feeling slightly disappointed with it because it feels like a step backward (sound wise) for the band. That being said, there are some very good songs, I was just hoping for something more.

Favorite songs: Donkeys, From the Hips

7. John Vanderslice- Romanian Names: I'm running out of things to say about JV. I like the direction the music is taking. That's all I got.

Favorite songs: Romanian Names, Carina Constellation

6. Grizzly Bear- Veckimest: This album is so rich and full with sound that it makes other albums sound bare (bear?) in comparison. The only other album I can think of that compares is In Rainbows. I personally prefer the Ed Droste songs on the album, particularly "Ready, Able", one of my favorite songs of the year.

Favorite songs: Ready Able, Cheerleader

5. St. Vincent- Actor: After the first few listens, I liked the album but I thought it might be too whimsical and weird for me to listen to on a regular basis. I was wrong. The more I listen, the less weird it got (and less whimsical). In some ways, St. Vincent reminds me of a female John Vanderslice, but mostly I just like hearing someone with a girly voice sing about things that are a bit twisted and not so "girly".

Favorite songs:
The Bed, Save Me From What I Want

4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- It's Blitz: I love well done throwback-type music. You can hear the Siouxsie Sioux and Terry Nunn influences in Karen O's singing, but she always maintains her own unique voice (unlike many others). Mostly it reminds me of what female singers used to sound like before Lilith Fair turned everyone into Michelle Fucking Branch. 

Favorite songs: Zero, Dragon Queen

3. Sondre Lerche- Heartbeat Radio: Where Phantom Punch was instantly enjoyable, this one took a few listens to really get into. But well done pop songs will always prevail. I really enjoy the 70s/80s pop feel going on (think Squeeze).

Favorite songs: Easy to Persaude, If Only

2. Neko Case- Middle Cyclone: Another high quality album, still an amazing voice, hard to pick favorite songs. There's not much left to say.

Favorite songs: Magpie to the Morning, This Tornado Loves You

1. Emm Gryner- Goddess: One of the few albums I can listen to start to finish without even considering skipping a song, it made an easy choice for number one. The three song swing of "Skating Rink", "Match", and "Killing Spree", is hands down the best I've heard in a long time. The slow build of "Killing Spree" is just amazing, and has made it probably my favorite song of the year. For an album that was completely unexpected (this isn't the album I've been waiting for the last 2 years), it was certainly a welcome surprise. 

Favorite songs: Killing Spree, Match 


Dishonorable Mention:

Placebo- Battle for the Sun: This album is just bad. There's not one even mildly decent song. They have screwed the pooch.

Girls- Album: If I wanted to listen to Elvis Costello, I'd listen to Elvis Costello.


Looking Forward to in 2010: Emm Gryner (finally!), David Usher, Spoon, The National


Tomorrow, it's time to get the decade party started!

Top 5 albums of 2008

As expected, 2008 wasn't a great year for music. 2007 was just the right mix of established and new acts releasing good music, and 08 was just all the leftovers. So unlike 07 when I had too many albums to choose from, this time I had too few, and even fewer legitimate options. I found many of the albums to be flawed and others just ok. almost all of the new stuff I heard I didn't find all that interesting. Too much bad singing and bad 80s techno ripoffs. But there were some bright spots, and hopefully there will be a whole lot more in 09. 

5. Kings of Leon- Only By the Night: when I heard that Kings of Leon was going to release an album so soon after the last one, I was worried that it wasn't going to be very good. Some bands can release albums in quick succession and keep the quality at a high level, and others can't. I think this album shows some growth from Because of the TImes, but there aren't any really great songs on it like with the previous album (see: "Arizona"). It's more of a consistent sounding record- nothing is great but nothing is bad. I think they're easily the best mainstream American band right now, but Americans are too stupid to realize it.

Favorite Songs: 17, Sex on Fire, Closer

4. Beck- Modern Guilt: better than The Information and Guero, this album is a nice mix of Beck's "crazy" stuff and more mellow "sad bastard" stuff that I have ignored. It feels more mature without losing what makes Beck so interesting. I'll be interested to see where he goes after this.

Favorite Songs: Youthless, Modern Guilt, Gamma Ray

3. Duffy- Rockferry: after hearing a few of the songs from this album, I couldn't quite put my finger on the appropriate comparison until I saw Duffy compared to Dusty Springfield, then it was like a lightbulb went off. The 60s sounds on the album are modernized nicely and work well with Duffy's voice. And it's always nice to see a mainstream album where the hit single isn't the best song on the album.

Favorite Songs: Rockferry, Stepping Stone, Hanging on Too Long


2. Paddy Casey- Addicted to Company Pt. 1: I would call this the surprise album of the year because I really had no idea it was coming out. I was a big fan of Paddy Casey's first album, but when his second album was never released in the US, I kinda forgot about him. The label marketed this album as his debut for some reason, and the first single was actually a song from his real debut album. Label idiocy aside, this album is really good in a quiet kind of way. There aren't any songs that really jump out and grab you instantly, but all the songs are good, and the subtle mix of genres is interesting.

Favorite Songs: Refugee, U'll Get By, City

1b. Nikka Costa- Pebble to a Pearl: easily my most played album of the year, it's one of those albums where your favorite songs change every time you listen to it. What I enjoyed most about this album were the variety of styles throughout. You get 70s funk, acid jazz, 90s r&b, blues, 60s soul...a little bit of everything, and it's all done well. It feels experimental in comparison to her older albums, but at the same time it's very comfortable and natural. An easy pick for #1.

Favorite Songs
: Keep Pushin, Pebble to a Pearl, Keep Wanting More

1a. Radiohead- In Rainbows: last year I said that if 08 sucked, In Rainbows would be on my top 10 5 list. And since it's far better than anything that came out this year, it gets to be #1. I'd also like to note that hearing In Rainbows live has basically ruined almost every other Radiohead album for me. Way to go guys.

Favorite Songs: Nude, House of Cards, Videotape


Partially Honorable Mention:

Gnarls Barkley- The Odd Couple: while the album as a whole is only so-so, "Neighbors", "A Little Better", and "Who's Gonna Save My Soul", are all very very good songs that I enjoyed a lot.

Dishonorable Mention:

David Usher- Wake Up and Say Goodbye: I have to admit, I haven't actually heard the full album, but from what I have heard, it's Morning Orbit 2.0, and since Morning Orbit is hands down his weakest album, this doesn't bode well.

Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend: go away, please.

Looking forward to in 2009: Emm Gryner x2, Neko Case, Cursive, David Usher (acoustic album), John Vanderslice, PJ Harvey

Top 10 Albums of 2007

This was the best year for music in a long time. I can't remember the last time I really had to think about what I would put in my top 10 and what I'd leave out. Established acts released albums that were actually good (for the most part), and I got into a lot of new bands for the first time in a while. Sadly, I don't expect 2008 to be nearly as good.

On to the list...

10. David Usher- Strange Birds: This album mixes the low-key feel of If God Had Curves with the subtle electronic touches of Hallucinations, basically taking the best parts from each. It makes for a solid album, although it doesn't have the high points of either one.

Favorite Songs: Science, Ugly is Beautiful

9. PJ Harvey- White Chalk: This is a challenging album for me as a PJ fan because I enjoyed Uh Huh Her so much. this album is so quiet and delicate in comparison. I didn't know what to make of it. plus it's really bad car music. After I took the time to really listen to it and get comfortable with PJ singing in a higher register, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. Although I still hope she goes back to the guitars on her next album.

Favorite Songs:  Dear Darkness, The Devil

8. Beirut- The Flying Club Cup: One of the new bands I "discovered" thanks to some friends. I instantly took to the old-world Frenchie style songs that make up this album because the sounds were so different from anything else I'd heard. and Zach Condon's voice fits in perfectly with it all.

Favorite Songs:  The Penalty, Cliquot

7. Silverchair- Young Modern: This is the part of the list where I ruin my "indie coolness" and pick an album by a band that everyone's actually heard of. I've always thought Silverchair had the potential to make good albums once they started to find their own sound. The album is diverse, interesting and unexpected. unexpected in a "this is Silverchair?" and "I think I kinda like this song" kind of way. But it is a good mainstream sounding album that is better than most mainstream modern rock bs you hear today.

Favorite Songs:  Mind Reader, Those Thieving Birds (Part 1)/Strange Behaviour/Those Thieving Birds (Part 2) -yes that is 1 song

6.
John Vanderslice- Emerald City: While I don't think this album is as good as Pixel Revolt, it still has some great songs on it and almost everything you love about JV, the exception being songs about bunnies, corrupt cops, or something equally as random.

Favorite Songs:  White Dove, The Parade

5. Sondre Lerche- Phantom Punch: This album was my hands down best of the year until about July and then it got run over by 4 other albums. Of all the albums this year, this was the one I was most anxious for, especially after hearing the title track. I wanted to hear what a rockier Sondre Lerche album sounded like, and it didn't disappoint. While there are more electric than acoustic guitars on this album compared to his others, all the hooky indie-pop songs are still there, getting stuck in your head.

Favorite Songs:  Phantom Punch, Airport Taxi Reception

4. Tegan and Sara- The Con: Filling the spot desgnated for female Candian artists this year (usually occupied by Emm Gryner), is the album with the most earworms. as i write this, "The Con" is playing in my head, which has been par for the course with this album. So many great songs, so many things to get stuck in your head. such diversity in the sound but still making a cohesive album. It was really tough to pick my 2 favorite songs. I'm known for being pretty anti-female singers because 9.5 times out of 10 they're annoying, whiny and/or trying to rock when they can't. this is the other .5. Viva Canada!

Favorite Songs: Knife Going In, Like O Like H

3. Spoon- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga: What I love about this album is that it mixes "classic" sounding Spoon songs (Don't Make Me a Target, Don't You Evah) with songs that incorporate r&b and Motown horns (You Got Yr Cherry Bomb, The Underdog). and like what I think a great album should be, this album has layers to it. There were songs that I instantly liked the first couple of times I heard them and then as I listened more, there were other songs that would get my attention as well. I really like the direction they seem to be going in. This is probably one of my favorite Spoon albums.

Favorite Songs: Eddie's Ragga, Black Like Me

2. Radiohead- In Rainbows: I wasn't expecting to have a Radiohead album in my top 10 this year, but here it is. and if 2008 sucks, I'll put it on next year's list too since the official release is Jan 1st. For the first time since OK Computer we have a Radiohead album that feels like a Radiohead album. and not just because it's less experimental than their last 3 albums. It feels like it was more of a group effort and there's more emphasis on lyrical content. This is one band I have faith in to not put out an album full of crap.

Favorite Songs: Videotape, House of Cards

1. The Good Life- Help Wanted Nights: I was a little bit apprehensive about this album just because the last one was not very consistent- the good songs were really really good but everything else was blah. So when I first heard this album, I wasn't sure what to do with it. nothing stuck out as being good or bad the first few times I listened. But as I listened more, I went from thinking, "this song isn't bad" to "this song is great". Basically a grower album. And really, I'm a huge fan of Tim Kasher's storytelling, so I couldn't not love this album, and eventually I had every song in my head, much like with the Tegan and Sara album. This album is good from start to finish and the songs are some of my favorites of the year.

Favorite Songs:  A Little Bit More, Your Share of Men


Dishonorable Mention:

Chris Cornell- Carry On: go back to Soundgarden and let the Beast out.
New Pornographers- Challengers: half the songs are decent, the others....bleck. They totally screwed up the female vocals on the album.


Looking forward to in 2008: Emm Gryner, Black Keys, David Usher

Top 6 Books of 2007

I read a bunch of books this year and here are my favorites, in no particular order because rating books is even harder than rating albums. i tried to pick 6, but i just couldn't.

Black Swan Green- David Mitchell
: This book appealed to me because it's by a British author and it's set in the 80s. A nice coming of age story.

Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time - Rob Sheffield:  Music based memoir by Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield about his life with his wife before her unexpected death. Even though you know the book is based around her death, it's still heartbreaking to read about his life immediately following it.

A Long Way Down- Nick Hornby: I like High Fidelity and About a Boy better, but this one was pretty good as well. Story about 4 people coming together after meeting while contemplating suicide. Nick Hornby needs to write more books though.

The Book of Joe- Jonathan Tropper:  This was hands down the best book I read this year. Books don't usually make me tear up, but this one did on a few occasions. Jonathan Tropper is very good a writing a believable screwed up character. I found myself thinking Joe was either an asshole, an idiot, or a lonely fucked up bastard throughout the book. This is one of my all time favorite books.

The Gun Seller- Hugh Laurie: I bought this book on a total whim, basically because I like Hugh Laurie and the premise didn't sound half bad. It turns about it was actually a pretty good book. There's a bit of a surprise at the end with is unexpected and interesting. Parts of it reminded me of the Jason Bourne books but with a less serious tone. I kept picturing House in the role of the main character though. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

How to Talk to a Widower- Jonathan Tropper: This is Jonathan Tropper's newest book. While I like The Book of Joe and Everything Changes better than this one, it was still really good. In some ways it's a fiction version of Love is a Mix Tape (which I read before this one). With the unexpected deaths and the ways both husbands grieved.


Almost done with my reading list...

I plan to read The Time Traveler's Wife next. The movie version is coming out next year sometime.

Girl With a Pearl Earring- Tracy Chevalier

A Dirty Job- Christopher Moore

Rant- Chuck Palahniuk

The Time Traveler's Wife- Audrey Niffenegger

F
luke- Christopher Moore

The Book of Joe- Jonathan Tropper

Dexter in the Dark- Jeff Lindsay


Love is a Mix Tape- Rob Sheffield

How to Talk to a Widower- Jonathan Tropper