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Music of 2012 [F]
Jan 9th, 2013 by Dan

Colorful Dream

They’re not a real band, but I think you get the idea.

The biggest change in 2012 for me was the rise of Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Sure, I still bought plenty of music from Amazon or Google, but an increasing amount of the stuff I picked up came from the individual himself. I mean, why would I expect the Fez soundtrack to occupy a spot in Amazon’s mp3 store? Thanks to Bandcamp, I can just pick it up almost directly from the artist.

2012 also marked the year that genre walls were officially smashed for me. I think the only stuff I can’t really tolerate is noise metal. Just about everything else can penetrate my cold, black heart and move me to sing and dance.

I certainly never would have guessed that I’d be listening to so much hip hop and R&B back when I started this blog in 2008. It was all punk, rock, and ska, but now I cast a much wider net.

Top Artists of 2012

1. The Beatles (409)

This has been a mainstay of every list since the catalog re-release back in 2009. There’s not really much more to say about how incredible this band is so I’ll instead comment on the fact that I listened to them ~1,100 fewer times this year than last. I really spread out my music time this year…

2. The Weeknd (333)

I can’t remember what month it was when I discovered the trio of mixtapes just waiting for me online, but I will say that The Weeknd opened my eyes to R&B in a way I would have thought impossible. Without him I guarantee you that Frank Ocean would not be on this list. Everything about his music is simultaneously sleazy and sexy and so wrong it almost feels right. “High For This”, “Wicked Games”, and “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls” are all stunners.

3. Sambomaster (サンボマスター) (326)

Another mainstay ever since my Japan trip. My understanding of the lyrics approaches zero, but I feel like I understand everything Takeshi Yamaguchi is trying to say with that heartfelt, almost mournful, sandpapery voice. As cheesy as it sounds, it speaks to my soul, man.

4. Frank Ocean (270)

Think about this: I didn’t get channel ORANGE until November. Everybody’s talking about this record, I know, but allow me to say that Ocean penned and crooned the best album of the year. Nothing tops this in 2012, guys. Nothing.

5. Jonathan Coulton (269)

Some people would have you believe that Coulton is a novelty singer best enjoyed in small doses. Some people are wrong. Coulton’s earlier work may lean on a geeky, nerdy motif, but, like I said last year, Artificial Heart really takes him to a new level.

6. Disasterpiece (240)

I listened to a lot of game sountracks this year thanks to the ubiquity and ease of Bandcamp. Disasterpiece’s moody, quasi-ambient work on Fez proved spooky, lonely, and mournful while also igniting that spark for adventure. It’s all synth-y, but the notes never feel quite right, which is pretty much what Fez is all about.

7. Yoko Kanno (202)

I bet you’re thinking that this is all Cowboy Bebop music. You’d be wrong. Kanno’s work on the jazz tunes in Kids on the Slope opened my eyes to a genre I’d ignored for most of my life. That medley in the culture festival? Pure. Magic.

8. George & Jonathan (184)

One of their tunes was the theme to Polygon’s podcast, The Besties, and the album, Beautiful Lifestyle, struck just the right balance of playful and fun without getting obnoxious.

9. Regina Spektor (152)

I fell for What We Saw from the Cheap Seats as hard as a person could for an album. “All the Rowboats”, “Firewood”, and “How” are all so stunningly beautiful that I want to be listening to them right now…In fact, I think I’ll go put them on.

10. Rodrigo y Gabriela (151)

The first entry that confuses me about being on this list. I still dig their stuff, but I don’t really remember listening to it that much this year.

11. The Civil Wars (136)

I’m really worried about the state of this band now that they’ve canceled their tours. What will I do without Joy Williams’ beautiful voice? I hope they figure it out.

12. Kanye West (129)

The current king of hip hop, as far as I’m concerned. Yeezy goes big. Even though I haven’t loved his collab stuff as much as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I can’t help but come back to this guy time and time again.

13. Fall Out Boy (126)

So few bands know how to craft a tune as instantly catchy as these guys. Too bad they broke up.

14. Eirik Suhrke (119)

You may be wondering who this guy is. He did the music for Spelunky, a genius take on the Mega Drive soundchip that gives me that extra push to hit retry on the off chance that I get that sweet sax tune in the Ice Caves.

15. Tsunku (つんく♂) (114)

If I had properly tagged my Rhythm Heaven Fever music earlier in the year this number would be much higher. Academically I understand why other people might not love all the music in Rhythm Heaven, but in my heart I can’t understand why any awesome person would hate it.

16. Childish Gambino (113)

Part of that hip hop kick this year. Donald Glover is pretty awesome.

17. Nintendo (98)

You know what? I think that this 98 is supposed to be added to the Tsunku tally above. Hear that, Tsunku? You should be 7th.

17. Jim Guthrie (98)

The composer to the Superbrothers soundtrack knows how to make a sweet groove. Seriously, go check it out.

19. OK Go (97)

“Needing/Getting” will always be a favorite of mine because I’m a hopeless romantic (emphasis on hopeless).

20. Jasper Byrne (95)

The Lone Survivor soundtrack is responsible for this play count. It was equal parts creepy and beautiful and I couldn’t stay away last winter/spring.

21. Alex Cuba (91)

Man, that afro is cool, isn’t it? There’s a clarity and richness to his voice that soothes me and makes me feel funky.

22. Hannibal Buress (88)

Is your name really Hannibal? These plays are thanks to two of my favorite stand-up albums that I got this year. That Buress dude is pretty funny, y’all.

22. Ana Tijoux (88)

Saw her live this year. That was awesome. Her ability to spit rhymes in Spanish is mind boggling to me.

24. Juan Luis Guerra (85)

I wonder what percentage of these come from “Niagara en bicicleta”? (Answer: ~26%)

25. Kendrick Lamar (84)

I picked up good kid, m.A.A.d city at the same time (or close to it) as channel ORANGE and figured that it would definitely win, play-wise. Didn’t quite go like that, but trust that Kendrick Lamar’s rhymes are equally awesome. Definitely check out that disc.

Top 10 Tracks of 2012

1. The Weeknd – “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls” (23)

It all sounds so drug-addled and sexy, but in a dirty way. This was the first track I heard by The Weeknd and the rest is history.

2. Juan Luis Guerra – “El Niagara en bicicleta” (22)

Quite possibly my favorite song ever? I honestly have no idea how it didn’t make the list last year.

3. George & Jonathan – “Little Marcus” (21)

The aforementioned former theme to The Besties. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and it’s super pleasant. A great little tune.

4. Carla Morrison – “Compartir” (20)

I would have expected “Una salida” to have this spot, but this is also a fantastic love song by a beautiful vocalist. Carla Morrison has this sweet, delicate voice that just breaks your heart while you listen to her. I absolutely love her and this song.

4. Neon Indian – “Polish Girl” (20)

I think I own two Neon Indian songs, but this chillwave track puts me in a spaced out place where I can’t not love it. Put a gun to my head and I wouldn’t be able to describe what makes this song so special, but I think it really does speak for itself.

6. Regina Spektor – “Small Town Moon” (19)

It probably ended up with the most plays by virtue of being the first track on her new album, but “Small Town Moon” is no slouch. It perfectly sets the mood for a thoughtful, beautiful album.

6. George & Jonathan – “Street Monsters” (19)

There’s really no good explanation for how this track got up here. It’s funky and it’s quick and I guess it got lucky compared to the rest of the album.

6. Frank Ocean – “Bad Religion”, “Pilot Jones”, & “Pyramids” (19)

And the list closes out with my three favorite tracks from channel ORANGE. All three of these are perfect in their own way. Be it the soulful poetry of “Bad Religion”, the simple hook of “Pilot Jones”, or that sexy electrofunk of the first half of the epic “Pyramids”, they all land so unbelievably perfectly on my ears that I’m shocked they’re not higher up on the list.

What I’ve Been Doing 17 Dec 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Dec 17th, 2012 by Dan

French cinema, everyone! (Photo courtesy Screened.com)

Went on a date with an art student so I thought it would be most fitting to see a weird, French art flick. It…did not disappoint.

Movies

Holy Motors – There is no real way to summarize every weird thing that happens in this movie, but it’s about a man who gets in a limousine every day and shows up in makeup and costumes in various places, acts out a scene, and then leaves. You got a little bit of everything, but my favorite was the scene where he killed a man, started to make the man look like him, and then that dead man killed him and assumed his role. That’s the kind of movie this was. It was…odd.

TV

Breaking Bad – How great is this show’s table setting? Chekhov’s Ricin, check. Putting Mike out of commission, check. Setting up the Tio meetings, check. Ted Beneke and his trip-prone rug, check. I didn’t even notice until later that the pistol ended up pointing at the lily of the valley in the penultimate episode. Brilliant stuff. Now I need to watch the first half of season 5 somehow.

The Amazing Race – Definitely did not expect the Beekmans to win. So hooked on this show. Can’t wait for the next race in Jan/Feb or whenever it returns.

New Girl – I thought the cranberry in the ear bit was hilarious! Not sure that I’m digging the character that they’ve got Olivia Munn playing, but…it’s Olivia Munn. I can forgive it.

The Mindy Project – I love when Mindy gets people like Ellie Kemper to show up and really play against type. She was really funny in this episode.

Music

Let’s see…I listened to Channel Orange probably every night last week, but maybe you’re all getting sick of Frank Ocean (I don’t know how) so I’m gonna go with Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” off of good kid, m.A.A.d city

Man, I love that opening (also the chorus)

“I am a sinner who’s probably gonna sin again
Lord forgive me, Lord forgive me
Things I don’t understand
Sometimes I need to be alone”

It’s also got a nice, old school type backing track.

Books

A Confederacy of Dunces – Ignatius’ treatise on the factory workers bordered on offensive, but I think that’s supposed to be the point. Still not quite sure where the book is going, but I’m also not that deep into it, I guess. It’s interesting.

The Revolution Was Televised – Pushed through the last few chapters until around 0200 on Saturday. Loved it. If you have any interest in tv and how it’s hit its golden age, this is a great, relatively breezy read.

Video Games

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Still kind of sore about having to start a new game, but I always dig this game. Gotta record a bunch of episodes this week to cover Christmas.

FTL – Actually got fairly far with the Mantis ship. I’m rather proud of myself for that.

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors – Has kind of a Saw/survival horror vibe to it. So far the mysteries are coming in fast and hard and I think I made a questionable decision in abandoning Akane/June, but I think that I need to keep an eye on Snake and Seven and I wanted to check out the Ninth Man (although they didn’t really let me). Very intriguing story, but this is a visual novel, folks, so if you want to try it be prepared to read and only occasionally solve puzzles.

What I’ve Been Doing 10 Dec 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Dec 10th, 2012 by Dan

Weeping Angel

Don’t blink. Blink and you’re dead. (Picture courtesy Rich Ford)

I got to share my favorite episode of Doctor Who with Min today. I’d forgotten how eerie and excellent that episode was. I mean, I literally shouted out loud in fear when one of the angels popped into view. Freaky stuff. Love that ep.

Movies

Not this week.

TV

Breaking Bad – I don’t know why I had such a long gap before where I wasn’t watching this, but these past few episodes have been brilliant. Walter White is absolutely fascinating in his almost impotent villainy. I love how addicted he is to power and how much pride he has. Just brilliant stuff.

The Amazing Race – Up to the finale on the current season and that’s been pretty exciting. I’m glad the twins didn’t get eliminated as they’re the funniest. On the S1 DVDs things are getting interesting. Team Guido is hilariously evil. It’s awesome.

Parks and Recreation – Episodes revolving around Jerry are usually pretty awesome and this one did not disappoint. Tammy 2’s ridiculous brand of evil sluttiness was gross AND hilarious. Not an easy bar to hit.

The Mindy Project – It seems like every week I’m saying, “The net critics don’t like this, but I find it funny.” Copy-paste that here.

New Girl – Another one that all the internet hated, but I thought was hilarious. The bathtub crashing through the ceiling and the Remy three-way callbacks? Brilliant.

Doctor Who – Started Min off with “Blink”, but then I took him back to “Rose” to show a more typical episode. It’s still mostly introducing stuff, but I think his interest in piqued.

Happy Endings – Man did Rob Corddry get away with saying some filthy things on network tv. Also the Penny thing was fairly predictable from her. Alex continues to be hilarious as always.

Glee – A week where I didn’t want to just turn off the show for being aggressively stupid? Wow! That first Rachel number was stunningly good.

The League – Odd pacing and dropping of plot points make me think that there are big things afoot for the finale. Totally dug the lucha libre bit.

Childrens Hospital – Madonna episode: meh. Chief episode: better.

NTSF:SD:SUV:: – I don’t think they did enough with the found footage conceit, but Alphonse’s creepy Christmas song was amazing.

Saturday Night Live – I didn’t get past weekend update, but Jamie Foxx was doing his thing ok. He seemed less comfortable that I thought he’d be considering how good he is in other stuff. Maybe live isn’t his thing?

Music

Just go listen to more Frank Ocean. Channel Orange is Awesome.

Books

A Confederacy of Dunces – At around the 100 page mark. I feel like I’ve met all the principals and now it’s time to see where this farce is headed.

The Revolution was Televised – Finished the chapters on The Sopranos and The Wire and I’m working on Deadwood. This tv backstory stuff is fascinating and I’m really digging all the analysis.

Video Games

Sleeping Dogs – I like Wei Shen and I like the undercover cop conceit. It remains to be seen how deep the story gets and if it’ll allow for character depth or go the GTA IV route where, regardless of how serious the main guy claims to be, every one else is a cartoon.

The Old Republic – Just got Vette, but we sadly haven’t had much interaction at all. Seems like a dropped ball so far, but, then again, my character has only just gotten license to head to Dromund Kaas.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – A power issue (perhaps related to SLI-ing my cards) caused save file corruption on my main game. I might have to restart and that’s heartbreaking. We’ll see if the forums come through for me or not.

FTL – I’m getting much better at this game, but I still haven’t gotten the hang of Mantis B. Racking up wins with other ships though.

What I’ve Been Doing 3 Dec 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Dec 3rd, 2012 by Dan

Lincoln Memorial

Which is the greater monument: the movie or the…monument? (Photo by MarkusR)

Four score and seven seconds ago I started trying to come up with a clever line to write here. As you can see, I failed.

Movies

Lincoln – I’ve talked to lots of people about this movie and it’s one I feel better about recommending the more I think about it. Sure, Lincoln himself may or may not have been as epic a figure as the movie makes him out to be (dude is like a god in this picture), but the political intrigue and heist-like nature of the vote makes for good cinema. Now if only it didn’t feel quite so awkward to have all these great white men saving black men…

TV

The Amazing Race – Watched Abby and Ryan get eliminated from their race in Amsterdam. That was brutal to see them so badly screwed over by flight issues, but they were pretty unpleasant, so…Having enemies makes for good reality tv, right? Now what do we have…I also watched the first three episodes of the first season. Holy cow are there plenty of highly unlikeable folks in that…

New Girl – Sure seems like a lot of shows are addressing the late pregnancy thing. I wonder why that’s all in the zeitgeist right now…or maybe I’m just of an age where I notice it more?

Parks and Recreation – The sight gag with the balloon Leslie and Ben was brilliant. I really love Eagleton episodes.

The League – Not the most exciting or adventurous episode, but I definitely dug the way the guy in the wheelchair was obsessed with his legs.

Homeland – Didn’t see last night’s, but the one where they took down the terrorist cell at the cafe had me thinking that the show was playing its hand too early. I can’t even imagine what the next three episodes will bring for the show, especially now that they’ve revealed that the CIA’s end goal is to murder Brody once his usefulness is up.

The Mindy Project – I really do think this show is on the upswing. Mindy Kaling is probably the funniest person on screen most of the time and the Morgan and Danny characters are also very funny. The rest of the cast is still growing on me.

Glee – I found myself saying (multiple times, mind you), “This is the dumbest shit I’ve ever seen” during the past two week’s episodes. Guys, “Gangnam Style” is played out and, worse, Marley’s got to be some kind of idiot to think that her body is getting bigger in the span of days. It’s dumb and it feels like a setup for all those “very special” episodes Ryan Murphy loves to do on Glee.

NTSF:SD:SUV::
– Alan Tudyk, Alison Brie, and Jake Johnson? Fantastic two episodes. I loved ‘em.

Childrens Hospital – Wow, I really didn’t remember the 28 Days Later amnesia spoof. My memory of this show is apparently very vague.

How I Met Your Mother – I dug the dance sequence in the S7 opener. Glad Netflix finally has it.

Music

Been listening to a lot of Channel Orange. “Bad Religion” is one of my favorite tracks

Frank Ocean’s pretty good. Check him out.

Books

The Revolution Was Televised – Alan Sepinwall’s book on the way that tv’s been changing and evolving has been pretty interesting so far. I’m still in the proto-stages where he talks about the precursor shows and the first real new drama, Oz. Seems very cool.

A Confederacy of Dunces – Ignatius is growing on me. I dig the way that he’s sabotaging Levy Pants.

Video Games

Nintendo Land – Played for hours at Ian/Morghan’s place. Hadn’t realized that the coop games require Wii Motion Plus, but I forgot my adapters. The other games were super fun though. Definitely a great multi game. Hopefully I get to play some with Eric and Danielle too, but there’s always Christmas.

Donkey Kong Country Returns – I don’t think it’s as good as the old SNES games, but it’s got some nostalgic music and I’ll keep checking it out.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Got back into the recording game. Lots of fun even though my rust caused some terrible performance.

FTL: Faster Than Light – I nearly killed David with laughter over my terrible Mantis B gameplay. Lots of fun.

New Super Mario Bros. U – Acorn Plains was too easy and they sure seem to distribute a ton of item blocks, but I’ve been having lots of fun playing with Min. We’ve quickly gotten back into our wii habits. Lots of fun.

Sleeping Dogs – I didn’t realize that my files had been corrupted, but that provided about an hour of frustration until I tried that and realized I had to redownload files. So far it seems pretty cool. Can’t wait to see how the story develops.

Team Fortress 2 – Got rolled in a few rounds with Lee. Lots of fun, but I was doing pretty poorly.

The Old Republic – Started working on my Sith Warrior because I was thinking the Vette relationship would be neat. Locking quick bars for F2P for non-subscribers is weak, by the way. Bad move, guys.

To the Moon – A quick four hour game/interactive fiction. I was led to believe that it was more incredible than it was, but perhaps that’s just in the pre-Walking Dead world of games. The story is good, mind you, and quite funny in places, but it’s not going to win any awards or terribly surprise you. Not a terrible way to spend four hours, but I wouldn’t expect anything mind-blowing.

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