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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 10 Sept 2012 {FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Sep 10th, 2012 by Dan

2456259-psy-ladies-gangnam-style-617-409

오빤 강남 스타일! (Photo courtesy Music Star22)

This week was ridiculous, guys. I mean, so much K-Pop and so much Jazz! It’s like highs and lows here. Add in some fantastic TV shows and ninjas and you’ve got my media week.

Movies

Sleepwalk With Me – Mike Birbiglia and Ira Glass’ first joint movie project was a resounding success. It’s pretty much an adaptation of his stage show, but, as Min pointed out, we’ve seen this performed two or three times and it still feels really fresh. An excellent freshman effort. Catch it if it hasn’t left your city.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – Looking for something to watch that she hadn’t seen, we settled on this. Man, I’d forgotten how fun this movie is. Just brisk and exciting. Ends one time too many, but otherwise great.

The Incredibles – Had this on the tube and it caught Tiffany’s imagination. Pulled out the blu-ray and watched it for maybe the third time ever. Guys, this movie is pretty awesome, even if it has weird message issues. I mean, being special is good, right? I get that, but why make a villain out of the guy who has pulled himself up by his bootstraps to make something out of himself? Buddy is misunderstood (and evil).

TV

Breaking Bad – HOLY COW! I’ve been forcing myself to slow down my consumption of these episodes because it’s just been SO GREAT. Season 3 really brought it together and taught me why everyone thinks this show is awesome. So masterful!

Kids on the Slope – What a charming, touching, musically amazing show that was. It’s only 12 episodes long, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome and it’s interesting the whole way through. You should check this anime out. It’s on CrunchyRoll right now for free.

The Daily Show – DNC time! The segments weren’t as biting (and the acceptance one was a remixed version of the RNC platform one), but they still had some good zingers for the DNC, such as the platform change vote.

NTSF:SD:SUV – Only my second episode of this madness, but the Time Angels stuff was hilarious. Sharp writing on this episode for the fake backdoor pilot.

Childrens Hospital – I love the “behind the scenes” episodes of this show. Too bad I missed the first half, but I’m sure I’ll catch it on reruns soon.

Pretty Little Liars – GUYS…this show is bonkers. It’s insane. Thank god I have Jacob Clifton’s recaps to read and laugh about. The show’s not bad, but man is it trashy and hilarious in all the right ways.

Fashion Police – Joan Rivers makes vagina jokes! No real complaints here. I can deal with this by now.

Cupcake Wars – So many strained Star Wars references. So many weird ingredients.

Music

“Gangnam Style” is AMAZING. How did I miss this when it came out?!

Super catchy and super ridiculous/bizarre/awesome. Psy is incredible in this video.

Like I said above, I spent a lot of this week listening to Jazz too. Here’s the best segment from Kids on the Slope:

That medley is just fantastic. Such a brilliant scene.

Books

I promise I’ll get back to reading soon!

Video Games

Driver: San Francisco – Evading the cops sucks. Couldn’t get it quite right, but I dug some of the driving. I’ll have to give it a little more time.

Spelunky – Started trying to speedrun for the 8 minute achievement after I got the Casanova one. Made it to the caves once, but it’s hard to just blow through these levels.

Mark of the Ninja – The Giant Bomb guys talked this game up like it was awesome. It is lots of fun. I like how clear all the stealth stuff is, but I wish it were a little easier to stun/not kill some of the guards. I feel like some puzzles very early in the game require you to kill or set off an alarm and that’s a bummer.

What I’ve Been Doing 4 Sept 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Sep 4th, 2012 by Dan

Home (For Now)

So long former basement abode. Good riddance!

I’ve been officially Min’s roommate for a week+ and it’s been awesome so far. So glad to not be in that basement…

Movies

Margaret – This was a really challenging movie. The plot centers around a 17-year-old girl who inadvertently causes a bus accident that kills a pedestrian, throwing her life into chaos as she struggles to deal with her guilt among friends and family that she feels don’t get her. It’s a real hurricane of emotions and it vividly reminded me of the idealism and stupidity of my teenage years. I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone looking for a light diversion, but it was still good.

TV

Girls – FINALLY got around to watching the last two episodes of the season. It’s challenging in a completely different way as Hannah and her friends are almost aggressively unlikeable and behave in the most selfish ways at every opportunity. That’s what makes it great, really, but I can see why some might not like it.

Veep – Just biting and brutal and mean and so much fun to watch. I cackle every time I tune in. Can’t wait for season 2

Breaking Bad – That scene at the end of “Over” where Walter warns that guy to stay out of his territory…Chilling. Letting Jane die was straight up ice too. In fact, this show just gets more and more brutal and I love it. Walter is a force to be dealt with and his actions/decisions are fascinating. I feel really bad for Jesse who’s stuck in the middle of it.

The Daily Show – The election season is upon us! Thought I’d get back into TDS, see what it’s about nowadays. I picked an interesting time to tune in…All the Tampa bashing was a little much, but some of those segments were brilliant! The Samantha Bee abortion platform one was particularly brilliant.

Kids on the Slope – Finally set up my CrunchyRoll free trial on my PS3 so that I could watch this show. It’s very anime-y, but it’s also very awesome in an understated way. Really the best reason to watch this is for the fantastic soundtrack. So glad that Watanabe and Kanno teamed up again for this.

Music

Written for Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, “Some Day My Prince Will Come” is, naturally, a Disney staple. Go to the park and I guarantee you’ll hear it. It’s never been a favorite of mine, but Kids on the Slope has convinced me of how well it can work. They use Bill Evans’ cover of it and it’s quite nice.

Books

Not this week.

Video Games

Trine 2 – Got some time in with Min. Not bad. I like the ninja rope person.

EDIT: Min has reminded me that I played this last week. Scratch this from the record!

Iron Brigade – Using the XBL/GFWL servers sucks. Took Lee, Min, and I somewhere around 30 mins to an hour to get a multiplayer match working smoothly, but once we did we had quite a bit of fun.

Spelunky – This was the crowning achievement of my weekend. I may not have beaten Hell, but Min and I made lots of progress, including beating it co-op with two members alive. Now the uphill battle to Hell…

What I’ve Been Doing 30 April 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Apr 30th, 2012 by Dan

Gomez

Gomez: The Hero of Fez (Picture courtesy Titolian)

I did a lot more with this week than I thought I would have time for considering how much I played The Old Republic and how late I was getting home for a lot of the week. Fez gets special mention at the top of this article for completely immersing me in its world. Everything from its ambient, minimalist soundtrack to the weird artifacts, perplexing language, and dense, unspoiled mystery has me super intrigued.

Movies

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I swear that I’m gonna stop tagging this someday soon. Tiffany hadn’t seen the US version and it was in Redbox, so we picked it up. I was struggling to stay awake at the end (it was one of those weeks), but it’s still a pretty solid movie. That stuff after Martin dies has always been way too long.

Shame – You know you’ve messed up if your movie about a sex addict living in NY is boring. It just wasn’t the daring, risque movie that I thought it would be. I did rather enjoy Carey Mulligan’s haunting “New York, New York”, but it was a little long. Watch it if you’ve got nothing to do/you can find it for cheap/free.

Like Crazy – Watching the trailer for this made me think I would hate the leads and I definitely did. They’ve got this youthful, lovey-dovey, can’t be separated from each other for five minutes thing that drives me crazy. Doesn’t help the plot that it all hinges on one stupid decision that anyone could have prevented. I also had a real tough time understanding why Anton Yelchin would rather be with Felicity Jones over Jennifer Lawrence. I mean, come on…JENNIFER LAWRENCE.

TV

Mad Men – Last week’s episode was very interesting and very artistic and I came away from the Ginsberg/Peggy scene just in love with the show all over again. Can’t wait to watch last night’s offering.

Veep – Guys, this show is hilarious. Best comedy pilot I’ve seen in a while. Just clever and subtle and sharp. They really capture the office/government job vibe.

Girls – The entire internet has an opinion about Girls so I felt like I needed to watch it. The first episode frustrated me with Hannah’s spoiled dependence on her parents, but had enough wickedly funny moments that I was on board. The second had lots of hilariously bad sex. I mean, the line about why doggie style isn’t always degrading, “What if I want to feel like I’ve got udders?” was pretty brilliant delivered. Mike Birbiglia’s job interview scene was great too. The whole thing with the non-PC conversations and the complete 180 on the offer was so good. I’m on board for now.

Kids on the Slope – Shinichirō Watanabe and Yoko Kanno’s latest collaboration is not quite as stylized as Cowboy Bebop, but it’s got the same strong Jazz roots. Worth watching for the music alone, as are most of Watanabe’s shows. I want to find that title track. It starts with this slow marching beat and then it just turns into this great piece. Love it.

Parks and Recreation – Getting tired of the election storyline, but the show is still selling it. Chris Pratt’s live action movies were hilarious and Aubrey Plaza continues to be a delight.

Community – Pitch perfect Law & Order spoof. The back half of this season continues to impress.

New Girl – I want to love this show a lot more than I do. It’s just so mediocre when it’s not funny. Happy Endings has deeper swings (funnier and more terrible) and I just dig that show way more than New Girl…

Music

“Sakamichi no Melody” by YUKI:

It’s not gonna blow you away, but I love the way it flows and changes. When it picks up in that middle section…how can you resist not tapping your toes?

Books

Moe Berg: Athlete, Scholar, Spy – Only a couple pages into this story about a baseball player who was also a spy. We’ll see how it is.

Video Games

The Old Republic – Min and I got our alts going now. My Trooper story has been interesting and I’m glad I’m playing it instead of a Consular.

Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP – Finished the first movement/section/track. Have yet to go back in and start putting serious time. Very stylish and cool.

The Walking Dead – Captures the spirit of the comic and zombie apocalypse WAY better than the tv show does. Love it.

Saints Row: The Third – Played a little co-op with Lee. This game is so hilarious. I’m thinking of switching my character to zombie voice.

Fez – Really fantastic game. I can’t stress enough how immersive it is in its sparseness. I can’t wait until I start to understand the puzzles and mysteries more. Gonna try to limit my exposure to the internet since they’ve mostly solved everything. I know I’ll need their help eventually, but for now I’m on my own.

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