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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 12 Sept 2011 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Sep 12th, 2011 by Dan

Malin Akerman

I thought about posting a picture of Rob Corddry instead, but I think we'd all much rather see Malin Åkerman. (Image used courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

Movies

The Wrong Side of Town – Danielle’s parents were watching the tail end of this terrible wrestler movie. It was pretty awful, so I read a Batman comic instead of paying that much attention.

TV

Top Gear – Two of the guys bought used luxury sports cars for under £10k and they plan to follow up on how long it takes for the cars to break down and die. Funny stuff. I found James’ trip to America where he picked up a transvestite Cher impersonator to be in poor taste (as in they were using it for humor when they shouldn’t)

Top Gear (USA) – I thought I’d check this one out to see what it was like. While it’s not as funny as the original, it’s got a handle on what it’s supposed to be and its cast has a decent rapport with each other. You’d think, given how much they seem to love America in the show, they’d still use “Jessica” as their theme, but they don’t, much to their detriment.

Childrens Hospital – I thought that this show would be too silly for its own good. One of those Adult Swim shows that’s just not as funny as people make it out to be, but this was legitimately hilarious. I’m hooked! It also helps that I find Malin Åkerman (of Watchmen fame), Lake Bell, and Erinn Hayes to be quite good looking (especially Malin Åkerman). I think that I just missed Season 3, so I’ll have to wait for the DVDs on that, but so funny!

Parks and Recreation – Watched the beginning of S3 with Min since he hadn’t seen it. Brilliant show. Absolutely fantastic. Seriously, just skip Season 1 and start watching S2 onward. I find it tough to believe that you could not like it.

Archer – Watched the Zeppelin episode with Eric. All I can say is, “M as in Mancy.” So hilarious.

Music

Neon Indian – Their album was on First Listen this week. I think I only love “Polish Girl,” but the rest of the album is decent.

More WILD FLAG – Can’t wait for the album to drop tomorrow so I can start scrobbling many, many listens.

Books

Collected Stories – Read one where a beautiful woman lost control of her corporeal self, wanted to eat an orange, and decided that the best way to do it would be to inhabit a cat. By the time she decides to do it, 3000 years have passed and she’s screwed. It was kind of weird.

(Comic books from here down. I’ve linked reviews on Comic Vine where appropriate)

Morning Glories – This story is so cool. I really dig this book, just wish it came out more often. Patience is a virtue, right?

X-23 – I liked this book more than Eric, but it remains one of the better books out there. Good writing and solid art plus the FF and I’m there.

Irredeemable – The arc moves in a surprising direction as Kaiden, Gil, and Bette Noir make their return to the strip. The part where The Plutonian traps a bunch of male models in a pool by freezing the surface was chilling mostly because I harbor a fear of drowning.

Batgirl – Barbara Gordon is no longer handicapped! Pretty good book that has a literary depth that many aren’t seeing. I have no prior history with the character, so I dug it.

Action Comics – My first Grant Morrison book and my first Superman book (I’ve ever paid for). I think that (having read a trade of his and this issue) Grant Morrison is overhyped as a genius. His stories are good/solid and well-written compared to a lot of other stuff that’s released, but I’ve yet to be really shocked by anything he does. It all feels so by the book that it’s like he’s the best at writing something conventional. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it feels like he’s being safe. Where’s the iconoclast quality that I felt when I read Alan Moore’s early work? It’s unfair to dock the book for not being overly impressed with the writer’s legend, but it’s inseparable at this point. Good read nonetheless, even if it’s almost needlessly dense.

Swamp Thing – My favorite DC book of the week. Snyder did something neat here and I really dug it. The art was also fantastic.

Batwing – Racial politics of a white man empowering a black man aside, this was a good read. I didn’t care much for the art, but I’m interested to see where it goes. The DRC is a vastly more interesting setting to me than Gotham.

X-Men – Awful book. Bad writing. Bad art. No more X-Men for me, even if the FF are hanging around.

Static Shock – I wanted to like this one more than I did. It was a little confusing because they didn’t treat it as a reintroduction to the character. I’ll give it another issue.

Casanova: Avarita – The weirdest book I read and also the most artistically interesting. I like where this is going.

Animal Man – I’m totally loving the creepy horror of this title. I hope that it ties in with Swamp Thing well, as they’ve said it would. Combining the man who has animals at his fingertips with a man who has plants would be neat.

Spider-Island: The Avengers – A tremendously silly story about Frog Man saving the day from hilariously awful villains. Great jokes and lots of fun. Spider-Island is a great event.

Mystic – Mini-series about magic. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before, but I like the Disney-style art, so I’m game.

Moon Knight – Beautiful art, as always. I really love the way this book looks.

Video Games

Team Fortress 2 – One of these days I will get 10 sentry kills. Mark my words. Until then, at least this game is super fun to play.

Gears of War 2 – Played nine hours with Min. The shooting parts are so much fun, but the vehicle sections and the really weird non-shooty parts that they feel like they have to include are much less so. Still, a stellar game. Can’t wait for part three next week. Min and I still have to beat this one though.

EDIT: David correctly pointed out that I forgot:

Left 4 Dead 2 – Played a few rounds with David, Lee, and Min, including a run of my favorite map, Hard Rain. Love that game! Sad that the last map is next, but excited to play RE5.

Blame my omission on thinking about Malin Åkerman too much.

Neon Indian “Polish Girl” [F]
Aug 11th, 2011 by Dan

Neon Indian – Polish Girl by Hypetrak

I know this song was already on my tumblr, but it’s seriously awesome. So perfect a discovery the same day I saw Blade Runner for the first time. Can’t wait for Era Extraña (the album that contains this song) to drop 13 Sept.

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