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BEST THINGS OF 2011 #08
Burzum - Fallen
Norwegian musican Varg Vikernes released his 2nd album since he is out of jail which is the best metal album in ages for me. He recorded the album by himself playing all instruments and that is awesome. Classical music from a dream about the future.
Burzum - Jeg Faller
Burzum - Valen
Best Of Lists
I usually have a desire to look through most of the best of lists, for the anger it gives me if anything.
Not from the choices, but mostly the tone I get. The “expert” opinions that are mimicked on here daily.
I’m even guilty at times, but I try to be aware.
But still, the other reason I look is for ideas on where to go, what to listen to. That’s the main reason they exist anyway, advertising without paying for it (or paying for it, which is shady.)
This year I don’t have the spirit. I know the movies already because I tend to follow that as close as I can considering my geographic disadvantage here in the wilds of the Mid-Atlantic. DC is not a step out the door and it’s full of slicked back political types who make you wonder if it is possible to live an extravagant life while not enjoying it.
And the music is just so overwhelming these days. And people flock to bands that I’ve never heard of or won’t hear of again once I start listening to them.
It’s not that I don’t like hearing new songs and artists.
I just don’t feel it this year. I don’t feel like wading through three feet of words and hyperbole by a writer who is desperate to gain your attention and approval in some manner.
Even when they say they aren’t.
That’s why I wanted to highlight a few of my more special moments from this year in my Best Of Coked Up Jesus End Of The Year List.
Here we go!
#1 Woke up.
BlearyEyedBrooklyn's Favorite Performances of 2011
So these last few weeks I have been reflecting on my favorite live music experiences of 2011. I shot 128 different bands this year (two of which I actually shot twice). Obviously there was no shortage of amazing performances out there. What I measured my favorite clips on wasn’t really just the heart and soul of what the band put forth but how I was able to lock in and connect with the music when sometimes hearing it for the very first time.
Of these fifteen clips seven were bands I had seen previously. This means I had a baseline understanding of what their live performance would be like. The other eight were first time experiences…and a few offered some very nice surprises.
So without further delay here are my favorite live performances of 2011 in no particular order….
The Sea and Cake performs “Inn Keeping” at Bowery Ballroom, NYC
Still Corners performs “Cuckoo” at Mercury Lounge, NYC
Pete & The Pirates performs “Winter 1” at the Brooklyn Vegan Day Party, SXSW ‘11
CMJ 2011: Gauntlet Hair performs “Keep Time” at Shea Stadium for the Gorilla Vs. Bear / Yourstru.ly CMJ Party
NYC Popfest 2011: Gold-Bears performs “In This City, I’m Invincible” at Cakeshop, NYC
North Highlands performs “Roundhouse” at Glasslands Gallery, Brooklyn
Veronica Falls performs “Bad Feeling” at Glasslands Gallery, Brooklyn
Unknown Mortal Orchestra performs “Thought Ballune” at Glasslands Gallery, Brooklyn
Destroyer performs “Bay of Pigs” at Webster Hall, NYC
Gardens and Villa performs “Thorn Castle” at Mercury Lounge, NYC
Grimes performs “Nightmusic” at Gorilla Vs Bear / Mexican Summer party, SXSW ‘11
CMJ 2011: Purity Ring performs “Lofticries” at the Brooklyn Vegan Saturday day party at Public Assembly, Brooklyn
Handsome Furs performs “Memories of the Future” at the Bell House, Brooklyn
Ducktails performs “Killin’ the Vibe” at Monster Island Basement, Brooklyn
Wye Oak performs “Holy Holy” at The Rock Shop, Brooklyn
BEST OF 2011 DAY ONE: MUSIC
Yeah I know, way to be original Omar, make lists of other people’s awesome stuff, but whatever, felt like fun and it was a good way to look back at the things I really enjoyed this year, and remind myself of others that didn’t quite make the cut. Today we’ll start with music, tomorrow games, and finally movies on Saturday (the only list which is still in formation). Make sure to click the titles to links to my preferred song of choice from each album.
Without further ado…
MY TOP TEN ALBUMS OF THE YEAR:
10. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
While their first album started out incredibly strong and then lost me midway through, this Floyd-infused follow up finally follows through with all the hope I have for this band. Evolving from their humble San Francisco indie beginnings into an extremely 70’s influenced style that ends up being much better than it sounds. Christopher Owens is quickly developing into one of the most talented and heartfelt singer//songwriters in the current West Coast scene, easily pushing children like Wavves or Best Coast aside. Vomit is probably my favorite on the album and is every bit as epic as Hellhole Ratrace from the debut.
9. Com Truise - Galactic Melt
Ignore the rampant silliness of the name and behold what is easily my current favorite Ghostly Records band. While their detractors could easily just write them off as another Ghostly chillwave band or a second rate Tycho, I easily prefer this album to Tycho’s Dive. The beats, the synth lines, their sense of rhythm and scale, everything about this album spoke to the electro junkie inside of me. I’ve listened to Brokendate and watched it’s video countless times since discovering it and it still remains my favorite on the album.
8. Explosions In The Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Despite the revival of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and several other promising new post rock bands, Explosions still remain my favorite in the genre. Breaking away from the melodramatic swells of their previous albums, they finally seem to be moving forward to something grander and more mature, albeit still retaining that classic romantic sound perfected in The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place which moving towards a future first hinted at (but not followed through on) by The Birth and Death of The Day. Put it on and relax for an afternoon//evening, it’s simply magical.
7. The Horrors - Skying
While I still have to say I miss the 80’s gaze influences of Primary Colours, there’s no denying the fact that they seem to have finally developed a style of their own. Taming their post punk//shoegaze roots into something resembling a modern psychedelic style, they’ve managed to make something infinitely listenable and entirely contemporary, which is something I wasn’t at all expecting. While they’ve definitely slowed down significantly, the craft present in their work and Faris’s singing remain as strong as ever.
6. Big Black Delta - BBDLP1
While I always enjoyed Jonathan Bates as a singer, Mellowdrone never really clicked for me, so when I heard he was creating a new electro based project, I was more than just a little bit excited. Here’s he’s managed to create an electro-space rock epic with each song completely living up to the promises he made on the EP released earlier, with the remainder of the album being even greater than IFUCKINGLOVEYOU. If you’re an electro fan, this is one you can’t pass up on. The fact that he was even giving this one away is just more ridiculous, because it’s more than easily worth a purchase.
5. Washed Out - Within and Without
Oh Washed Out, the gem of the chillwave movement, and one of my favorite new bands. Ernest Green has rapidly built up a rabid following here on the west coast, and it’s not hard to see why. His synth lines ooze joy and sensuality without coming off as childish or ridiculous. Building from the joyful simplicity of Feel It All Around, songs like Amor Fati or Before echo with synths that make it impossible to generate a snide or cynical response. I’m curious to see if he’ll be able to weather the inevitable backlash to the movement, but as it is now I have absolutely nothing bad to say about what is easily the greatest summer album of the year.
4. HTRK - Work, Work, Work
The second Ghostly band to make my list, they’ve had quite the year. This one actually took me a while to get into. Despite the extremely strong opening, the album suddenly slows down immensely and almost loses me for a while. However, when it finally does pick back up again and eases up on the drone, it easily becomes one of my new favorite trip-hop records up there with Portishead’s Third and Massive Attack’s Mezzanine. Their sense of atmosphere and landscape is nearly unparalleled this year, and they’re definitely a band I’m going to be following great interest in the future.
3. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
I first fell in love with Little Dragon through their incredible collaboration with Gorillaz on last year’s Plastic Beach (see Empire Ants), and they’ve only continued to impress me since then. Lead singer Yukimi Nagano singles herself out as one of the most talented singers I’ve heard in recent memory, with a vocal style that switches from soul to R&B to new wave flawlessly and blend them all into what is easily the most unique and original record I heard this year.
2. M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
There are a great many things about this album that make me want to hate it. The ridiculous ambitions of grandeur equating their efforts to classics like Loveless, ridiculous additions to the style such as proggy bass licks and tracks dedicated to their children talking about frogs, and the simple audacity to throw it all together with reckless abandon and make it a double album. However, it all just magically manages to work, and it easily succeeds as over an hour of pure rapturous joy. This is an album that requires your attention and your time, and is almost so joyful it’s alienating, and which may account for it losing the #1 spot. However those synths are nearly impossible to critique, and one of my greatest regrets this year is not going to see them live, because I’m sure it would have been heavenly.
1. Blouse - Blouse
My favorite new band this year also managed to put out my favorite record this year, go figure. This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s heard me praise this band endlessly. Nostalgic without being redundant, they’ve crafted a shoegazey//new wave hybrid that brings to mind all of my favorite things about the 80’s while still managing to sound entirely relevant. Their bassist Patrick Adams (also of Unknown Mortal Orchestra) is easily ranking among the finest in his field, and definitely stands out alongside Charlie Hilton’s bewitching and beautifully breathy vocals. The fact that their first album managed to come out sounding this flawless is something I haven’t seen since The XX, and that’s saying something given my feelings for that band. I shall be seeing them in a couple weeks and I am nothing but giddy with anticipation.
And that’s it, my favorite albums this year. Of course there were a lot of other great records that didn’t quite make the cut. Tyler the Creator’s Goblin, Childish Gambino’s Camp, and Saul Williams’s Volcanic Sunlight were incredible hip hop records. Tom Waits also put out another record this year and Bad Like Me is of course more than worthy of acknowledgment. Puscifer also finally managed to get it’s claws into me this year with Conditions of My Parole. As far as soundtracks go, Attack the Block and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo were incredible efforts, especially Dragon Tatoo. Trent and Atticus put an incredible amount of work into crafting three hours of pure misery, as well as a Bryan Ferry cover that can’t be missed. However, I probably listened to the Drive soundtrack more than anything this year, and it’s easily my favorite soundtrack by far. Next year has new records from The XX, Garbage and a variety of other promising musical adventures, so there is more than a lot to look forward to.
Anways, thanks for reading, and I’ll be back tomorrow to indulge my inner nerd and list my favorite video games of 2011.
Favorite Tens Photos of 2011, as Selected by The Tens. One from Each Month
- January: America’s Most Sustainable City
- May: Moving Sidewalk, SFO
- August: Hound of Hades 2
- September: Wait ‘Til Next Year
- October: Marlboro Country
- November: Occupy Airspace
- December: Sightseeing, Tenderloin, USA
Favorite Songs of the Year ~ Part 1 - 100-76
Favorite Songs of the Year (100-76)
76. Family ~ Satellite Stories
77. Saying I Love You ~ Girls
78. Bedroom Eyes / Caught In One ~ Dum Dum Girls
79. Bay Of Pigs (Detail) / Savage Night At The Opera ~ Destroyer
80. Paradise ~ Coldplay
81. (All I Wanted Was) Danger ~ The Milk
82. We Bros ~ Wu Lyf
83. Working On A Dream ~ Wintercoats
84. Vice Verse ~ Switchfoot
85. Make That Money ~ Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
86. Hamilton Road ~ Ducktails
87. Summer Blood ~ Phantom Vibration
88. Canopy Shade ~ Trophy Wife
89. Sun Goes Down ~ Icona Pop Ft. The Knocks
90. Let’s Move Back To Front ~ Zulu Winter
91. Love ~ Daughter
92. Last Known Surroundings ~ Explosions In The Sky
93. America! ~ Bill Callahan
94. Girls Like Me ~ TV Girl
95. Automatic Love ~ Model Worker
96. Easy ~ Tahiti 80
97. Together ~ Skizzy Mars
98. Shell Suite ~ Chad Valley
99. I Keep Holding On ~ Kodak to Graph
100. Fantasies ~ Carl X Johan
The James Bond Series
Almost 50 years ago, James Bond, already familiar to the reading public from Ian Fleming’s original novels, was introduced to movie audiences in Dr. No, the first film in one of the most financially successful film franchises of all time (only Harry Potter has done better, but that’s without adjusting for inflation, not to mention that the Bond series has no end in sight), leaving an indelible mark on pop culture, staying remarkably popular and relevant even amongst a constantly changing society and world. As a fan of the series, I decided to do a marathon viewing of all the Bond films, including the 22 official films made by Eon Productions as well as the few “official unofficial” films (“official” because they used the James Bond name legally and were based on Fleming novels, “unofficial” because they weren’t produced by Eon). After rewatching all the films, I’ve ranked them from best to worst, and done the same for the actors who played Secret Agent 007 as well. I also picked the best and worst Bond girls, villains, themes, title sequences, chase scenes, and more. If you’re interested to see my picks, just click the “Read More” button below to see the lists.
But before I get into that, I want to address one pressing question that always seems to come up when talking about the James Bond series: what is it that has made James Bond so unrelentingly popular for so many decades? The answer almost always given is, “Men want to be him, and women want to be with him.” Essentially, that is the answer, although I think we can assume that plenty of women would also love to be a secret agent just like James Bond, and that plenty of men would really like to have sex with James Bond. But I think there’s more behind that commonly-given answer. It’s not only that men want to be Bond or women want to be with Bond, but that men want to be Bond instead of themselves and women want to be with Bond instead of who they’re with now. Bond epitomizes the kind of escapism that the cinema has been associated with for years. He was a form of escape even for his creator - Fleming wrote the first book, Casino Royale, just prior to getting married after years of confirmed bachelorhood, as a means of expressing all the things he feared he would never get to do again (Fleming himself was a Naval Intelligence Officer in WWII, and also a known womanizer). Through Bond, the audience can experience the kind of glamorous, exotic, and exciting lifestyle that the vast majority of them will never experience. And it’s not only the cars, the clothes, and the sex that are enticing; it’s the idea of having a real impact on the world, of being at the center of global affairs and playing a part in keeping society running in a way that, again, few viewers would actually ever get to experience. And what’s maybe most key to Bond’s appeal to audiences is that even though he’s constantly saving the world, he’s not a superhero like Superman or Batman or Spiderman. He’s an average guy, a soldier promoted to Her Majesty’s Secret Service and trained to be a master detective and assassin. He doesn’t have super strength, super speed, super intelligence - he’s just a government employee who’s really good at his job. Unlike comic-book superheroes, a regular guy or girl could become a secret agent, and some of them in fact do, although it’s doubtful that their experiences are quite like Bond’s. None of us are James Bond, but maybe if we really wanted to, maybe if we tried really hard, maybe we could be James Bond. Alas, most of us don’t have it in us to actually try and be 007, and also some of us don’t want to be shot at, and we look uncomfortable when wearing a tuxedo, and we don’t particularly care for vodka martinis, regardless of whether they are shaken or stirred, so watching the Bond films is the closest we’ll ever get to being James Bond, and really, that’s probably as close as any of us really need to be.
Okay, enough of that. Time for arbitrary lists!
The Tens's Top Posts of 2012, as Selected by You, the People Who Click on Things
December: Pier 7
November: Revok, Steel, & Reyes in the Rain
October: Bay Bridge from AT&T Park
September: Your Existence Gives Me Diarrhea (2006)
July: Summer San Francisco
June: Gazing Seaward by Swoon
May: Buster Posey
April: The City
March: Capp Street
February: California Street
January: Go Niners