January Music Bests

To catalogue my musical experiences for the month, I’m going to present my three favorite singles and my favorite CD that I found this month. I think the theme for the month was “folk/country”, surprisingly. A lot of the singles that I enjoyed (and found on hypemachine) were in that vein. I, of course, have my horrible taste on display at hypem to make it easy for everyone to judge me.

Singles
3. Jay-Z – My President Is Black [mediafire]
I think Obama’s inauguration is obscuring my better judgment, but hey, if there was any month to listen to this song, it was this January. Runner-up was the not-incredibly-inspired but incredibly-fun Royksopp remix, “What Else Is There (Thin White Duke Remix)” [mediafire].

2. Frontier Ruckus – Orion Town 2 [mediafire]
I love me some country/folk. And how can you not appreciate a band that will name themselves “Frontier Ruckus”?

1. Soko – I’ll Kill Her [mediafire]
A song by an obsessive, murdering ex-girlfriend with an adorable french accent. How can you not love it?

Album
Deerhunter, Microcastle
Yeah, I’m finally jumping on the Deerhunter bandwagon. I don’t think it was as great as some other people do, but the soft vocals and tinkling music just kept drawing me in.

In other news, the Coachella lineup is out and once again it is awesome. Also, Lil’ Wayne is going to make a rock CD and the leaked songs are terrible.

The big bad Oscars day

Oh hoorah, the Oscar nominations are out. I suppose that means it’s time for me to kvetch about them, so kvetch I will. First, let me mention something from the New York Times article:

Gus Van Sant, nominated for his direction of “Milk,” struck the cool I-didn’t-realize-nominations-were-this-morning pose. “I wasn’t that attuned to the thing,” he said in a telephone interview. “My reactions don’t bend to the gameshow style of screaming and jumping up and down.”

Memo to New York Times: you are supposed to be reporting facts, not making snarky Entertainment Tonight-style comments. It’s hardly the only offending line in there but, really, I expect more.

On to the awards! I’m pretty surprised Benjamin Button got so many nominations. It was a decent movie but it certainly wasn’t great.  It did manage to make me think, about life and about the movie, and for that I will say it deserves something; few movies are able to really do that.  However, thirteen nominations is a bit much for a movie that wasn’t really special.

slumdog460

Best picture should definitely be Slumdog Millionaire. This was far and away my favorite movie of the year. Danny Boyle can be hit-and-miss, but this time he struck the perfect tone. It was just great story-telling with amazing visuals and cinematography.

Best actor I’m split between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke. Both were pretty splendid at their respective roles, with Penn absolutely capturing Harvey Milk and Rourke turning in the most believable acting job of the year. I guess I’d give the edge to Rourke.

Best actress is also mixed to me – I thought Meryl Streep was divine, as usual. She is always able to bring in the little tics that make a character truly breathe. Anne Hathaway was pretty good, so I wouldn’t be terribly dissappointed if she won, but she didn’t have the subtlety that Streep did.

Supporting actor is easy – Heath Ledger all the way. Hoffman was good, too, but Ledger really stole the show. Supporting actress is harder – not really that huge a fan of any of them. I guess I thought Tomei and Cruz were decent.

But the biggest sin was not nominating WALL-E for best picture. It may be an animated film, but it was easily one of the best films of the year and deserves a chance to win it all. That’s not unprecedented, and if any film deserved it, WALL-E did.  How can you deny that lovable little box of rust after all he went through?  Cold-hearted bastards.

Top 10 CDs of 2008 – Part 3

5. Cut CopyBright Like Neon Love

I got hooked on Cut Copy by their amazing album, In Ghost Colors. Craving more, I downloaded their first effort, Bright Like Neon Love. At first I felt tepid, luke-warm, even mild about this fantastic disc. But I slowly came to understand that while not as rambunctiously fun as their newest CD, their original was something to be treasured; I’m not sure if it’s just a little more complex, a little more downbeat, or a little more flawed, but it is something that stuck with me on those long nights of dishwashing.

4. The StreetsOriginal Pirate Material

How did I miss this so many years ago? “I’m 45th generation Roman, But I don’t know ’em, or care when I’m spittin’“. This guy is some sort of crazy intelligent chav, but his rhyming is so smooth and lyrics so unique that I can’t stop listening to him.

3. PortisheadThird

When I bought Third, I sat down with headphones on to work and listen to it as background noise. About halfway through I thought to myself, “This is fucking amazing.” It’s the only CD that made me think that all year, that really knocked my socks off. Portishead is intelligent and haunting, and is pretty much on repeat when I sit down to listen to a CD these days.

2. Crystal CastlesCrystal Castles

My favorite song is actually not even on this CD. But it’s the best of the 8-bit scene this year, which is really all you need to know. So much of their CD appeared on my various mixes throughout the year, that I’m going to be listening to them for a looong time.

1. Cut CopyIn Ghost Colors

Another CD that I didn’t like when I first heard it, which I suppose means I shouldn’t trust my taste. I thought the songs were cheesy and not particularly interesting. But I kept listening to it and listening to it; it is insanely catchy and the perfect background music for pretty much everything. Some songs from this CD are even starting to threaten Black Sheep Boy for the honor of being most-played over the last couple years.

Whew, glad I’m done with that. Now back to posting real stuff.

Top 10 CDs of 2008 – Part 2

8. The AnniversaryDesigning A Nervous Breakdown

I’d been searching for this CD for a long, long time.  The Anniversary put out two CDs before breaking up, and Your Majesty is a fucking masterpiece and is  on my list of all-time favorite CDs.  I kept hearing great things about their first CD, too, but I could never find it – until Avery just started playing it one day in our apartment.  This is definitely one of the hidden gems of early 2000 pop-punk.

7. ShearwaterRook

Speaking of all time favorite CDs, another is Okkervil River‘s Black Sheep Boy.  Shearwater is a sideproject of theirs to focus on quieter music.  Acoustic(ish) and somewhat mellow like A Weather but much darker and more menacing.  A little embarrasingly, I have not yet heard Okkervil River’s new CD, hopefully I’ll check it out before next year’s list?

6. Why?Alopecia

The first time I heard this CD I thought, “Oh wow, it’s a bunch of pretentious white Berkeley students rapping.  Aren’t they clever.”  They did have a couple of catchy songs, but I thought that was all there was to them.  Luckily, Priya kept playing them and I caught on to why these guys are so great.  Definitely a CD you have to listen through a few times before you can appreciate them.  They’re a wee bit strange, so give them a listen to judge for yourself.  The only proper music video is to my least favorite song of theirs, but what are ya gonna do.

Top 10 CDs of 2008 – Part 1

I want to keep track of my favorite ten CD’s that I discovered in 2008. This is not a list of CD’s that came out in 2008 – it is a list of CD’s that found their way onto my hard drive. I’ll do a list of singles afterward if I can figure out how to put up an audio player in my posts. You may now commence judging me.

#10 on my list is Portland band A Weather‘s new CD, Cove. This band easily has the most awkward band name to say this year, and that’s good enough to make it on the list. The male-female duet is hushed, patient, and perfect to listen to on a rainy morning. Their best song is Pinky Toe – I have a weakness for pointlessly long songs – but the rest of the CD is pretty damn good, too. Here’s the music video to the final song on their CD, It’s Good To Know.

Next is M83‘s Saturdays = Youth. I have mixed feelings about this one. It is undeniably good (undeniably), but it is nowhere near their previous two efforts. They have moved away from soundscapes and moved toward a less interesting new-wavey idiom. A for effort, but no A+ this time, guys! Here’s a video to their big single, Kim And Jessie, wherein the band shows their love for pink dance outfits, roller skating, and awkward choreography.

OK, more than two youtube’s in one post seems like a bit much, I’ll stop there for now. More to come later in the day.