Best Music of 2014

What a horrible year for new music.  There were quite a few albums I was looking forward to (The Antlers, Fanfarlo, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Lily Allen, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Beck, Lykke Li, Wooden Wand, How to Dress Well, The Rentals, Alt-J) that just completely disappointed me.  Especially you, Wooden Wand.  Get it together.  You were going to be my new favorite band.

These are the albums that I enjoyed. There is no order, because none of them were outstanding enough to be given a rank:

Andrew Bird – Things Are Really Great Here, Sort of… – This is an album of covers of Handsome Family songs.  It’s an Andrew Bird country album.  I like Andrew Bird, and I’ve been going through a big country phase, so I enjoyed this.  It also led me to explore the Handsome Family’s albums, which I just couldn’t get into.

Slow Club – Complete Surrender – I hadn’t been a big fan of Slow Club in the past, but this is very nice and R&B-like.  I’m pretty sure this is not what their other albums sounded like.

Allo Darlin’ – We Come From the Same Place – I liked Allo Darlin’s last album too.  This is more of the same.  They have a really good bassist, and that goes along way with me.

Chet Faker – Built on Glass It took me awhile, but I found my sexy album for 2014.  This is what How to Dress Well could sound like if they decided to focus on melody.

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music – Every best of list has this one on it.  It’s pretty good.  It’s edgy enough that you can listen to country music without feeling like you are listening to country music.

Benjamin Booker – Benjamin Booker – I think DP would like this album.  It’s aggressive bluesy rock n roll.  This guy can yell, and sometimes you need that.

LVL UP – Hoodwink’d – This gets a mention just because the lyrics reference the Silver Jews.  At first I thought that the album was supposed to be all cut up, but now I think my copy is just bad.  Anyway, I’ve got at least 7 songs that are whole, and I like pretty much all of them.  It’s got a nice 90s sound.

Sun Kil Moon – Benji – Now everyone who knows me knows that I love sincerity in my pop music.  If the lyrics are so sincere that you just want to cringe yourself into a ball, then I am right there.  Sun Kil Moon is like the indie Counting Crows.  This guy is pouring his heart out there on every song.  He likes to make mention that he’s the kind of guy who writes songs and goes on tour and connects with his audience.  There’s even a song about the Newtown massacre, that gets stuck in my head sometimes.   I’m cringing just thinking about it.

Best Music of 2013

Time for the annual post!  I hope I get a lot of comment spam!

I’ve become a lot more aggressive in my music ratings.  I don’t have a lot of time, and you don’t get a lot of chances.

Here’s my top albums.

1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Worst album title.  Worst name for a band.  Far and away the best album of the year.  It came out in January or February, and the CD is still in my car stereo today.  Well, a copy of the CD, because who puts the actual CD in their car stereo?  Dave.  I bet Dave does.  I’m not going to judge if this is the best Vampire Weekend album, as I think they are all excellent.  It’s quite a feat for a band to release three albums and not have any of them be a dud.  On Modern Vampires, they eschew the South African Graceland-esque guitar that formed the basis of their sound on the first two albums, and nothing is the worse for wear.  Vampire Weekend may be the best band recording with regularity today.

2. Wooden Wand – Blood Oaths of the New Blues

This may have come out in 2012.  I heard it for the first time in 2013, so it’s here.  I still remember where I first heard it.  I was parked outside of Mater Dolorosa Church after voting, and I got into the car as the second half of the first song, No Bed for Beattle Wand/Days Gone By, came on the radio.  I sat there and listened to the whole thing before driving off.  I then called up WTUL to ask who the artist was.  Calling up WTUL to ask who the artist is is just about my favorite thing in the world to do. I love those stoned kids.  Anyway, the stoned kid said it was “Woolen Bob.”  I ended up having to search for the “I gave it too much gas and I flooded it” line because “Woolen Bob” returned a lot of results about blankets, and the chorus of “days gone by” was just a little too common.  I got the album and discovered that the first song was eleven minutes long and included a great deal of droning repetition, so I put it aside for a long time.  For some reason, I decided to give it another shot, I don’t remember why or when, and Outsider Blues got its hooks in me, and I kept listening.  I even got Leslie to admit that it was pretty good, which I consider one of my major victories of the year.

3. Rhye – Woman

I need one sexy album every year, or I feel I’ve died a little inside.  In the past I’ve had The XX and Justin Timberlake, and this year I have Rhye.  I think I love a male falsetto almost as much as I love a baritone.

4. Phosphorescent – Muchacho

This year I discovered I was not the only person in the world who likes Phosphorescent when Brent K. asked me for their album.  I think this may be Phosphorescent’s best album.  Song for Zula is just wonderful.  I’ve been into peaceful music this year.  Nice pretty songs.  Phophorescent has really helped me out in that department.

5. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt

I’ve listened to this album pretty consistently throughout the year.  I don’t think I’ve ever skipped it when it comes up on a shuffle.  It reminds me of early Liz Phair, without all the sex.  Thoughtful lyrics, almost catchy tunes, scratchy semi-tuneless voice.   Good stuff.

6. Kurt Vile – Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze

Kurt Vile is still doing his thing.  If anyone wants to explain to me why I enjoy these 10 minute lazy stoner songs, please let me know.  Shame Chamber and Goldentone are just great.  I went to his show at One Eyed-Jacks this year.  I was in the front row.  I haven’t been in the front row of a concert since I was 19 years old.  It was fantastic.  It was crowded, but I could see everything, and I didn’t have to deal with dummies dancing into me, since everyone was all pushed up close.  My friends were a few rows back and had a miserable time.  Once I accepted that I wasn’t going anywhere, I could have stayed all night.

7. The Mountain Goats – All Hail West Texas

I like the Mountain Goats.  There’s a lot of good songs on this album.  I’m going to assume that there is some story behind this album that I am not aware of.  It sounds like it was recorded in Daniel Johnston’s garage.  The Mountain Goats are really good at making little short story songs.  I really enjoy the one about the teenagers who have a death metal band, and the one about the high school running back who injures his knee and starts selling acid.

8. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Yep, it’s a The National album.  This band is great at making this album.


Random Notes on Other Notable Albums of 2013:

The Arcade Fire – Reflecktor

Fire your producer, Arcade Fire.  There is a saxophone part on the chorus of the title track that is just awesome.  There’s another part towards the end where it comes in again.  The only problem is that it is buried way in the back of the mix.  Bring it to the front, and that song is fantastic.  Include more of it on the whole album, and the whole album is so much better.

Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the More I Fight, the More I Love You

Fire your producer, Neko Case.  Someone should have told you that the a cappella parts of this album kill an otherwise solid effort.  That song about the kid in the airport in Hawaii is just the worst.

Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium

A concept album about growing up in New Hampshire?  Sounds good to me!  Try a little harder next time, will you?  Making your songs sound like 80s radio songs is an understandable stylistic choice, but you have to be able to execute it.

The Dodos – Carrier

I love Visiter.  You’re just not showing me enough to continue believing in you.

Bill Callahan – Dream River

I don’t care what Brent Koster says, you keep on mumbling and rocking that flute.

Camper Van Beethoven – La Costa Perdida

I went to go see Camper Van Beethoven perform Key Lime Pie in its entirety, and then Cracker performed Low.  It was a great show.  I think that was this year.  It may have been last year.  Doesn’t matter.  That concert got me excited that a new Camper Van Beethoven album might be okay.  It’s not.

Houndmouth – From the Hills Below the City and Mount Moriah – Miracle Temple

I think my favorite magazine is Garden & Gun.  It’s about Fine Living in the South.  Their music section is good if you are looking for decent modern country/blues music.  I found the Alabama Shakes from them last year, and I found Houndmouth and Mount Moriah from them this year.  Both of these bands are straight up country  albums, a genre that I have found myself liking a lot more than I have in the past.  Maybe I am becoming a little lazy in my evaluation of music.   Houndmouth is a little rougher and makes good use of a male and female singer, kinda of like Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs.  Mount Moriah is just the female Dolly Parton voice doing solid country songs.  Julian loves Mount Moriah.  He dances whenever they come on.  I prefer the Houndmouth album, but who am I to deny my son’s choice.

Here’s my Best Songs of 2013.  I can’t say I put a lot of thought into the order after #25 or so.

1. Open – Rhye
2. Outsider Blues – Wooden Wand
3. Step – Vampire Weekend
4. Royals – Lorde
5. Song for Zula – Phosphorescent
6. Swan Dive – Waxahatchee
7. Ragtime – Neko Case
8. Eleonora – Laura Stevenson
9. Shame Chamber – Kurt Vile
10. Everlasting Arms – Vampire Weekend
11. Pink-Slips – Okkervil River
12. Pink Rabbits – The National
13. Unbelievers – Vampire Weekend
14. Muchacho’s Tune – Phosphorescent
15. Color in Your Cheeks – The Mountain Goats
16. November 2011 – Moonface
17. Local Girl – Neko Case
18. Come Down the Coast – Camper Van Beethoven
19. This Lonely Morning – Best Coast
20. Sink, Swim – Laura Stevenson
21. Here Comes The Night Time – Arcade Fire
22. Demons – The National
23. Obvious Bicycle – Vampire Weekend
24. Lips and Limbs – Waxahatchee
25. Terror in the Canyons (The Wounded Master) – Phosphorescent
26. Small Plane – Bill Callahan
27. 3 Days – Rhye
28. Suicide Girl – Belle & Sebastian
29. Durga II – Generationals
30. No Bed for Beatle Wand / Days This Long – Wooden Wand
31. White Teeth Teens – Lorde
32. Different Day – Jason Isbell
33. Byegone – Volcano Choir
34. Finger Back – Vampire Weekend
35. The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton – The Mountain Goats
36. Don’t Lie – Vampire Weekend
37. Snowflakes Are Dancing – Kurt Vile
38. Gig Life – The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die
39. I Tell Myself Everything – The Blow
40. Goldtone – Kurt Vile
41. Plenty of Girls in the Sea – MGMT
42. Joan of Arc – Arcade Fire
43. Southern Colorado Song – Wooden Wand
44. Don’t Swallow the Cap – The National
45. Singers and the Endless Song – Iron & Wine
46. Penitentiary – Houndmouth
47. Afterlife – Arcade Fire
48. Au Revoir (Adios) – The Front Bottoms
49. Reflektor – Arcade Fire
50. Night Still Comes – Neko Case

Because for some reason BK likes a list with no repeated artists, here’s that list.  It pretty much cuts it in half.

1. Open – Rhye
2. Outsider Blues – Wooden Wand
3. Step – Vampire Weekend
4. Royals – Lorde
5. Song for Zula – Phosphorescent
6. Swan Dive – Waxahatchee
7. Ragtime – Neko Case
8. Eleonora – Laura Stevenson
9. Shame Chamber – Kurt Vile
10. Pink-Slips – Okkervil River
11. Pink Rabbits – The National
12. Color in Your Cheeks – The Mountain Goats
13. November 2011 – Moonface
14. Come Down the Coast – Camper Van Beethoven
15. This Lonely Morning – Best Coast
16. Here Comes The Night Time – Arcade Fire
17. Small Plane – Bill Callahan
18. Suicide Girl – Belle & Sebastian
19. Durga II – Generationals
20. Different Day – Jason Isbell
21. Byegone – Volcano Choir
22. Gig Life – The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die
23. I Tell Myself Everything – The Blow
24. Plenty of Girls in the Sea – MGMT
25. Singers and the Endless Song – Iron & Wine
26. Penitentiary – Houndmouth
27. Au Revoir (Adios) – The Front Bottoms

Best Music of 2012

Apparently the only thing is going to be used for is to post a Best Music list once a year, so that Jimmy Valentine can find it 6 months later.  I’m ok with that.

Here’s my Best Albums of 2012:

1. Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself This is Andrew Bird’s best album since The Mysterious Production of Eggs.  It’s also the only album that I really listened to consistently throughout the whole year.  The others’ popularity came and went of the course of the year.

2. Feufollet – En Couleurs Yes, it’s a zydeco album.  Yes, it’s in Cajun French.  Yes, it did not come out in 2012, that’s just when I discovered it.  I listened to this repeatedly while I dug up my backyard and worked on my shed.  It’s great digging in the backyard music.

3. Christeene – Waste Up, Kneez Down For some reason, I thought I had put this on last year’s best of list, but it did in fact come out in 2012.  Maybe it was on my mid-year best of list.  No matter.  I’m not just putting this on here for Paul’s sake, I do actually think it is my third favorite album of 2012.  I love the corny, in-your-face music, especially on Bustin’ Brown.

4. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls I was really into this album when it came out early in the year.  I had read an article in Garden & Gun about them, and then all of a sudden they were everywhere.  Now, at the end of the year, I haven’t listened to them in months, or heard about the band anywhere.  I did give the album a re-listen a little while ago, and it’s a good album.

5. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar Country music from Sweden or some other Norse country.  Emmylou is great song.

6. Theresa Andersson – Street Parade I didn’t care for this at first, I thought it was slow and boring.  It crept up on me though, mostly as I listened to it as background music at work and I found myself liking parts of the album that I didn’t like before.

7. Dr. John – Locked Down – Koster claims that this is just a Dr. John album at it’s core.  He’s right, but Dr. John has been putting out a lot of uninspired albums for many years.  This is a Dr. John album in the vein of Desitively Bonnaroo and Gris-Gris.  In other words, good Dr. John the Night Tripper, not bad Dr. John and The Studio Musicians Sing All the NOLA Standards Again.

8. Menomena – Moms – It’s a Menomena album.  It’s not great, but if you like Menomena, then here’s their album, which sounds just like them.

9. Muse – The 2nd Law I’m ready to be mocked for including this.  This is some seriously corny music.  The singer’s falsetto screams make me laugh every time.  I would love to hear Muse do a cover of Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime.  I grew up on Operation: Mindcrime.  I love this over-blown, self-serious crap.


This year’s music had a theme: Get Ready to Be Disappointed by Phoned-In Performances.

Here’s a list of the biggest disappointments:

The xx – Coexist – I have an idea: Let’s take all the dynamism that made the debut album great and cover it up with string sections!

Titus Andronicus – Local Business – I have an idea: Let’s copy Bruce Springsteen because we are from New Jersey and so is he!

How to Dress Well – Total Loss – I have an idea: The record company says we have to make another album, let’s just noodle around in the studio for a couple days.

Frank Ocean – Channel Orange – I have an idea: Let’s get every trendy music blog to rave about Frank Ocean because he signs R&B songs about being gay, and they won’t even notice that the album is actually really shitty, rambling, dull R&B songs about being gay.

What happened?

Something happened with’s theme.  I’ve been running this site for a long time, and while I do keep it upgraded, I think it had been upgraded one too many times, and finally required a clean install.

Of course, this comes right during Carnival, when all my free time is spent on other activities, so we’ll have to make do with the default WordPress theme for now.   Perhaps my Lenten resolution will be to devote more time to good ol’, which had fallen into neglect recently.  Facebook killed the personal blogs.

Sorry man

It’s beautiful weather in New Orleans right now.  I was eating my lunch in Jackson Square today, and trying to finish the last Harry Potter book before the movie comes out.   As usual, there are a ton of people in the Square enjoying the day. I noticed a gutterpunk couple sleeping in the sun.  They looked comfortable.  Dirty, but comfortable.

After a chapter or two, I look up and notice that the woman, who looked to be around 20, is trying to wake her boyfriend(?) up.  She’s patting him on the head, poking him, kissing him, pushing him over.  There is no response.  He feebly rolled over at one point, and I figured he just wanted some more sleep.  She kept at him, and he remained motionless.  She stood up and tried to drag him, and he didn’t move.  I started to get concerned, but I know better than to get involved with gutterpunks, so I just kept watching, waiting for her to look like she wanted help.  She never did.

Eventually, she gave up trying to wake him, and walked off towards the front of the Cabildo, where I watched her talk to some of the street people there.  She didn’t seem too worried, although I did see her point in the direction of the Square once.

I was torn about what to do.  I surely didn’t want to go over to the passed out man in the Square, but I was also worried for him.  I didn’t want to read about how a young man overdosed in the middle of Jackson Square and no one noticed.  I contemplated calling 911, but didn’t.  Eventually, I saw an NOPD officer that I recognized pass by on a Segway on Chartres in front of the Cathedral.  I walked over to him and told him that there was a gutterpunk passed out in the Square, and that he didn’t look too good.  He said he would check it out.  I headed back towards work.

I was intending to go back to work, but my curiosity got the better of me, and I went back into the Square.  On my way, I passed the young woman.  She was talking to a tourist couple seated on bench and smoking a cigarette.  She still didn’t seem too concerned about her companion.

I got back to the center of the Square, and watched the cop approach the man.  He tapped him with his foot to wake him, but got no response.  He nudged him harder and spoke louder, and eventually the gutterpunk started coming too.  Then he lunged for the cops knees and tackled him.  They rolled on the grass for a bit, but the officer quickly subdued the man and called his partner over.  As he handcuffed him, the gutterpunk was wailing “No!” and “Please, baby!”  The cops were rough with him, I think deservedly so.  They never swung at him, but they did forcefully keep his head to the ground with their knees until he was handcuffed.  It was not pleasant to watch, knowing that I started it.  Eventually more cops showed up and he was taken in.  His girlfriend talked to the cops for a bit, but was told to go away.  She collected their things and walked off.

I really felt bad about the whole thing.  I knew he was going to get arrested if I told the cops about him.  I also knew that if I went over there myself, nothing was going to come of it.  I didn’t want him to get hurt, but I also didn’t want him to OD in the Square.  I’ve also been harassed enough by gutterpunks (you’re an easy target when you are young and wear a coat and tie in the French Quarter) to not really want to see them around.  I’m sure some are great people.  But my experience tells me that many are hostile, intimidating, and rude to everyone who doesn’t live by their philosophy of life.  I don’t wish them ill, I just wish they were nicer to strangers.

So, to the gutterpunk that I helped get arrested today in Jackson Square, I’m sorry.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I’m not really sure how I never saw this movie until now.  I think it came out in that period between 2002-2007 where I didn’t really watch movies.

Such a shame, because it is really a great film.  I had previously only seen Adaptation, and I could never understand what the appeal of Charlie Kaufman was.   After ESOTSM, I totally get it.  It was like watching an Italo Calvino novel.

What a boring movie Adaptation was.  Now I see that it wasn’t Charlie Kaufman’s fault, it was Nicolas Cage’s fault.   Or maybe Spike Jonze’s.

After checking Wikipedia, I see that Spike Jonze has directed three movies:  Being John Malkovich (written by Kaufman, which I haven’t seen), Adaptation, and Where the Wild Things Are (which is terrible).  I think perhaps Spike Jonze’s reputation is a bit overblown.

The Lovely Bones

My apologies for not updating this in awhile.  In order to try and make myself update more regularly, I’m going to try to put reviews of movies/music that I have recently seen up here.  Since I usually see movies about a year after they come out, I will not feel bad about posting spoilers.

The Lovely Bones.

I never read the book, but I’ve heard many people have.  It seemed like there was a lot in this movie that would be better with a deeper exploration, the kind you can do with a book that is harder to do with a movie.  I don’t feel I am the kind of person who needs a happy/satisfying ending every time, but it really seemed to me that the ending of the film said that it didn’t really matter that these children had died in terror at the hands of a brutal killer, so long as they had each other in heaven.  It was pretty unsatisfying.  Because I wanted a little justice in my ending, it made me feel like a movie watcher with totally unrefined and pedestrian tastes.