Friday, December 28, 2012

30 Best Songs of 2012

Let me start by saying that I had aspirations of ranking 25 songs, with no repeated artists.  And then doing a list of 50 with repeated artists.  But Kent was going to do this with me, and he's in the hospital getting his sinuses and blood pressure worked on.  So my compromise is a Top 30 with repeated artists. 

I know, I know.  

No one cares. 

Here's the mix:





And here's my brief rundown of the Top 10!

1) Andrew Bird - Something Biblical - This is my favorite of 2012 for two reasons.  Number one, we heard it live, and it was a highlight of the year.  Two, it's about a drought, and as a household that struggled to get through a very dry summer, it struck a chord.  Not in a "we need rain to make a living way," but in a "The Lord Giveth, and the Lord Taketh Away" way.

2) Beth Jeans Houghton - This song has been on my best-of list all year.  It has two distinct sections on in one three minute song.  I love it when songs do that.

3) Stay Useless - Cloud Nothings - 1990's revivial.  The Nirvana kind.

4) Dear Believer - Edward Sharp and the Magnetic.... - I could have picked like four songs by this band that I liked all the same.  I picked this one. Interesting side note, in the last couple of weeks, I've tried to find this album on anyone's list of best albums - including individual DJ's on indie rock stations.  I believe I am the only person the rank them at all - let along #1.

5) End of the Line - Sleigh Bells - This band is underrated because they make simple catchy music.  History will be kind to them

6) Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) - Regina Spektor - Cutest song of the year.  If you are ok with the affectations.

7) Hood - Perfume Genius - I put this on a mix for Chelsey at the beginning of the year.  Now she loves it.  And I'm the hero.

8) The House that Heaven Built - Japandroids - Liked this song the first time I put the album on.  Finally Chuck and Brent have a song to rock out to.  Ended two sentences with a preposition there.

9) Radiator Sister - The Mynabirds - If I would make any changes from my album rankings, I would put The Mynabirds higher.  This is a good album.

10) Off To the Races - Lana Del Ray's album is full of songs just like this.  And I love almost all of them.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Best and Worst TV

BEST

1) Parks & Recreation - This is my favorite show.  Of the Thursday NBC lineup shows, it's the only one that hasn't dropped in quality this year.  (Not counting Community - which didn't make it back this year).  I think Amy Poehler is a national treasure, and while the characters are not based anywhere in reality, the writers understand how to make them relatable and funny consistently.

2)  Boardwalk Empire - This was my favorite season yet.  There were scenes this year that gave me goosebumps the way The Wire did.  Watching these very-well-developed characters square off makes for a compelling plot consistently. Chelsey misses how it used to be more sexy.  She loves sexy things.

3) Ben & Kate - I think this show is charming.  It's not carefully crafted at all.  It's just a dopey story about a set of siblings, but the jokes are consistently corny in a good way. It's got Melanie Griffith's daughter in it, and she and her costar are both charmers.

4) Children's Hospital - If this was a full 30 minute show, it would probably be my favorite of the year.  But it also might ruin it. I've never liked Rob Coddry in anything.  But he created this, and it's consistently randomly funny in a way that It's Always Sunny used to be. 

5) Workaholics - Always Sunny ripoff that usually had one or two scenes that made me laugh out loud.  At least two of my favorite TV moments from this year happened on this show.

6) New Girl - Had a stumbly start, but got progressively better this season.  I like the way Zooey Deschanel's character has been pushed to the back and the other characters are more prominent.  Jake Johnson is a funny actor.  He and Charlie Day need to be in a movie playing brothers.

7) Veep - Very cynical and funny version of Washington culture.  Julie Louise Dreyfus was just great in it.  So mean.  Everyone in the show was just so mean.

8) Walking Dead - Surprisingly good this year.  Meaning there was way less opportunity of the characters to talk about what they were doing before they were doing.  It certainly struggled at times, but most of the plot swings were solid.

9) Modern Family - Some people don't like this show anymore.  I still think it's funny.  And unlike some of the other shows on this list, they really carefully plot out the stories like Arrested Development.

10)  Pawn Stars - I love this song and I'm not apologizing about it.  So there. 



SHOWS THAT I LOVE AS A RULE BUT DON'T REMEMBER IN 2012

  • Community and Mad Men

SHOWS I WISH I WATCHED BUT I DON'T

  • Breaking Bad, Homeland, and Dowton Abbey.

WORST SHOWS:

1) Two Broke Girls - I don't watch this show, but often catch the first few minutes after How I Met Your Mother (which also kind of sucked this year) and I assure you all, it's horrible.

2) Weeds - I don't care that it was the last season, it sucked dick this year.  Should have ended last year.  I stopped watching it - even though I knew it was all ending this year.  That's how bad it was.

3) SNL is still dumb everyone.  The new performers are talented, but not talented enough to save this dying show. 

4) Saints football - Painfully bad most of the season.  Even when they played well it hurt.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best and Worst Things I Acquired This Year

Best:

  • Sink wrench - I got this a few weeks ago when I was replacing our kitchen faucet.  I could not believe how well it worked.  It literally turned faucet replacement into a 20 minute job.  
  • Our new back patio furniture.  Patio tables are for chumps.  And I was a chump until this year. Now that we have lounge-y furniture back there, my only regret is that we didn't have this setup while I was a smoker.  
  • Oscillating saw - What do you want me to cut?  Because I can cut any fucking thing with this saw. I cut the shit out of all kinds of shit after I got it.  
  • ipod nano - Anyone who works out should have one of these.  So light and small and has a little clip on it.  I can't believe they redesigned it this year.  That was dumb.
  • Booze caddy - I actually got this from Dave back in 2005, but it was at my parents' house until this year.  I finally set it up, and now I don't know what I would do without it.  It measures out shots.  It rotates.  It keeps the bottles off the counter.  Genius!
  • G.I. Joe Classic bound copies of the original G.I. Joe Marvel comic books.  I read damn near all of them. Childhood revisited.  Hooray.
  • Faucet - the aforementioned kitchen faucet was a real lifesaver. Now we have way better water pressure, and the sprayer works like a champ. Voosh!
  • Baby Bjorn - I could take Edith wherever the hell I wanted, and no one could say shit.
  • Rain Barrel - Technically Chelsey picked this thing up, but Chuck and I installed it.  Having a rain barrel and using it to water your garden means you can be as smug as you want about things.  The Kosterpeldings are part of the solution.
  • Stratus Pro Basketball Game from 1988 - I had this as a kid and overpaid to re-acquire it off of eBay  Childhood recaptured again.  
  • Gas grill - This summer, Chelsey and I paid $15.00 for a nice gas grill at a garage sale. I have always been against these, but as expected, now that I own one I love it. Grill goes on. Grill goes off. Terrific.
  • Blue glass figurines from my Grandma - When she moved into her apartment, I got the shadowbox that she used to hang on the wall in her house.  But she took the blue glass items it used to hold with her to the apartment.  When she passed away this year, I got most of the blue glass back into her shadowbox.  Now it's all hanging in our living room.  That's pretty great.
Worst:

  • When I got the ipod nano, I decided to wear it like a watch with this dumb wristband.  It was a horrible decision.  For like two weeks I looked like a huge douchebag.  Huger than normal.
  • New Balance 840's.  Purchased a week before the half-marathon for way more than I normally pay for shoes.  They didn't work out, and I felt like a moron.
  • Tilly & the Wall - Heavy Mood and Cat Power - Sun.  I can't believe we paid for these crap-ass albums. 
  • Maroon button down shirt. I got this from H&M, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out how to to wear it and not feel like a putz. Don't know why.  I just can't do it.  I think I'm a light colored shirt wearer.  That's just the way it is.   
  • A bright blue sweater vest with a Goodwill logo sewn on.  I feel like I'mrepresenting a car dealership or a printing company at a trade show whenever I put this on.




Monday, December 17, 2012

Brent Ranks 65 Albums and then 8 More.


BRENT’S LIST OF 2012 ALBUMS

1)      Edward Sharpe & the Magentic Zeros – Here – No one wanted to dislike this album more than me. And I ended up loving it. Its hippy dippy sound won me over somehow.  I think maybe to humble me in 2014. Next year I’m goiong to have to tell everyone that my favorite album from last year was Edwad Sharpe and then get made fun of or rejected.

2)      Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself/Hands of Glory – I’m putting these together and subtracting points for editing.  Two really good albums that could have potentially been a single great one.  Saw him in concert this year, and he was better than I’d ever seen him – though that may have been due to the fact that it was sit-down event.

3)      Celebration Rock – Japandroids – I like this album as much as Cloud Nothings, but Japandroids were on my radar longer, so I’ll give them the slight nod. Chuck likes them a lot. I like Chuck.

4)      Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory – I can’t wait to hear what kind of crappy album this band is going to make next, but this one is excellent. Sounds like early grunge.  Pre-Pearl Jam grunge.

5)      Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror – Sleigh Bells should teach a class to all young bands on how to take what you do well on your first album, and then do it again on your second album.  It must be hard to do, because bands like XX and How to Dress Well couldn’t manage it this year.

6)      What We Saw From the Cheap Seats – Regina Spektor – Regina Spektor is never going to make the next Pet Sounds.  But she’s a gifted musician and she writes catchy little songs that usually move me in some way.  I like her. 

7)      I Like to Keep Myself in Pain – Kelly Hogan – I have loved Kelly Hogan for a long time. She is the touring backup singer for Neko Case, and she’s always been charming in that role.  She had some stuff out in the 90’s that wasn’t all that great, but this one is good.  Charming rockabilly/country/torchsong stuff.  Highly recommended.

8)      First Aid Kit –The Lion’s Roar - Out Jens Lekmaned Jens Lekman this year. Prescious little melodies and lyrics over and over again.

9)      The Only Place – Best Coast – God, these songs are so simplistic.  But I truly enjoyed them all year long.  I don’t know why.  Like a modern day version of 50’s pop.

10)   Sharon Van Etton – Tramp – Nice collection of tragic little songs.  When I listend to it at the end of the year, I was surprised that I didn’t like it better.

11)   Moonface – Heartbreaking Bravery – Anthemy songs that pound away at you.  Repetitive, but dense and enjoyable – which is a hard thing to do.

12)   Heartless Bastards – Arrow – I think this band is led by a woman, but I’m not sure. It reminds me of pop pusic from the 80’s. I don’t know why.  Like the Joan Jett variety. Tough girls hanging out in satin jackets.

13)   Perfume Genius – Put Your Back in 2 It – Slow sad songs.  Reminds me of Sufjan Stevens’ Michigan album, combined with a little Elliot Smith, or Antony and the Johnsons.

14)   Wild Nothing Nocturne – New wave music from the 80’s done well.  I don’t even like that brand of music, but I respect it when it’s done well.  Like Junior Boys.

15)   Waste Up, Kneez Down – Christeene – Skuzzy drag queen pop by my friend Paul.  Solid production.  Clever lyrics.  I liked it.  Probably not for everyone 

16)   Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t - Jens Lekman – I love Jens Lekman. This album wasn’t his best, but it was a pretty weak year. Some good songs. Not enough humor.

17)   Lana Del Ray – Born to Die – What I like about this album is that there are so many things about it that offend my sensibitlity, yet I keep going back to it.  I though that Video Games was one of the best songs I had heard in a long time.  But the rest of this thing is kind of a mess. Yet I contitnue to listen.

18)   Mountain Goats –Trascendental Youth – Every so often Mountain Goats make a good album.  This was one of those times.  Great lyrics.  Strong melodies.

19)   Justin Townes Earle – Nothings Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me – I like this guy, dammit.  All his albums sound the same, but I’m buying it.

20)   M Ward – A Wasteland Companion – M Ward makes albums that I like. This wasn’t the best one he ever made, but it was still better than most of the crap that got carted out this year.

21)   Allo Darlin – Europe – They’ve taken over the Camera Obscura mantle of Belle & Sebastian soundalike. I gues that’s just going to keep getting passed off. The lead singer is Australian though. So that’s an issue. 

22)   Chairlift – Something – Uplifting inide dance music. Not really edgy. But spirited and sincere.

23)   Liars – WIXIW – Liars seem to be trying really hard.  They make me want to like them, despite the fact that I’m not given to what they do.  This is my favorite album of theirs.

24)   Tennis – Young & Old – This album was better than their last one – which is saying something.  Since their last one was a breakthrough album.  It’s catchier, and I connected with it more consistently emotionally. I found the last one to be someone shallow. 

25)   Dr. Dog – Be the Void – I like Dr. Dog better than anyone I know.  But this was my least favorite of theirs.  Sounds like they could have used some helpful editing.  No more songs about futuristic characters called “Warrior Man.”  Okay, Dr Dog?

26)   Passion Pit – Gossamer – I like what this band does.  They aren’t that great, but they hit all the notes they’re suppsed to hit. Which is more than I can say about a lot of other bands that have met with some succcess.  

27)   Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny - Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose – Hit and miss effort, but the highs were some of my favorite highs of 2012

28)   Royal Baths – Better Luck Next Life – It’s the same creepy sound over and over again. They get it right once, and then they waste about 40 minutes trying to do it again.  

29)   Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits – This is the guy from Handsome Furs and the Guy from Spoon. I like both of those bands. This project wasn’t their best work. If each of them do B work on their own. They got together and did C+ work. Boo.

30)   Damien Jurado – Maraqopa – I wish I had listened to this more.  He seemed like he was trying to stetch out his sound on it.  Like there are some head-bobbing moments on here.  I don’t know.  I should probably include this on the albums I didn’t have enough time to judge list.

31)   Menomena – Moms – Good stuff here.  Menomena needs to quit with the dumb word-play on their song names, but I think they’ve picked up where Folk Implosion left off. Which isn’t a bad place to start.

32)   Stars – The North – Undervalued band makes an album that hits on all the things they do well.  Sad songs and dance tracks.  Hooray.

33)   Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…. – Super dense. Nothing to sink ones teeth into, but a big hunk of creative energy.  Basically her and a piano. Kind of makes me uncomfortable to listen to it.

34)   Laura Gibson – La Grande – Laura Gibson won me over in concert a while back. It doesn’t come across in her albums, but she has a really eery steel guitar sound that mixes well with her equally creepy voice.

35)   Fanfarlo – Rooms Filled with Light – I tried to get into this album, but we never got past the early fascination phase.  I thought it was good, but it never grabbed me.

36)   Strange Land – Yellow Ostrich – Their songs are catchy and difficult at the same time.  But also kind of grating because of how they are delivered. 

37)   Theresa Anderson – Street Parade – She writes nice songs and dresses them up with quirky production.  To varying degrees of success.

38)   Grizzly Bear – Shields – This band is so overrated.  They aren’t bad.  But their on par with a whole host of so-so bands that don’t seem to be as well-loved as they are. This album was some of their best work – which is to say it was ok.

39)   Lambchop – Mr M – I like Lambchop, but you need to spend a lot of time with it, and as you can see, I don’t really have that kind of time. 

40)   Cat Power – Sun – Starts off great!  Then there are about 10 straight songs about being yourself, or following your heart.  Chan Marshall writing 15-year-old level poetry.  Very disappointing

41)   Shins – Port of Morrow – This isn’t The Shins – I don’t care what anyone says.  Which is not to say it’s not ok.  It’s just not the Shins.  And it’s kind of boring.

42)   Dr. John – Locked Down – The guy from Black Keys produced this.  But at the end of the day it’s another Dr. John album.  Not that bad.  Just played out.

43)   Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls – I don’t like this band that much.  And the fact that others really like them makes me like them less.  Plus, Chelsey doesn’t like the way the lead singer didn’t doll herself up for their video. 

44)   The Walkmen – Heaven – The frustrating thing about The Walkmen – well, there’s two things. 1) They seem like they should play the type of music I like. 2) They made “The Rat” which is one of my faorite alltime songs several years ago. Yet they continue to make boring music that I can’t listen to more than once or twice.  I think I’m giving up on them.

45)   Frank Ocean – Channel Orange – Many people are saying that this album is the best of the year.  Which means that they think an album with numerous non-musical interludes is the album of the year. Which means I don’t agree.

46)   The XX – Belong – Oh, XX.  You completely lucked into your first album, didn’t you? All the ingredients of the first one, with none of the charm. Boring.

47)   Tilly & the Wall – Heavy Mood – Tilly & the Wall used to be a knock down, drag our assault on all things lame.  Now they are old, and they don’t know what to sing about, or how to sing about it.  It’s sad.  I don’t like it.

48)   Conduits – Conduits –Local shoegazer band. Sometimes I can get into this. Most times I can’t. 

49)   Beach House – Bloom – I have every Beach House album. I don’t know why. They play these meditative melodies that don’t have any hooks in them. I like hooks.  No more Beach House for Brent.

50)   Dan Deacon – Electronic music and I don’t get on all that well.  This was ok electronic music. Some of it I liked.  But only in that passing “this isn’t that bad” sort of way.

51)   Yeasayer – Fragrant World – Yeasayer isn’t for me. Which doesn’t mean that this album is no good. It’s just that it didn’t do anything to make me like them any more than I did before.    

52)   III – Crystal Castles – This band lost all of the magic of their first album, and don’t seem at all interested in getting it back.

53)   Kids These Days – Traphouse Rock – A bunch of Chicago youngsters who thought they could change the world with their little songs.  They were wrong.

54)   The Flaming Lips - The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends – Don’t waste your time on this pile of mess unless you really like The Flaming Lips.  Ugh.

55)   The Big Pink – Future This – There’s no “Dominoes” on this album. Which is to say that there wasn’t much reason to listen to it.

56)   Imperial Teen – Feel the Sound – All I remember from this album is thinking “That doesn’t sound like a band called Imperial Teen.”  

57)   Jack White – Blunderbuss – Jack White is lost. This album is a waste of time.

58)   Benjamin Gibbard – Former Lives - Benjamin Gibbard is lost. This album is a waste of time.

59)   Islands – Asleep and Forgetting – I’ll be honest. I didn’t listen to this that much. I don’t really like Unicorns and Islands. I don’t know why I downloaded it.

60)   How To Dress Well – Total Loss - Yes.  It was a total loss.  Boring version of their last boring album.

61)   Animal Collective – Centipede Hz – I can’t listen to this fucking album.  Jesus.

62)   Yann Tierson – I don’t know why I downloaded this.  I had no intention of listening to it.  I have an older album of his and it’s largely background music. 

63)   Freelance Whales – Diluvia – Unsufferable for at least five reasons.  None of which I will go into here.

64)   Kiriyama Family – Kiriyama Family – Oh man. I didn’t like this.

65)   Maps & Atlases – worst of 2012.  Made me run to my computer to advance it when this album came on.

 

ALBUMS THAT I CANNOT RATE BECAUSE I GOT THEM TOO LATE IN THE GAME

1.       The Avett Brothers – It’s not looking good.

2.       Corin Tucker Band – Corin Tucker made a lame album last time around.  This one has more promise.

3.       Horse Feathers – I can’t tell if I haven’t been able to listen to this enough, or if they have failed to make an impression.  Time will tell.

4.       Lower Dens – no idea

5.       Mac Demarco – this guy makes me uncomfortable with his loosy goosy songs.  I’m inclined not to like him because he seems overly confident.

6.       The Mynabirds – This album has the most promise of any of these so far.

7.       Purity Rings – see:  Lower Dens.

8.       Titus Andronicus – I keep forgetting this album came out. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Week of Lists

I'm hoping to have a slow week of work, so I plan on using the remaining however many days to rank a wide variety of things from 2012.  In no particular order I will be rating my favorite and least favorite:

  • Movies
  • TV Shows
  • Purchases
  • Things I did
  • Albums
  • Songs
  • Sporting Moments
  • Things I read
I welcome all your input on these topics as well.  Let the lists-making begin.  Tomorrow.