Tuesday, December 30, 2008

new year's resolution: become as cool as jarvis

(the amusing but sfx-laden official video is here)

your resolution? or top 10 you've yet to share?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top Hip Hop Albums of 2008 (according to Nolan)

1) Nas – Untitled
Although many felt that Nasir Jones did not deliver on this, this turned out to be lyrically the best album of the year. 14 years after Illmatic, Nas still brings brute passion in his rhymes. The wide array of smooth beats ("Queens Get the Money", "You Can't Stop Us Now") to bangers ("Hero") doesn't hurt either.

2) Elzhi – The Preface
Elzhi is quickly becoming one of the most respected MCs in hip hop. This album came out of nowhere, but impressed many, even reaching some more mainstream clientele. Elzhi has an amazing flow and incredible original rhyme schemes (check out "Guessing Game"). "Motown 25", which features Elzhi's Detroit buddy Royce da 5'9, is an absolute gem. The two MCs trade fantastic verses over another fantastic Black Milk beat. Definitely one of the best tracks of the year. Elzhi, Royce, and Black Milk will appear later in this list too.

3) Atmosphere – When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint that S*** Gold
The album was finished at the end of 2006, but Atmosphere couldn't get a release date until April '08. While there are a few weak tracks (I cannot stand "Dreamer"), Atmosphere delivers another superb album. Producer Ant lays down some incredible non-sampled instrumental beats, a first for him. There are some AMAZING songs on this album. Don't sleep on the last track "In Her Music Box".

4) Jake One – White Van Music
While this album also has some losers ("Dead Wrong" with Young Buck is awful). The winners more than make up for this. The MF Doom tracks are unreal, enough said. Brother Ali lays down one of his best on "The Truth" with Freeway. "Oh Really" is a fantastic short song with Posdonous AND Slug. Both deliver quality verses. "Soil Raps" with Keak da Sneak proves why he is not just a hyphy MC, his lyrics and swagger are fantastic. The gem of the album to me is "Glow" with our friends Elzhi and Royce da 5'9. Another incredible track with two of the most exciting MCs out.

5) Common Market – Tobacco Road
MC RA Scion and DJ/Producer Sabzi (Blue Scholars) turn out another incredible album with a whole new sound. Smooth beats and intense rhymes make catch new listeners attention and please old ones. There are fast songs and slow songs, something for everyone. The one problem with the album is that at times it gets boring and you lose track of what's going on.

6) Black Milk – Tronic
Black Milk is a superb producer from Detroit, mainstream or underground. He's gonna blow soon. The underground already loves him. He's Fatbeats' prodigy. While there are some so-so tracks, the bangers are incredible. "Losing Out" with Royce Da 5'9 is a SICK, SICK track. "The Matrix" is also incredible.

7) Q-Tip – The Renaissance
ATCQ frontman Q-Tip does not dissapoint with his new album. It's damn good. Quality the whole way through. Make sure you check out the Dilla produced "Move", the beat is sick nastay!

8) Murs – Murs For President
Underground warrior Murs makes is major label debut. While I was somewhat dissapointed, it's definitely a quality album (fortunately "Dreadlocks" didn't make it on the album). "Everything" is an amazing introspective song and their are a bunch of other excellent tracks.

9) 9th Wonder & Buckshot – The Formula
While definitely not a great complete album, there are some sweet tracks on this. Buckshot's rhyming skills have vastly improved since the Enta da Stage days.

10) PaceWon & Mr. Green – The Only Color That Matters Is Green
I literally discovered this album two days ago, but there are some AMAZING tracks. PaceWon was featured on the Fugees "The Score" and delivers a nice flow on some great beats. "Four Quarters" and "Children Sing" are tracks worth purchasing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

aaron’s favorites, 2008

[1] spiritualized—“songs in a&e”
not the first spiritualized record with laser guided melodies, but the first one with a laser beam to the heart

[2] nick cave & the bad seeds—“dig, lazarus, dig!!!”
furious, vulgar, masterfully composed and arranged—thirty years later, cave and his crew still shame your band and everyone else’s

[3] deerhunter—“microcaste/weird era cont.”
an almost-perfect cocktail of shoegazer, krautrock, eno and 60’s pop

[4] beach house—“devotion”
like a half-remembered dream over a meal of tea, biscuits and heroin

[5] the hold steady—“stay positive”
craig and the boys do it again, so well we forget that they’ve done it all before

[6] flight of the conchords—“s/t”
a parody album of almost rutles-esque brilliance, and the most awkwardly funky record you’ll ever hear.

[7] destroyer—“trouble in dreams”
another slice of lush, woozy pop from indie’s crankiest weirdo

[8] dungen—“4”
virtuoso psychedelia from frigid sweeden, more melancholy than ever but all the more beautiful for it

[9] stephen malkmus & the jicks “real emotional trash”
ten labyrinthine jams transmitted from malkmus’ perpetually stoned skull

[10] retribution gospel choir—“s/t”
alan sparhawk being crazy, but this time with a drum set and a stack of marshalls in his sandbox

Saturday, December 20, 2008

2 0 0 8

I could’ve pulled an Ebert this year, but that just wouldn’t be very satisfying, so here’s another somewhat arbitrary ranking of ten great albums from the past 12 months:

[1] M83 – Saturdays = Youth
The best thing since the “Time After Time” dance sequence in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.

[2] Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Virtue rewarded.

[3] Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
Pleasuredome II.

[4] Sun Kil Moon – April
Not as transcendent as 2003’s Ghosts of the Great Highway (one of the best albums of the decade), and doesn’t contain any stone-kold Kozelek klassikz like “Katy Song” or “Carry Me Ohio,” but April is still very much like a tree, in the summer, under whose languid boughs a sun-dappled dreamer can while away the precious hours (kidding).

[5] Secret Shine – All of the Stars
2008 was a great year for the 80s, and an even better year for the 90s. Case in point: authentic shoegazing masterpiece circa 1991 from Secret Shine, today!

[6] R.E.M. – Accelerate
Words, with the possible exception of “better Stipe-ocalypse,” can’t describe my reverence for R.E.M. This could have been total crap and I’d still love it. How can I convince you now that it’s actually really good?

[7] The Magnetic Fields – Distortion
This could also have been crap, so on and so forth, but Stephin Merritt’s songwriting formula (a wicker basket of wit + a measure of melody) has not failed him yet, not even when he gives it the Phil Spector treatment.

[8] Wye Oak – If Children
More vintage 90s in this horrible age of abuse and decay. If this band has a personality, I haven’t figured out what it is yet, but no matter, because they make totally irreproachable music.

[9] The Rosebuds – Life Like
2007’s “Get Up Get Out” was lovely; here’s a whole album of dark (yet sweet) pop songs, with a little bit of North Carolina grotesquerie (the type I’ve read about in Southern Gothic novels) creeping in at the edges.

[10] The Wedding Present – El Rey
The best Los Angeles album since Possum Dixon’s Star Maps (sorry, Celebrity Skin)—but setting aside, this is just another delightful dish of Gedge, best served Albini.

For the record, there were another 19 albums this year that I liked “a lot” and 11 that I liked “quite a bit” (not to mention all the stuff taking up space on my computer that I haven’t even played yet). I’ve never heard so much good new music in the span of a calendar year. Most of it has been supplied by WMCN, and I’m starting to wonder how I’ll survive when I leave this place… Onward to 2009!

(Have a top ten of your own? Post it here, or send it to wmcn@macalester.edu. Maybe we'll compile them or something.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 in blog
a roundup of 2008 in indie, with links to some vids/mp3s the blog has gifted the world in the past 12 months (along with inscrutable two-word reviews!):
jaundiced australiana: nick cave & the bad seeds--"dig, lazarus, dig!!!"
electronic elasticity: david byrne and brian eno--"strange overtones"
saccharine hardcore?: fucked up--"black albino bones"
dancable ghostedelia: cut copy--"feel the love"
reissues count*: the replacements--"can't hardly wait [echo chamber demo]"
in-studio awesomeness: jeremy messersmith--"love you to pieces"
better stipe-ocalypse: r.e.m.--"accelerate"
lovelorn, still: the wedding present--"spiderman on hollywood"
narcoleptic haze: beach house--"wedding bell"
sparse regret: edgar cayce--"let go"
pop attack: the baseball project--"jackie's lament"
folkgazer 2:02: wye oak--"please concrete"
*mental illness: sebadoh--"telecosmic alchemy"
no mimi: retribution gospel choir--"kids"
fucking majestic: spiritualized--"soul on fire"

Monday, December 08, 2008

Kill some time with The House of Love. As it turns out, the three best songs from their ultra-classic 1990 self-titled album (not to be confused with their supposedly classic 1988 self-titled debut) have videos, all of which can be found on a certain video sharing interweb database. If you prefer to experience the band's music without the sight of singer Guy Chadwick's odd face, then I suggest you forgo viewing the following.

Here's the best of the lot, called "Shine On." So huge!

Ah, no sound more comforting than the maelstrom of a big British post-punk melancholic jam. Next, a song in the Brit-pop rave-up vein, "I Don't Know Why I Love You" (...your face is a hammer in my head--nice!).

There's also a video for "Beatles and the Stones," for which embedding has been disabled (I'm assuming because images of the title bands abound). The vid is a bit too literal, and the song edit lacks the crucial intro, but if you can't relate to the words, then you have no business reading this blog (I need to stop saying things like that).

Happy finals week, everyone. Year-end roundups coming soon...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Grammy '09 Nominations

Record of the Year
Adele - Chasing Pavements
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
MIA - Paper Planes
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Please Read the Letter

Album of the Year
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
Ne-Yo - Year of the Gentleman
Robert Plant & Allison Krauss - Raising San
Radiohead - In Rainbows

As far as the hip hop side goes, Lil Wayne got way too many nominations (9). Even his fans did not consider this his best work. Once again, quality hip hop work was left out of the rap considerations and regular considerations (If Ne-Yo wins album of the year, that would be the most ridiculous thing ever).

Click Here to see all of the nominations