Top Albums of 2009

January 3, 2010

Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop albums:

I like some rap music, but I usually don’t enjoy an entire album of it enough to make my overall top 10 albums, so I thought I should give it a separate listing.

3.) Jay-Z The Blueprint 3– I don’t think this is a particularly good album, but it does have quite a few pretty good songs.  

2.) Kid Cudi Man on the Moon: The End of Day– Cudi can’t rap or sing very well, but there are some good beats and, like Kanye, you end up enjoying it because Cudi’s talent lies outside the actual rapping/singing.

1.) Mos Def The Ecstatic– A solid, eclectic rap album which avoids many of the pitfalls that, in my opinion, plague most rap albums (too much talking/skits, songs and album drag on too long, too many guest artists which don’t work particularly well but are included because it is a famous name).

Favorite EPs:

Too short in duration to garner votes for top album, but some of my favorite music of the year came off of EPs.

3.) Washed Out Life of Leisure– I bought this EP for the song “Feel It All Around” but the entire thing rocks.

2.) Animal Collective Fall Be Kind– I love “Graze” and “What Would I Want? Sky” is my #1 song of the year, and the final 3 songs of the album have been growing on me as of late.

1.) Delorean Ayrton Senna– All 5 songs on this EP are fun and upbeat and leave me in a good mood.

Top Ten Albums of 2009:

10.) Neon Indian Psychic Chasms– I have only had this album for about a week, but in that time I have listened to the entire thing 10-15 times (aided by the fact that it is a mere 30 minutes long) and am completely in love with it.

9.) Phoenix Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix– I was really trying pretty hard to keep this band out of my top album list, not because I don’t like them (which I do), it is just that I don’t like them as much as everyone else seems to.  Regardless, this is a very fun album with a terrific 1-2 punch in “Lisztomania” and “1901” and is more deserving of this spot than any other album.

8.) A-trak Infinity + 1 (mixtape)- If I included my list of favorite compilation albums of the year, this would have topped it.  My favorite party album of the year for some fun grooving music.

7.) St. Vincent Actor– The last 4 songs slow down and can bore me a bit at times, but the first seven are some of my favorite music from the past year, including “Marrow” and “Laughing with a Mouth of Blood” which didn’t make the top 20 but would have made the top 30.

6.) Japandroids Post-Nothing– I often have the need for a somewhat angry album that I can do a bunch of air-drumming to.  For a while I thought Wavves would be that band to make my list, but the Japandroids album is much better.  This is the type of album that makes me rethink my opinion of discordant garage rock.

5.) Girls Album– There is so much variability of sound on this album, it is hard to believe at times that all of the songs came from the same band.

4.) Yeah Yeah Yeahs It’s Blitz– When I showed up to Sasquatch! last May my thoughts on It’s Blitz (albeit only after 2 listens) were that it sounded just like there other stuff.  After seeing them live that weekend though and after many more listens I came around and now I think it is by far there best work yet.

3.) The XX XX– I have only had this album for about a month, so it is a bit of a risk placing it this high up on the list.  It receives such a  high rank though for all of the enjoyment I have gotten out of it in the past month and the future enjoyment of it I predict in the coming months.

2.) Matt and Kim Grand– Both my #1 and #2 albums came out in January 2009 and they have been at or near the top of my albums list all year long.  The album kicks off a bang in “Daylight” and then doesn’t let up for the next 30+ minutes.  I would predict this is the album that I listened to the most in 2009 and was my favorite album to pace my perfect pushup routine with.

1.) Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavillion– Well, no surprise here I guess except to myself.  All year long I have been attempting to find an album to supplant A.C. at the top of my list because I wanted to be original and figured MPP would be at the top of Pitchfork’s, KEXP’s and a million others’ top album list.  In the end though I had to accept that this has been my favorite album all year long and nothing else is worthy of the spot.  “In the Flowers” was my favorite song to kick off early morning run playlists, “My Girls” made the #5 spot of my top songs list, both “Lion in a Coma” and “Brother Sport” were close to my top 20 and I appreciate the fact that this feels like a complete album as opposed to just a collection of really awesome songs.


Top 20 Songs of 2009

January 3, 2010

A couple months ago I posted my top 20 songs and albums of the past decade, but that list didn’t include any songs from 2009.  If I were to redo that song list today, I may end up using a couple of songs from the following list:

20.) “Daniel” by Bat for Lashes- I originally had this song ranked about 21 or 22, but when I nudged Bat for Lashes’ Two Suns out of my top albums list I figured I needed to represent this band which I enjoyed a lot over the past year.

19.) “Cold Spring” by Cymbals Eat Guitars- I love how this song starts off slow and mellow and then blasts off into the upper stratosphere.

18.) “Animal” by Miike Snow- Just a catchy fun song that I listened to a lot the past year.

17.) “Tricky Tricky” by Royksopp (ft. Karin Dreijer Andersson)- Takes the corny joke “Why is six afraid of seven? Because 7-8-9” and turns it into an awesome electronic dance track.

16.) “All Yr Songs” by Diamond Rings- I really love this song and it probably would have made it up into the top 15 except I could never find a website where I could buy or download the song.  You can stream it from their myspace page though if you like

15.) “Two Weeks” by Grizzly Bear- My favorite song off a pretty solid album.

14.) “Seasun” by Delorean- I enjoy both the original version of this song and the John Talabot remix, and while different from one another, each manages to capture the essence of a sunny day at the beach into a matter of minutes.

13.) “1901” by Phoenix- Probably my favorite group sing-a-long track from the past year.

12.) “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi ft. MGMT and Ratatat- MGMT doesn’t add much to the song, but I love both of the tracks on Kid Cudi’s album which were produced by Ratatat.  

11.) “Sea Within A Sea” by The Horrors- I like it when songs are going along for a while at a certain speed and with a beat you like, and then they change it up to something you like even more.

10.) “Crystallized” by The XX- It is hard for me to choose a favorite song from this album, but I especially like in this song how the lead singers are each singing their separate parts and then towards the end they come back together but are still singing separate bits.

9.) “The River” by Akron/Family- I don’t love this song as much as I did at first, but this is probably the song that I listened to the most times in 2009.  I remember a trip to dentist in April where I listened to the song 3 times on repeat during the 15-minute walk there and 3 more times on the walk back.

8.) “Skeletons” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Probably only my 4th or 5th favorite song off the album, but this track gets the nod because it is the most memorable song I saw performed live all year.  At Sasquatch! they played this song with a haunting purple light bathing the stage which match the purple hue in the sky as the sun set over the Columbia River Gorge.

7.) “Snookered” by Dan Deacon- I once tried to explain to Mayme why I like this song so much, and I didn’t do it well and must have sounded high, but it came out as something like “This songs just covers so much terrain as it encompasses mountains, and valleys, river beds, and frozen tundra and transcends space and time as it flows through me…”  Needless to say, it is a kind of trippy song.

6.) “Lust for Life” by Girls- Until I just gave in and bought the entire album, there was a stretch of a couple of weeks where every morning I would wake up at 6am and stream this song a couple of times from  It makes me appreciate some of the trivialities of life when all it takes is a pizza and a bottle of wine to make you happy.

5.) “My Girls” by Animal Collective- A very pretty song with nice harmony which I enjoyed but thought was overrated by most people for quite a while.  Then I read more into the lyrics and learned that Noah Lennox wrote the song after his father had passed away as a promise to take care of his wife and young daughter.  Now when I hear it I get simultaneously very sad and very happy.

4.) “Daylight” by Matt and Kim- The first song that I really loved in 2009.  Just makes me appreciate youth and the wild nights that I won’t be having in 10 or 15 years.

3.) “Walkabout” by Atlas Sound ft. Noah Lennox- Another one of those songs that I would stream multiple times from Pitchfork every single day until I bought the album.

2.) “Warm Heart of Africa” by The Very Best ft. Ezra Koenig- This is one catchy son of a bitch with an infectious beat and a fun chorus sung by the Vampire Weekend frontman.

1.) “What Would I Want? Sky” by Animal Collective-So yeah, it was a pretty good year for Animal Collective.  I didn’t hear this song until around Thanksgiving, but I have been listening to it nonstop ever since.  It is interestingly constructed with the first 3 minutes a swirling haze of typical A.C. synthesized sounds and tribal drums and then halfway through the fog instantly clears into the most lucid and poppy music A.C. have ever made.  I am definitely excited to see what this band has to offer in the upcoming decade.

Top 20 Albums of the 2000s!

October 16, 2009

Now I come back with the 2nd part of my “Top Music of the Decade” lists: my top 20 albums.  As I had mentioned previously, I wasn’t a very big music fan until about the time that I graduated college in 2007.  As a result, over half of the ensuing list comes from the years from 2007-2009.  I did my best though to try and incorporate music that I was listening to earlier in the decade.

In preparing to make this list I re-listened to about 60 candidate albums in their entirety in order to assign them a score that took into account both their quality and the emotions surrounding them.  Every album was assigned a “goodness” score from 0.0 to 10.0 and certain albums were given emotional bonus points from 0.0 to 1.0, for a maximum value of 11.0.  I realize that it is impossible to separate emotions from the quality score, so the bonus points are only given in instances where I had a good concert experience or have particular fond memories of an album.  I also at times throw bonus points around willy-nilly if I feel that the goodness score doesn’t reflect an album’s importance to me.  On the assumption that everyone else enjoys numbers as much as I do, I will display my scoring tally for each album on the list so that you can see exactly how it made it onto the list.  As an example of how it will be displayed, the album Everything All The Time by Band of Horses was one of a few to narrowly miss the list.  The scoring for this album would be presented thusly 8.7 (8.5+0.2).  It received a 8.5 on the quality scale and it got 0.2 bonus points for reasons associated with “The Funeral” that I mentioned in my Top 20 Songs of the Decade list and also because the music video for “The Great Salt Lake” reminds me of hanging out at Greenlake.  Alright, now that you know how things will work, ON WITH THE LIST!

Narrowly Missed the Cut

Live 2000 by Built to Spill 9.0 (8.9+0.1): A terrific live album that includes two epic twenty-minute long jamming songs.  It scored well enough to make the list, but in the end I decided to disqualify it because while it came out in 2000, pretty much all of the songs originated in the previous decade.

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? by Of Montreal 8.7 (8.6+0.1): I wanted to include this album on the list because more than any other album from the decade, I think that it tells a story from beginning to end and feels like an album instead of a collection of songs.

Spiderman of the Rings by Dan Deacon 8.7: When compiling my list of my top 20 songs, I was very tempted to include “Wham City”, a catchy twelve minute track about a world where all the humans are gone and there is a big castle where a bear has a band with a bunch of ghosts and cats and pigs and bats.  Needless to say, my kind of song.  In the end I decided to not include it on the list but made Dan Deacon a compromise that I would include his album on my top 20 list.  But now I have to say that I am turning my back on that promise and Spiderman of the Rings missed the list, but I thought I would at least give it a shout out.

Get Rich or Die Tryin’ by 50 Cent 8.4 (8.1+0.3): This is a very difficult album to listen to all the way through, in fact the first time I ever did it was this past week when I was trying to score all of my candidates.  There is only so much of 50’s swagger that I can handle before it gets annoying.  While the album is flawed, there are a ton of great tracks from it including “If I Can’t”, “In Da Club”, “P.I.M.P.”, “21 Questions”, and my favorite “Patiently Waiting” with Eminem.  I thought I should give this album an honorable mention because of how these songs remind me of my early college years.  I’m not sure how many times freshman year I went to Terrell Owens’ (NFL player) website just so I could hear “If I can’t….do it……it caaaaaaaaaan’t be done” playing in the background.

Nellyville by Nelly (duh!) 8.4 (8.0+0.4): I have a lot of fond memories of this album from the summer of 2002.  I spent so much time that summer driving around with my friends James, Missy and Korbi having impromptu dance parties with Nellyville playing.  “Hot in Herre” was obviously the dance party star, but there were plenty of other terrific songs on the album like “Pimp Juice”, “Air Force Ones” and “Country Grammar (CG) 2”.  That was a time in my life when I wasn’t worried about the future or asking myself what I was going to do with my life, but rather “Why are cups outlawed in Nellyville?”

Top 20 Albums of the Decade

20. Kid A by Radiohead 8.8: The album that was #1 on Pitchfork and plenty of other peoples decade album list, but it just has never sounded THAT good to me.  I think that I am missing a lot of the appeal because it came out in 2000, but I didn’t listen to the entire album until 2008.  I think that Kid A is a great album, but it is only included on this list based on the strength of “Idioteque”, “The National Anthem”, and “Everything in its Right Place” (and “Optimistic” to a lesser extent).

19. Funeral by The Arcade Fire 8.8: A couple of weeks ago I listened to this album and gave it a 8.1, relistened and gave it a 8.3, listened once more and 8.5, one more time and it was 8.7, and a final listen gave it 8.8, but it might have kept climbing higher if I just listened to it a few times.  This was an album that I loved in college when it came out, but I had forgotten about it for a while and stopped listening, but I am glad that I brought it back out to make this list.  So far my list is the same as’s only in reverse order, does that mean that next is Daft Punk’s Discovery?


18. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! 8.8: Another album that I stopped listening to after its college phase, but it is very solid all the way through.  “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” is still probably my favorite song from the album.

17. Kala by M.I.A. 8.9 (8.8+0.1): This is an album that I loved a lot of songs from for a while, but I didn’t appreciate it as a whole album until the past couple of weeks.  Even though my obsession for “Paper Planes” has long past, there are a ton of great tracks like “Boyz”, “Jimmy”, and my favorite at the moment “Come Around” with Timbaland.  The only weak link in the album is the song that Mayme really likes, “Bird Flu”.  I’m just kidding, its an OK song.  The album gets a bonus point from M.I.A.’s performance at Sasquatch! that initially made me a fan.

16. Crystal Castles by Crystal Castles 8.9 (8.7+0.2): I have always had pretty mixed feelings about this album.  At first I felt that it was comprised of half catchy dance tracks, half seizure-inducing Japanese video game music.  After a number of dance parties and hearing part of their set at Sasquatch!, I have gotten over a lot of the mixed feelings and now I love the entire album with the exception of “Xxzxcuzx Me” which is impossible to listen to and has to be skipped at once.

15. Made in the Dark by Hot Chip 8.9 (8.7+0.2): If I had been listening to music for the entire decade this album definitely would not have made the list, but as it is, it gets a huge boost from being at the forefront of the music aficionado phase of my life.  I said plenty about Hot Chip during my top songs list, I like them a lot but their albums always consist of terrific dance tracks peppered with slow ballads that screw up the flow.  Made in the Dark ultimately makes the list because Hot Chip may have been my second favorite concert of all-time.

14. Tenacious D by Tenacious D 9.0 (8.6+0.4): I didn’t really want to include this album, but I couldn’t deny the memories tied to it.  Late in high school James and I used to drive around to this album so much that I learned the entire thing by heart and can still recite pretty much all of the words when I listen to it.  My favorite lyric from the album is probably the part in “Fuck Her Gently” that goes “What’s your favorite dish?  I’m not gonna cook it but I’ll order it from ZANZIBAR!!!”  I originally thought that Zanzibar was some imaginary  wizard’s realm, then I found out that it was an island off of Tanzania, and I just recently found out they are talking about an actual restaurant in NY.  Doesn’t  matter, it’s funny regardless.

13. Parc Avenue by Plants and Animals 9.0 (8.9+0.1): I love their diversity of sound not just between different songs on the album, but even during the course of a single song they can go from sounding like a classic rock group to electronic rock.  I was turned on to Plants and Animals by a KEXP Live Performances Podcast which to this day I think sounds better than the album, which is proof that I need to go see them live sometime in the near future.

12. Merriweather Post Pavillion by Animal Collective 9.0: The only music from 2009 on this list or my top songs list, but I will be coming out with a best of 2009 list in a couple of months so no worries.  Before this album I had been a nominal Animal Collective fan more than an actual fan, but that changed with MPP.  Everything from the melodies to the rhythms to the layers of sound on the album sounds terrific.  Unfortunately none of that transferred over very well to their performance at the Gorge, but I think it would be a different story in a smaller, enclosed venue.  

11. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco 9.0 (8.9+0.1): It is unfortunate when you get turned on to a band by an ex-girlfriend, because then for a while after you are reminded of them every time that you listen.  That phase is over for me now so I can listen to Wilco unfettered and it actually probably adds to my overall appreciation of the album now.  

10. The Power Out by Electrelane 9.0 (8.5+0.5): My first year at Sasquatch!, during Electrelane’s performance  I had a special brownie-fueled dance freak-out that I did not know my body was capable of.  When I got home from the trip I bought a couple of Electrelane CDs and while I couldn’t remember the music from the concert whatsoever, I had plenty of personal dance-off-with-my-pants-off kinds of moments listening with my headphones.  Unfortunately for that particular Sasquatch! trip, I ate a second brownie, passed out in a porta-potty for a while, and then proceeded to sleep in the food court through The Arcade Fire.  Otherwise I might have had a few more memorable music moments like Electrelane from the trip.

9. Give Up by The Postal Service 9.0 (8.7+0.3): The only album that I have continued to be a fan of through high school, college, and still today.  I’m not as big a fan as I once was, but it is still a great album to put on as background music for many occasions.

8. For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver 9.0 (8.9+0.1): There is a very limited amount of music that I can’t listen to while reading and not be distracted, most of it being classical Vivaldi, Philip Glass, Mozart, etc.  Bon Iver’s music is one modern exception, the music is so peaceful and relaxing that it tends to enhance my reading.  Unfortunately, while 37 minutes long, the album always feels like it ends when I just started playing it.

7. In Ghost Colours by Cut Copy 9.1 (8.9+0.2): I am a sucker for transitions between songs and In Ghost Colours has some of the best.  Cut Copy sounds like a newer version of some older bands (especially New Order) that I was too young to ever be a fan of before, so Cut Copy has served as a musical gateway for me into bands like New Order and Joy Division.  Plus the Cut Copy concert was a blast so it deserves a spot high up on this list.

6. Writer’s Block by Peter, Bjorn, and John 9.1 (8.9+0.2): Just about every song on this album is terrific, and I think that it has some of the best bonus tracks (“Ancient Curse”, “Self Pity”, “Sitar Folks”) from any album of the decade.  This is one album where no song has remained my #1 for very long.  “Objects of My Affection”, “Young Folks”, “Up Against the Wall”, “Chills”, and “Let’s Call It Off” have all been my favorite song from the album at one point or another.

5. Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes 9.1 (9.0+0.1): My top album of 2008 and still sounding terrific today.  I still need to find some way to commission these guys for my personal meadow concert.

4. Person Pitch by Panda Bear 9.2 (9.1+0.1): Sounding better than any Animal Collective album in my opinion is Panda Bear’s solo album Person Pitch.  Just seven tracks long, but anchored by two vast twelve minute tracks “Bros.” and my favorite “Good Girl/Carrots” which sounds more like three songs in one.  In the same vein as the Bon Iver album, this is a lovely and relaxing album that makes me think of beach parties, sunshine, and good times.

3. The Moon and Antarctica by Modest Mouse 9.3: The grand opus from Modest Mouse’s catalog and one which they are never likely to surpass based upon their musical style since.  This album comes from a time when Isaac Brock’s lyrical writing was at its best and before his sounded so Tom Waits-like harsh on most tracks.  The flow and tone of the album really make it feel like a singular work of art, as if nothing could be added or taken away which wouldn’t diminish the whole.  

2. Alive 2007 by Daft Punk 9.4 (8.8+0.6): As I went into great detail on in my Top Songs of the Decade list, the concert that this album comes from was really fucking awesome.  While the lights and sounds that made this night so memorable were definitely enhanced by special brownies at the time, my memories of them today are even more remarkable and vivid.  Looking back at my Daft Punk concert experience in July 2007, I see it as a transformative moment in my life.  At the beginning of that day I was a recent college grad but still in college student mode, but after this concert I had entered into the phase of “real world adult” and with it began my current phase of musical appreciation.  

1. Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem 9.4: Well, here we are at my #1 album of the entire decade.  I have never been to an LCD Soundsystem concert.  I don’t have any fond high school or college memories of them (other than Mark used to play “Daft Punk is Playing at My House”, but that is off an earlier album).  I simply think that this is the best made and especially best produced album of the decade.  James Murphy (singer on LCD Soundsystem songs) and the rest of the DFA production team are truly the producers of the decade in my opinion.  A number of my top songs from the decade are made truly great by DFA’s work (“House of Jealous Lovers”, “Over and Over”, “Ready for the Floor”, “Blind”, and my favorite from Sound of Silver “All My Friends”).  Nowhere is this more prevalent than on LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver.  Murphy manages to transform his average everyday musings and ramblings into an amazing mixture of dance and rock music.  Every song on the album feels like a classic to me now.   I have even gotten over my dislike of how Murphy sounds like he has a cold on “North American Scum” and the goofy lyric “We can’t have parties like in Spain where they go all night…Or like Berlin where they go another night, ALRIGHT!”  There is such a diversity of styles on Sound of Silver that there is something that everyone could like, although for all its diversity the album feels like a single album at the same time.  I could keep rambling about various things that I like about Sound of Silver or you could just go listen to it.  Murphy makes rambling sound so much better than I do.

Top 20 Songs of the Decade-2000s!

October 5, 2009

Over the past few months I have slowly been performing the difficult task of compiling my lists of my favorite songs and albums for the entire decade.  The year 2000 found me just a couple of months into my freshman year of high school, and then the decade spanned the length of the rest of my high school and college years, as well as these past couple of years as a post-college “adult”.  Over that time my taste in music has changed almost as much as I have as a whole, going from listening to bands like Korn, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit to the vast array that I am a fan of these days (a list that no longer includes Korn, I am proud to say).  So of the thousands of songs that I have enjoyed this decade, how does one choose the top 20?  There are a number of factors to consider about a song: newer songs have a feeling of freshness and are less likely to be ruined by radio overplay, whereas older songs offer familiarity and a sense of nostalgia.  Many songs for me are the ultimate zeitgeist, vividly recalling memories of dorm-life in college or my wacky high school phases.  Other songs feel timeless, as if I have always loved them and always will.  Some songs are special to me because they changed the way I thought about music or even life in general, whereas a large number from my top 20 list are included just because they make me want to fucking DANCE!  There may be some worthy songs that I have forgotten about over the course of ten years, and there are plenty of worthy songs that I am aware I have left off my list, but this is to the best of my knowledge my top 20 (actually kind of 25) songs of the 2000s.

Just missed the top 20:

Hustler-Simian Mobile Disco: I have heard a lot of remixes and various cuts of this songs, but my favorite is just the original off of “Attack Decay Sustain Release”.  A good dancey song and one of my favorite push-the-pace running songs.

Stronger-Kanye West: Not my favorite Kanye song, but he rode Daft Punk very mainstream which I enjoyed.

Boy From School (version from Live at KEXP vol. 3)-Hot Chip: I really love this song, but Hot Chip is already well represented up ahead, so there was no room in the top 20.

Hard to Concentrate-Red Hot Chili Peppers: Kind of a cheesy love song, but I have always really enjoyed it.  I feel like there is so much emotion behind Anthony Kiedis’ voice in this one.

The Past is a Grotesque Animal-Of Montreal: A full-blown emotional purge with an infectious background rhythm and UFO-like synths near the end.  It always feels so much shorter than 12 minutes.

20. Goin’ Against Your Mind-Built to Spill: This was probably my primary party anthem of summer 2006.  My two fondest memories of this song (1)Listening to this song with Mark and Nate while trying to pack up our stuff before going in to a Gorge concert, but being too drunk and excited and riled up by the music so we keep falling down and running into one another, and (2) Going with Nate out to Woodenville or someplace to hang out with some girls, but I had to leave early, so I tried to drive out of the apartment complex but got really lost in the parking lot and spend the entire 8:41 length of this song trying to escape the parking lot. (you would have to be there to understand, it was a very complicated apartment complex)  My main reason for putting this song #20 is because when I listen to this list later in descending order, I really want the drums at the start of this song to kick it off.

19. Float On-Modest Mouse: Not my favorite Modest Mouse song, hell, probably not one of my top 10 favorite Modest Mouse songs, but it is the song that made me a fan of the band so I need to give it some props.

18. The Funeral-Band of Horses: First time I ever heard this song was the same Gorge trip I mentioned at #20, Mark timed his playing of it so that the guitars kicked in right as we were getting on the freeway and it sounded pretty awesome and I think gave us good luck the rest of the trip.  Then on the way back he managed to time that same part so that the guitars kicked in just as a sunny Seattle came into view and we were heading on to the floating (520? 405? I never drive…) bridge.  We tried to recreate similar moments later on with this song, but they always ended in failure, but I think two epically memorable moments with one song is pretty darn good.

17. Hips Don’t Lie-Shakira (ft. Wyclef Jean): Because Enrique’s Bailamos narrowly misses out on the window of this countdown, I had to put something on the list with that latin dance flavor.  This song always gets me pumped up for partying.

16. House of Jealous Lovers-The Rapture: I love the cowbell!  Probably my favorite cowbell song of all-time.  

15. Lose Yourself-Eminem: Whether for a school presentation, a race, or even just an average day: the greatest “pump-up/time to get serious” song ever in my opinion.

14. Fireworks-Animal Collective: I think Mayme summed up pretty well why I really enjoy this song: it just makes me think of hanging around a campfire with a group of friends on a warm summer night.

13. Ms. Jackson-Outkast: I forgot about this song for a long time, but I love it.  I liked the music video with that singing owl, I love singing along to it, and it contains one my most memorable hip-hop lyrics, “You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather…”

12. I Will Follow You Into the Dark-Death Cab For Cutie: The first time I ever heard this song was at a wedding and the couple chose this song as their “first dance” or whatever it is called.  I was very touched by the song and that moment, then they followed up that song with Johnny Cash’s cover of the the Beatles “In My Life”.  It all wraps up together as just one big beautiful night in my mind and so this song has always had a special place in my hard even though it sounds kind of cheesy now.

11. 12:51-The Strokes: I really love this song!  I think I like it more today than I ever did in the past.  It completely reminds me of my freshman year of college, which remains probably the most wild and fun year of my life, especially the line “We could go and get 40s, fuck going to that party”.  I love the handclaps, the early nintendo-esque background rhythm, and just the feeling of youth that comes with this song.

10. Ready for the Floor-Hot Chip: My #1 tune of 2008, and still rocking me steady in 2009.

9. Over and Over-Hot Chip: There is so much going on this song, from the wind-chimes at the beginning, to the non-Sesame Street-approved counting throughout, and the angry-bee-like noise in the background.  My favorite part though is the climax after the first counting session when the angry bee goes buzzing all over the place.  I have a fond memory of Mark and I driving around the beaches of his hometown in Laguna Beach doing all sorts of crazy goon-ball dancing with the windows down when the music hit the climax.

8. Ignition (Remix)-R. Kelly: Hot Damn!  What can I say about this song?  It is ridiculous but I absolutely love it.  If I had a nickel for every time in the past 7 years I have done a group sing-a-long to this song I would have at least…oh…maybe $1.40?

7. While You Were Sleeping-Elvis Perkins: One of my favorite songs I have ever seen performed live.  Elvis Perkins was opening for My Morning Jacket and they started off the set with this song.  Elvis started out on stage alone singing and playing his guitar surrounded by a variety of other instruments, and then about every minute a different member of the band would come on stage and start playing drums, bass, trombone, piano, etc.  It was pretty awesome and flowed very well.  This song also has some of my favorite lyrics ever.  

6. B.O.B.-Outkast: I have never been very good about learning song lyrics, but in high school there are three songs that I went to painstaking lengths to make sure that knew every single word: Colors of the Wind (from Pocohontas), Under the Sea (from the Little Mermaid) and B.O.B.  Let’s see how well I still remember it…”1,2,1,2,3 YEAH!  In-slum-national, underground, thunder pounds when I stomp the ground, WHOOP, like a million elephants with silver-backed oragutans, you can’t stop the train, who wants some, don’t come un-pre-pared, but when I leave there, better be a household name, weatherman tellin’ us it ain’t gonna rain…”   Believe me, I could go all the way through but I won’t bore you.  

5. Wolf Like Me-TV on the Radio: I love how fast this song moves, it always makes me want to dance or run fast or simply live my life to its fullest.

4. All My Friends-LCD Soundsystem: This song does two big things for me, it reminds me of traveling around Europe and it reminds me, whenever I get too serious about a career, or school, or the future to simply take a little time to enjoy youth and my life now.

3. Human After All/Together/One More Time (reprise)/Music Sounds Better With You (Alive 2007 encore)-Daft Punk: Wow…I don’t think I can ever properly explain what this song means to me.  The night of this concert, and especially the climax of this song, are some of the greatest moments of my life.  Imagine a night of special-brownie influenced dancing and hi-jinks leading up to this finale.  The lights go completely out so you can’t see anything except for the occasional camera flash or cell-phone light, and the expectation of the song is building and continuing to build, “TOGETHER………TOGETHER….TOGETHER”, you know something is coming but you aren’t entirely sure what, the pressure wells up inside of you, and then the climax hits with the “BUH NUH NUH NUH BA NA NA NUH” just before “One more time”, and a bright red outline lights up the suits of the two Daft Punk guys in their pyramid with a bright red “Daft Punk” behind them, and all of your expectation an curiosity is let out at once in a single burst of pure joy.  I still don’t think you really understand what it was like, but it is the closest thing that music can ever be to terrific sex, and was very likely even better than terrific sex.

2. Idioteque-Radiohead: The song that made me a fan of Radiohead back when I thought that I hated them.  Idioteque has possibly shaped my ability to appreciate various types of music more than any other single song in history.  It opened the door for me to begin to like more types of electronic music and helped shape me into the music fan that I am today.

1. Blind-Hercules and Love Affair: Everything about this song is so perfect to me, the lyrics and the trumpets and how well Antony’s voice is suited to the disco-like sound of Hercules and Love Affair’s music.  This is my #1 go to song.  It’s my sunshine on a cloudy day.  If I just want to mope around the house alone, Blind makes me want to go out and party.  If I’m not really in the mood to be running, I can’t help but run a 6-minute mile during the length of this song.  Blind is a song that makes me live my life at the fastest speed possible.

Top Ten songs by The Beatles

September 27, 2009

About a week ago I was “not really a Beatles fan”, but in the time since then I have come to realize that I am actually a huge fan and have been listening to them nonstop as of late.  So to celebrate my newfound Beatles fandom, I present my top ten Beatles songs! (sorry if I steal your thunder at all, Mayme)

10. “A Day in the Life”-Very psychedelic and ahead of its time.

9. “Love You To”-I love the songs with George on the sitar, and this one is the best of them in my mind.  Plus I really like the part where it goes “I’ll make love to you/ding-da-la-ling-ding-ding/If you want me to”.

8. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”-George plays a mean gee-tar.

7. “Tomorrow Never Knows”-This song is a trip, crazy to think anyone was making music like this in 1966.

6. “I am the Walrus”-Goofy and fun, began to make me a fan of The Beatles during winter break of 2004 while staying at Amy’s house and taking care of Yoshi.

5. “We Can Work it Out”-I don’t like most of their poppy songs, but this is one exception.

4. “Here Comes the Sun”-Never fails to cheer me up a little bit.

3. “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End”-Actually three tracks, but they flow so well together it feels like one song.  It is primarily “The End” that made me reconsider if I liked The Beatles, it is just an awesome song with guitar solos from George, John and Paul and a drum solo by Ringo.

2. “Let it Be”-The Beatles song with the greatest ability to bring a tear to my cheek

1. “Yesterday”-Just a beautiful, well-written song.

Listening on repeat: Pavement “Slanted and Enchanted”

September 24, 2009

Music is something that over the past couple years has become increasingly important to me.  I spend a large chunk of my time getting CDs, importing them, and then eventually listening to them as I go about my daily life.  I figure that music listening is a big enough factor in my life that it warrants more blog posts than just my end of the year top-ten lists.  So under the tentative name of “Listening on repeat”, I’ve decided to start up what will hopefully be a weekly column, but it is hard to guess how often I will actually get around to writing it.  The plan is that each week I will write about an album that I have been listening to a lot over the previous week, both old and new music, and then hopefully include a mP3 or two of my favorite tracks from the album.  The inaugural album selection for this column is an oldie that I hadn’t discovered until relatively recently.

s and e

Originally released in 1992, I didn’t hear the album or even hear of Pavement until late 2008 when I saw it ranked as the #5 albums of the 1990s on a Pitchfork Media list (if you want to see the four albums ranked ahead of it, check out this link  The first time I listened to the album I was riding the 358 bus to the 44 stop and then on to the U-district TJs.  I remember liking a couple of the songs and thinking the album was OK, so I listened once or twice more and then forgot about Pavement.

It is really amazing how much music distribution has changed since 1992.  Seventeen years ago if you wanted a copy of an album like Slanted and Enchanted you would have to go to a record store in a large city and hope that they had a copy.  Nowadays you can stream music all over the internet on various blogs,  watch music videos on YouTube, buy it from the Apple Music Store, or just import a copy from your friendly local library (although I guess they had libraries in ’92 as well…).  So while Pavement never achieved much commercial success in the 90s (I never once remember them being played on 107.7 The End growing up), over the ensuing years they achieved a significant fan base.  About a week ago it was announced that Pavement would reunite for a show (later changed to an entire tour) in late 2010, which resulted in a lot of excitement both on and KEXP, my two main sources of music information.  Because there was so much hoopla about them, I figured I had better give Pavement another listen.  I don’t know what had changed in the interim year, although I know my music taste has been widely expanded during that time, but this time Slanted and Enchanted really lit me up.  I found myself walking to work and home from work listening to Pavement and playing air guitar, air drums, and whatever air instruments I could get my hands on.

I’m pretty sure there are only two people who read my blog at the moment, and neither of you may like this album (too upbeat for Amy, some of the songs are too angry for Mayme) but I picked a couple of songs from the album that you may both like.

(Note: I haven’t figured out how to directly insert mP3 files into my blog yet, so in the meantime you can listen to the songs through these youtube links)

“Zurich is Stained”-Only a minute and forty seconds long, but my favorite song from the album.  I keep finding myself singing “You think it’s easy, but you’re wrong”
“Summer Babe (Winter Version)”-There are a number of other good songs I could have chosen, but this one felt right.


I’m back!

September 15, 2009

It has been about 8 months since my last blog post, but I am finally going to just write one and hopefully others will follow on a weekly rather than annual basis.  Part of my delay has been that I never think anything that happens to me or my various ruminations are worthy of a post.  This past saturday I had a rather odd yet insignificant encounter that I just realized, two days after the fact, has stuck with me surprisingly well.  Since I found it amusing at the time and still do, I thought it worth typing up to the best of recollection.


“The Spiritual Guru”

Ugggh!  Why did I agree to go into work on a saturday?  It will only be for a couple of hours, but still, I would much prefer to sit at home and waste my time playing decade old video games and watching some Netflix DVDs.  

That is what was going through my head as I stepped out my front door into the afternoon heat.  It may have been our final blast of 80+ degree weather for the summer, but I had no intention to enjoy it that afternoon.  I had been in a poopy mood the previous couple days and would rather it be overcast and 50 with a bit of rain, to make it easier to stay inside and watch DVDs and play video games of course.  Regardless, the sun was shining overhead and it was hot as I walked down my stairs and into the road.  “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.  You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  I had been watching a lot of LOTR and reading “The Hobbit” at the time, so Bilbo’s advice came to me easily as I set off on my own adventure, although I highly doubted anything of interest would find me on the way to work and back.  One thing I was excited about though was a particularly keen haul of CDs waiting for me at the library.  Waiting for me I had a Daft Punk album, a group called The Antlers (who I had never heard, but Pitchfork Media gave them a pretty good review) and several other goodies.  After picking up my holds at the Greenwood branch of the SPL, I crossed the street to bus stop for the #5 which would take me downtown.  It was sitting at this particular bus stop that I met the central figure of this story, my spiritual guru.

I shall call him Xenobus the Wise for lack of his real name, although I do not doubt that I am very far off.  He had long hippie-ish hair but a well trimmed beard, reminding me somewhat of The Dude from “The Big Lebowski” but wearing jeans and a T-shirt instead of a bathrobe.  In his oddly swollen right hand he held a lit cigarette, in the equally oddly swollen left he was taking a swig from his Deschutes Black Butte Porter.  I thought I had noticed him watching me before I even crossed the street, but figured I was mistaken.  I pulled out my book out of my backpack and just had time to find the page I was on before he called out to me, “Hey brother, what you readin’, man?”

Is it necessary to use both “brother” and “man” in that sentence?  I thought before replying, “The Hobbit.”

“What’s that, brother?” he asked while stepping closer to me to hear better and simultaneously cutting off any chance of my escape.

“The Hobbit, by Tolkien, you know, “Lord of the Rings”.

“Oh, hey man, have you ever read anything by Tom Brown?”

“No”, I replied, searching my mind for any recollection of an author named Tom Brown, to try and verify if this guy was full of shit or going to suggest a good author that I might like.

“Oh, yeah, he has this story “The Tracker” that I think you would really like.  You know all those people who like this stuff like “Lord of the Rings”, I think they just like it, you know, because it is about nature and people really like nature.  And Tom Brown writes about nature, and you just get such a better appreciation for it from his writing you know, and you don’t have to pretend you’re off traveling in this fantasy world, because it is our own actual world.”

I could see his point, but still I had a different opinion so I told him, “You know, sometimes it’s kind of fun to get away from the troubles of the real world and read about a fantasy world for a while.”

Smirking, he asked, “How old are you man?”


“Well, for your sake, I hope that doesn’t remain fun for much longer.”

What the fuck does he mean by that?  I was beginning to feel a bit irritated by this guy, but keeping things polite, I just said, “Well, I don’t know about that…”

And then he just got up on his soapbox of craziness and began to go off, “I mean, people can read what they want, I personally prefer Malcolm X’s autobiography, because it expands the mind and makes you think about how you identify with society and its influences upon you, but with all of these kids nowadays they just get reading this fantasy stuff and they don’t know anything about the world that we live in and they try to live meaningful lives, you know, and they just don’t even comprehend what that means…”

“Well I think it’s fine to read some fantasy on the side, as long as those aren’t the only type of book that you are reading” I managed to throw in while Xenobus was taking a breath.

Ignoring my comment, however, Xenobus continued on at a frenetic pace and his oddly swollen hands began to get increasing excitable, “…see with getting a job, especially with the economy bust and all, you know how they said it was going to be another “Great Depression” but thats just it, you know, it, like with Michael Jordan…(Ok, that is kind of a big jump he just took)… he just got up on the stage at the Hall Fame, and was saying how everyone is searching for the next Jordan, but that is just it, things are different, there can never be another “Jordan”, he was just somebody that did fantastic things on a basketball court, so with the Great Depression, there were so many particular things about that financial crisis that it makes it so it can’t happen exactly the same way again, you know its like say I lose my job, because I’m a drunk or something, I mean, I can’t just rely on these stories of the past to help me think about how I got to where I am at and how I can change that in the future so that I have a job, you know, I mean all these stories of the past, people want them to continue on the same, but they just can’t…(I’m kind of following you buddy, but you are starting to lose me)…but an old story I do like is “Star Wars”, you know why that was always so good man, because you know Joe Camel, (Joe Camel, the cigarette mascot?) he was writing these stories that influenced George Lucas, and Joe Campbell..(Joe Campbell? Or Joe Camel?  What is going on?)… he was like including all of these Tibetan Buddhist symbols in the Star Wars series, which is why it is so good, you know like when Obi Wan is fighting Darth Vader to help Luke escape, and Obi Wan lowers his light saber, he was doing this Buddhist symbol which is called the Rainbow Spirit Cross (or something like that, I can’t remember exactly what Xenobus called it) where he was essentially saying, you know, you may destroy my body but you are never powerful enough to take my mind, and you know there are all of these Tibetan aspects of Obi Wan, where he is like, you think it is just coincidence that you are on this desert planet and Obi Wan just happens to be there too, and you think that it is a coincidence that you grew up shooting Sand Rats when that is the perfect training to help you destroy the Death Star at the end?  No, all of this has a purpose and a meaning…(Alright, this Star Wars talk IS pretty interesting, but you are still talking way too fast and jumping around a lot and I have a hard time following)…because you know there are a lot of Llamas that have that ability, a spiritual connection with…(woah!  What are we talking about now, llamas?  As in the Dali Lama or South American mammals?)…a teacher and a pupil will study together in seclusion…(OK, I’m seriously lost now, where is my bus?  I wish this guy would just realize that I want to read “The Hobbit” in peace and no longer be lectured at.  There is no way to get away though…hmmmm…..what have I got in my pockets: my keys, ipod, a bit of paper…does he still think I am paying attention…If only I had Bilbo’s magic ring!)…so, you know, that is what the Corporations are always trying to do to you man…(Oh God, he’s into stereotypical stoner talk now, hatin’ on The Corporations or The Man always trying to get you down, maybe I will just zone out for a bit and think about something else…butterflies ARE nice, I was noticing some the other day, I like the colorful ones, but I saw some white ones and they were also quite nice, I liked the way two of them were fluttering about together.  Fucking?  Fluttering is a much prettier word, I will stick with that….Uh oh, how long have I been zoning?  Does Xenobus know I am zoning?)…so, you know, whenever you gets thoughts in your head, and the thoughts come in as words, and sentences, that is a guarantee that those words were put there by somebody else, trying to brainwash you, or at least that is what my llama taught me…(I still don’t know what kind of llama, but I am guessing not the South American kind)…so you have got to resist the messages that people are trying to influence you with, but shoot, I mean, really, I, I, I don’t even really know man…”

And with that he was done.  Spent.  Exhausted.  He sat down and took a drag off his cigarette and another swig of the Black Butte Porter.  All I could do was smile at him and then pick “The Hobbit” back up and try to start reading, unsuccessfully however as my mind was swirling with thoughts of our “conversation”.  While much of it made no sense to me, there were some were thought out ideas mixed in there.  I thought about the videos games I had been wasting my life playing way too much of the previous week, controlling imaginary characters as they hoisted overly large swords and smote vile foes, which is fun, but I am at a point in my life where I need to start moving forward.  I have been goofing around the past 6 months since I decided I no longer wanted to pursue a medical doctorate, watching way too many netflix movies and spending too much time performing routine that doesn’t make me happy, yet is comfortable and doesn’t make me unhappy.  These are all sorts of thoughts that I had been having off and on for who knows how long, but they all came flooding me at once and so strongly at this moment that it unnerved me.

“Oh look, the bus is here” I said as I saw the large green box come rumbling up the hill.  Xenobus, having finished his cigarette and his beer, picked up his backpack and started walking towards the slowing bus.  But apparently, our journey would not continue together, for he continue walking past the bus and around the corner.  Perhaps he decided that he didn’t want to ride the bus with someone who wasn’t a good listener, or maybe he just liked smoking and drinking at bus stops, or he just might have sensed some other young adventurer in need of a llama (Either kind of llama, for advice or simply to carry packs in the Andes).  Was it a coindence that we were at that same bus stop at the same time, or will that encounter some day help me destroy my own Death Star?

Superbowl XLIII

January 19, 2009

I’m thinking that there won’t be much competition to the Superbowl this year.  My prediction….Steelers win it 27-13.

Israel vs. Palestine…again

January 5, 2009

A temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas (majority Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip) ended a little over two weeks ago, and in the ensuing period we have already seen a number of missile attacks (killing hundreds of people including a number of civilians) on both sides and now Israel has invaded the Gaza Strip.  This Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems like it has been going on forever with no end in sight.

As I have followed this latest crisis in the news I found myself thinking “hasn’t this exact same thing happened before?”  And yes, it has.  Just three years ago Israel and the Islamist group Hezbollah from Lebanon exchanged rocket fire for a while and then Israel invaded, only to find that they were losing too many men to the guerilla fighting style of Hezbollah and pulled out.  I honestly don’t know why Israel is thinking things will turn out differently this time around.  While Hamas doesn’t have as much firepower as Hezbollah, there is still sure to be plenty of death on both sides in the coming weeks.  I know that there is an Israeli election coming up this year and some members of the government are trying to boost their standing with the public by roughing up the Palestinians, but what is this invasion doing for the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations?  I’m sure that some Israelis are hoping to damage Hamas badly enough for Fatah to return to power in Gaza, but I’m not sure how likely a possibility that is.  Also, by invading Gaza, Israel is lending sympathy to the Hamas cause and once again engendering the ire of other Arabs around the world, which is something that Israel does not need.  

While I don’t believe Israel should have just sat by while Hamas fired rockets into their towns, there had to be other options to try and ensure a longer peace deal.  A final conclusion to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be nearly impossible with Palestinians divided between Hamas and Fatah, but if both sides would be willing to make the necessary concessions (Israel reopens supply-lines to Gaza, Hamas recognizes Israels right to exist…kind of a long shot on that one though), then peace is a possibility while the two sides begin to work out their differences.

A two-party system, for now and for always?

December 22, 2008

Snowstorm ’08 has made this a rather slow week for me, with a lot of time spent indoors by myself.  It has been good in that it has given me plenty of time to read, watch movies, study MCATs (although I haven’t actually done any studying, I have had the time to do it if’n I were so inclined), and to contemplate the workings of the world.  Some of the main themes that I have been musing about this past weekend include multiple universes, time travel, heavy cream vs. whole milk (and how that could be responsible for my failed sunchoke gratin experiment), and the incoming presidency of Barack Obama to name a few.  

I know that in the blogging world news is supposed to travel faster than light, but this morning I got to  thinking about some older news from earlier this month. On December 2nd, the Georgian Republican incumbent, Saxby Chambliss, defeated Democrat Jim Martin in a run-off, thus quelling Democratic hopes for a 60-40 filibuster-proof senate.  This was really no surprise with Martin no longer having the Obama-factor bringing black Democrats to the polls as in the general election, but many Democrats were disappointed nonetheless.  While I consider myself a staunch liberal, I was relieved to see that a Martin victory (and potential Franken win in Minnesota) wouldn’t deliver the entire Federal Government into Democratic hands.  

Chambliss’s victory was important in preventing too much power from falling into the control of a single group of individuals.  While I find it amazing that we still rely on a 221 year old document and 25 subsequent amendments (not counting 18th and 21st since they just cancel each other out) for the basis of our law and governance, I do definitely respect the Founding Fathers’ idea of checks and balances to divide power between the three main bodies of the Federal Government.  Along similar lines, it is necessary that no particular party gains too much power.  The United States is an incredibly diverse nation and it is important that our leadership in someway represents that diversity.  

A disconcerting trend that has been occurring as of late is the disappearance of third-party politics in the US at a federal level.  Ralph Nader went from receiving almost 3% of the vote in 2000 and possibly costing Gore the election to a paltry amount in 2008 (approx. 700,000 out of over 130 million total votes cast).  Ross Perot got about 19% of the vote in ’92 as an Independent, but still was not awarded a single electoral vote.  In fact, the last time a third-party candidate received any electoral votes was George Wallace  from the “American Independent” party in 1968 (as Lynard Skynard did sing, “in Birmingham they love their governor”) and 1848 (Zachary Taylor-Whig) was the last time someone other than a Democrat or Republican was elected president.  That is not to say that the parties and the people they represent haven’t changed in the past 160 years, as recently as 1976 the Democrats were very much a Southern party, but rather it is discouraging that at any one time there are only two possible political ideologies that you can subscribe to (or just decide that you don’t care either way).  I don’t think that Nader, Bod Barr (Libertarian), Cynthia McKinney (Green Party candidate in 2008), or anyone else was a stronger candidate than Barack Obama this year, but it is nice for the people to have more options to choose from.

I am not completely writing off the two-party system as being evil, I just find it surprising that it has been as enduring as it is.  This past year has seen an attempted minority coup in Canada, a third Prime Minister in as many years in Japan, and no less than five acting PMs in Thailand as it has transitioned from military rule back to civilian leadership; “democratic” elections in Africa has been even more of a mess this year with turmoil at the polls in South Africa, Kenya, and especially Zimbabwe.  Other countries tend to see new leadership fairly often, whereas in the US whenever we get bored of one party, we simply switch back to the other one.  That is probably due in large part to our enormous wealth and resources: while we are a nation of haves and have-nots, the have-nots have enough to get by.  

I for one am very excited to see how the Democratic Obama administration handles the tough challenges ahead.  Should they fail to ease problems for the average American, we can probably expect a change in leadership in 2012, but you can guarantee it will be to Republican candidate (be it Bobby Jindal, Charlie Crist, Mitt Romney, or other) as opposed to a truly new way of thinking.  We are currently locked into a two-party system and I don’t see a change on the horizon.