Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Day: 2009, What are you saying?

Before the hangover starts and the new born resolutions begin to unravel, we here at Ahhhfuckit, want to wish you a banging 2009. And to borrow Penelope Cruz's line from Vanilla Sky, "Every passing moment is another chance to turn it all around." So, if 2008 was great then make 2009 even better. And if last year was a shitbox, while here is your chance to start fresh, because as cliche as it sounds, the new year often reminds us that their are a few things that we could change about ourselves. So don't be a shitbox and go out and live a life that is worth talking about. And while I know it is time to go grab some greasy ol' breakfast at an overwhelmingly packed restaurant, I've thrown down the quintessential track for ringing in 2009, u2's New Years Day. My dad played the shit out of this song when I was a kid and you can be sure that thousands of radio stations across the land had it cued up for the ball drop. So cross those fingers and hope that 2009 doesn't unravel too shitty. You can do your part by making sure you do your best to make out as much as possible, see those families and friends of yours and try not to kill anyone and things should at least start out decent enough. Cheers.

U2 - New Years Day

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

09 Predictions

After a severe tilt session last evening, I think some predictions for 09 are in order. 

I'm not going to go in depth, provide any sense of continuity or explain my predictions because I don't want to alter the future. 

In sports, I am going to predict that Canada will win the World Jr. Hockey Championship, The Celtics will win NBA championship,the Toronto Blue Jays will come out scortching hot in April but end up in second to last place in the East, the Leafs won't make playoffs, Canada will win any curling world championship and Rafael Nadal won't be number one in the world come summer. 

In Politics, Canada will have an election, Obama will underachieve, Africa will have a record number of deaths due to international neglect, Isreal - Palestine will be bloodier than ever, Bush and Cheney will escape war crimes, the economy will be pretty shitty for 10 of the 12 months and Harper will remain in power. 

In Music, look for tight clothes wearing rappers to pop off, indie dance bands are going to take over Edge 102, people will get trendier and less intelligent, someone important will die, at least 12 barely known rappers will die, Canadian hip hop will be really good and underrated, Lil Wayne will not win a grammy and Coldplay will. 

In life, I will live in 3 provinces, black will live in 2 countries, red won't berg, jugsy will tilt the hardest on NYE, the apocalypse won't come (yet), at least 10 people I know will get married or pregnant, Miller will get abducted by aliens and disappear on a cruise ship and Sconew's summer party will be the bash of the year. 

Best Albums of 2008: #1

1. The Walkmen
You & Me
Gigantic - 08/19/08

Microcastle had been my number one album pretty much from the day it leaked in early August. However, over the course of the past month or so, the one album that I keep returning to over and over again, no matter how I'm feeling, what time of day it is, or what activity I'm sound tracking is The Walkmen's You & Me. My love affair with The Walkmen dates back to the beginning of my love affair with the O.C. The Walkmen were Seth Cohen's favourite band for pretty much the entire first season, the band was even featured in one of the episodes. That type of synergy promotion was probably enough to turn a number of people off the band, and if that wasn't enough, their 2006 dud of an album A Hundred Miles Off, probably alienated their remaining fans. Therefore, You & Me pretty much came out of nowhere with zero expectations. Even I, someone who has a hard time giving up on bands (I'm one of the suckers who is still eagerly anticipating the new CYHSY record), was almost ready to write this band off. Obviously my concern was a little premature because You & Me fires on all cylinders for its entirety. I've heard people complain that this album, which sees The Walkmen return to their early sounds, is the sound of a band out of ideas. If that's the case, I'm looking forward to the time when a number of bands (*cough*, CYHSY, AIH, etc) run out of ideas and make a record that is the pinnacle of their artistic out put.

Seriously, this record is as complete a musical statement that a band can make. Not only is the album downright elegant with its heavy reliance on organs, drowning re verb and strings, but it also finds lead singer Hamilton Leithauser restraining his yelps, and finding a comfortable medium for him to emote all over this album. Nearly every song on this album is a highlight: "Red Moon" finds the band relying on a beautiful brass section to create one of the most gorgeous and sad songs of the year; "Postcards From Tiny Islands" is one of the more straightforward rock songs on this album; "On The Water" contains some of the best lyrics on the entire album; and "In The New Year" is a song that words cannot explain how amazingly well this song articulates the relationship between time and place.

Now that I think about it, I can't believe that I was able to deny this album the number one spot for so long. I was in love with this album when it came out, and I'm still very much in love with it today, probably more so than I was then. To use one of the most annoying indie cliches out there, this album is most definitely a grower.

Finally, I know this whole top 10 album process has been a little long and drawn out, so I thought I would also include a recap of my top 20 albums of 2008. Thanks for your patience, here are the top 20 of 2008:

20. The Dutchess and the Duke - She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke
19. Shearwater - Rook
18. Grouper - Dragging A Dead Dear Up A Hill
17. Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
16. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
15. Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna
14. No Age - Nouns
13. Invincible - Shapeshifters
12. Lil' Wayne - Tha Carter III
11. Beach House - Devotion
10 Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
9.  Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
8.  Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
7.  Black Milk - Tronic
6.  Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
5.  Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
4.  Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire - Lost Wisdom
3.  Vivian Girls - Vivian Girls
2.  Deerhunter - Microcastle
1.  The Walkmen - You & Me

Thanks for reading.

Black's # 1 Album of 2008

#1. Cut Copy
In Ghost Colours
Modular - 03/22/2008

I will always remember 2008 as the year my ear became more in tune with electronica and disco synths. In Ghost Colours is an overwhelming positive album with warm tones and lightness beautifully scattered throughout the entire ride. Now, by lightness, I mean that the band never really presents the listener with any subject matter that needs to be over analysed or wrestled with, instead they rely on anthem inducing choruses about matters of the heart, like any good electronic band should. The tracks weave together beautifully, making for a very fluid album that leaves you anticipating what will come next, while at the same time grimacing that the luscious songs have to come to an end. The whole album is a banger, so I don't feel there is any need to discussing one track, just listen to the whole damn thing. And with that the countdown is over, feel free to post about any albums you thought deserved more love or received too much praise. Until next year, enjoy the shit out of your music folks, it's the best thing we got...

STANDOUT BANGERS: Unforgettable Season, Hearts on Fire, Lights and Music, So Haunted

Monday, December 29, 2008

Free Shit: New Arcade Fire

As a promotional tool for their upcoming DVD release Mirror Noir, which documents the making of and subsequent touring of Neon Bible, Arcade Fire have made available a download of an unreleased song entitled "Burning Bridges." The only catch is you have to provide the band with a working email address, presumably so they can send you some spam about the upcoming DVD release. The track is decent, but hey, its unreleased Arcade Fire, snap it up while you can.

Click here to get the MP3.

Black's # 2 Album of 2008

#2. TV on the Radio
Dear Science
4AD /Interscope - 10/22/08

Dear Science, the follow up to 2006's Return to Cookie Mountain, proves that TV on the Radio are no one trick pony. The album is slightly more accessible than their last release, while still attacking dark themes and questioning whether there is any reason to have hope at all in this thing called life. The tunes are catchy, slick, angry and engaging. Everytime I listen to the album I pick up a snare drum here, a sick synth riff there, a well placed harmony somewhere else and the layers of the songs continue to unravel each time you throw the record on.
Now, I have already wrote on how banging I thought the lead off track, 'Halfway Home' is on this record, but the thing I like best about this album is that I really dig the tracks that I don't think will become singles. The track that really stands out for me on this album is 'Love Dog,' it's just such a great slow burner that never really bursts into anything too profound, but it just hits me right in my core and I love it. I read an article not too long ago that argues that when we listen to music, we don't simply just use our ears to listen, but our whole body actually absorbs the music, thus lending to the theory that we actually feel music. Dear Science is an album that lends some strength to this idea, so stop wasting your time and give it a listen.

STANDOUT BANGERS: Halfway Home, Golden Age, Love Dog, Shout Me Out

Best Albums of 2008: #2

2. Deerhunter
Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.
Cranky - 10/28/08

Deerhunter is a divisive band: since their debut back in 2004, the Athens experimental noise band has been enrapturing and alienating listeners alike. The pop undertones have always been there, but the spastic noise, not to mention lead singer Bradford Cox's over-the-top behaviour has turned many listeners off. That's why Microcastle comes as such a shock. Although the Flourescent Grey EP hinted towards a change in sound, no one could have expected this kind of monumental change that has transformed Deerhunter into a very relevant and interesting band to watch. Not that they weren't interesting before, but noise definitely has it limits. The sound on this album is much more clear and direct, merging their garage rock sound with psych pop and elements of noise, while still holding onto their shoegaze aesthetics to create some uniquely great, skewed pop music. Highlights include: "Cover Me Slowly," "Little Kids," "Neither Of Us, Uncertainly," and the absolute monster, and my favourite song of 2008 "Nothing Ever Happened." If this album is any indication as to the type of music that Deerhunter is capable of making than the future is bright for this band.

I also thought I would throw a quick shout out to Cox's solo side project, Atlas Sound, which released a really good album in 2008 entitled Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Who Cannot Feel, that just missed my top 20. If you haven't already checked it out, it's definitely worth your time. 2008 was a good year for all things Deerhunter related.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blast From the Past: Dylan from Beverly Hills 90210

Long before Brian Austin Green lost Megan Fox or Jason Priestly got into another high speed collision, Luke Perry was mackin' the shit out of Brenda, Kelly and any other girl he could get his hands on during the course of the 90210 series. He was the resident bad boy on the series and whether he was chasing skirts, boozing, fighting or drivin' the shit out of his Porsche, Dylan was always on the grind.
Perry did not go on to have much of a career after his run in 90210. I mean I would not exactly call 8 seconds or that short lived stint on Windfall much of a career, but I'm sure that Luke thought he was the shit while he played Dylan for all those years. I felt it was important to find a clip of Dylan at his worst and where he is at his finest. I think I found two sufficient clips and they have been included below. In the first clip you will find 'The Dark Days of Dylan,' which to be honest, I was a little surprised as to how serious his drug problem became during the later years of the series. Watch out for the Steve Sanders part, as it will bring a few smiles to your face. In the second clip, you will see Dylan 'Mackin the shit out of Kelly,' who I always thought was the hotter and sluttier of his two flames. Enjoy the clips and please feel free to comment on some other things you would like to see make the Blast From the Past series.

The Dark Days of Dylan McKay:

Dylan Macks the Shit Out of Kelly:

Black's # 3 Album of 2008

#3. Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes
Sub Pop - 06/03/2008

2008 was quite the year for Fleet Foxes. Riding the word of mouth hype that their MySpace page granted them, they were able to release their glorious debut album via Sub Pop and win the hearts of critics and fans across the world. With any rise to fame though you can be sure to gain and lose popularity at an alarming rate. Fellow blogger Red has already commented on how his initial praise for the band has transformed into resentment over the course of the year. You can check that out here if you have not already read his review. I don't always agree with Red on the discussion of music, but I can say that he is spot on in his appreciation of vocalist Robin Pecknold's gorgeous voice. Pecknold is the clear driving force of Fleet Foxes and his angelic voice soars gloriously throughout the entire course of the record. Having seen the band live twice this year, I caught Pecknold performing a few solo numbers without the band, and while it is quite clear that the man does not require a band to make beautiful music, we are lucky that he has surrounded himself with the perfect mix of gifted players and harmony that make Fleet Foxes a treasure not to be missed. You are an idiot if you don't give this album the time.

STANDOUT BANGERS: White Winter Hymnal, Blue Ridge Mountains, Heard Them Stirring

WAKE UP: Slept On in 08 = Canadian Hip Hop

Canadian hip hop is taking an interesting turn these days and I am excited to see where it goes. "Grown Folk Music" is a term being thrown around by a lot of talented Canadian hip hop artists who are simply making music out of passion rather than contractual necessity.
"Grown Folk Music" is trendy, but you probably won't find many skinny jeans wearing, I Say Disco You Say Punk attending, hipsters bumping these next few albums out of their whips. You also won't find thugging, bling boys freestylin' over these beats either. However... you may find someone somewhere saying, "Hey have you heard of these guys?"

E-Dot and Darp Malone are: Hero
This album has been heralded as "ground breaking", "timeless" and "incredible." I tend to agree with all three of these descriptions and I would even be brave enough to suggest another adjective, classic. It has Darp Malone's soulful, well crafted choruses over naturally catchy beats accompanied by E-Dot's crafty lyricism. The tracks on this album are heartfelt and can really tug at your heartstrings.

5/5.... Bang This Album Forever.

Josh Martinez - The World Famous Sex Buffet

I have been raving about this album to Black and Red for more than four months. With that said, Josh Martinez is another practitioner of "Grown Folks Music." Real life tales that aren't filled with violence, absurd amounts of money or crimes. The World Famous Sex Buffet is such an interesting album because it is distinctly Josh in sound but you can feel the Hali and Van City undercurrents throughout the album. With features from Classified, Scratch Bastid, Evil and A.W.O.L. One, this is truly an album for the grown folks who are looking for something creative and passionate.
I'm a huge Josh Martinez fan so if you are looking for other stuff he has done look for .. The Chicarones and Splitsville... Great EPs, lyricism, harmony and honesty. Incredible.

Shad K - The Old Prince

2008 was an awesome year for Shad K. He linked up with the Halflife Crew and touring across Canada displaying his uniquely fresh sound for thousands. I had the opportunity to open up for Shad and Classified back in January and Shad really put on a great show. The London, Ontario native is gaining momentum and air play on 93.5 in Toronto which is one of the most competitive markets to crack. Shad's talent lies with his intricate wordplay, and sweet ballads and intellect. I think he has found a great place with BlackBox Management who are doing great things for Halflife (Class, Chad Hatcher, Mike Boyd). Have a listen to this Fanshawe alum and know that there is hope for hip hop, and it lies in the North.

Enjoy these albums ... go out and buy them and go to their shows when they come around, you will be happy you did.

Black's #4 Album of 2008

4. Deerhunter
Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.
Kranky/4AD - 10/28/08

Vocalist Bradford Cox is by no stretch of the imagination eye candy. He is a gangly, disease ridden, scary-ass looking sunnvabitch, but as is usually the case in the Indie Rock world, talent trumps looks and Cox sure knows a thing or two about tunes. In case you weren't aware, this album, the band's third album, leaked 6 months before its intended release. Cox was not too impressed, but instead of wallowing and whining like a tripped soccer player, he released a 'bonus disc' for those fans that were willing to wait for the release, which became the Weird Era Cont. album. Inevitably, that album also leaked and the public was rewarded with two great albums from the band within one year. Now I know Red will go on to talk about this album at length, as I know he has loved it since the leak, but I will touch on what I feel are the highlights of the album. First of all, 'Nothing Ever Happened' is the single of the year in my mind. From the catchy bass riffs that usher in Cox's vocals to the kick ass guitar solo that dominates the track, the song was a clear banger upon my first listen of the record. Overall, I can say that I am really impressed with the overall layout of the album and I am quite pleased with the way the 'Cover Me (Slowly)' sets the mood of the album by creating a beautiful transition into 'Agoraphobia,' signaling to the listener that each track will share a connection with every other track, proving once again that Deerhunter know how to craft great albums and not just singles. 'Twilight at Carbon Lake,' a delicate, warped tune about letting go of some shit is the perfect bookend for an album that touches upon many themes and influences, but is careful not to destroy the cohesive flow of the album. Get your hands on this album.

STANDOUT BANGERS: Nothing Ever Happened, Agoraphobia, Saved by Old Times,

Best Albums of 2008: #3

3. Vivian Girls
Vivian Girls
In The Red - 09/30/08

When I first wrote about Vivian Girls back in early November, I admitted to getting to them pretty late. I now regret ignoring this Brooklyn band for so long because, over the past two months this album has become one of my favourites to put on. This band isn't really doing anything new, but the way they are able to combine noise and pop to create such an infectious sound is pretty exciting. This album is drenched in tape hiss, reverb, dirty guitar work and wonderful 60s girl group harmonies. The album is given gravity through its tense overarching theme of heartbreak, yet, despite this, the band keeps the mood playful and nihilistic throughout. "Where Do You Run To" is easily the highlight of this album, but other tracks like "I Believe In Nothing," "Going Insane," and "Tell The World" also standout as exceptional tracks. The Vivian Girls have taught me an important lesson in 2008: never write a band off because of preconceptions or 'borough hype' before hearing the album. I know that sounds obvious, but in today's high speed world, where the 'next best band ever' comes along every other week, it's easy to ignore good music. So, thanks Vivian Girls.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jizz in My Pants

Sitting around this afternoon, still tilting from not having any luggage, I began a search for something that would make me laugh. I found it in Andy Samberg's Jizz In My Pants. Now, it may not rival Dick in a Box, as Samberg's best work, but the song is a grower. It starts off a little shitty, but picks up near the end. I had a few laughs, so I hope you enjoy it. I've included the video down below and I couldn't help but add Dick in a Box as well for old times sake. I mean it is the holiday season and all and the Christmas spirit should transcend well into the new year. So enjoy Samberg's fascination with his dick and have a few laughs.

Jizz In my Pants:

Dick in a Box:

Poll Results: How will you spend your New Years Eve?

Another poll has closed and as usual it was a close race, but getting DRUNK AS FUCK nudged out hittin' a House Party. Personally, I hope to do both. I can say that I've felt that New Years is overrated for a number of years now, but for those who need an excuse to go out and have a good time, New Year's Eve is a good one. So drink a ton, make out with someone and get your ass home safe.

For our next poll, we will be asking you to choose who you think has portrayed Batman the best over the years. Considering how often this conversation comes up within my circle of friends, I think it is time to see what some other people think, so click your favourite and let us see once and for all who reigns as the true 'Dark Knight'.

Best Albums of 2008: #4

4. Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire
Lost Wisdom
P.W. Elverum & Sun - 10/07/08

I'm someone who has always prescribed to the idea that beauty in music really comes from its sparseness. More specifically, I feel beauty in music comes from those empty moments where feelings and tone are able to build from the nothingness and blossom with the next lonely chord played or crackling lyric sung. Lost Wisdom does this to perfection. At only about 24 minutes, this album is an exercise in restraint. Every note and every syllable that is uttered is absolutely necessary and the result is gorgeous and haunting gothic-folk. The MVP of this album has to be Julie Doiron, who builds beautifully quiet harmonies alongside Mount Eerie's creative force Phil Elverum on every track of the album. Each of the 10 songs on this record articulate honest statements on love, heartbreak, death and longing in a way that is completely earnest, yet not in any way off putting. The simple beauty of this album is best communicated in the very short, "You Swan, Go On," which I have already talked about at length here. Other highlights include: "Voice In Headphones," "What?," "With My Hands Out," and the absolutely stunning highlight and album opener "Lost Wisdom." Lost Wisdom is the hands down most affecting folk album of the year. It should not be ignored.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Black's # 5 album of 2008

5. Lil Wayne
Tha Carter III
Cash Money - 10/07/08

In short, Tha Carter 3 is a monster. Its weird combination of the glam and the raw sides of hip hop works really well and is in large part responsible for Wayne's current rap superstar status. Whether he is on his grind with his goblin growl, or swappin' rhymes with Babyface, Wayne is all over the place on this record. In fact, unpredictable might be the best term used to define this album. The fact that I never knew where the next track was headed is also the reason I think I enjoyed it so much. Now, I mean apart from Phone Home, which I just cannot stand, the album flow is pretty damn smooth. I will not hold Wayne accountable for the missteps he made later this year, I will instead focus on the praising him for his release of one of the more interesting and dynamic rap albums that I have given the time to in a while. Weezy, now please go ahead and make an even better follow up and show us that you might actually be the best rapper alive.

STANDOUT BANGERS: Lollipop, Shoot Me Down, A Milli, Mr. Carter

Shit-Box of the Holiday Season

Don't waste time and money going to see The Spirit because it is definitely the shittiest movie I've seen in a while. I'm actually surprised that this movie was getting good reviews, I mean I'm no movie critic by any stretch of the mind but seriously ... this movie sucked. The lead character played by some guy I don`t know was bruts, Eva Mendez (most scorchrocketingest) was bruts, and the story was also way bruts. 

The story of the The Spirit is a mix between Batman (protector of the city) and Spawn (he is dead but can't die), staying true to the dark DC themes. It doesn't evolve any of prevailing relationships built up through the entire movie, including a hot angel of death whose role in the movie is completely pointless. 

I mean I get it the guy can't give his heart to anyone because he is the dead city protector but why does every woman in the movie like this Zorro lookin' ass motherfucker? 

The highlights in this movie are by far Samuel L. Jackson in his portrail of The Octopus. Jackson is simply money as per usual. Another highlight was the array of scorch rockets in this movie, Eva Mendez, Scarlett Johansson and a couple other lovely supporters, made the movie a tad more visually tolerable.  

Overall this movie is a total shitbox. 

Best Albums of 2008: #5

5. Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes
Sub Pop - 06/03/08

As I write this I'm starting to feel a little resentment towards this band. I can't really explain why, it's not like they have done anything to deserve it, but, I do have the dirty habit of hating on bands at the end of the year that have been a little too over exposed and a little too lauded by critics. With that being said, despite this growing feeling of resentment within me, the beauty of this record cannot be shorn. I feel like a thousand things have been said about this record already this year, so it would seem almost cheesy or crass to go on about how lush the vocal harmonies are, or how each one of the songs on this album seem to build and soar to unexpected heights. But, holy shit can lead singer Robin Pecknold sing. His voice fits along side, and is complemented near perfectly by the sounds of guitar, piano, sparse percussion and poignant backing vocal harmonies. Shit, come to think of it, from what I just wrote,there is really no reason why I shouldn't be absolutely in love with this record, but hey, I can't help it if I'm an ugly, hate filled person. But seriously, beyond all of the acclaim and hype this album has been receiving lately stands a classic rock album that will most definitely stand the test of time.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Black's # 6 album of 2008

6. Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago
Jagjaguwar - 02/19/08

As you've heard by now, this album is Justin Vernor's swan song on a failed relationship, which he created while secluded in a cabin in northern Wisconsin. Now, I've read and heard a lot about the buzz of this album over this year, but the one phrase that sums up this album best is as follows, "Isolation never sounded so beautiful." Vernor's delicate croon swells and dips so beautifully over the songs that it really took a few listens for me to begin to concentrate on the lyrics. I was more concerned with how great his voice functions as another instrument. Once I started to absorb the lyrics, I was quick to notice the poetic nature of Vernor's songwriting and the care he puts in to express his pain. I've included the lyrics to The Wolves (Act I and II) because they are just so damn beautiful.

Someday my pain, someday my pain
Will mark you
Harness your blame, harness your blame
And walk through
With the wild wolves around you
In the morning, I'll call you
Send it farther on

Solace my game, solace my game
It stars you
Swing wide your crane, swing wide your crane
And run me through
And the story's all over you
In the morning i'll call you
Can't you find a clue when your eyes are all painted Sinatra blue

What might have been lost...

STANDOUT BANGERS: For Emma, Wolves (Act I and II), Stacks

Best Albums of 2008: #6

6. Cut Copy
In Ghost Colours
Modular/Interscope - 04/08/08

It seems like indie dance is here to stay. And, I mean, with bands like Cut Copy, The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem leading the way you wont get any complaints from me. This record is summer time to me. It's light, breezy, infectious and highly enjoyable. In the past, it would be nearly impossible to find an album like this on my year end list, but that says a lot about the quality of this album, as well as how far along indie dance has come in the past few years. Others on this site have already talked about this album at length in the certified bangers section, so I think I'll keep this short. As I said before, In Ghost Colours works best as a light summertime album, but unlike other mood or seasonal albums, the production on this record is so dense and layered that I have found myself picking up on different things, like the stabbing synths and ominous piano hooks, when I went back to listen to this record recently. Therefore, to write this album off as something light and unimportant would be a mistake. Instead, this album should be treated as, and I'm sure it will be looked back upon as, an artistic statement that helps solidify the indie dance genre. Highlights include: "Hearts On Fire," "Out There On The Ice," "So Haunted," and "Strangers In The Wind."

Blast from the Past: Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - The California Raisins

I was going to rant about how the reactionaries in this country have been making a big deal about the loss of Christianity in today's holiday season and how people immigrating to this country should respect the Christianity of this country, but to be honest, not only is this story pretty old now, I just don't feel like getting myself all worked up about a bunch of close minded, ethnocentric and even racist Christian Canadians. It's just not worth it. Instead, I thought I would just post this video of everyone's favourite childhood holiday cover band.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Black's # 7 album of 2008

7. Wolf Parade
At Mount Zoomer
Sub Pop - 06/17/08

I have to say that I agree with Red that At Mount Zoomer wins the nod for most underrated album of the year. I can also say that he stole the words straight out of my mouth, when I said upon first hearing this album that it belongs to Dan Boeckner (Red, consider your notice to appear in court in the mail, small claims of course.) Boeckner shoots flames all over this record, and while Krug has moments of greatness, Boeckner clearly emerges victorious in this battle of dueling song writers. Whether it's his tortured voice or his fatalist enthusiasm, Boeckner is constantly helping dictate this record through valleys of despair and bursts of sublime beauty. It will be interesting to see though how long Boeckner and Krug can last the competitive nature that surrounds dueling song writers. Considering all of the side projects that members of the band are also involved in, it is tough to say whether Wolf Parade really is their primary concern, I mean it should be, but artists are known to self absorbed bastards, so there really is no telling. I predict though, that we will see another fine record upon their next release, I just really hope they survive long enough to make it.

STANDOUT BANGERS: Language City, Fine Young Cannibals, The Grey Estates

Best Albums of 2008: #7

7. Black Milk
Fatbeats - 10/28/08

Black Milk is the rap album of the year. More than any other rap release this year, this album is a cohesive statement from an artist at the top of his game. Every beat on this record hits hard: "Hell Yeah" is a club banger; "Long Story Short" might be the hardest hitting introspective track I've ever heard; and "Bounce" is the futuristic genre pushing cut that is unbelievably catchy. This album literally covers every hip-hop release touchstone, yet invigorates these tired and cliched rap story arcs with beats that just knock you over. Gone are the days that Black Milk was just another Dilla follower, although he still uses much of the same production, his sound here has evolved beyond the Dilla tag, infusing a large dose of synths, samples and heavy beats. He is unquestionably making the most original beats in hip hop today. Beyond that, with this record, Black Milk has put to bed the notion that his flow doesn't keep up with his beats by combining some good lyrics, albeit not great, with an intense and fiery delivery that does every beat on this album justice. If only this album was released on a label with more capabilities it might have actually been a huge hit. I'm telling you, the greatness of these beats is undeniable.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Black's # 8 album of 2008

# 8
Of Montreal
Skeletal Lamping
Polyvinyl - 10/21/08

Another album that has found its fair share of hate in the press this year finds itself in the eight spot of my top ten. I will begin by admitting that upon first listen I wasn't sold on Skeletal Lamping either, but like most great records it grew on me with each subsequent listen. I will say that I feel this record is far from perfect, as I feel at times that it can feel long and drawn out, but when it is hitting, its just plain gold. Maybe even a little too quirky, maybe a little too self-absorbed, but this beautiful, schizophrenic mess is worth your time. Now, I am firm advocate that music should be enjoyed with headphones whenever possible and this is one of those albums that truly benefit from the personal experience that headphones give you, so before you load up, grab yourself some phones, and if possible avoid those shit-box dollar store brands.

Now as far as the songs go, they are best described as weird, personal, tragic, fun, sexy and some just downright confusing tales on the nature of life and the human experience. I really feel that Kevin Barnes has really begun to toy with the notion of the expectations of what a pop-song must sound like over his band's last few albums. Meaning, it seems likes he wants us to throw any of our expectations out the window and just listen to the album for what it is all the way through without too much direct dissection of any of one track. Of Montreal have really grown out of an identification of just a handful of tracks and have transformed themselves into an entity that demand attention as a whole. From what I've heard about their live show, it has also morphed into quite the experience.

Whether you love this album or not, it is near impossible to deny that listening to this album is not an interesting experience. And with Barnes navigating the journey, you never know what lies around the corner, whether it be glorious bliss or a tragic breakdown. The beauty lies in the surprise, much like life itself.

STANDOUT BANGERS: Wicked Wisdom, St. Exquisite's Confessions, Gallery Piece, An Eluardian Instance

Best Albums of 2008: #8

At Mount Zoomer
Sub Pop - 06/17/08

At Mount Zoomer is easily the most underrated and under appreciated release of 2008. It might be because the group's two side projects, Sunset Rubdown and Handsome Furs, have released such strong records in between Apologies To The Queen Mary and At Mount Zoomer, but it seems as though the expectations for this album were incredibly high. I just don't understand the blase reaction to this album. I mean I get that this record isn't as 'important' as their debut; it doesn't push any boundaries of indie rock, nor does it introduce any drastic new sounds, but it definitely rocks harder than most of the albums released this year. The album, like its predecessor, sees two very distinct songwriters trading tracks throughout the album, however, whereas, I thought the first record belonged to co-front man Spencer Krug, At Mount Zoomer is dominated by the other front man, Dan Boeckner. That's not to say that the Krug-penned tracks are not good, but Boeckner's writing, which is much more anxious and jittery, works better with At Mount Zoomer's less straightforward and convoluted sound. His lyrics fit perfectly with the prog-heavy sound of this album. However, it wouldn't be a Wolf Parade record if the dueling songwriter aspect was not present, therefore, the Krug tracks act almost like an antagonist, complementing the other tracks extremely well. Highlights include: "Language City," "Soldier's Grin," "Call It A Ritual," and "The Grey Estates."

Ladies…and gentlemen: Chivalry is not Dead

Back in the early to mid 90s it seems that acts of chivalry such as holding the door open for women, lending a hand when needed, or otherwise being at their service were frowned upon by young girls and women. For some reason women felt disempowered, unequal; declaring themselves able to do things without the need of men. So, in the same way it seems boys learned that their gestures were not only unwanted, but sometimes taken as an insult. Now almost 20 years later, I find myself surrounded by women who not only miss chivalry, but some don’t even know what it is.

It is no secret that women are one of the most beautiful creations on earth. They’ve been painted, sculpted, photographed, and compared to the mystique and beauty of nature in literature. Women have been the objects of admiration for many years, and chivalry has been there as an act of kindness; a sign of appreciation to one of the most beautiful things the Universe has created.

I’m baffled as to why women would ever take acts of kindness as insults. Chivalry shouldn’t be seen as selfish or degrading acts from a man. But instead as selfless ones; gestures that put someone else before them. There should be nothing threatening about being conscious of the world around you. Chivalry is a sign that men are conscious of a woman’s needs. Of course holding the door open for a woman, lighting their cigarette, or letting them in a door first are small acts of kindness, but they speak to the fact that the man behind those simple chivalrous acts has the sensitivity and sensibility that many women seek.

It’s true that women have had to fight many injustices thrust upon them by the male dominated world. The workplace is a prime example where it took many years and many battles for women to not only reach the boardroom, but be viewed and treated at the same level while sitting around the table. But what women forgot along the way were that the small acts from a man were not meant to disempower them, instead they are innate acts that more men should adopt. Chivalry is not only part of the mating ritual between man and woman, but a sign of humility, compassion and understanding.

For many men chivalry comes naturally, but it still needs practice. With the hustle and the bustle that occurs each and every day from dusk ‘til dawn, it’s easy to lose oneself to selfishness. Men who take to acts of chivalry display a consciousness of the world, and appreciation of the carnal that stands before them. As well as a deep rooted desire to do good around them.

And so, I give you ten acts of kindness that should be practiced on an almost daily basis by men:

1) Hold the door open for women. Don’t be annoying about it by running to every door like a paid doorman. But be sensible, and when the moment dictates hold that door open for the lady.

2) Offer your seat while on public transportation. Everyone hates to stand while on the bus or metro. Give her a break from those high-heeled shoes that accentuate her legs oh so well.

3) Allow them to enter a door before you. Not only is this common courtesy, but it allows them to light up a room before you enter.

4) Open and close the car door for them. There’s nothing more displeasing than watching a woman shivering while her idiot of a man is inside, fumbling with the keys and reaching over to unlock her door.

5) While on dates pay for the meal. Regardless of what the lady says, pay for the first few meals, it shows you’re not cheap.

6) Lighten her load. If the relationship dictates, hold her purse, books or anything else that impedes her from showing off her beauty.

7) Compliment her on whatever the moment dictates. Tell her (in a non creepy way) about her choice of clothing, hair, make-up, the small things that will not only brighten up her day, but put a smile on that darling face.

8) Walk to the left of her alongside sidewalks. This avoids the unease and embarrassment of her bumping into those coming from the opposite side. It also gives her a better view of storefronts.

9) Offer her your arm. This is one of those practices that has severely dwindled over the years. Under icy conditions her holding onto your arm offers her support, and not to mention your chance to “flex your muscle”.

10) Don’t be a douchebag. Listen attentively to what women have to say, and show her that you have some class and consciousness.

Ladies and gentlemen, Chivalry is not dead; it was just put to sleep for a bit. While women were out there getting their very well deserved share of the pie, men were told to treat women like men. But this is far from realistic. Man and woman are the essence of what difference is, and this is what makes a union between the two of them so beautiful. Let’s show each other some common courtesy. Let’s treat each other in a thoughtful and pleasant way. Let man feel good about elevating and accentuating the beauty in women…if only through a small chivalrous act.
- authored by guest poster Samuel Ramos

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Best Albums of 2008: #9

9. Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago
Jagjaguwar - 02/19/08

Yes, technically, this album was self-released in 2007, but admittedly I never got around to listening to it until it got a proper release on a label so that's why this album is appearing on this year's list. As the mythology goes, this album was created and recorded by Justin Vernor while he was in seclusion in a cabin in northern Wisconsin attempting to get over a break up. The result of this seclusion is an album that is sparse musically, yet feels incredibly full because of the intense themes of love and heartbreak and Vernor's cracked high pitch croon. For Emma, Forever Ago is limited somewhat because this record is really a mood piece. It's not something that you are going to put on at anytime, and it definitely is not a summer album, but, if you are in the right mood you wont find a better record this year to contemplate melancholy thoughts to. It also works as a great soundtrack to a night during a snow fall. That sounds lame, but I told you, it's a mood album. Although the album works best listened to in its entirety, a few of the highlights include: "Skinny Love," "Flume," "Wolves (Act I and II)," and "Re: Stacks."

Keisha Chante

Keisha Chante has been cast to play Aaliyah in a new biopic about the R&B singers tragic career.

This is going to be a huge feather in the cap for Keisha's young career. Keisha Chante looks a lot like Aaliyah and has a beatuiful voice, I'm guessing the selection was pretty easy.

Aaliyah Keisha

The Ottawa native has been doing a lot of acting recently. Starring in a tv drama called "Soul" as the character "Mahalia." Interestingly, a friend of mine from Halifax acted along side Keisha in this drama.

The picture on the right was taken a few years back when I was in j-school. Troy and I were super stoked about meeting Keisha, especially because she was at C.B. Stirling donating money.

Black's # 9 album of 2008

# 9
Vampire Weekend
XL Recordings - 01/29/08

I have to say that I'm a little sick and fuckin' tired of hearing how Vampire Weekend are a product of the hype machine. Yes, I do agree that they benefited by releasing an easily accessible album at the right time of the year and then continued to ride that wave to perfection for the rest of the year, but what seems to continually be lost in any discussion of the band is that they actually made a great record. People were quick to say, "this record is good, but I can't see it having any longevity, it will fade out as fast as it caught on." Well, it's been just under a year and I find those afro-pop tunes just as pleasing as I did back in January.

When you get right down to it, the strength of this record lies in the songwriting. Vocalist and lead guitar player Ezra Koenig splashes clever lyrics all over the album and well some border on the edge of pretentiousness, most come across as commentary on his life at hand. Keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij is without a doubt the silent killer in the band, as his riffs tie songs together and often enforce the catchy melodies to straight-ass bangers.

If you have not already done so, get your hands on this album. Feel free to click on the bangers below to check out the videos and songs. Vampire Weekend really know how to make some great videos, as they are all pretty damn cool. Enjoy.

STANDOUT BANGERS: A-Punk, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, Oxford Comma, M79

Saturday, December 20, 2008

eMJay's Top Ten DANCEHALL Artists of 08

I have been experiencing some serious technological deficiencies since I've returned from Haliwood and I feel that without my external hard drive to remind me of all the banging albums I've listened to this year, my list might be way shitty. What I can do is give you a taste of something I do know and that is DANCEHALL MUSIC, my friends. 

Here are my top artists of 2008, keep an eye out fi dem pon di next year.

10. Sizzla  
Sizzla is the most versatile artist on the scene. He can bang out hard tune
s and cultural ballads like, The Solution. This proud Rastafarian dropped `Rastafari,` in mid 08, a double album that might go down as classic.

9. Vybz Kartel (Portmore Empire)

2008 was a big year for the Portmore native. His feud with Alliance superstar, Mavado reach a f
everish pitch in 08 resulting in some real hard diss tracks and a banging album called The 
Teacher's Back. For those who didn't know Kartel used to ghost write for dancehall legends, Elephant Man and Bounty Killa.

8. Leftside/Mr. Evil
Without a doubt, the most controversial artist of recent years. The split personality of artist 
Leftside/Mr. Evil has drawn a cult like following around the dancehall scene in recent years. His content is definitely not for everyone but his skill can't be denied. His flippin' double lyrical pace and auto tuned melodies have me thinking Leftside/Mr. Evil will be have a huge breakout year in 09. 

Mr. Evil - Fluffy

7. Demarco (Alliance)

Demarco's tune Fallen Soldiers is one of my favorite songs of 08, his other big track, Duppy 
Know Who Fi Frighten (The Mission Riddim) was atop the dancehall singles for a good part of the year.  Demarco gets my nod for breakout artist of the year.

6. Damian Marley

Son of Bob.

Damian had a huge year without even releasing an album! He did however tear up The Mission Riddim. Out of every superstar artist that blessed The Mission riddim, Damian and brother Stephen out shined all of them ten-fold and the biggest names in dancehall appeared on that riddim.  


5. Serani (Alliance)

Another breakout star, Serani, was all over 
the charts all year with his bangers, Doh (feat Bugle), Stinkin Rich
She Loves Me and No Games. Serani has a beautiful voice and doesn't need a whole bunch of auto-tune to sound amazing. Serani 's The Future Mixtape is awesome definitely a great way to get a feel for Serani and his smooth ass jams. Backed by super producer Daseca expect nothing but heat on 09.

Here is Serani and Bugle doin' their thing.

4. Bugle (Alliance)

Bugle's distinct sound immediately caught my attention when I heard him in late '07. Bugle is my favorite artist of 
2008 because he just always makes good tunes. Also backed Daseca, Bugle dropped The Journey mixtape which is a friggin
' CLASSIC. There are songs on that mixtape that are so good I can't even describe it with words, so I'll let you hear them instead.

What Have I Done To You 

3. Busy Signal (Alliance)

Busy chimes in at number three this year. Busy has been 'busy' this year dropping a tremndous album, Loaded.
songs like Tic Toc, Real Jamaicans and Pon Di Edge. Busy is becoming a huge superstar in Jamaica and internationally. Busy is riding some serious momentum into 09. 

2. Mavado (Alliance)

Mavado had a meteoric sized year in 08. On The Rock Remix feat. Jay-Z (Misson Riddim), feautured on G-Unit's - Let It Go and a host of dubplates, beefs and number one hits makes Mavado the hottest star in dancehall right now. 

1. Elephant Man

The man, the dance, the legend. Elephant tops is my dancehall artist of the year for one reason. No one else on this list had anyone  break two world records then perform not one but TWO of the dances they made up. Thanks to Usain Bolt performing the dances that coincide with Elephant Man's songs Gully Creepa and Nuh Linga, Elephant Man found himself sitting at the top of my dancehall artists lists and millions of playlists worldwide.  Big ups to Elly and dancehall ... bless

Best Albums of 2008: #10

10. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
Say Hey - 06/10/08

I'm a sucker for the singer-songwriter type. Not just any singer-songwriter, they have to be cut from that Dylan cloth: a wandering, heartbroken, downtrodden, worldly and wise troubadour. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson fits this description well, almost too well. Much has been made about his past as an NYU junkie dropout, living on the streets of New York which has almost overshadowed his work as a musician. In interviews, MBAR always seems uncomfortable talking about his past and attempts to shift attention away from his past and onto the music from his self-titled debut LP, which is a smart move because his music is almost breathtaking.

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson was produced by Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor and Kip Malone of TVOTR and other members of Grizzly Bear contributed musically, and these influences and contributions are easily recognizable in the albums hazy, multi tracked fullness. The album focuses on the usual singer-songwriter topics of heartbreak and loneliness, but it is given extra gravity by the numerous illusions to drug abuse, contemplated suicide and the yearning for redemption. I know, this all sounds like a huge downer, which it really is, yet it is also incredibly compelling to listen to an artist struggle through addiction and come out of it, not with a story book happy ending, but with a sense of hopefulness. Highlights include: "The Ongoing Debate Bewtween Present vs. Future" which is drenched in distortion and really shows off MBAR's guitar skills; "Burified", the lead single off the album, which paints colour characters around a gorgeous hook; and "Written Over" which acts as a pseudo-centrepiece to the album, articulating MBAR's desperation and desire for a second chance almost perfectly. I guess it's sort of a heavy album, but it's also quite striking and stays with you long after it has finished playing.

Black's # 10

# 10
Hercules and Love Affair
DFA Records - 03/10/08

I will remember 2008, as the year that I began my love affair with dance/disco music. A handful of records this year reminded me how much I enjoy music that makes you feel and this record does just that. The vocals are warm and intriguing when they need to be and haunting and mysterious when the album calls for a mood shift. No matter what the voices are doing, they are beautiful. Full of luscious, melodic songwriting, this album is a clear banger.

STANDOUT BANGERS: Blind, You Belong, Iris

Poll Results: What is your favourite Christmas Movie?

Poll results are in and Christmas Vacation has emerged victorious, in what for a long time was a close race. Honourable mentions were Home Alone and A Christmas Story, who each fought a good fight and kept it close to the end. While to no surprise Scrooged and The Nightmare Before Christmas brought up the rear both coming in with no votes.

Now, before I throw down a clip of one of my favourite scenes from the film, I would like to say a little something about the nature of the beast that is the Christmas film. Usually cheesy, sometimes shitty and usually geared towards children, the Christmas film has become a staple of North American culture. The fact that Christmas Vacation has won here proves that classics can live forever and will stand the test of time when they hit 'home'. And considering the film was released in 1989, it also shows how our childhood film experiences really do snag a spot in our hearts. But, enough cheese, enjoy the clip below...Chevy Chase is so money.

Clark's Christmas Wish:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Black's Top 20

Real Emotional Trash
Matador - 03/04/08

19. The Gaslight Anthem
The 59' Sound
SideOneDummy Records- 08/19/08

Carpark- 02/26/08

808's and Heartbreak
Roc-A-Fella Records - 11/25/08

A hundred things to keep me up at night
What's Your Rupture? - 11/11/08

Downtown Records - 04/29/08

14. No Age
Sub Pop - 05/06/08

13. Q-Tip
The Renaissance
Universal Motown - 11/04/08

We are beautiful, we are doomed
Arts & Crafts - 11/25/08

The Recession
Def Jam/Corporate Thugz Entertainment - 09/02/08

Best Albums of 2008

It was a good year for music; not great, but pretty good. In past years, certain albums were obvious choices for year end lists, but this year, because there were no Person Pitch or Funeral-type records released, it was much more difficult to compile a list. I had an easy time deciding on my 50 favourite albums, but was faced with a daunting task trying to figure out which of these would make my top 20 and what order they would be ranked. The whole process took me probably over a month, and my rankings changed drastically a number of times throughout the process.  I can say that, after all of this 'work' I'm pretty happy with the final results, yet, I'm sure in a few weeks my opinion on all of these records will have changed once again. Anyways, enough about my neurotic obsession with ranking music and on with the list. We've decided to do it a little differently than the other 2008 lists so far. Instead of just listing off our favourite 20 albums, we are going to first give you our 20-11 picks today, and then count down our top 10 albums a day at a time with a detailed explanation about why we love each album in our top 10. Okay enough talking, here are my favourite albums of 2008:

       She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke
       Hardly Art - 07/08/08

19. Shearwater
      Matador - 06/03/08

      Dragging a Dead Dear Up a Hill
      Type - 06/10/08

      In Ear Park
      4AD - 10/7/08

      Dear Science
      4AD/Interscope - 09/23/08

      Saint Dymphna
      The Social Registry - 10/20/08

14. No Age
      Sub Pop - 05/06/08

      Emergence Music - 06/17/08

      Tha Carter III
      Cash Money/Universal - 06/10/08

      Car Park - 02/26/08

Album #10 of 2008 will be up tomorrow, until then feel free to comment on the list so far.