Archive for the 'Review' Category

Top Albums of 2009

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Is it too late for my year-end lists for 2009? I don’t care. It was a tough year for music for me. My iPod broke back in April right before I left Jersey, so I didn’t consume nearly as much music as I did in ’08. But whatever. Here you go – my favorite albums that were released last year.

10. Yeasayer – Odd Blood
So right out of the gates, I’m breaking my own rules. This album really came out early 2010 (is it even out yet?) but I listened to it solid through the month of December. If this were really an ’09 album, it would probably be in my top two. And yes, I reserve the right to keep this album in the running for next year’s list. In any case, “Odd Blood” totally melted my brain. Here’s a weird video:

9. Beirut – March of the Zapotec / Holland Real People
This is a double EP album (is that a thing?) with the first disc being more traditional sounding Beirut (european or mexican traditional folk music with tubas and violins and whatnot). But the second disc is what I really like. It sounds like head the old “Real People” demos – which is basically Zach crooning over his own digital beats. “No Dice” and “My Night With a Prostitute from Merseilles” are my favorites.

8. The Very Best – The Warm Heart of Africa
This is a great fun record with a lot of fun African beats. I wish I knew more about it, but I don’t. They did a song with Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend which is fantastic. Check it out and see if it doesn’t make you just a bit happier.

7. Discovery – LP
Did someone say Vampire Weekend? This is an experimental electronic type of project with one guy from VW and another guy from Ra Ra Riot (sorry, I’m too lazy to look up the names.). Similar to Postal Service I guess if Postal Service cheered up a bit and wasn’t afraid to get silly. Sorry no video, but you can listen to a song:

6. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Great album from a great Frenchy band. You’ve probably heard this song on a car commercial, and I have too. It’s an amazing tune and the whole record is equally good. Buster gets all happy when I play this in the car and says “Hey! I know this song!” When you’re done with the video for 1901 below, check out this amazing fan video for “Listzomania” featuring Brat Pack kids rocking out. so fun.

5. Moneybrother – Real Control
I’m really glad Moneybrother came back with this record after being disappointed with their last one. “Real Control” is catchy all the way through. If you’re not in the loop Moneybrother the unkown (at least in the US) solo project of Anders Wendin (ex-Monster). I’m a major geek for this guys’ music. He’s awesome. A lot of classic soul, rock, whatever. This song below has a bit more of a late 70′s reggae / ska vibe (which is about as Jamaican as I got all year).

4. New Moon Soundtrack
Ok, before you judge me as a 13 year old girl (or 20-something housewife) for this, hear me out. I’m not a Twilight fan. I don’t feel like that’s even necessary to state. But, this album is amazing. If this soundtrack were a compilation under a different name, it would receive a lot more credibility. Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, Lykke Li, Death Cab, etc. Great all the way through and not a track I don’t like. Don’t judge me.

3. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
Karin from the Knife’s solo project that is even darker and creepier. I totally love this record. And I gotta say, seeing her live was probably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

2. Passion Pit – Manners
I love this record all over the place. At first I thought it was electro-dancey then I thought it was more indie-rocky, then I stopped worrying and just loved it for what it was. Lots of layers going on here. Great lyrics, great melodies… Sure you could say it’s over-produced, but that doesn’t bother me at all. It sounds fantastic. I was disappointed watching some live clips of them, as the vocals are so stacked on the album, it just didn’t hold up live. Well, I’ll find out at Coachella. :)

1. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
A favorite of many is also a favorite of mine. Lots of moods and textures and stuff. Definitely not the most accessible album of the year (nor the least accessible for that matter), but it sure grew on me pretty quick. You know it. You love it. I don’t need to say anything else. Here it is.

Defending UP

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Current Mood:Angry emoticon Angry

This morning, a good friend of mine forwarded me an e-mail entitled “Pixar’s UP: Adorable or Deplorable?”. In the E-mail, Pixar was accused of “subtlely advancing the agenda of emasculating society” through “sins of omission” of “all fathers” as was relayed by his niece (?). Well this got to me (and yes, I’m angry about other stuff going on right now) and so I wrote a long-winded rant in defense of “UP”. I’m not going to post my friend’s e-mail out of respect of privacy, but since I spent a while crafting my response, I feel proud enough to post it here:



Dear *****,

I’m sad about your e-mail. I’m also confused. I can’t tell if you saw it yourself or if you’re just going off what someone else said. When I told you how much I loved UP, you were dismissive because “the characters seemed unendearing”. I remember you saying to the effect of “Andy Rooney and a Squinty-eyed little freak?”. (The kid is Asian, dude! I was shocked you would say something like that). I let that bother me for the rest of the day, because UP was a ray of sunlight during this trying time in my life.

I had a very different take on it. Yes, the Russel’s father was absent (something I can relate to too well) and he tried the to be the best scout he could to earn approval (another thing I can relate to). In the end, the deadbeat dad didn’t come through (amen), and the thing that touched me, is that the cranky old Carl took him under his wing and mentored him. He made a transition of taking the pain of his past and using his gold to bless and mentor this young boy. Then the end credits shows them doing all the things that Russel’s dad didn’t do with him – Fishing, eating ice cream, going to the movies, etc. I stayed through the credits and cried the whole time.

Disney’s track record of omitting father figures has bothered me for years. But keep in mind that this was a PIXAR movie. There’s a difference there, and I saw this as redemption for Disney’s sins of the past. Mentoring / father figures / hero worship is one of the core themes of this movie. Additionally, the mature themes of marriage, death, unrealized dreams, mourning, overcoming grief, disillusionment, surrogacy, disappointment, loneliness, old age, protection, forgiveness and passion are all very heavy prominent themes all throughout. I was in tears within the first ten minutes (and even before that if you count the short “partly cloudy”).

To me, the fact that the explorer character turned out to be the villain emphasized the disillusionment that one receives from placing a hero on a pedestal. It didn’t undermine Carl and Ellie’s dream. And it started the chain of events that caused Carl to introspect and realize that it wasn’t too late to start a new adventure – in mentoring Russell.

I saw the undoubtedly PRO-masculine message in this movie. It was far from deplorable and so much more than adorable. It held a very deep and touching message that made me feel golden for days. I gushed about it to my friends on staff at the NWTA a week later because of it’s pro-masculine and uplifting message. I can honestly say now that it’s one of my favorite movies ever.

I don’t know if your niece and I saw the same movie. I didn’t see any emasculation or “subtle agenda advancing”. UP was the best movie I’ve seen all year and hands-down the best Pixar film to date. I can’t remember the last movie I saw that affected me so deeply, especially when it comes to my own father wounds.

With the near-universal praise that Up has (rightfully) received I judge that many of those who are critical are simply being contrary for the sake of being contrary. Or perhaps they are holding Pixar films to an impossible standard, while letting other mediocre, timely, pop-culture referencing fluff like “Shrek” “Chicken Little” or “Madagascar” (Dreamworks & Disney I’m looking at you) pass for decent entertainment for our kids. That’s deplorable.

In the so-called “Summer of Sh*t” (not my words, but true), Up stands out as a freaking diamond. It would in any other year as well.


Top 20 Favorite Albums of 2008 (w/ videos!)

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

My Favorite Albums of 2008

Every year I like to make a list of my top albums. These are albums that I enjoyed the most this year, not a list of the best albums of the year. Obviously, I am not a music critic, and I have not heard every album that was released in 2008. It’s gotten to the point that I think about this list all year round. Whenever I fall in love with a record, I wonder if and where it will place on my list. So here’s a bunch of my favorites. It’s not an exact science, and a lot of these rankings are interchangeable (especially in the 11-20 spots). I embedded a video and a link for each one in case you would like to discover more on the bands I’ve listed. Be careful though, it might slow down your computer with all the videos in there. I know it does mine quite a bit. This was a very long and laborious post to write, which I actually started about three weeks ago, so don’t give me no gruff! And so, with no further ado, here’s my list.

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Virgin Mobile Festival 08 Report!

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008


This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to the Virgin Mobile Festival down in Baltimore. The Virgin Mobile Festival (or V-Fest as the kids say) is a 2-day rock festival that my company puts on every year that is rather awesome. Sure it’s no Coachella, but for my money’s worth, it’s definitely high on the awesome meter.

Marylynn didn’t want to go, so i offered her ticket to Billy Watkins, a 19-year old fellow music geek in my ward. We drove down to Baltimore together and had a total blast. i took a TON of pictures, and I whittled them down to the best 100. I then uploaded them to my new Flickr account (which is also awesome by the way). Prepare yourself for a butt-load of photos. You can click on them to view a larger size and/or comment on the individual pic! Flickr is so cool!!

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19 Favorite Albums of 2007

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Rock N Roll!That time of year is coming back around again where everyone starts their top 10 lists of whatever and no one really cares too much. But that’s alright. I threw together a list of my top 10 albums of 2007, and figured that there was too much good stuff to come out this year that I couldn’t just limit it to ten. So here’s my top 19 albums of the year. (Why 19 and not an easy number like 20 you ask? Well that’s none of your business. OK, actually, I made a mistake and realized that Lily Allen’s "Alright Still" actually came out in 2006. Oh well.) Although I might not be as well versed in EVERY single album that came out this year, but these are the ones that I dug a lot. I’m sure there are going to be lots of albums from this year I’m going to discover next year, but that’s life. And so, with no further ado, here’s my list (complete with videos!)

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Oscar Week Film Festival pt. 6

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

The Last King of ScotlandThe Last King of Scotland – After the bad taste in my mouth leftover from Dreamgirls, I decided to cleanse my palette, so I threw on “The Last King of Scotland”. Boy am I glad I did. In fact this has probably been my favorite movie so far on my Oscar Week Film Festival.

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Oscar Week Film Festival pt. 5

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

DreamgirlsDreamgirls – I love Motown, and I love the Supremes. I was really interested in seeing this as it is a thinly-veiled retelling of their stories. Dreamgirls opens at an Amateur Night battle of the bands in Detroit with various performers representing BB King, James Brown, Martha Reeves, etc. when Jaime Foxx meets these three girls and offers them their big break. Well, it’s basically all downhill from there.

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Oscar Week Film Festival pt. 4

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

BabelBabel - Babel is up for a ton of awards this year, including Best Picture, 2 Best Actresses, Best Editing, Best Score, etc. etc. If I weren’t so lazy (or had a more reliable internet connection), I’d go look up how many. So with time running out for my film festival, this one became a priority.

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Oscar Week Film Festival pt. 3

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

The Good ShepherdThe Good Shepherd

So I decided to watch the Good Shepherd last night in hopes to break this heavy/depressing pattern my film festival has been in. I started late (after Grey’s Anatomy of course). The Good Shepherd was directed by Robert DeNiro, so obvously it’s pretty promising. It started out interestingly enough. Matt Damon is recruited by the government to spy on people, he’s initiated into the Skull and Bones Society, gets a deaf girlfriend (and that’s DEAF, not DEF) but then knocks up Angelina Jolie.

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Oscar Week Film Festival pt. 2

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

In my tireless mission to complete this silly Oscar Week thing, I stayed up until 3:30 last night watching a movie on my computer. I got started at a reasonable time watching “Babel”, but about 20 minutes into it I realized I was watching a Spanish version! Well that’s what I get for stealing. Maybe I’ll it on Saturday, but at this rate, it’s out of the festival. So I started Blood Diamond,rent but had to take an intermission to watch LOST (who promised all sorts of “answers” but really gave none!! gah!). Tonight shouldn’t be much different because Grey’s Anatomy is on. I really hope Meredith dies. She’s the most annoying part of the show. AHEM. Ok, so here’s my review from my screening last night.

Blood DiamondBlood Diamond – I picked this one because I thought it would be an action/adventure and possibly a break from these heavily emotional movies I’ve been subjecting myself to. Boy was I wrong. Blood Diamond is HEAVY.

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