Friday, December 25, 2009

Best Music of 2009

It's that time of year when every self-important asshole with Internet access and an opinion makes a list of his or her top albums of the year. They usually try to convince you that their list the final word. Well, don't listen to them, cause this is it:(a playlist featuring 25 songs via Lala has been posted separately)

1. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
Pssh...predictable. This guy has never done wrong. He has consistently been one of my favorite artists for about 10 years now. This one's a little more low-key. I fear he's turning NPR into a genre, but his arrangements and lyrics are always well thought out.

2. Banner Pilot - Collapser
Pop-punk? Wuh? Yeah, go to hell. In the past couple years I've going back to punk more and more. There's a lot of great stuff coming out and this band is one of them. They're from Minneapolis and you can tell by their bass lines. It's right at home with other bands in the land of a thousand lakes (Dillinger Four, Dear Landlord, Off With Their Heads, Rivethead (ex-members)). Pop-punk is a limited genre, for sure. It's like a Haiku--you only have so many syllables, so you have to make it count. You got a couple of chord progressions, a couple tempo changes and that's it. But when you can line-up some soul-wrenching lyrics with expressive (albeit redundant) guitars you have something on par with Jawbreaker. These guys rule and it's awesome they always acknowledge Fante in the liner notes.

3. Isis - Wavering Radiant
Maybe it's because they came off of their worst album, In the Absence of Truth, and made one of their best albums. I didn't have to much hope for this, but it surprised me. Aaron Turner sings more than he ever has and screams harder than he ever has before.

4. Dinosaur Jr. - Farm
I'm not going to go, "Wow, a couple years ago when Dinosaur Jr. reformed I was skepical they wouldn't live up to they're back catalouge, but then they hit us with Beyond, and now this." I'm not going to do that, because that's every review of this I've read.

5. Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves - s/t
Speaking of Dinosaur Jr....Chris Wollard was in Hot Water Music--probably one of the best punk bands ever. I'd prefer HWM to make another album over Chuck Ragan/Chris Wollard solo projects, but this is the best project to come out of ex-HWM members, and there's been a lot of them. Wollard didn't do the standard, punk guy goes acoustic, or punk guy goes country thing. This has some rockers on it.

6. Lucero - 1372 Overton Park
This may be my favorite Lucero album. They've added a horn section, which appears on the majority of the songs. This album makes you want to go to a townie bar, get drunk and a Hold Steady kinda way.

7. Fake Problems - It's GreatBe Alive
Speaking of horn sections...I never really paid to attention to Fake Problems before this album. To me they were always the muppet babies version of Against Me! This album was produced by Saddle Creek-er AJ Mogis and I think he's helped this band meet their potential. There's some swamp rock, funk, disco, and of course, folk punk. I like to think of it as Tony Joe White meets Against Me! (they'll never lose that AM! comparison).

8. Cobra Skulls - American Rubicon
Speaking of Against Me! comparisons. This band too, has grown. They don't even have "Cobra" in all there song titles anymore...except for "I Used to Like Them When They Put 'Cobra' In the Titles."

9. Attack in Black - Years by One Thousand Fingertips
I had never really heard of this band before this album. Apparently a lot of people are bummed that this band no longer plays hardcore, and instead plays...indie folk. They blend lo-fi indie, psych, folk, country, pop instead of punk, but keep the DIY spirit by recording it themselves. At times it reminds me of Fleetwood Mac. I hate Fleetwood Mac, but I love this. Why am I so conflicted?

10. Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
Neko Case is like Andrew Bird to me. She really can't do any wrong. She didn't top Fox Confessor, but that's a pretty tough task. This album is about being or tornado, or something.

11. Andrew Jackson Jihad - Can't Maintain
Folk punk...blah blah blah. Horn section blah blah blah. Wait, is this a trend? I don't know, probably. They borrow Bomb the Music Industry's horns and keep going with their funny, self-hating, PC-shocking lyrics song with warbley Neutral-Milk-Hotel-esque vocals. I like this line from the press release: " There are even a couple of full-band numbers here, but please no lame comparisons to Dylan going electric. This is way better and more important."

12. Krallice - Dimensional Bleedthrough
This band along with Wolves in the Throne Room are part of the new school of US Black Metal. They don't subscribe to the corpse paint and staunch scene ethics. They take the sound and add to it with their own pinch of pepper, namely Mick Barr's crazy guitar playing. Mick Barr is one of those guitarists that dudes that work at Guitar Center talk about on their breaks in the snack room. In Krallice, he swears he's not showing off. This band is not supposed to highlight his talent, still does though. I think I like the self-titled album better, but this is damn good.

13. Baroness - The Blue Record
Speaking of sophomore full-lengths that don't live up to their debut, but are still pretty fucking good....Baroness like to throw a little bit of every kind of metal in their music. On this release, there's a lot more cheesy shit going on, but it still turns out pretty cool.

14. Wolves in the Throne Room - Black Cascade
Like I was saying about Krallice, I'm sure these guys get a lot of shit from dudes that dress up in panda makeup and sit in their mom's basement and listen to Norwegian cassette tapes that were probably recorded in the artist's mom's basement, but I'm sure they don't care. These guys are too busy trying to sustain themselves because they live in the woods in Washington.

15. Austin Lucas - Somebody Loves You
Austin Lucas is pretty country. Apparently he used to be in crust bands, but you don't really ever hear any of that in his music. The highlight is his kind of George Jones twangy voice. It gets to your soul.

16. Animal Collective - Meriweather Post Pavilion
I put a bunch of punk and metal before this because I like them better. This is good though. This is my favorite Animal Collective album so far. I like Panda Bear better. I'm sick about hearing about these guys.

17. Cheap Girls - My Roaring 20s
Cheap Girls really like the 90s almost as much as they like singing songs about booze and cigarettes.

18. Dear Landlord - Dream Homes
Like Banner Pilot, these guys are Rivethead alum and come from that incestuous MN scene. They've got great lyrics and catchy tunes. My favorite song is "Park Bench," which is about a minute long, and about a homeless drunk.

19.Teenage Bottlerocket - They Came From the Shadows
Ramones-core. "Bigger than Kiss" has the longest pick slide I've ever heard.

20. Obits - I Blame You
Not as good as Hot Snakes, but still pretty rocking. It's similar to Hot Snakes but a little more Rolling Stones influenced.

21. Pelican - What We All Come to Need
22.Bomb the Music Industry! - Scrambles
23. American Steel - Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts
24. Sunn O))) - Monoliths and Dimensions
25. Built to Spill - There is No Enemy
26. Chuck Ragan - Gold Country
27. Blacklisted - No One Deserves this More Than Me
28. Heartsounds - Until We Surrender
29. Future of the Left - Travels with Myself and Another
30. Tombs - Winter Hours
31. Volcano Choir - Unmap
32. North Lincoln - Midwestern Blood
33. O Pioneers!!! - Neon Creeps
34. Municipal Waste - Massive Aggressive
35. Caspian - Tertia36. Nothington - Roads, Bridges and Ruins
37. Cloak/Dagger - The Lost Art
38. Shook Ones - The Unquoatable AMH
39. Converge - Axe to Fall
40. Polar Bear Club - Chasing Hamburg
41. Mean Jeans - Are You Serious
42. Jesu - Infinity
43. King Khan and BBQ Show - Invisible Girl
44. Om - God is Good
45. Mountain Goats - The LIfe of the World to Come
46. Wooden Shjips - Dos
47. Matt and Kim - Grand
48. Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
49. Bowerbirds - Upper Air
50. Propagandhi - Supporting Caste

I didn't listen to every album that came out this year. Some I just didn't listen to enough. It was a pretty good year for music. This is what I liked the best.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


This is probably my favorite animated film, and, quite possibly, my favorite short film of all time. My brother Sean O))) and his (now) wife gave me a VHS copy of several, what were labeled, "Surrealist Betty Boop Cartoons." They became quite a hit in college as you may imagine. The entire collection is amazing and, since I received it, I've become a fan of Max/Dave Fleisher, especially of this era. You're probably as skeptical as I was since Betty Boop is modernly connotative with the t-shirts of helmet haired, face-painted camel-toed, white-trash and cheap souvenirs from New Jersey. You should watch the entire clip. The end is bizarre and somehow features a cameo by Michael Jackson from 1980.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One Winter. Five Dreams.

Five different athletes training and competing for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. They aren't stars, they don't have major shoe endorsements, they aren't featured on trading cards. They are from five different countries and compete in five different sports but all share a common trait--passion.

Five winter athletes blog about their goals, training, fears, hopes, failures, successes, all progressing towards Vancouver.

This is what I've been working on the last couple months in a project produced by Suitmen Entertainment, directed by Young Kim (aka Suitman), and shot by photographer Davi Russo. I edited all five introductory web films for each athlete. I'm pretty proud of how they turned out.

Here is a link to the Site. Please check it out:

(NOTE: They are kind of small on the 5 Dreams Site, but they are nice and large on the YouTube page: