Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Top 5 Albums of 2010.5

2010.5 has been a remarkablely disappointing 6 months of music. 8 of my Top 25 of the Decade artists released records and most were not what I hoped (more like, This is NOT Happening). That being said, there has been 4 records I liked, 1 I loved by default, and 1 I trully adored.

Top 5 Albums of 2010.5

5. The Black Keys - Brothers
4. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
3. Suckers - Wild Smile
2. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Brutalist Brick
1. The National - High Violet

Honorable Mention: Vampire Weekend - Contra

This is a list made up of a debut, my 2nd favorite Broken Social Scene record, my 4th favorite Black Keys album, and my 5th fave Ted Leo release. Still, I absolutely - head over heals - love High Violet. It is my favorite record by The National and despite a easy route to the top, it wholeheartedly deserves its position.

Maybe the send half of the year will be better. I don't particularly like Arcade Fire or Interpol, so I have less hope than most. Still, there is set to be a new Strokes, Kanye, Best Coast, Walkmen, and Patrick Stump, so who knows.

Top 10 Albums of 2009

I never did a Top 10 list of 2009 Albums. Before I do a Top 5 of 2010.5, I felt I needed to get this out there.

10.Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
9.Julian Casablancas - 11th Dimension
8. St. Vincent - Actor
7. Bon Iver - Blood Bank EP
6. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
5. White Denim - Fits
4. Grizzly Bear - Veckatemist
3. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
2 (tied). Japandroids - Post-Nothing
2 (tied). The Antlers - Hospice
1. Dark Was the Night

Are We All Pop Artists? Part I

Summer is not usually a time for interesting, cutting-edge, or particularly watchable television*. For the last decade or so, the networks have used this time to throw random reality show concepts against the wall to see what sticks - Survivor stuck – Top Chef stuck – American Idol stuck - for me, this summer, Work of Art: The Next Great Artist has stuck. The premise is simple: Project Runway with create fine art.

As a reality show, its success rests in the fact that these individuals are quite different from anyone who has previously been featured on TV. Though the cast is noticeably GREAT looking, many are still quite weird. The star of the first three episodes, Miles, has won two challenges already while also constantly displaying how crazy he is. He has a beguiling twitchy personality rooted in an extreme OCD and a dash of social anxiety, which is both hard to watch and exceptionally great television**.

Still, what is the most interesting about the show is that it turns all of these artists into Pop Artists. SPOILER ALERT***: Trong, “the most established artist on the show” got kicked off the show for his piece involving three “children” televisions “having a conversation” with a larger “parental” TV. The screens had cheeky little phrases on them, each commenting on the relationship of reality, reality television, high art, and popular culture. Miles deemed the piece, “distractingly boring,” however he did not really address why. My argument is that the bold comment on society that Trong was trying to convey is already implicit in the framework of the show, and by outwardly addressing it, his work seemed egregiously on-the-nose.

Miles won the challenge by creating a piece about his difficulty sleeping, in which he actually slept on the piece. This piece succeeded in the exact way Trong’s failed. Miles used the inherent pop subtext of the show to his advantage. He was really commenting on the difficulty of trying to function normally when all of your actions are projected publically. Art is often a comment on one’s own position in life, so accordingly all of these individuals’ pieces end up existing as a comment on living on TV and creating art under the lens of mainstream culture.

This really touches on a common theme of this blog. Due to today’s excess of access most of us have to reconcile our personal creative process with something more public. This begs the question, are we all Pop artists****?

* The summer also is a scripted television graveyard of sorts. Every summer there will be a handful of obviously awful shows that the network spent just too much money to never air. NBC’s 100 Questions is my current favorite*****. In an ideal world it would be titled, “How I Haven’t Met Your Father Yet.” Basically, the protagonist (who is female!!!!) starts the episode by answering questions asked by a dating service employee that is astoundingly both an offensive black stereotype and an offensive gay stereotype. This in turn leads into such a delightfully hackneyed half-hour of sitcom television. There is something about television this awful that is strangely endearing.

The networks are filled with “bad” television, which usually implies decidedly middle-brow, boob-tube-esque TV. Two and a Half Men is probably the definitive “bad” show on TV. It might be lazy, shallow, and trite but it is at least professional. The snobbiest of snob TV viewers will watch a “bad” show and think “man this is dumb and very much not Arrested Development.” Watching a show like 100 Questions invokes a very different reaction.

I am reminded of the review of Mike Myers’s “Love Guru” by the usually congenial A.O. Scott, in which he describes the “film” as “downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again.” 100 Questions so brazenly operates in this territory that its engaging. The "it's so bad it’s good” paradigm is not usually my bag, as I don’t have a strong stomach for unbridled irony. That being said, 100 Questions is so bad its good and my DVR series recording confirms.
**This is a very popular reality show personality dynamic. The best example thus far is in episode 2 when Miles reads the entirety of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein before starting his piece to redesign the book’s cover.
***I think. I have never alerted a spoiler before, so I am unaware of the parameters.
**** Are cliffhangers allowed in the blogosphere? I intend to address this question in a follow-up essay probably titled Lady Gaga v. Heidi Montag: Who is today’s Andy Warhol?.
*****Oddly enough, for the summer 100 Questions is in the timeslot (NBC, Thursday, 8:30PM) of my actual favorite situational comedy, Parks and Recreation. Considering, how stupidly funny this season of the latter was, the former seems even more offensively awful in comparison.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Do you like music videos...

and coming to terms with the evolution of one's taste?

Today, I am obsessed with this music video:

Yu(c)k - Weakend

The video is equal parts strange and beautiful. While watching, all I can think of is when I was a Freshman and used to spend hours learning how to play Howie Day covers of Dave Matthews Band songs on guitar. That was 7 years ago, but it feels like at least 7 zillion.

This is a good video/song to watch and contemplate aging to.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

25 Favorite Albums of the 00's

I actually completed this list six months ago, however I felt weird posting it without any other content surrounding it. So without further ado, the list:

OK, a quick ado. I try to star rate all my music in my iTunes on a 1-5 star scale. In parentheses throughout the list are the corresponding star ratings of each albums' tracks. For example (4-3*, 1-4*, 1-5*) means four 3 star songs, one 4 star song, and one 5 star song.

26. Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor (4-3*, 1-4*, 1-5*)
25. Incubus - Morning View (8-3*, 2-4*)
24. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (4-3*, 3-4*)
23. Kanye West - The College Dropout (6-3*, 1-4*)
22. Radiohead - In Rainbows (7-3*, 1-5*)
21. Feist - The Reminder (7-3*, 1-4*)
20. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (3-3*, 3-4*)
19. Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak (2-3*, 1-4*, 1-5*)
18. John Legend - Once Again (7-3*, 4-4*)
17. Jessica Lea Mayfield - With Blasphemy So Heartfelt (7-3*, 1-4*)
16. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend (8-3*, 1-4*)
15. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam (3-3*, 1-4*, 1-5*)
14. John Mayer - Continuum (5-3*, 1-4*, 1-5*)
13. The National - Alligator (7-3*, 1-4*)
12. Dark was the Night (14-3*, 2-4*, 1-5*)
11(tied). Japandroids - Post-Nothing (5-3*, 1-4*, 1-5*)
11(tied). The Antlers - Hospice (7-3*, 1-4*)
10. Cold War Kids - Robbers & Cowards (4-3*, 5-4*)
9. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (7-3*, 2-4*)
8. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (4-3*, 2-4*, 1-5*)
7. The Strokes - Is this it? (6-3*, 3-4*)
6. TV on the Radio - Dear Science, (5-3*, 3-4*)
5. The Black Keys - Rubber Factory (6-3*, 3-4*, 1-5s)
4. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not (7-3*, 5-4*)
3. The Hold Steady - Boys & Girls in America (8-3*, 3-4*)
2. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - Tyranny of Distance (4-3*, 3-4*, 2-5*)#
1. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (2-3*, 5-4*, 1-5*)

For Emma, Forever Ago is my favorite album, period## (sorry Talking Book). After seeing him live, I immediately rushed home to see what songs I could find on the Internet. To my luck, the entire record was being streamed on his Virb page. For the next three months, if I had Internet access, I was on the page. Then the record was officially released and I would venture to say that for the next two years I did not go a week without listening to it at least once. Every month a new song would appear as my favorite, every day I became obsessed with a new little excerpt: The faint siren noise in the background of “Wolves Part I & II” – the sound of his turning off the microphone at the very end of the record – “Go find another lover/To bring and string along” surrounded by an album of abstract and hushed lyrics, this brief moment of emotional frankness constantly floors me. Now three years later, I cannot listen to the record with divided attention; I only choose to play it when listening is the only activity taking place. It is not music I play at work, when I do dishes, when I am reading, or hanging out with friends – it is the record I listen to when I am listening to this record. I like it.

# Fun Fact: I like Ted Leo. Here is the star break down for his three other major releases of the decade: Hearts of Oak (7-3*, 2-4*), Shake the Sheets (8-3*, 2-4*, 1-5*), Living with the Living (7-3*, 4-4*). If there wasn't a one album per band limit, Ted would probably have 4 in the top 25.
##I have never written “period” in this way before. I have only spoken it. Is this how it would work? Or is actually using a period enough?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ron Artest is a Champion and Crazy: UPDATE

He released a song proving both!

Ron Artest - Champions

The song is regular bad, not hilarious bad. Still, its worth a listen just so you can learn that Artest knows a lot of sports phrases.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Don't Call it a Comeback!!!! Please.

I am going to try and restart this blog I started.

I ran into a roadblock of sorts months back. The problem was the blog slowly turned into me solely arguing my stance on my generation's unique relationship with popular culture. The "Is This It?/This Is It" piece seemed to perfectly express my point-of-view, so I felt I had nothing else to write. I could not think of anything to add to the conversation of the matter. My Joementum fizzled out. Now, many months later, I am going to begin anew and with a slightly different focus.


Recently, my friend sent me a link to an article* that argued that content is no longer king**, and in its stead curation has arisen. Accordingly, I am going to work on curating (fancy words for posting links to other people's ish) a lot more. The hope is this will get me back in the swing of things and allow me to spend more time on the long-form pieces, for which I am famous***.

Ok, ready for some curating? Here is a video that is already omnipresent on the Internet:

Ron Artest is a Champion and Crazy

Now comes some scribblings about the curated piece…

Ron Artest is crazy. As long as I have known that Ron Artest existed, I have known he is crazy. This usually resulted in bad things, like rushing the stands looking to snuff some fans or dumb rap music. I am linking this link to show how great it is when crazy people are happy instead of frightingly destructive****. Artest's rants within are the embodiment of joy and Coca-Cola Corp. has embedded in my psyche that joy is great.

* This article!!!!!:
**I should probably mention that I disagree with the article. Let us say that more people focus on curation than content, than the result will be a massive cycle of the same content from one forum to the next. It is a baby boomer's attempt to try to define the Internet's future as a return to an American monoculture. Maybe that is a bit harsh, especially considering that this dude knows a lot more about this than I do, but you know forest, trees, seeing, etc.
***One reader (Dawson) counts as famous, correct?
**** Sounds like my Ex-wife.*****