Saturday, December 29, 2007

Best Songs of 2007

My obsession with year-end "Best Of" lists continues. My movie list will have to be postponed until I've seen everything that's out. As of right now, I only have a Top 5. What can I say, movies sucked this year. And the few good ones didn't come to Bloomsburg, or opened in New York when I was in the middle of moving and didn't have time to go to the theater.


To be clear, these are songs for which I didn't feel the entire record warranted a slot in my top 10 album list. Combine these songs with my recommended downloads from my Top 10 Albums and you get my idea of a perfect mix CD.

1. Rihanna feat. Jay-Z, "Umbrella"

2. Timbaland
(I'm cheating a bit here, because I couldn't pick just one Timbaland song among the trio of "The way I Are," "Give it to Me," and "Apologize." More of a magician than a producer, in my opinion.)

3. Amy Winehouse, "Rehab"

4. A Fine Frenzy, "Almost Lover"

5. Alicia Keys, "No One"

6. Kate Nash, "Foundations"

7. Britney Spears, "Gimme More"
(Say what you will about her personal life, this song rocks.)

8. Bruce Springsteen, "Radio Nowhere"

9. Ingrid Michaelson, "Keep Breathing"

10. Northern State, "Better Already"

And, to give myself a little breathing room, some songs that were technically released in 2006 but which provided a partial soundtrack to my life this year:

1. CSS - "Music is my Hot Hot Sex"

2. Beyonce - "Irreplaceable"

3. Silversun Pickups - "Lazy Eye"

4. Shiny Toy Guns - "Rainy Monday"

5. Lily Allen - "Nan You're a Window Shopper"

Friday, December 28, 2007

Best CDs of 2007

List subject to change:)

1. The Con, Tegan and Sara
I can't say enough about this band or this album. It's flawless, both musically and lyrically, from start to finish. Chris Walla's production is astounding as well. Hands down the best record of the year.
Download this: "The Con"

2. Boxer, The National
The songs on "Boxer" tread a fine line between being hopeful and heartbreaking; leadoff track "Fake Empire" literally brings tears to my eyes each time I hear it. I really regret that I didn't discover The National until this year, but I'm super excited to see these guys live at BAM in February.
Download this: "Fake Empire"

3. Under the Blacklight, Rilo Kiley
A musical rollercoaster of a record. I'm a little late to the Rilo Kiley bandwagon, but I think I picked a good time to jump on.
Download this: "Close Call"

4. I See Red EP, Uh Huh Her
If the rest of the album (set to be released in early '08) is as good as this, Uh Huh Her will definitely have a spot reserved on my top 10 next year.
Download this: "I See Red"

5. New Wave, Against Me!
Definitely a harder sound than I typically prefer, but also really catchy. An album that boasts lyrical intelligence as well.
Download this: "Thrash Unreal"

6. Trading Twilight for Daylight, Great Northern
Pretty much the polar opposite of Against Me!. This album makes me smile.
Download this: "Just a Dream"

7. The Reminder, Feist
I must admit, I didn't fawn over Feist like everyone else did when I first heard her. But then one day, all of a sudden, I was hooked. Maybe this had something to do with it. And her SNL performance sealed the deal.
Download this: "1234"

8. Disco Romance, Sally Shapiro
I distinctly remember hearing this record on independent radio back in April when I was driving aimlessly around Philadelphia after I missed the exit for the airport. I loved the sultry ambience and Shapiro's whispery voice at first listen.
Download this: "Anorak Christmas"

9. An End Has a Start, Editors
This album rekindles my love for 80s alt-new wave and makes me want to jump around. 'Nuf said.
Download this: "An End Has a Start"

10. Combinations, Eisley
This slot was sort of a crapshoot between Eisley, Northern State and Arcade Fire. I've had Northern State's "Better Already" in my head for about a week and counting, but Combinations is a better album as a whole.
Download this: "Invasion"

Honorable Mentions:
Kaiser Chiefs, Yours Truly, Angry Mob
New Pornographers, Challengers
Northern State, Can I Keep This Pen?
Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
The Pipettes, We are the Pipettes
Okkervil River, The Stage Names
Rogue Wave, Asleep at Heaven's Gate

I feel like I should be allowed to include We Are Pilots by Shiny Toy Guns on this list, because they're nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award, and I only discovered them this summer. But since the album technically came out in October 2006, I'm leaving it off. Had I included it, it would definitely make my top three.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New York: If you can make it here, you probably have a trust fund.

They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. Over the course of a weeks-long apartment search during which I had my cell phone stolen, got sick and encountered some of the strangest people and living situations I've ever come across, the truth of this statement slapped me in the face over and over again. So you can imagine how relieved I was when I finally handed in a deposit on a room in a lovely three-bedroom in Brooklyn tonight.

Before I came to New York, friends warned me that the housing search was going to be a nightmare, and it certainly wasn't something I was looking forward to. But it was something I embarked on with the idealistic optimism of the naive transplant that I was. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

One of my friends compared hunting for apartments to the birthing process, saying that the joy felt when it's all over is enough to make you forget all the pain and suffering that led up to it. All I know is, I never want to have kids and I also never want to look for an apartment in New York in the winter again, so they must have something in common. I'm writing this post first to say thank you to all my friends in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey that made my move a little easier by providing beds/couches, food, support, transportation, help packing, advice, company, and car care. I'll never be able to repay you or adequately express how truly grateful I am.

The second reason I'm writing this is to act as a reminder to myself in case I get the inkling in the next year or so that I want to move again. Let's hope redecorating goes a bit more smoothly!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Music makes the people come together

A brief update on some live music I've seen recently in New York City.

-Last week I saw Uh Huh Her (Leisha Hailey from "The L Word"'s band) at Webster Hall. The sound was terrible, probably the worst feedback I've ever heard at a show, but I was impressed with their performance. I'm a fan of their "I See Red" EP and am looking forward to a full-length album that's scheduled for release next year. Their sound is sultry electronica, and they remind me a lot of Goldfrapp. The Webster Hall show featured only a keyboard, bass and guitar, but they said they'll be touring with a full band in 2008. Can't wait.

-Friday night I saw The Most Serene Republic at the Mercury Lounge. They put on a pretty good, albeit short, show. If nothing else, singer Adrian Jewett's onstage antics were pretty fascinating. His red hair and manic eyes gave me an idea of what Ron Weasley's and Iggy Pop's offspring would look and act like. Oh, and he played a trombone on stage, which is always cool in my book.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Grammy picks

Here are what my picks would be, if I had a vote, for the 2008 Grammy Awards. I haven't included all the categories (110?!? WTF.) I've left out those for which I've heard few if any of the nominees (i.e. Best Metal Performance), or about which I don't care (i.e. Best Jazz Instrumental Solo).

Record of the Year: "Umbrella," Rihanna feat. Jay-Z (although "Irreplaceable" is a close second for personal reasons:))
Album of the Year: Not voting, haven't heard three of the nominees. But as of now I would vote for Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black."
Song of the Year: "Umbrella"
Best New Artist: Feist
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: "1234," Feist
Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: "What Goes Around...Comes Around," Justin Timberlake
Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group w/ Vocals: "Window in the Skies," U2
Best Pop Collaboration w/ Vocals: "Give it To Me," Timbaland feat. Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake
Best Pop Vocal Album: "The Reminder," Feist
Best Electronic/Dance Album: "We Are Pilots," Shiny Toy Guns
Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance: "Radio Nowhere," Bruce Springsteen
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group w/ Vocals: "Instant Karma," U2
Best Rock Song: "Radio Nowhere"
Best Rock Album: "Magic," Bruce Springsteen
Best Alternative Music Album: "Neon Bible," Arcade Fire
Best Female R&B Vocal Performance: "No One," Alicia Keys
Best R&B Song: "No One"
Best Female Country Vocal Performance: "Before He Cheats," Carrie Underwood
Best Country Song: "Before He Cheats"
Best Score Soundtrack: "Pan's Labyrinth," Javier Navarrete
Best Compilation Soundtrack: "Once," Glen Hansard & Markete Irglova
Best Song Written for a Motion Picture: "Guaranteed" (from "Into the Wild"), Eddie Vedder
Producer of the Year: Timbaland
Best Short Form Music Video: "1234"
Best Long Form Music Video: "Trapped in the Closet Chapters 13-22," R. Kelly

Monday, December 3, 2007

December issue of Blast is up

Check out the latest issue of Blast Magazine for my article on Tegan and Sara. Click anywhere on the cover to access the article.