10 albums this year not by Kendrick

look, everyone already knows that How to Pimp a Butterfly is (by universal acclaim, if nothing else) the best album of the year. so we don’t really need to cover that, and we can move on. here are 10 albums that i thought were amazing this year:

Dopamine by BØRNS

what a perfectly named album. Dopamine (the album and the substance) strokes your pleasure centers from the first note, and doesn’t let up until you’re a quivering ball of joy. it’s silky, smooth, excellently paced, and just fucking happy. enjoy at your own risk.


Magnifique by Ratatat

we’ve waited yeeeaars for new Ratatat (longer if, like many, you felt that LP4 was a bit of a let down). Magnifique is an incredibly tight, excellently pared down, and less experimental offering from the duo. Cream on Chrome being the song that most gets your blood flowing, but over the entire album, you’re not going to break a sweat.


DS2 by Future

what a year for Future. he’s gone from being “that guy that your favorite rapper listens to” to the dude dropping mix tapes with Drake. his lyrical style is refreshing, his voice is raw, and his production is ridiculous. go back and check out his entire body of work.


Currents by Tame Impala

a singular album on a number of levels. i don’t know whether you loved Tame Impala before now, but it doesn’t really matter. this album is as unlike the previous offerings as possible. before Tame Impala might have been used to kick off an evening, with Currents, i think we’re better off winding down, but still maintaining.


V by Wavves

Wavves had a good year. for me, it was a toss up whether this album made the cut, or his collaboration with Cloud Nothings took the spot. in the end, the purity of vision, and singular aesthetic (with heavy influence from aforementioned collab) made it an album that i couldn’t keep out of my regular rotation. if you need a lil’ pop-punk pick me up, this is your jam.


My Love is Cool by Wolf Alice

this album runs all over the place. i think, loosely, it proves that grunge isn’t dead, but with heavy influence from the dream/pop universe. there’s never a moment on this album when i can accurately predict what’s coming next, other than it will be really, really good. try and move past the music though, the lyrics are a masterclass.


Surf by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment

anyone know where this album came from? anyone? no? you in the back… shutup, you had no idea either. in a lot of ways, this album feels like experimental jazz; they’re playing the spaces, not just the notes.


Get to Heaven by Everything Everything

Everything Everything would seem to be doing, well, everything right. second excellent album in two years, but this one is more complex. combining their patented manic pop with some pretty distressing lyrics. you’ll want to dance, but you might need a hug afterwards.


Wonderlust by Kid Wave

Kid Wave has an interesting thing going on, they’ve got the great cords, and aggressive drums you’d expect out of 90’s Grunge (with maybe a tad more polish), but the vocals are straight out of the Indie scene. the overall is impression is a little dark, but it’s so silky, you might instead say sultry.


Home Before the Dark by Kid Astray

hey, remember how the last Phoenix album wasn’t really any good? this one is. Kid Astray manages to capture the same insufferable, make-your-foot-tap beats, and combine them in ways that remind you of that other band, but still takes you to new places.


Honorable mentions:

Sleater Kinney, Beirut, Bjork.

10 albums this year not by Kendrick

End-to-almost-end prototyping please

you know what i want?

a goddamn web white-boarding/prototyping tool that’s “end to almost end”. let me wireframe by drawing little black boxes IN MY BROWSER to show a site flow.


then let me click on those boxes to wireframe each page.


THEN let me add css styling incrementally.


… you could even let me put content in there, just to see how it looks.

and no Balsamiq Sans anywhere. dear god, please.

i’ve tried https://webflow.com, and it feels like it’s on the right track, but it’s merely a component of what i want. the ability to see a project from the top down, all the way to individual pages, to have your entire work flow in one area, is a really attractive idea to me. and if the controls could look like Adobe Creative Suite, all the better :).


End-to-almost-end prototyping please

Since it’s almost February

That must mean it’s time for me to give my 10 favorite albums of 2012. In no particular order:

Andrew Bird – Break it Yourself
Easily the most pedal effects per violin of anything (in this list or otherwise). Bird’s obsession with layering, musically as well as lyrically, shows amazing dividends here. It’s fluid, it’s beautiful, and it incorporates 20 years of musical know-how. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPk-GLUGrek

Battleme – Battleme
This Austin outfit was born from the ashes of Lions, and I can’t recommend it enough. Some tracks convey a silky smoothness and relaxed cadence, others feel like the edge of a knife, all of it feels infused with energy. No two songs sound the same, but all of it seems to “work”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzs3ZJn4pTE

Beach House – Bloom
If you buy one album off of this list, this is the one. Beach House has really hit their stride here, delivering 10 amazingly dreamy songs that fill you with a happy lassitude. The sounds you hear are all bright (apropos for an album entitled Bloom) despite leaving a slightly melancholy feel as they finish. It’s the music of the sun setting, but with tighter song-writing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuvWc3ToDHg

The Dollyrots – The Dollyrots
High energy to compliment the previous entry’s low, The Dollyrots manage to resurrect Pop Punk in a way that doesn’t make you want to punch a tween. Infectious fun is the name of the game; guaranteed to drive any bad day away. Don’t come here looking for a call to action or deep meaning, but be ready to tap your feet, it’ll be almost impossible not to. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2pgbjPzF2k

Grimes – Visions
Fuck I don’t know what this is. It’s SynthWaveElectroClashPopCore run by an outstanding producer, who also happens to have a great voice. There’s very little that’s “hook-ey” about this one woman show, but the songs pull you in and trap you nonetheless. Best I can figure it, Grimes is what would happen if Aphex Twin got together with Massive Attack, morphed into a Voltron-style robot, and started freebasing The Internet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtH68PJIQLE

Jack White – Blunderbuss
In a generation of internet-influenced, electronically informed music, there’s something delightful about Jack White’s simple approach. Many of White’s previous albums treated lyrics as a necessary evil, something to focus one when he wasn’t speaking with his true voice – his guitar. In Blunderbuss this is not the case, there’s the same Jack White grungy guitar wailings, but mixed in are some surprisingly polished vocals. Far from ruining his aesthetic, it helps Jack find a new “gear”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvpoiiBW9bc

Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Many argue that Celebration Rock is a pale imitation of the desperate exuberance of Post-Nothing. Don’t listen to those assholes, they probably also listened to the Japandroids “before they were cool”. Every song is a wave of energetic, fuzzy noise that quickly suck you in. The album starts strong with “The Nights of Wine and Roses” and “Fire’s Highway”, but the energy and quality don’t trail off. “Adrenaline Nightshift” smoothly carries the album through the middle, while showcasing just how far these guys have come in terms of pure playing ability. When the ‘droids close, they do so as they started: kicking and screaming. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzQs550NLcc

Superbus – Sunset
Superbus has been around for a little bit (this being their 5th album), but now that they’ve blended their 80’s euro synth sound with the talents of Garbage sound engineer Billy Bush, they really start to shine. You won’t always know what the hell they are singing about (unless you speak French), but you’ll bop your head and pretend to sing along. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsIvy8LpOq0

Tribes – Baby
Is it too soon to call the 90’s sound “throwback”? Because this album is pure 90’s. Pitchfork maligns this sonic offering as having “nothing to do with indie”, but they say that like it’s a bad thing! It’s a little derivative, and big on hooks, but perfectly enjoyable for all of that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIiiODFkywQ

Foxy Shazam – The Church of Rock And Roll
Mix hard charging Rock and Roll with a dollop of gospel and a generous heaping of swagger, serve hot and as fast as you can. Foxy Shazam shows off some awesome guitar licks and an impressive vocal range as they attempt to take back and redefine “classic rock”. Listen with a sense of humor, and be prepared for some weirdness (they are called Foxy Shazam, after all) but you’ll make it through and be satisfied. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgBKS4JCsec#t=57s


Since it’s almost February

Ira Glass on Creativity

Reposted verbatim, with no commentary (or shame). This. Is. Amazing.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me … is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Ira Glass

Ira Glass on Creativity


This isn’t a review so much as a collection of stray thoughts I had whilst listening to the new Muse record (The 2nd Law):

Is this Queen?

Did they listen to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” too many times?

Are they just using the “samba” setting on a Casio keyboard? They have a real drummer right?

I think their guitar player got lost on the way to the studio.

Did someone replace Muse with an indie folk band?l This doesn’t sound like the same band as a minute ago…




On Sherman Alexie

Every time someone informs me that they’ve never heard of Sherman Alexie, I do the same series of things. Initially I slam my head repeatedly against my desk. There’s a pretty smooth, shallow divot that’s been well-loved over the years. After a brief, recuperative nap, I ruminate on the downfall of the publishing industry. If an author that’s been banned multiple times and won countless (ok, 15 so far) awards is fighting an obscurity problem, then I weep for the fucking human race. This process takes about 48 seconds.

Ablutions complete, I politely direct the offending party to this very fine article Alexie wrote about the Sonics trial. It’s ostensibly about Basketball, which I’m indifferent to at best, but it’s easily my favorite example of his writing.

In it, he offers a number of bold predictions, speculations, and musings. This being 2012, I’ve elected to apply 4 years of hindsight to his auguries for like no reason. Then I’ll judge him.

– #28. “In order to make the world whole, Jeff Green will have to become the third or fourth best small forward in the league. Will Green become that great? He has enormous potential. I will be praying for him.” Jeff Green now plays for the Boston Celtics, and is not expected to start any time soon.

– #36. “…if we are to get an NBA team anytime soon, it will happen because our local rich guys bought another city’s team and moved it here.” I guess we’ll see, but it sure looks like we’re trying to steal another city’s team.

– #45. “Over the next three years, your new team will lose somewhere between 160 to 180 games.” Sadly, they only lost 118 games in their first three years, half during their inaugural season.

– #47. “As I write this, the general managers and owners of every other NBA team are making plans to clear their cap spaces so they can offer massive money to Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Nick Collison.” Collison and Durrant are still in OKC, and Green… is disappoint.

– #49. “Oh, to make you happy, I think your new draft pick, Russell Westbrook, is going to be an amazing player. I don’t think he’ll be as good as Chris Paul, but he’s going to be close.” This breakdown of the Westbrook/Paul comparison sums up with “it’s Chris Paul over Russell Westbrook by the slimmest of margins”.

I’m not throwing rocks Alexie, the man knows more about writing and basketball than I ever will. He wrote (4 years ago) out of place of love and anger, prognosticating more presciently than anyone really has a right to. Where he was right, he was intelligent and profoundly poetic. Where he was wrong he was angry and still poetic.

What then is the point? Final Summation? None.


On Sherman Alexie

The only reason you’ll ever need to hate Pitchfork

“Still, the image of her on the cover of Apokalypsis with whited-out eyes, coupled with her fondness for gothic and Greek typefaces, and choice of cover material (particularly her take on Burzum’s “Black Spell of Destruction”), makes her a perfect fit for Pendu’s combination of high art/fashion/horror/goth signifiers (particularly of an early-to-mid-1970s, European vintage).”

The second thing I noticed about that passage was that it was a single sentence. The first thing I noticed was WHAT THE FUCK?!

If you are unaware, Pitchfork is a music site. It is pretentious in the way that I am about coffee… if I was also wearing a beret and ironically smoking an electronic cigarette that I kept in an American Spirits container while juggling micro-brews and riding a fixie.

The artist being “reviewed” is Chelsea Wolfe, and despite how much you might want to punch children based on that review, she’s worth listening to.

The only reason you’ll ever need to hate Pitchfork

A proposal of no modesty

Every now and then someone brings up the idea of splitting the US up into two different countries. You know, so everyone’s lives would be easier, and we wouldn’t have to deal with politics. Or each other. So I took a stab at figuring out how this would work out!

I guess the only fair way would be to make a “blue state” and a “red state”.

But, we’d offer to swap CO and NM with GA and NC. I suppose we could get finer-grained than THAT, but then we’d end up with every major city and most universities as little blue oases. The red states would lose what little education and industry centers they have, and the blues would lose a lot of food production. so I think these are decent divisons.

I guess the only problem is, the red states wouldn’t have much of an economy, really:

… and you’d have to drastically change how federal funds are spent, as the reds tend to receive more dollars than they collect:

Oh, and they’d have amazingly high health costs, as that appears to contain most of the fattest states:

… And education’s tough for the reds, though there are a few brightish spots (Nebraska and Kansas are in the top 15!):


I have a sneaking suspicion that the reds would have more food production, but between urban farming and, say, California and Washington, we’re on our way.

Then of course, you’d have to deal with the internal politics of each country! I’m not sure the Santorum-clan would get along with the Ron Paul folk. So you’d probably have just as large of divisions in the new states! Even the blue states would face these internal problems.


A proposal of no modesty