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Ashley’s Favorite Music of 2013

Well, here it is. The grand finale of my favorites of 2013. It took me two weeks to compose my thoughts on this topic… Or rather, I’ve been stupidly busy with work that I haven’t had a chance to write it. I like the first excuse better though.

Last year was a pretty damn good year. Favorites returned, new people surprised me, and there were some great indie stuff that popped up in my personal circle. I talked about some of it in the middle of last year, but what made it to the end? Well, let’s start with

Favorite Singles

Honorable Mention: ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry

I hate that I like this song. I hate that Katy Perry songs keep getting in my head and every time I say I don’t like it, it beats me into submission until I do. It happened again with ‘Roar’ to the point I would turn it up and belt Katy’s turn at an empowerment anthem after her divorce from Russell Brand. Though, due to Katy’s writing style, I still think she’s writing about Travis McCoy.

6.) TIE: ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk and ‘Holy Grail’ by Jay-Z feat. Justin Timberlake

Lots of people got sick of these songs rather quickly, but strangely, I never did. Even though I couldn’t get into Magna Carta Holy Grail the way I did Watch The Throne, there were several tracks on the album that completely stood out to me like ‘BBC,’ ‘Picasso Baby,’ and ‘Jay Z Blue.’ The lead single of ‘Holy Grail’ was completely entrancing. I think I might have ended up liking Justin on this track more than on most of his singles from The 20/20 Experience. Well… most…

As for ‘Get Lucky,’ it really was everyone’s song of the year. It was a fun disco track that felt more genuine than any other track on the radio this summer. It also probably sealed the deal for the awesome year Pharrell had. Well, maybe it was that OTHER song, but I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Canadian Creep.

5.) ‘This Is Gospel’ by Panic! at the Disco

I really only liked about half of Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die. The half I really liked was sexy, catchy and weirdly emotional. The half I didn’t was boring to the point it began to run together. Thankfully, the second single ‘This Is Gospel’ was on the half I liked. It’s a stand out song on the record even without single status due to the sung in a church like feeling of the song and the pure brutal emotion. I’ve cried to this song, and I’m not afraid to admit that. Even if the rest of the album is dull, I’m glad that this is the song that shines.

4.) ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’ by Fall Out Boy

It’s been a year and a day since this song roared into my life and it hasn’t gotten old yet in the million times I’ve listened, screamed, drove and rocked out to this song. The band came back with a vengeance and this song did a great job of staking their claim in the year of music. Not to mention the Butch Walker handclaps certainly help.

3.) ‘Problem’ by Natalia Kills

This was the year I discovered Natalia Kills and I feel like it improved my life in so many ways. The album Trouble is full of gems, but the lead single ‘Problem’ was blowing cigarette smoke in my face with a smile and I was loving it. ‘Problem’ is an anthem for bad girls everywhere who love their vices and don’t give two fucks about who judges them. As I slipped into that side of me throughout the year, that song played in my head and guided my steps.

2.) ‘Closer’ by Tegan and Sara

I feel like a bad queer girl when I admit that I haven’t really listened to Tegan and Sara seriously. I know I would like them and I love the song ‘Hell,’ I just keep forgetting to listen to them. Still, even with my constant forgetfulness to listen to Tegan and Sara, I fell in love with the song ‘Closer.’ Never has a song so accurately reflected what it’s like to be so completely smitten with someone that all you want to do with them is get them to sit a bit closer to you. You bet I turned this up when I finally heard it on the radio.

1.) ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ by Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu

In an alternate universe, this song became a massive hit, Janelle Monae gets the fame she so rightly deserves, and everyone recognized ‘Blurred Lines’ for the date rape song it is and lets Robin Thicke wallow in obscurity forever. Unfortunately, my physical body does not reside in that universe. However, I still have ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ and I still have Monae rising, showing the world what she’s made of.

EPs

I should note that I usually never cover EPs, but this year had three that definitely stood out to me that are worth noting.

Who's gonna take you home tonight? [wikipedia.org]

Who’s gonna take you home tonight? [wikipedia.org]

3.) True Trans by Against Me!

This EP was more of a two-sided single to tide people over as they waited on Transgender Dysphoria Blues (that review is coming, by the way), but splitting hairs doesn’t take away from the fact that this EP is fantastic. It features acoustic versions of the song ‘True Trans Soul Rebel’ and ‘Fuckmylife666,’ which are probably two of my favorite songs on the record. On the record, the songs are plenty emotional, but there’s a personal vulnerability in the EP versions that pack more punch than their electric counterparts.

Must Hear Track: The entire thing. It’s two songs.

2.) Pax-AM Days by Fall Out Boy

This eight song EP that the band recorded over a drunken weekend in Ryan Adams’ studio only clocks in at 13 minutes. It’s the very definition of loud and fast with the band only taking one or two takes for each songs. It was an interesting experiment considering how perfectionist they can be. It was loud, fast, and rage filled like the early days, but with skills that don’t make the record too painful to listen to for long. I’m sad I didn’t get to run around a field blasting this album like I originally planned. THIS SPRING IN THE MOUNTAINS…

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Hot to the Touch, Cold on the Inside,’ ‘Caffeine Cold,’ ‘Love, Sex, Death’

1.) Peachtree Battle by Butch Walker

Wherever you are, that's my home. [butchwalker.com]

Wherever you are, that’s my home. [butchwalker.com]

I cried like a baby listening to this EP. I’ve cried even harder hearing these songs live. Butch has always been an emotional songwriter, but Peachtree Battle drives right to the heart. When Butch began writing the songs, his father had been on a slow decline in health and Butch began writing the five song EP to come to terms with his father’s mortality. Before the EP released, Big Butch Walker passed away, which ends up magnifying the emotional impact of the songs even more. It’s a personal reflection on the effect one person can have on our lives, especially one as big as a parent. Still, it’s not all about death. There are plenty of life lessons that Big Butch taught Butch in these songs too. Ones that we can all learn from.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘I’ve Been Waiting For This,’ ‘Let It Go Where It’s Supposed To,’ ‘Peachtree Battle’

Favorite Albums

Well, here they are. The cream of the crop. What albums prevailed to be my favorites in 2013?

I’m up all night to get lucky.

5.) Random Access Memories by Daft Punk

I think I ended up liking this album less as the year went on, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think it gets ragged on way too much. Daft Punk has always been about bringing art to electronic music and this album was very much about exploring their roots in several ways. Some of it was disco like ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ and ‘Get Lucky.’ Some of it was more experimental. A lot of it really, but it works because there really isn’t anyone out there that gets it like Daft Punk. Just because I can get down to ‘Get Lucky’ doesn’t mean I can’t chill to ‘Touch’ or appreciate/rock out to the reverse engineering of ‘Giorgio by Moroder.’ It isn’t Discovery, but we need to stop expecting Daft Punk to make that album again.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Touch,’ ‘Get Lucky,’ ‘Doin’ It Right’

4.) ARTPOP by Lady Gaga

I was worried about this album, but it ended up pleasantly surprising me in the end. It’s not flaw free, but ARTPOP is definitely one of the best albums Gaga has released. It was an honest and beautiful look at the life of an artist trying to balance her life and art. With some catchy dance numbers and lots of modern art, of course.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Sexxx Dreams,’ ‘Do What U Want,’ ‘Artpop’

3.) Rated Heart by Professor Shyguy

I'll attack you once, you attack me back!

I’ll attack you once, you attack me back!

Meanwhile, I ended up liking this album more. Maybe I’m a little biased towards my friends, but Professor Shyguy can write a damn good chiptune pop song. Even if I don’t always get what he’s singing about, I can get down without hesitation. I feel like I should have a deeper reason of liking this record so much, but I don’t. It’s geeky, catchy, and fun, which is all I need sometimes. As I said before, “the Poor Nerd’s Justin Timberlake” mixes geekdom and pop music with ease.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Keywords and Dubstep,’ ‘Weak,’ ‘Destroy Metroid’

2.) Trouble by Natalia Kills

I must confess, when one of my online friends asked me if I had heard the new Natalia Kills record, I had no earthly idea who the hell she was talking about. The album took forever to get on Spotify, but I ended up blasting ‘Problem’ for weeks until it did. Where I started to scream “I PUT MY HIGH HEELS ON SO I’M CLOSER TO GOD” at random points up until I finally bought the album and long since after. Much like ‘Problem,’ Trouble is an album about girls with their middle fingers in the air as they party, but it also shows the motivation and sadness that fuels it. Trouble isn’t just a party record, but a record about broken people putting on their best faces.

Must Hear Tracks: ‘Problem,’ ‘Stop Me,’ ‘Devils Don’t Fly’

1.) TIE: Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy and The Electric Lady by Janelle Monae

I don't know where you're going, but do you have room for one more troubled soul?

I don’t know where you’re going, but do you have room for one more troubled soul?

I debated this for WEEKS. I’ve talked at length about these two albums online and in person to anyone who will listen. I’ve listened to them over and over again that I sing along with instrumentals. I’ve cried and rocked out to both of these artists live. And in the end, I could not decide which album I really wanted to put as my #1 of the year: Janelle Monae’s genre bending entry of love, heartache, and standing up for what you believe in her Metropolis epic or Fall Out Boy rediscovering themselves and setting out to make a record to inspire the next generation of garage bands. Both records meant a lot me last year while being simultaneously fantastic. What else can be said?

Must Hear Tracks:

Save Rock and Roll: ‘The Phoenix,’ ‘Rat a Tat,’ ‘Save Rock and Roll’

The Electric Lady: ‘Q.U.E.E.N,’ ‘Givin Em What They Love,’ ‘Victorious’

janelle-monae-album-cover-electric-lady-homepage

Well, that finishes up my favorites of last year. What were your favorites of last year? What did you disagree with me on? And don’t worry, we’ll stop dwelling on last year soon enough. My review of Transgender Dysphoria Blues is next.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Music

 

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Ashley’s Favorite TV of 2013

When I started working for Nerdophiles last year, a lot of my work became TV recaps. So you can imagine that TV became more of a part of my life than it usually is. I mean, I already love TV, much to the horror of some of my friends who brag about how they don’t watch TV.

So what were my favorite TV shows last year? Well, that question might be more than you’re prepared for. I’m breaking it down by new shows, returning shows, and favorite episodes. Got it? Good. Here we go then.

Oh, and it should go without saying, but prepare for spoilers!

Favorite New Shows

Credit: IMDb

Credit: IMDb

Honorable Mention: Masters Of Sex (Showtime)

It’s kind of insane how quickly I got addicted to watching this show. What started off with me and my friend Roger just wanting to watch a few episodes lead to us mainlining the series over the course of several nights. There are parts of it that can be silly and tropetastic as hell (like the finale with Bill Masters waiting in the rain to tell Ginny how much he needs her), but it’s also a compelling well acted drama that Showtime should be proud to have. Even if it does occasionally fall under the HBO trope of drama and boobs. I can’t wait to sit on the futon, eating pizza and cry over the somewhat fictionalized lives of Masters and Johnson more next season.

6.) Wander Over Yonder (Disney Channel)

This is such a weird little show that I’m kind of surprised it made it on Disney, but they’ve also been playing Phineas and Ferb for several years that I really shouldn’t be. This Craig McCracken created show also features major collaboration from his animation partner and wife Lauren Faust. Combining the wackiness of 90s Cartoon Network with the heart of the first season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Wander Over Yonder is an adorably sweet and silly show about the misadventures of a kind space traveller named Wander and his best friend/companion/steed and certified badass Sylvia. It can be weird, but it’s the good kind of weird that gives you the warm fuzzies when you’re done watching.

5.) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)

Credit: IMDb

Credit: IMDb

I can practically hear your eye rolling from here. I’ll admit that this show did have its bumps early in the season, but a lot of good shows have. Around episode six, we do see an upswing in quality not unlike its Whedonverse predecessor Dollhouse. Maybe I’m a little biased since I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe so much, but the show is a whole lot of fun with the stories and characters and it gives us a chance to see the MCU outside of the movies. Instead of just hearing about a brave new world post-The Avengers every six months, we get to see it. And now that this season’s Big Bad is starting to unfold, I’m looking forward to the back half payoff.

4.) Bravest Warriors (Cartoon Hangover)

Technically, this show started in late 2012, but so much of the show aired in 2013 that I’m giving it a pass. This show is like Adventure Time’s weirder, cruder, and yet somehow cooler older brother. Which is not to say that Adventure Time isn’t cool anymore. It just means Bravest Warriors can get away with more shit. It’s strange, compelling, and funny as hell. The best part of the show though? CATBUG! Because your life needs an adorable cat-ladybug hybrid that’s voiced by a six year old boy. Don’t tell me it doesn’t.

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

3.) Steven Universe (Cartoon Network)

BLESS REBECCA SUGAR SO MUCH. THIS SHOW IS A GIFT.

A lot of people have dismissed the show because of Sugar’s involvement with Adventure Time, expecting it to me more of the show’s usually weird out humor. However, I wonder if these people miss the fact that Sugar co-wrote some of the show’s most emotional and feminist episodes. Lucky for us, Steven Universe carries so much of Sugar’s touch that made those episodes stand out. About a young boy named Steven who wants nothing more than to be like his magical girl guardians The Crystal Gems, the show mixes a lot of Adventure Time with the magic and beauty of 90s shojo/magical girl anime. It also doesn’t hurt that on a show and network aimed at boys, three of the main characters we see nearly every week are women that Steven loves and who love him right back. Women that are easily distinguishable from each other in appearance and personality. It’s something that is needed more of in animation and I’m so happy that this show does it.

2.) Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)

I’ve talked at length already about the original Netflix comedy-drama set in a women’s prison and for good reason. It’s a rare show, even for premium outlets like HBO, Showtime, and Netflix. It’s smart, funny, emotional, and actually gives women a chance to be in stories that are usually reserved for men. In fact, a lot of the men in this show fulfill the roles usually filled by women in shows like this and it’s an interesting switch up to see. Really though, for me, it’s all about Burset and Red. It’s Laverne Cox and Kate Mulgrew’s world. We just live in it.

This bathroom has way more stalls than the actual bathroom in the series...

1.) Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)

I did not expect to watch this show, let alone love it so much. And yet, I fell so hard, I’m surprised I didn’t bust my head on the pavement. A workplace comedy that my friend Missy has described as “Parks and Recreation meets Reno 911!,” this show is gut-bustingly funny while giving us characters to root for each week. It’s also probably one of the most diverse shows on TV right now, with characters that paint a wide swath of demographics without ever depending on stereotype humor to get it done. If you’ve been hesitant on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, just watch this clip of Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) trying to build a princess castle and get back to me later.

  

Favorite Returning Shows

(Note: For the sake of this section, a returning show is defined as a show that started a new season, a previously established show that chugged through all of 2013, and/or returned from a hiatus of four months or longer.)

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

6.) The Legend of Korra (Nickelodeon)

I feel like I need to put a huge caveat right at the beginning of this segment since I recapped the entire season for Nerdophiles. That caveat is that I ONLY LIKED THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON. The second half is pretty much the only reason The Legend of Korra is on the list. The first half was a confused mess of episodes. Every episode from Beginnings on was some of the best TV I watched all year. However, you probably have to endure the first part of the season to understand what’s going on. Still, for the terrible buildup, the payoff is fantastic with gorgeous animation and emotional stories that no other show could do.

5.) Adventure Time (Cartoon Network)

Adventure Time didn’t really go anywhere in 2013. Season 5 has been plowing through since 2012 and is finishing up its season now. That doesn’t mean the season didn’t actually go anywhere though. This season was probably some of the darkest, most absurd and most dramatic this series has gotten. In the best way possible, of course. Instead of feeling like experiments in randomness like the first season or two, the fifth season of Adventure Time has proven that it does indeed have a rich universe at the core.

4.) Arrested Development (Netflix)

Credit: IMDb

Credit: IMDb

Mitchell Hurwitz finally delivered on his promise of more Arrested Development this year with the series’s highly anticipated return on Netflix. I’ll admit, the way the story was told this season was a bit jarring, with each episode focusing on one character at a time and telling their part of the giant story of the fourth season. However, it actually made for interesting watching and upped the rewatch value of a show that has traditionally made its viewers pay attention to the jokes. Plus, it was just really fantastic to see Maeby struggle for once and GOB just be… well… GOB.

3.) Elementary (CBS)

Elementary had a lot riding on it going into the second season. What, with Sherlock’s one true love also being his one true enemy and Joan coming into her own as a detective. So far though, the second season has kept up that quality with introducing the audience to Sherlock’s brother Mycroft and Sherlock having to come to terms with the fact that his methods do often conflict with how others perceive him and do their work. However, that also brings out Sherlock’s humanity, which isn’t really seen in other Holmes adaptations. It’s also just immensely satisfying to see Joan grow into her own as a detective and do so enthusiastically.

Welcome to Gravity Falls!2.) Gravity Falls (Disney Channel)

Technically, the show was still in it’s first season this year, but experienced a four month hiatus between the episodes ‘Summerween’ and ‘Boss Mabel.’ However, the second half of the season was well worth the wait and showed why the show has the devoted fanbase it does. The episodes were adorable and funny, but also had the characters dealing with real things amongst all the supernatural that lives in Gravity Falls, Oregon. Dipper learned that interfering with someone’s life for your own gain doesn’t mean they’ll appreciate it, no matter how good your intentions were. Mabel experiences her first love and learns what it really means to love someone. Stan has to learn how to be a guardian and not just… well… Stan. It was compelling and fantastic, especially when the characters really became tested in the later episodes. Not to mention the season finale is what dreams are made of.

1.) Parks and Recreation (NBC)

I think the second half of season five and the early part of season six just prove why I love this show so much. We see Leslie and Ben get married! April becomes the head of animal control! Andy bounces back from failing to get into the police academy! Ron gets married to a woman who isn’t Tammy! Leslie loses her job and is starting to realize that she might be too big for Pawnee now! Most comedies would have fallen into a usual cycle by this point, but Parks and Recreation still delivers the character development that makes us love the characters and want them to succeed instead of laugh at their failures.

 

Favorite TV Episodes

Honorable Mention: Colbchella ‘013

As much as I love The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, it’s often hard to remember them by whole episodes. Segments, yes, but not entire episodes. There are a few standout episodes though and the Colbchella ‘013 episode of The Colbert Report is one of them. Born out of the most bullshit Viacom contract ever, the episode came together out of a mix of original plans and winging it to create what was one of the most epic episodes of anything on Comedy Central. Most people will remember the elaborate music video to Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky,’ but there was so much more there to be had if you’re willing to set aside the 23 minutes to do it. Well, 20 if you skip ‘Blurred Lines’ like I do because fuck that song.

6.) ‘FZZT’ (1×06) – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

You know what I said earlier about S.H.I.E.L.D? Yeah, this is the episode you realize you’ve started to care about the characters on the show. Centered around the apparent murder of a first responder to The Battle of New York (aka the entire third act of The Avengers), it soon turns out to be an alien disease killing the firefighters and puts one of the team’s own in danger. I did a full recap of the episode here, but it’s definitely the episode where the emotional resonance and cliffhangery action makes me want to tell people to give the show another shot.

5.)’Sky Witch’ (5×29) – Adventure Time

As I mentioned before, there were a LOT of episodes of Adventure Time to choose from this year. From ‘Bad Little Boy,’ ‘Simon and Marcy,’ ‘Frost and Fire,’ ‘Jake The Dad,’ ‘Be More,’ ‘James Baxter The Horse,’ and ‘The Vault’ were all contenders. However, when I began to think of episodes, ‘Sky Witch’ was the first one that came to mind. The first episode focused solely on Marceline and Princess Bubblegum, it has the two perpetual teenagers going on a hunt for Marceline’s long lost bear Hambo in the lair of Maja the Sky Witch. It was not a Rebecca Sugar episode, but an episode I don’t think could have existed if she hadn’t laid groundwork for these characters. Marceline is determined and stubborn, but still a softie who just wants to hold on to that last piece of Simon she has. Bubblegum doesn’t really get it and can be quite abrasive, but she uses her brain and comes through for her friend in the end as a result. The show could benefit from more episodes like ‘Sky Witch,’ and I’m not just saying that as a Sugarless Gum shipper. Though, really, the fact that the shirt Marcy gave Bonnibel had more sentimentality in it than Hambo did really set off my shipper alarm.

4.) ‘The Chickening’ (1×05) – Orange Is The New Black

Most of what people will remember about this episode is the chicken and for good reason. The hunt for the mystic feral chicken leads to some of the funniest moments on the show in the first season and is part of the reason I think Kate Mulgrew needs an award for her performance on the show (that, and the ending of ‘Bora Bora Bora’ where she resolves to end Pornstache). However, the episode is also astounding for seeing how prison life is starting to get to Chapman, seeing the beginning of the friendship between Burset and Sister Ingalls, and just how messed up the relationship between Daya and her mother Aleida is. It’s my favorite, and one I’m looking forward to rewatching on my Orange is the New Black rewatch in a few months.

3.) ‘Leslie and Ben’ (5×14) – Parks and Recreation

This episode was written to be a series finale just in case they didn’t get a back half order for season 5. If this is where the show had ended, I would have been so happy. After seeing Leslie’s plan for the Pawnee Commons come together, Leslie and Ben decide that they’re going to get married at the benefit gala for the new park that night. Everyone scrambles to get the wedding together, but they do so happily for their friends and even come through when it seems as if everything they worked for that evening is in jeopardy. I cried so many times watching the episode, but all happy tears to see Leslie and Ben get their own happy next chapter. Plus, Ron punches Councilman Jamm and it’s the best.

2.) ‘The Woman/Heroine’ (1×23-24) – Elementary 

I’ll admit, I predicted the twist that happened in this episode a few weeks prior, but it was more of “Hey, wouldn’t that be cool?” versus an actual episode prediction. But nope, this episode turned my expectation that they wouldn’t have the balls to make The Woman into Sherlock’s greatest villain, but it did and it was amazing! Natalie Dormer was perfect as the cunning Jamie Moriarty and her character Irene Adler, and to watch her contend with Sherlock to the point she didn’t even see Joan coming to take her down reminded me just why I was all about Elementary from the beginning. Sherlock Holmes may be one of the smartest men around, but even he has his blind spots to be exploited but also protected. And Joan Watson is never to be underestimated ever.

1.) ‘Beginnings, Parts 1 and 2’ (2×07-8) – The Legend of Korra

I’ve gone on at length about these episodes. I’ve cried at length about these episodes and how they’re some of the best stories told in the Avatar universe. The animation is beautiful and the story is emotional to the point I can’t think about Avatar Wan or Raava without getting a little teary eyed. Even if Korra has left you cold, ‘Beginnings’ is worth a watch to see how the universe came about.

Well, that’s it for TV in 2013. If you thought this post was bad, well prepare yourself now because guess what?

I saved my music post for last. 

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Television

 

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The Top 6 Albums of 2013 (So Far…)

Hello readers! Sorry for such the long wait between posts. Life has been rather busy for me for the past couple of months. So much to the point I haven’t seen a summer movie since Iron Man 3! I plan on correcting that this week though with the release of Pacific Rim and you can expect my review of that come Friday.

Today though, I will be talking about my favorite albums of the year so far. Some I’ve already talked about in various places, but all have been enjoyed in some form or another. Plus, with some great albums I haven’t heard yet, need to listen to a few times more, and ones yet to come, I want to mark the albums that have already come out that might be forgotten later.

I've paved my own way with some gravel and some wine.Honorable Mention: Gravel and Wine by Gin Wigmore

Oh, it kills me that I can’t put this higher on my list. I mean, I could , but the hair splitter that I am feels like it would be cheating since this album was only released in the US this year. It came out everywhere else in the world back in 2011. Still, Gin Wigmore’s brand of retro folk rock and roll has made me more excited than I’ve been in a long time about discovering a new artist. Part Betty Boop and part Loretta Lynn with a dose of whiskey and Coke, Wigmore’s Gravel and Wine is an energetic and emotional record about forging your own path after being defined by others for so long. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that producer Butch Walker has background vocals all over this record that are in perfect balance with Wigmore. If they ever did an album together, I’d be the first in line to buy.

Favorite Tracks: ‘Black Sheep’, ‘Man Like That’, ‘Sweet Hell’

6.) The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake

Oh, how the prodigal son of pop returns. I would be lying if I sad I hadn’t been I'll be on my suit and tie shit.anticipating this day after years of watching Justin pursue acting and only sing with The Lonely Island and that one Timbaland song filled with terrible fast food puns. So naturally, the release of The 20/20 Experience was highly anticipated. I was a bit uncertain when I first heard ‘Suit and Tie’, but the more I warmed up to the song and the rest of the album, it was easy to see that it was a natural evolution from FutureSex/LoveSounds while calling in other influences. The long, almost orchestral pop tracks harken back a certain Prince groove while also pulling in influences from big band and classic R&B. I’m curious to see what Part 2 will bring from the cutting room floor, but the current Experience is pretty strong.

Favorite Tracks: ‘Mirrors,’ ‘That Girl,’ ‘Spaceship Coupe’

We all need some monsters...5.) Famous Monsters by  The Ford Theatre Reunion

Ford Theatre Reunion is not an easy band to explain to people who don’t know them. Hell, they’re not an easy band to explain to people who know them. They’re punk rock and metal, but also part klezmer and folk storytellers at the same time. I’m fairly certain that the band feeds off that cognitive dissonance to find new ways to trip up their listeners. I say that with all the love in the world for a band that will write satan@satan.satan on our email list. FTR’s latest release Famous Monsters deals with just that: monsters. About the fictional ones, the ones who will take them on, the very real ones that sneak into our lives, and how they’re very necessary to living. It is an extremely fun album that if you’re not paying attention too well, will sneak up on you with the horrors in the lyrics. Huh… I guess that makes Famous Monsters a monster in its own right.

Favorite Tracks: ‘The Ballad of Buffalo Jones,’ ‘Panzer Klaus,’ ‘Famous Monsters’

4.) The Devil Herself by Megan Jean and the KFBMister, can you tell if I'll be buried alone?

Speaking of monsters, here’s another album dealing with monsters in the most delightfully twisted way. I’ve already talked about this album at Steampunk Chronicle, but The Devil Herself is a wonderfully dark musical that deals with the supernatural and brings the supernatural into our boring lives. Megan’s bigger than life voice and Byrne’s folk accompaniment is what really drives it home and makes it the dark magic musical it is.

Favorite Tracks: ‘These Bones,’ ‘Skeletons,’ ‘Hometown Hero’

I'll attack you once, you attack me back!3.) Rated Heart by Professor Shyguy

Professor Shyguy calls him “the poor nerd’s Justin Timberlake” and for good reason. Writing some of the nerdiest dance songs ever heard, the good Professor backs it up with dance moves, high energy, and a sweet falsetto tenor that ties it all together. On his second album Rated Heart, there’s a lot of the same nerdy topics that range from hilarious to kind of heart-breaking, but there’s also a lot of experimentation. ‘Science, Life, & ABCs’ is mind blowing when you’re made aware of the formula behind the song, and ‘Keywords & Dubstep’ brings him into the world of EDM as he sings about memes and Youtube. Fun and extremely catchy, Professor Shyguy merges the worlds of geekdom and pop with ease.

Favorite Tracks: ‘Keywords & Dubstep,’ ‘Weak,’ ‘Destroy Metroid’

2.) Random Access Memories by Daft PunkI'm up all night to get lucky.

If you want to be a cynical bastard, you could blame Daft Punk for the current dirge of EDM. Coming before others with the highly acclaimed Discovery, it’s hard not to see how Daft Punk influenced so many electronic artists in this current age. Especially with their mostly electronic album Human After All. It was that influence that drove the French duo to go the opposite direction with Random Access Memories. Instead of creating a purely electronic album, Daft Punk dove into the archives of what influenced them and created a disco album. A gorgeous one that uses mostly live instruments and old school synth techniques. It is probably the most jarring release to come out this year, but also one of the biggest risks-big rewards that I’ve heard in a while. What other band could make a straight up disco track (that may or may not be about Mexican monkeys according to multiple sources) with one of today’s biggest producers on lead vocal and have it take over the airwaves? No one, that’s who.

(Though, if you’re missing the more electronic Daft Punk, go listen to ‘On Sight,’ ‘Black Skinhead,’ ‘I Am a God,’ and ‘Send It Up’ off of Kanye West’s album Yeezus. If you like Pharrell Williams doing what he does best, go listen to ‘BBC’ off of Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail and stop giving your money to ‘Blurred Lines’.)

Favorite tracks: ‘Get Lucky,’ ‘Touch,’ ‘Instant Crush’

1.) Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy

I don't know where you're going, but do you have room for one more troubled soul?You saw this coming. I’ve had a huge blog post about this album as well as a ton of feelings on my Tumblr and in real life when I saw them at The Tabernacle. It’s just a damn good album that pushes Fall Out Boy’s own boundaries and brings the rock back to radio. To be honest, it might be on the top of my list at the end of the year, but Janelle Monae IS releasing The Electric Lady in September. We’ll see. Just drop every preconception you have about Fall Out Boy and go listen to that beautiful bastard of an album. You’ll thank me later.

Favorite Tracks: ‘Rat a Tat,’ ‘Save Rock and Roll,’ ‘Miss Missing You’

Well, that’s it for today’s post. Come back later this week when I’ll have my thoughts on Pacific Rim!

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Music

 

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