Saturday, December 31, 2011

Listomania: 2011

2010 was colorful. I experimented with new jobs, went hard on the freelance DJ'g and writing, and, oh, got hitched. Last year's lists reflect both the kaleidoscopic joy of the time, as well as the escape music provided.

2011 had its share of struggles, but the year was more stable and consistent. The list reflects that: the music is often calm, the readings patiently explore process, and the visuals reflect more than strike. As usual for me, there are plenty of nods to the past. PJ Harvey's circular connection between wars present and past is quite literal. However, I was more affected by Louis CK or Todd Hanson's raw reflections. Or even Juicy J's admission, "You say no to drugs / Juicy J can't." My 30s are making a lot more sense than my 20s. And 40s doesn't seem as frightening so much as a part of the package (at least one to be appreciative of reaching). We constantly work towards change while learning to accept our core characteristics, no matter the beauty or ugliness.

Cheers to your new year. Looking forward to chopping it up with you again in '12.

Top Albums
Louis CK - Hilarious
Bill Callahan - Apocalypse
WTF w/ Todd Hanson
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Black Keys - El Camino
Waka Flocka Flame - Duflocka Rant (10 Toes Down)
The Fruits - Fruits! Fruits! Fruits!

Albums I Need to Catch Up On
Bjork - Biophilia via an iPad
Beach Boys - Smile Sessions box set
Eagerly awaiting this Fugazi show

Top Songs 

Beyonce "End of Time"
Amy Winehouse "Valerie (Screwed Version)"
Jacques Greene "Another Girl"

Colin Stetson & Shara Worden "Lord I Just Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes"
Clams Casino "I'm God"
Nettle "Radio Flower"
Bill Callahan "Universal Applicant"
Kendrick Lamar "Rigomortis"
Roc Marciano "My Persona"

M83 "Midnight City" & "Intro (Feat. Zola Jesus)"
Danny Brown "30"
Morgan Zarate "Hookid"
PJ Harvey "The Last Living Rose"
Lonely Island "Jack Sparrow
Bjork "Crystalline (Omar Souleyman Remix)"
Juicy J "A Zip and A Double Cup"

Top Videos

Diplo "Original Don"
Diplo cops/co-opts the best beats... and the most memeable videos, too. Extra points for the Welcome to the Johnsons-esque take on the house's interior design.

Erykah Badu "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long"
Flying Lotus x Beeple 4eva.

New Pornographers "Moves"
Tom Scharpling x Ted Leo x Todd Barry x John Oliver x Hannibal Burress x Kevin Corrigan! Best video ever.

Guy singing "Niggas in Paris" on NYC subway
New Yorkers may sit on top of the East, but Phillians and Bmorians have enough soul to openly dance in the streets. So credit this ecstatic New Yorker for taking his bedroom dance to the city's first stage, the subway. Here's proof that the best videos in life often come from life itself. 

きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ (Kyari Pamyu Pamyu) "PONPONPON"
...and here's an example of one of the best videos coming from so far outside of life as we know it.

Jessica Koslow has been giving breaking down various hip-hop dances for LA Weekly's West Coast Sound blog. Every post features great clips, but I'm partial to locking and Japanese dancers

Keith Richards interview at NYPL
Mannie Fresh's Red Bull Academy interview
Laugh all you want, but the candor and specificity of these musicians' recollections need to be documented for future scholars.

Lil Buck and Yo-Yo Ma

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Nonesuch-ification of African-American youth culture.

Worst Videos
Young L "Respect My Dick"
This is one of those Chris Rock "Remember when it wasn't so hard to defend rap?" moments where all the talk of rap not being the only mass media culture with a history of violence against women and the history of African oral traditions and technical innovations go to pot. This is a pretty inexcusable song from a generally musically interesting guy. The video kind of helps as it starts with a seemingly ironic dream bubble sequence. But using a torture scenario, whether you're Joe Kanye or Joe Who?, is in all cases wrong. 

Jacuzzi Boys "Glazin'"
I'm not asking WWJD, I'm asking what would I like my child to do?

Jean Nipon "Cairo"
Chalk up this schlocky shocker to poor timing, but the over-the-top violence is additionally disturbing in light of being released on 1/9, a day after the Tucson shootings. 

The Deadsets "One Hour"
More gore for gore's sake.


Dan Charnas The Big Payback (and Noz' addendum "Notes on 'The Big Payback'")
Yes, I know this came out last year. In my defense, it was late last year. And I didn't get my copy until '11.

Yes, I also know this came out in '09. I'm a slow reader. And, no, I'm not finished yet. But I've been savoring every word.

The Doogie Howser of cultural-political writing, but age ain't nothin' but a number, right? Rosenberg x Think Progress = What? Yglesias left? I know they write on completely different topics, but Rosenberg is always so insightful and to-the-fucking-point. This particular post was a slam-dunk.

Keith Richards Life 
Digging into Just Kids next. The best part? Fun stuff for both the critics and the people!

Arthur Rimbaud A Season in Hell 
Didn't know anything about him 'til I read a New Yorker piece which made him sound like a gay, 19th-century Tupac. Not in the thug life way, but more in the I Just Don't Give A Fuck/contradictory way. Trying to prep myself to dig into the new translation of Illuminations, which came out this year.

More vintage reads, but really great stuff. I paid more attention to Wright this year -- totally accessible political writing -- and felt this was a great follow-up to Legacy of Ashes, which I read last year. I am looking for a copy to own, so I can re-read.

Her coverage of Anonymous, in particular, has been helpful.

Geeta Dayal's feature on Conrad Schnitzler (also her interview with Max Mathews)
I love Geeta's writing and her interests. I also love Max Mathews' "Bicycle Built For Two."

Oh. My. God. Becky. Look at this paper. It's so... right!

The writing isn't particularly sharp, but I don't expect much from J-Zone. The reality and storytelling, however, is crushing. Add "rapper" to that list of 0.001%er careers.

NY Mag "Rude Boys: The Birth of the Beastie Boys--an oral history on the 25th anniversary of 'Licensed to Ill'
Bittersweet nostalgia.

Noz' Biggie defense "Stay Low & Keep Firing"
Bitter nostalgia.

M. Molly Backes "How To Be a Writer"
A very cute piece referenced in Ta-Nehisi Coates' Atlantic Monthly blog, but definite food-for-thought as the kids in my family grow to the age where they begin to read/write.


Only a handful of truly memorable films this year. Absolutely loved the 3-D in Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams. The depth of vision made me feel like an armchair spelunker. Wish I saw it more than once while it was in the theater. On the other hand, I saw Drive twice. That felt indulgent, but the occasional pulp fiction is good fun. On the other hand, the internet provided its share of highlights. Louie continues to be Hilarious. The Catholic school/guilt episode is still my favorite, but I especially loved the Joan and USO tour eps. Finally caught up on Breaking Bad. Just going to add my two hands to the critical applause. Tons of great vintage stuff on YouTube, particularly a touching BBC doc on Gene Vincent, circa the late '60s (especially touching after reading Michael Hall's feature on the last years of Bill Haley). An interview with Kurt Cobain (with Erica Ehm of Canada’s Much Music TV channel) a few months before his death was also fantastic. The clip is long-ish by internet standards (23 minutes), but brief for anyone who has conducted interviews. Much of the commentary around the interview is about how lucid Cobain sounds. Better still is how genuinely patient and engaging he is with the young interviewer (she doesn't recognize several of his references). It's a new window into a man who had a profound impact on my generation.

And The Trip was actual ROFL. And a surprisingly touching meditation on mid-life manias. I went back to Coogan's Alan Partridge stuff. Armando Iannucci is brilliant. I'd put him up with Gervais. I tried watching Saxondale, but found it a bit predictable. Maybe I should give it a second chance?
On a side note, I feel relegated to mention the ATCQ doc. It was fun to watch in a theater with heads bobbing and mouths mouthing lyrics. But I need to kick myself in the butt and get on that comprehensive Native Tongues history I've been dreaming of doing since I was a teenager. The doc does a commendable job of covering the stickier parts of the group's dynamic, but is hardly news to even the  passing fan. A more interesting story would have been about the rise of the Native Tongues, but, I know, that's not just an ATCQ story.


Scrap Book
Experiencing a Lil B conversion with my Berkeley homie
...followed by seeing one of James Levine's last concerts before his spate of cancellations (with the same homie)
When I take my half-Mexican niece to the park, no one bats an eye. When I take my white niece to the park, moms give me hard stares. I'm not making that up.
The Brasil-like baby-faced shortie at HalloWEEN

The photo pit of Nas and The Roots
Tokimonsta showing up Samiyam... and possibly Daedelus?
Reggie Watts and LCD Soundsystem covering "Stand On The Word"

The Big 4 is probably my first and only metal show. For a while. 
Were they serving booze at Shirley Caesar's show?
The pair of 26-year-olds that stole Aziz Ansari's 7.30 Bell House show
My aunt pretending to carry a baby

Worst Tattoos
Gucci Mane's face Ice Cream Cones and lightning bolts
T-Pain's arm has a Facebook "Like" logo
This guy's face reads Free Lil Boosie
Zac Efron has a Drake tattoo; She tattooed Drake on her face
Fred Bosch's QR Code/"Random" tattoo

Worst Request
"Any Maroon 5."

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