BREAKING: Donald Trump On Texas/OU Red River Rivalry

Folks, this is, this is tremendous, you’ve been so great, and we’re doing so great. So happy to be here in DALLAS (points abstractly into the crowd while they cheer) and it’s just terrific. We love the people in Texas and we do so well here. Frankly, it’s a real mess, and I’ll tell you why… folks, you voted for Lyin’ Ted! What a mistake, and I mean, I know you didn’t know his dad killed JFK then, but I knew, I didn’t say, maybe I should have, but listen, Ted is a friend, he loves us and we’ve pressured him into loving us and it’s so great. So we’ll do well here and, hey, okay, Oklahoma, they voted for Ted too, so you two deserve each other, maybe you should both leave the Union. I’m kidding, but, folks, okay, it’s so true. You think about it, and you look into it, and it’s something. And this is a blossoming town, a tremendous town, and we’re so happy to have many good friends, close friends, just the best friends, we do so well with them, and we love them, and we do so well.

Continue reading BREAKING: Donald Trump On Texas/OU Red River Rivalry

Review: Chvrches – Every Open Eye / Future x Drake – What A Time To Be Alive

If you missed 2013’s The Bones Of What You Believe by Chvrches, you should listen to it. The synth-electro-pop album from the Scottish trio landed on my Best Of list for the year and launched the group into a frenzy of tour dates and festivals that has raised their profile to a staggering degree ahead of the release of their sophomore work Every Open Eye. The greatest challenges for a group like this to follow up their success are two-fold: do you change your sound away from what people loved in order to avoid retracing your steps, or do you stick so close to the winning formula that everything sounds repetitive?

 

With every single released leading up to the album, Chvrches somehow managed to toe the line between repetitive and different, and the results were amazing. Each captured the same driving, anthemic, power of their first album with just the right amount of twist to keep the sound fresh. While the album isn’t available until Friday, thanks to NPR First Listen, you can stream the whole thing as of late Sunday, and it’s predictably excellent.

 

While there are several bands playing in the same soundscape as Chvrches, the separating factor is frontwoman Lauren Mayberry, as precise and eloquent with her words in interviews as she is passionate and effervescent in song. Her voice gives the instrumentation and synths from her bandmates Iain Cook and Martin Doherty a depth and gravity that can be missing from similar electronic music. In an age of adding more and more, there’s much to be said for the group’s restraint, opting to add flavor instead of bulk and maintaining the spirit of what makes Chvrches themselves.

chvrches every open eye

As for the album itself, the standout singles that punctuate the early half of the album act as plot points on the chart that is Chvrches’ meteoric rise to success. It’s rare to see a young band maintain such consistency and elevate their craft with every song, but we are clearly seeing that unfold. Every Open Eye picks up where their first album left off, and as Lauren pointed out in a Grantland podcast,  the instrumentation and electronic elements and even Mayberry’s vocals are all simply part of the ecosystem to craft the finest songs. From my early plays, “Make Them Gold” and “Empty Threat” capture the prototypical Chvrches energy and lyrical magic that gives their music the flexibility for dance parties and rainy nights. “Down Side Of Me” is a perfect example of Chvrches’ less-is-more gospel that they preach, standing Mayberry’s echoing vocals nearly on their own before bringing in synth and bass reminiscent of Phantogram. Finally, a controversial choice, but letting one of the boys sing on “High Enough To Carry You Over” shows how strong the fundamentals of the music are to be able to handle such a departure from Mayberry’s voice and captures the best of 70’s and 80’s funk.

 

Every Open Eye is a measured and responsible follow-up to an modern electropop classic, and expands the Chvrches sound in a way that maintains their resounding energy and bursting choruses to fill the venues that keep growing to fill demand on their tours. Demonstrating the polish and seasoning that you’d expect from a second album, this is a work filled with thoughtful lyrics delivered effortlessly and roaming, evolving beats that respect the journey and don’t rush to the climax, a rare treat in today’s electronic music. It’s hard to live up to the expectations of success, but Chvrches met them with a superb album that retains the bite of their earlier work, and they deserve credit not just for the excellent work they did, but for the pop music pitfalls they avoided on Every Open Eye.

chvrches drake future


Rumors about joint albums are nothing new in hiphop. From the predictably dull Best of Both Worlds from Jay-Z and R. Kelly to the excellent Watch The Throne, every rap fan with a Twitter account wants to ‘ship their favorite two rappers on an album together. When the tweets started circulating about a Future/Drake project, most people scrolled past without a second thought, because tweets are just tweets. That all changed last Friday, when Drake confirmed the project was real, and it was dropping on Sunday night during his Beats 1 show.

 

Drake isn’t a monster icon in hiphop because he’s the best lyricist or storyteller or has the best beats or anything, but because he makes good songs and good albums thanks to the team he’s brought up with him, and can go from shows in Atlanta to hosting SNL effortlessly. Future is a much more polarizing figure, as trap music is growing in popularity but is still rejected by purists who value lyricism over “mood music” for teenagers on Vine. But only the most stubborn listeners could deny these two are perhaps the two biggest figures in rap in 2015 (Fetty Wap has a case) with several major releases from each within the last few months, a mainstream feud with Meek Mill, and hit after hit on the charts. If there was ever a time where interest was maximized for a joint project, it’s now.

what a time to be alive future drake

What A Time To Be Alive was born over the course of six days in Future’s studio, and musically, the birth certificate has Atlanta all over it. With a couple exceptions, this album is a Future mixtape with Drake features, thanks to explosive, haunting, trap beats from Metro Boomin, a longtime Future producer. But regardless of where the audios came from, this mixtape succeeds because of the way Future and Drake succeed: flexibility. Look at the long list of guest verses each have under their belts over the years and it’s obvious that their styles can adapt to nearly any sound. Future’s autotune mumble floats on every beat here, leaving Drake’s higher pitch to come in sharp and cut the trap with some Toronto bravado.

 

From the get-go, What A Time To Be Alive sounds like it’s a continuation of Future’s #1 album Dirty Sprite 2, and Drake’s verses are just a bonus. “Big Rings” and “Diamonds Dancing” are more balanced, especially when the latter takes the beat underwater like almost every classic Drake track. “I’m The Plug” gets the trap charged up again, and “Change Locations” provides the Instagram caption for all your photos this fall (“Me and my friends we got money to spend.”), proving once again that regardless of the quality of the lyrics, these two have the quotables on lock. That’s the driving idea behind my favorite song “Jumpman,” a song probably recorded in one take with only some lyrics written down, but is insanely catchy thanks to a menacing beat and excellent delivery of some memorable takeaways (“Mutombo with the bitches you keep gettin rejected!”). We don’t get a solo Drake song (underwater beat + piano) until the closing “30 For 30 Freestyle” that sounds like “Dreams Money Can Buy” or one of his other intros, and is a rare moment of actual Drake, and not Drake trying to be trap.

 

There’s a lot of arguments online about the quality of the mixtape, digging into verses and beats and trying to decide on this binary scale the internet loves: classic or trash. Well, it’s neither, it’s a mixtape with two of the biggest names in the game recorded over 6 days as a gift to the fans, to keep their names in the limelight, and to probably sell 500k copies in the first week. If you love Future, there’s no reason you won’t love the codeine and Percocet production and catchy hooks. If you love Drake, there’s plenty of great moments, but obviously the guy from Degrassi isn’t going to connect with the authentic gutter raps that serve as the bones of Future’s music and career. Don’t waste your time breaking down the science, just enjoy it for what it is: mood music that took them less time and effort to make than it will for people to argue about it. That’s the dream when you reach this echelon of rap, the expectations are so high, but the fans love the work so much, you can appease them without revolutionizing the game. But if you’re a Drake and Future fan greedily gobbling up all the music they’re giving you and still complaining, I don’t know what to tell you. What a time to be alive.

The Last 2014 List You Won’t Read

I really thought I turned a corner this year. I thought I was listening to a big variety of music and was far removed from my significantly hiphop years of the past. Honestly, I believed it till the very end, when Spotify decided to send me my “Year In Review,” and I see this:

That’s 103% hiphop. I was so wrong (according to Spotify) that I actually listened to more hiphop than mathematically possible. So I’ve got that going for me?

This year was missing a lot of signature music I’ve loved over the past few years. Nothing from Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, or Yeezus. Until a certain pop album from a former country music star, there weren’t a lot of major releases, and not even a platinum album! Unless you like U2 (you don’t), these have been troubling times

Fortunately, there was still plenty of great stuff to listen to. Hopefully none of these albums are a surprise to you, because you’re on top of these things, and you read the blogs and the thinkpieces and are up to date on it all.

#20 – Riff Raff – Neon Icon

Never before has an artists name been more relevant and appropriate

This is a joke. You can’t take him seriously, right? Maybe we were hoping for something more than just ridiculous non-sequitur bars, but Jody 3 Moons is so dumb, he orbits back around to being wildly enjoyable.

#19 – Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence

Ultraviolence // Lana Del Rey

I’ve been championing Lana bb for years, and her biggest hit (so far) has been a remix of a song that came out a year before. She’s obviously talented, and Ultraviolence has great moments, but I didn’t come back to this often. Is this the only kind of LDR we are going to get, and do we need to be okay with that?

#18 – Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata

Gibbs has been making music for a long time, and finally put together a masterpiece effort with all-star producer Madlib. In the world of non-mainstream hiphop, having accessible beats is a must, and Gibbs’ trademark flow sounds natural over a wide variety of sounds, and the album arcs back and forth between tracks fit for street anthems and relaxing on the tour bus.

#17 – Temples – Sun Structures

In the vein of Tame Impala, Temples brings the best of the 60’s into the 21st century. Admittedly, I couldn’t tell you the difference between good psych-rock and bad psych-rock, but maybe it doesn’t matter if you’re on drugs? I couldn’t tell you that either. Let’s move on.

#16 – FKA twigs – LP1

2014 had lots of new sounds, and some of them take getting used to. I haven’t quite gotten on board with FKA twigs’ lady-Weeknd weird R&B stylings like some others have, but it’s definitely unique and you should just listen to it yourself and see what you think.

#15 – Real Estate – Atlas

For me, Atlas is a sunny drive on an empty road through the Rockies. It’s energetic without being too excited and melodies meant for wordless conversations. When you need to drive and think for a while, or not think at all, Atlas is what you’re looking for.

#14 – Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Angel has some feelings, and you’re all going to hear about them. This album is not recommended for anyone feeling down. It’s powerful and painful and a loose cannon when it comes to tempo changes between songs. No matter what the song is like, the talents are on full display.

#13 – I LOVE MAKONNEN

Another hiphop artist that has been toiling for years, Makonnen finally made it big with his song about (location) going (direction) on a (day of the week). The Drake remix was too nice too. But the full EP demonstrates a wider range of skills than just getting turnt up, with sounds reminiscent of his hometown Atlanta influences.

#12 – Charli XCX – SUCKER

The “secret” voice of your favorite songs the past couple of years (I Love It, Fancy), Charli XCX already proved she could carry a full album with 2013’s True Romance, but SUCKER is another level of accessible but rebellious pop energy. Were I a high school girl right now, I’d probably never stop listening to this. She’s listed out musical influences ranging from The Ramones to Lil’ Wayne and you can pick them all out in the music. There’s no reason she can’t be the next big thing.

#11 – Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron

Far and away the most frustrating album of the year. Cut it down to a select 7-8 songs and you have the best hiphop album of the year, but it’s so uneven that the lows drags down all the highs. Filled with strong features and excellent production, I just wish Oxymoron could carry the momentum the whole way.The title track is flat-out the most ignorant beat of the year, and it’s funny, because I too just stopped selling crack today.

#10 – Future Islands – Singles

Not much else can be said about 2014’s hottest indie band. They are electric and earnest and just great to listen to. I was late aboard the bandwagon, and was surprised by Samuel T. Herring’s voice, which doesn’t sound like it belongs on this style of music, which makes it all the more unique and appealing.

#9 – Phantogram – Voices

I listened to Voices for the first time during a weekend trip to Austin, and for a while it was going to be #1 on this list. “Fall in Love” very well could be my favorite song of the year, and across the board, Phantogram delivers robust variety in vocals and instrumentation. It’s the most fun you can possibly have listening to the theme of reluctant acceptance of failure.

#8 – St. Vincent – St. Vincent

Annie Clark is kinda weird. She can be a mystery even to people who know her, and channels her eccentricity perfectly in her self-titled 2014 album. Wildly talented musically, her vocals are like an energetic Lana Del Rey and the layered indie pop synth has been accurately described as “teetering between happiness and madness.”

#7 – The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

Loneliness and depression aren’t great things, but at least they can be channeled into something creative like The War On Drugs’ third album. The complex inner workings of human emotion is always an a-okay place to start when starting an album, and with a musical style reflective of some of Americana’s greats, there’s a lot to enjoy in Lost In The Dream.

#6 – YG – My Krazy Life

If there’s any doubt about how much production can do for a hiphop album, My Krazy Life is the defining Example A. Known best for 2010’s “Toot It And Boot It,” nobody would have expected YG to drop the most raw street album of the year, and while his robbery and regret bars are strong, it’s DJ Mustard’s ubiquitous production and musical style that take it to the next level. It’s no stretch to call it the West Coast album of the year, and YG’s exclusion for the Grammy’s Best Rap Album is disappointing.

#5 – Taylor Swift – 1989

I would have never expected this. Taylor was music for country girls pining for boys at rainy windows. But she changed it all and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. The year’s most successful album is also one of the most enjoyable, front to back, and while her lyrical content may not be all that different in the end, the aesthetics around them recall the best in pop music. Some songs sound like Katy, some like Lana, but it’s all Taylor, in a fine-tuned about-face that has her on top of music in 2014.

Since Taylor isn’t on Spotify, here are some King Bach vines instead.

#4 – Pharrell Williams – G I R L

One of the year’s first big albums, I expected it would fade over time, and bigger releases would eclipse the funky pop of G I R L. But carried by a mega smash hit, Pharrell put together one of the most fun and carefree albums of the year, combining his untouchable production skill with his infectious vocals. Most notably, it’s a pop/R&B album without a rap feature, instead rolling with JT, Miley, Daft Punk, and Alicia Keys. I guess people know who they are.

#3 – D’Angelo – Black Messiah

Scholars will long debate what part of this album was more surprising: the sudden announcement and release, or how damn good it is. Either way, D’Angelo came back into the spotlight in a monster way with Black Messiah, and our lives are better for it. It immediately sounds and feels like the best of A Tribe Called Quest and The Roots, mixed with every genre you can name and the sexy lyrics we’ve come to expect from the quality-over-quantity career of D’Angelo. With music so displosable, Black Messiah feels like it will be timeless. I just wish “Sugar Daddy” was a couple hours longer.

#2 – Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

El-P and Killer Mike have been successful on their own, but their Run The Jewels collaboration has truly been a triumph greater than the sum of its parts. The production is jarring and aggressive, drawing comparisons to best of “Fight The Power” Public Enemy and N.W.A., but without losing the modern precision and elegance of today’s best hiphop. Lyrically, the boys are fed up, with… everything, calling out the abusive systems that are broken beyond fixing, teetering their rhymes on the edge of rage, and burning the bridges of society that have long been in disrepair. Great hiphop groups are increasingly hard to find, but the fires of necessity have forged an excellent one in Run The Jewels. Killer Mike is one of the best statesmen that hiphop has in the mainstream, and his eloquence has been on full display in 2014, from Ferguson discussions on CNN to his musical offerings. Run The Jewels 3 can’t come soon enough, if we haven’t torn down the system in frustration first.

#1 – Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

See? I can pick a non-hiphop album as my #1! It’s easy when the choice is as strong as The Voyager was. I was pretty ignorant to the talents of Jenny Lewis before this album, an error that I am correcting to this day. This album is as vibrant as her coat from the artwork, refreshing lady rock that slants towards self-deprecation instead of empowerment. With a sound that would be just as much at home at Woodstock ’69 as it is in 2014, the only thing more impressive than the cohesion maintained on an album with so many sounds is how effortlessly Lewis sings her way through it all. Is it possible to sound like Heart but, better than them? If so, that’s what is going on here. The Voyager is my best album of the year.


 So there you have it. The top 5 was pretty hard to choose, but there’s only 12 hours left in the year as of press time, so no time to get picky. There was less great music this year, but what we got was pretty awesome.

The biggest surprise this year was how much ratchet music there was, and how damn good it was. If you didn’t do the Shmurda Dance a few times this year, then I what was it all for? Tracks like “U Guessed It,” “Tuesday,” “No Type,” and “Lifestyle” are all pretty ignorant, and just so much fun to listen to. Elitist Nathans of yesteryear would have never been okay with listening to this kind of stuff, but fortunately we’ve lost some of that. Some.

Thanks for reading/skimming, and I’m looking forward to new music next year!

The Exchange: Nathan and Chase on “How I Met Your Mother”

Even though we both shared our thoughts about the issues we had with the finale of the show over social media last night, unfortunately a good night’s sleep didn’t help Chase Williams and I forget about how much we disliked the ending of “How I Met Your Mother.” After some general Gchat ranting this morning, we settled down and put our coherent thoughts in email.

______________________________

Nathan: Chase, thanks for agreeing to discuss this with me, maybe this can help us come to terms with how annoyed we are. We’ve both watched all of How I Met Your Mother, more than one time, and when it ended on Monday night, I was expecting to be sad. I thought I would be sad because a show I’ve enjoyed for many years would be ending, a show that demonstrated a lot of the uncertainty and craziness of 20-(and 30) something life and happened to fall on top of a lot of our 20-something years, which were filled with uncertainty and craziness. I didn’t expect to be sad that they botched their ending so badly and got way too cute carrying out this idea of uncertainty, failure, and all the other things that we go through.

how-i-met-your-mother-series-finale-old-ted

Chase: Kids, let me tell you about the time I watched a show for 9 seasons that turned out to be a bait and switch…

Before I launch into my own personal diatribe about HIMYM, I think I need to back up and start with my personal journey on How I Met ‘How I Met Your Mother’. I started watching HIMYM shortly after season 2 ended. I say this not to prove any type of martyrdom about what has befallen my life, but more just to say that I’ve put in some hours in a show that I’ve really enjoyed. The story, at its most basic level, is about 5 friends and what it means to grow up and become an adult.

 

I loved this.

 

I watched the episodes (on DVD no less!) over and over. It was a show that brought me joy and a sense of comfort, even in the uncomfortable spots. When Marshall’s dad died I felt that sorrow but was so proud of the show, creating characters that dealt with actual life issues. The show was uncomplicated at times, but also very messy on the flip side.

 

Nathan: Very messy. Things like Robin’s infertility was the “real life stuff” that attracted people to the show on a deeper level, not just Barney’s antics or the inside jokes. Did you hate all of the ending?

 

Chase: I think my ultimate reasons for being so disappointed in the ending deal with the fact that I dedicated seven years to the show. Unlike some who started binge watching the episodes somewhere after season 6, I put in the time over the long haul. And I liked it that way because HIMYM always rewarded those who stuck with it from the beginning.

 

The Slap Bet. The Yellow Umbrella. The Goat. The Playbook.

 

HIMYM carried elements through the series that popped up in episodes long after their original mention. If you were a die hard, if you watched the episodes, if you paid attention, HIMYM meant more to you than the casual watcher. So in Season 1, Episode 1, when the narrator said “And that’s how I met your Aunt Robin” you assumed your detective skills would be rewarded BIG TIME.

 

… and as the final scene begins to fade, Ted stands outside of Robin’s window, raising the blue french horn just as he did when they first met. THE END.

 

Nathan, would you like to pick up where I left off (or I could copy and paste this same story over, and over, and over, and…)

Nathan: For all intents and purposes, they could’ve ended the show after the first episode and covered the same ground. Nobody was asking for a twist ending.

Chase: It was barely a twist ending! And it ruins the whole premise. Ted spends the whole show looking for “the one,” the girl the universe has put there for him, and it turns out there are a couple of them.

2D274905518699-140331-himym-finale-4.blocks_desktop_mediumNathan: Yeah boooooooooo. You mentioned the reward for viewers that see lots of little things come back around in the show. I think we’ve come to love and appreciate that payoff in most of our shows. Little inside jokes that will come back around like in HIMYM, or an expansive narrative that comes to a perfect conclusion like Breaking Bad. We love seeing the mystery and the layers add up, hoping and expecting that it will all be resolved in a nice way. Most recently we saw this same thing with True Detective, as people poured through those 8 episodes looking for all the answers to all the questions. Shows like Lost, Dexter, and Battlestar Galactica had lots of mysteries and drama and ultimately dug themselves in too deep to provide a coherent finale, and instead we got a patchwork of logic and fan service and garbage.

I don’t think the ending of HIMYM was as rough as those three, but I think it’s more upsetting to me because they spent so much time arranging a finale that would answer the “mystery” of the mother and wrap up the actual character development that they had spent nine seasons crafting – only to throw it all away. I understand, and so do you, the themes of failure and lost dreams that was prevalent throughout the series, and I don’t have a problem with those, but I think it’s bad storytelling and an embarrassing misreading of their fanbase to devote so much of this last season to the clean conclusion they were headed towards only to have it all collapse in the finale.

 

I don’t even really have that big of a problem with the mother dying in the finale, but for a character that they only now introduced and an actress that everyone loved, spending one episode covering ~15 years was just terrible planning. They had nine seasons! Time was not at a premium, yet they compacted so much of the emotional payoff for the viewers (and Ted) into 42 minutes on Monday. I don’t like the divorce between Barney and Robin, but unfortunately them wasting a whole season on their wedding weekend is par for the course for the show, because they wasted season after season on Ted’s romances that we knew were going nowhere, and stirring up the Barney/Robin/Ted circle over and over again.

 

But having him pull the blue French horn out again was just so, so bad.

 

Chase: Also the whole “not getting married until after having two kids.” Like, what the hell?

 

Nathan: Yeah, that’s just a plot point they pulled out of their ass for no reason. And really out of character for hyper-romantic Ted. But I may have accepted everything else that happened in the episode if they had just ended with that shot of him at the desk saying “… and that’s how I met your mother.”

 
I wouldn’t claim to have as deep an emotional connection to the show as you, but those early seasons did mean a lot to me, and I really only got back on board for this final one after reducing my interest the past couple years. We’re all looking for meaning in our personal and professional lives, and hope that everything happens for a reason and we’ll be able to connect the dots in our careers and romances at some point. That’s the main thing that attracted me to the show and made me invest in things like the pineapple (wtf happened there), the slutty pumpkin, the slap bets, etc.

 

how-i-met-your-mother-series-finale-old-ted-french-hornChase: I agree with you completely. The writers could have done just about anything else as long as it didn’t have anything to do with Ted and Robin, and I think I wouldn’t feel the need to write about it at all. The Barney/Robin divorce was disappointing mostly because the writers chose to unravel an entire season in about 3 minutes. That being said, if the writers had decided to end the series with the mother passing away, tied in with some kind of message about how even though he waited so long to find her, just to have her pass away, but it was all worth it… I think it may have been nearly perfect. Instead, it seems like the creators felt the need to hang on to that ending they had filmed years before with Ted’s kids, and leave the show about Ted and Robin. Not only did I feel a bit cheated, but it all felt a bit forced.

 

To sum it all up on my end, I now just have to look back at HIMYM for the stories of 5 friends learning about life and the bittersweet nostalgia that occurs in all our lives. I no longer really care How He Met Their Mother because, in the end, the writers didn’t seem to really care either.

 

Nathan: You’re right, drop the bit about Robin at the end, then it’s a sad ending, but it’s not the same feeling of wasted time like we feel now. There’s a recut version on YouTube that is much better and I choose to accept that as the real ending.

 

This is way too long to be talking about this show, but I guess I should’ve expected to be frustrated by how it ends. Even standard sitcoms can’t finish the right way these days.

 
I guess in the end, a quote from the show is the best remedy…

“I don’t remember who won. Hell, I don’t even remember who played. What I do remember is that we drank beer, we ate wings and we watched the Super Bowl together. Because sometimes, even if you know how something’s gonna end, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride.”

My Favorite Things in 2013

Across the board, this has been an excellent year. Couldn’t really be happier with how much has changed for me personally since a year ago at this time, and it makes me very interested to see where things will be next Christmas. But naturally, 2013 provided so many great albums, movies, games, and other entertainment: some expected, and some surprises. Some of this stuff will be pretty predictable if you know me at all, but I think 2013 gave me a huge opportunity to expand my tastes, especially in music, and I really enjoyed the results.

 

Favorite Movies of the Year:Pacific-Rim-Visor-Poster

It should go without saying that these are favorites, not best, and I’ll be the first to admit there were lots of great films this year that I haven’t had a chance to see yet. I typically aim to see bigger, more exciting, movies in theaters, just as a better form of escapism.

5. Star Trek Into Darkness – Probably not gonna enough for most hardcore Trekkers, but I’d rather have reboot Trek than none at all.

4. Despicable Me 2 – Consistently funny; really looking forward to the minions movie next year.

3. Pacific Rim – Did the job of creating buzz for monster movies and Godzilla will reap all the benefits next spring.

2. The Great Gatsby – Thoroughly capable adaptation with enough modern embellishment to capture the spectacle and emotion.

1. Gravity – I’ve never been to space (really?) but I’ve gotta imagine it’s just as intense as depicted. Bullock is awesome in this Space Castaway.

I’m well aware at how #lamestream this list is, but I enjoyed these movies enough to watch them again, and I think that’s saying a lot in a very disposable era of entertainment. Hobbit and Walter Mitty are honorable mentions, and I’m hoping Wolf of Wall Street will be a good finale to the year as well.

 

20 Favorite Songs of 2013

20. All You’re Waiting For – Classix feat. Nancy Whang – One of many bands I discovered this year through recommendations or friends’ activity on Spotify

justin timberlake19. F*ckwitmeyouknowigotit – Jay-Z feat. Rick Ross – For being a tremendously lazy album lyrically, Hova can still pick out the great instrumentals. Didn’t hurt that he had some of the greatest producers in the studio with him. Mainstay of my short errand trips during the summer.

18. TKO – Justin Timberlake – It was a busy year for JT, and while he may have stretched out the good tracks too long, this was one of his best. Loved the direction in the video too; couldn’t been a real snoozer if he went with the obvious boxing theme.

17. Q.U.E.E.N. – Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu – One of the most slept-on singers out right now, Janelle has such a perfect blend of neo-soul, funk, big band, electro, hiphop… whatever it is, it’s amazing.

16. Reflektor – Arcade Fire – I’ll admit I’ve mostly missed the boat on Arcade Fire, but I’m a big fan of this song, if for no other reason than the saxophone/guitar/piano/whatever riff in the chorus.

15. I Can Hardly Make You Mine – Cults – A pulsing and fun pop song to kick off a great album, and who can’t relate with those lyrics?

14. I. crawl – Childish Gambino – This song would move higher for every day I wait to write this list, cause it’s pretty awesome. Several standout songs on the new album, and this is a menacing way to start it.

13. Blood on the Leaves – Kanye West – This whole list could be Kanye, but I’m forcing myself to cut down. I listened to the album on my computer up to this song and then put this on when I went to lunch that first day, and wow. kanye west

12. All I Know – Washed Out – If there’s a difference between repetitive and consistent, that’s what Washed Out is. Their music stays the same but never gets old. Paracosm is another great album.

11. Closer – Tegan and Sara – This song suffers from coming out so long ago, so it doesn’t get the same spins it used to, but this whole album goes and this song takes the cake.

10. Hannah Hunt – Vampire Weekend – I read someone call this a great American novel, and I have to agree; it’s so poignant and reserved it could be called boring by the initiated, but it’s remarkably coherent for a VW song.

9. From Time – Drake – Jhene Aiko is murdering every song she is on; doesn’t even need Drake on this one, but he’s good enough. When the beat reverses halfway through…

8. The Way You Remember Me – St. Lucia – Another random Spotify discovery that turned out to be incredible. So much saxophone going on this year.

7. Gun – CHRVCHES – Still don’t know how to pronounce that name (cha-ver-chehz?) but this is one of many excellent tracks from the album. I don’t want anyone to become a gun and come for me, to be honest.

6. When A Fire Starts to Burn – Disclosure – Really feels like most of the best artists this year had 2-3 songs that could be on this list. “Latch” is just as deserving, but I’m gonna go with this one. Can’t go wrong.

5. Hold My Liquor – Kanye West – This song didn’t really sink in until a couple playthroughs, but while Bound 2 and Blood on the Leaves got a lot of the hype, this instrumental alone is one of the best songs of the year. The screeching, the melodies, the Chief Keef, and the outro, man, it’s just too good.the-weeknd1

4. Falling – Haim – “The Wire” would probably be here on most of these lists, and when I heard it on some playlist over the summer, I didn’t expect the album to be a complete as it is. Lots to love there, and “Falling” is a breezy and funky song, perfect for autumn.

3. Mirrors – Justin Timberlake – As much as  I was blinded by Timberlust when “Suit & Tie” came out, even I could admit that “Mirrors” was much closer to what we were expecting when it came out. It introduced us to his expansive and robust sound that he utilized throughout both albums, and the video dedicated to his grandparents was a great element to an already amazing song. He had to know this song would be a wedding staple when he recorded it, right?

2. Contact – Daft Punk – When the album leaked (I bought it later!), the version I listened to was in reverse order, and “Contact” was first. While I later learned that was wrong, I was blown away by this being the intro to an album. It’s still just as good as a closer, and by setting the scene with the narrative at the beginning, you can’t help but see “2001: A Space Odyssey” in your mind while listening to this. Wonder how it pairs with “Gravity.”

1. Wanderlust – Weeknd – It was going to be hard to top his trio of mixtapes, but Kiss Land was definitely up there, thanks to songs like “Wanderlust,” which is his most danceable and MJ-esque song yet. I had the privilege of seeing Abel live this fall, and his talent is truly amazing. The “precious little diamond” gets stuck in my head with ease.

 

 

spotify-logo-primary-vertical-light-background-rgbFavorite Purchase of the Year:

3. Chargers @ Broncos tickets

2. Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires

1. Spotify Premium

While there was a late push for the tires, I can’t believe how much I’ve gotten out of my Spotify account. Honestly, I don’t know how I could go back to not having it at this point. I’ve used it so much that I sometimes go over my data limit every month, so it occasionally costs me double, and it’s still worth it. I was really skeptical when I first had friends buy it, but having every song available on my phone has been amazing, especially for niche tracks needed for DJing. Highly recommended for anyone who takes music seriously and works somewhere where they can get away with having one earbud in all day.

 

Favorite Games of the Year:

Not a busy year for me game-wise. Took Starcraft 2 pretty seriously for about a month, but work and life shoved that out pretty quickly. My Xbox 360 has been under the impression that it is overheating most of the year, even though it’s not, so I wasn’t on the Grand Theft Auto 5 bandwagon, and I have yet to get a Xbox One yet. I have dabbled in both League of Legends and DotA 2, and they are perfect for me right now because it’s a very minor commitment. It’s a perfect way to relax for 30-40 minutes at the end of a long day while still getting to compete at something. They are simple enough to pick up that I can hop back in after a few weeks and play as well as I was before. MOBA and F2P games are more popular than ever, and it’s interesting to see how the industry is evolving as a result. Next year I’m sure I’ll get the Xbox One at some point, if for nothing else than the living room features, but “Destiny,” the latest game from Bungie, looks pretty amazing.

 

Favorite Wedding of the Year:

Just kidding, I wouldn’t rank them like that. Plus I still have one more to go to, so it’s too early to say. There were a lot of them and they were all really fun in different ways.

 

Favorite Album of the Year:

I won’t go into the same detail as I did with the songs, but here’s a rough list in no order.

 

Yeezus – Kanye West4e6c6fb2

Settle – Disclosure

Paracosm – Washed Out

The 20/20 Experience – Justin Timberlake

Days Are Gone – Haim

Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend

Stay Trippy – Juicy J

My Name is My Name – Pusha T

The Bones of What You Believe – CHRVCHES

because the internet – Childish Gambino

Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

Kiss Land – Weeknd

 

Okay, I’ll stop.

 

Favorite Meme of the Year

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wow so doge much laff

 

Favorite Photoshops of the Year

Most of these are inside jokes and will not be funny to the masses. Or that funny in general. Or that tough to make. Whatever.