Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Luke's Best Music of 2009

Well, seeing as how I haven't done this since 2007, I have some music to cover.

Let's quickly hit the top 9 of 2008.

Bon Iver
I doubt I can say anything original about this album. It's wonderful. Trust me and every other music critic ever.
City and Colour
A little emo, sure, but dang this guy writes some tunes that are up my alley. Plus his name is Dallas. I would bet 98% of all songwriters named Dallas are awesome.
Dear and The Headlights
This album didn't hit me at first, but like Oregano's* it was worth the wait. Try not to be happy while listening to the end of "I Know"
Fleet Foxes
Yet another in the series of great musical artists that are not afraid of beards. At all.
Fleetwood Mac
I "discovered" these guys personally (note the quotes) in 2008 and listen to them all the fracking time now. Chain keep us together!
The music that birthed the music that birthed the popularity of Glen Hansard and The Swell Season. Whatever it takes works for me because everyone should love this album.
Jason Mraz
This dude seems to be approaching male diva status, but his tunes still rule. And for the record, "I'm Yours" came out in 2005. 2005! July, 2005! Why is it a hit now?
Kings of Leon
I got this album a little ahead of time and then a year later everyone else realized it was good. Not KoL's best, but KoL's less-than-best is way way way better than a lot of shite out there.
Sigur Ros
They don't speak a lick of English! And I don't care!

2008 was the year of the podcast for me. Adam Carolla, Kevin and Bean and others dominated a lot of my iPod time so my overall exposure to new tunes may not have been what it once was. I auditioned (listened to at least once) 1,984 tracks in 2008 as opposed to 2,231 in 2007.

ANYways, some other tunes that didn't make the album cut that I love ...
  • AC/DC - It's A Long Way To The Top - My efforts to honor the classics continue with even more AC/DC.
  • Adele - Hometown Glory - She likes it in the city when two worlds collide ... and so do I.
  • Coldplay - Lost? (Acoustic) - The piano-only version of this song is killer.
  • Hushpuppies - You're Gonna Say Yeah - Good lookin' out, Guitar Hero 5. Without you I certainly never would have heard this fantastic running song.
  • Kanye West - Paranoid - Easily my favorite track off the acclaimed 808s & Heartbreak. Unfortunately this album did not approach Graduation's overall excellence for me.
  • N*E*R*D - You Know What - This song has my strongest recommendation. I have no idea when it came out or if any of the other songs on this album are good, but WHO CARES! This song is gold.
  • Saul Williams - List of Demands - Thanks to Nike for putting this in their SPARQ ads because I enjoyed both of Saul's albums quite a bit even if the dude is a little out there.
  • Samuel L. Jackson - Stackolee - This track off the Black Snake Moan soundtrack is fantastic. Easily the best song you'll hear featuring the phrase "I put 9 of my bullets in his mother f'ing chest!"
  • The Ting Tings - We Walk - This was my personal fav off this album featuring many other more commercially successful tunes.
And with that, on to 2009! This year my total music auditions fell drastically (from 1,984 in 2008 to an almost unforgiveable 1,131 tunes in 2009) but oh well. I was still able to discover 4 ridiculously good albums and some other not so shabby options.

The Untouchables
I absolutely could not leave these off the list.

Frightened Rabbit
One of two bands from Scotland that ruled this list. Credit goes to Ando for being ahead of the curve on this one. I almost feel guilty for not catching on more quickly. They're that good.

It's hard to imagine another band that improves on every release as much as these cats do. Also I just realized my top tier features absolutely no American bands. Europe FTW!

We Were Promised Jetpacks
These dudes opened for Frightened Rabbit and immediately became the best opener I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot - Ray LaMontagne, Martin Sexton and others). Fast strumming is back!

Kings of Convenience
I had some majorly high hopes for this long overdue album and they were met. This album is like taking a bath in happiness. Just wonderful wonderful times.

Must Haves
The next tier of greatness.

Kevin (the K in K-OS is for Kevin) comes through again. Just check out track 1 and tell me you're not in. "No one knows what you're doing!"

The Rural Alberta Advantage
Guy on guitar and vocals, guy on drums, girl and vocals and everything else comes through with the surprise album of the year. "Edmonton" fit in quite nicely with my road trip video in case you haven't seen it.

Tegan & Sara
Speaking of consistency, these ladies come through like Phoenix with their 3rd great album in a row. And if Petros likes them, what else do you need to know?

The Temper Trap
The Aussies get a hit on the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack and the rest of the album ain't too shabby either.

TV On The Radio
I was sad to find out that Klosterman doesn't like these dudes (via an off-hand mention in his latest book), but I don't care. "Love Dog" is one of my most played tracks of the year.

The Whitest Boy Alive
Erlend Oye (of Kings of Convenience fame) hits another home run with his other band. Love me some "Courage" off this album.

Bloody Likely
I'm pretty sure I like the albums below, but haven't spent enough time with them to give them my full recommendation. However my initial impressions and other critics' high praise has me surmising these albums are legit.

Manchester Orchestra
Marc Broussard
Mute Math
Passion Pit
Snow Patrol
The Swell Season
Tina Dickow
Third Eye Blind

And finally my favorite tunes of 2009 (limiting my selections to one song per artist) ...
  • 1901 - Phoenix - Can you believe he says "Fold it" and not "Fallin'" in the chorus? Me neither.
  • Edmonton - Rural Alberta Advantage - What IF I'm only satisfied when I'm at home? A question I've asked myself many times before this great song came around.
  • Me In You - Kings of Convenience - The title by itself might conjure some giggles, but just roll this track and then enjoy your lowered heart rate and raised smile.
  • Roll Up Your Sleeves - We Were Promised Jetpacks - So difficult to choose just one track off this album. I think I've had stints with 4 different songs named as my favorite. I'm settling on this one for the fantastic riff and sing along fun.
  • Love Dog - TV On The Radio - "Something slow has sparked up in me" just like this song slowly builds to greatness.
  • Old Old Fashioned - Frightened Rabbit - Another very tough choice. So many choices with these cats.
  • Love Lost - The Temper Trap - Do you feel weird when track 1 is your favorite? Like you're not paying enough attention to the full album? Well I don't care, this is a great track 1.
  • Courage - The Whitest Boy Alive - Show some courage ... like Erlend says.
*It's worth the wait!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This just in! Check back later.

I weep for the state of sports journalism. Have a look at this article. In case you're click-shy, here are some key quotes regarding Charlie Weis' employment status as the Notre Dame head football coach:

"Charlie Weis is ... saying he doesn't think a decision about his future has been made"

"I don't think that any decision's been made."

"[S]peculation about his future has been the top story in South Bend."

"I don't know."

Sooooo basically ... you've got nothing, right? The story is that ... there might be a story later, but not today. Hey look over here ... and remember to check back again when there's actually news.

This type of "news" isn't the first sports "story" like this even in 2009. The Favre will he/won't he debacle is now becoming a yearly tradition and it features similar non-stories like this one. I remember an actual ESPN ticker in August that said "Favre says he doesn't know if he's going to return to the NFL."

This is what the information age has given us as news: "I don't know." How about we make this deal, sports media? We'll go ahead and assume that no decisions have been made about anything and that speculation is running rampant about all possible stories ever ... until you tell us otherwise. Then, when you have actual news that goes one way or another, you let us know. Here are some examples that you might use to get you started.
  • Charlie Weis is fired.
  • Charlie Weis got a contract extension.
  • Brett Favre won a football match.
  • Brett Favre spent 3 hours this last Sunday gun slinging and loving the game of football.
  • Wranglers!
Any of the above would be better than "Charlie Weis: we have no friggin' clue about his status."

But just in case the Worldwide Leader is reading this, I've got some story ideas that I've been working on.

The Colts may or may not win the Superbowl this year. Find out for sure on 2/7/10.

LeBron James is going to determine who he'll play for in 2010 at some point! It could be one of 30-odd teams!

USA to compete in the World Cup. No idea if they'll win or not. Only time will tell.

Manu Ginobli remains a d-bag.

Oh wait, that last one is actually true, but you get the idea.

Hey ESPN, feel free to send my free lance check to the usual place.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

John Mayer - Go ahead and judge by the cover

First things first: I'm a hypocrite. I'm a turncoat. I'm a traitor. There have been many years (possibly including this one) where the term fanboy could easily be applied to my affinity for John Mayer. Cases in point:
With all that said, let's cut to the chase and discuss Mayer's upcoming album cover for Battle Studies. What the hell, John.

John Mayer - Battle Studies

If this doesn't strike you as odd, let's look at it another way.

  • On the left, a guitar virtuoso just out of school (maybe still in school) and not quite sure what to do about this whole album cover thing.
  • On the right ... I mean, the over/under on the photo shoot to come up with the above is what - 9.5 hours. 15-20 costume changes, 8 stylists on John's hair.
  • On the left, "So, uh, do I look AT the camera ... what do I do with my hands? Oh. Oh that was it? You just took the shot just now. Oh. Cool."
  • On the right, "I'm thinking I make it look like I just pulled off this hoodie ... or no, like I'm about to put on the hoodie ... no, both at the same time! Yeah, and I'm gonna look off in the distance as though I just cured cancer with a guitar riff while tweeting a novel 140 chars at a time that leads to world peace."
  • On the left, a dude that can really play the guitar.
  • On the right ... I can't think of anything better than d-bag.
Ever wonder how someone makes the progression from normal dude to ridiculously self important musician? Just look to the album covers.

It's like the evolution of the d-bag.

The poses even line up like he's rising to the occasion.

As Ando said, it might be time to take a step back, John.

PS See ya on New Years Eve. I'll be the one gazing at you from the general admission section wearing a hoodie.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Carrie Moten, You're Fired.

Let's get the obvious out of the way. Yes, I'm posting for the second time (not to mention an entire 8-minute session of random ass car improv) about a radio segment that most men would not even admit to listening to ever. Deal.

With that out of the way, I'll say that I've probably listened to every War of the Roses segment over 3 years. Maybe longer. (For the record, it's not that hard to do. Podcasts are a wonderfully accessible and efficient means of audio entertainment. They're like TiVo for the radio. Only listen to what you want to. No commercials.) And as I noted in the previously mentioned improv segment, I have a few annoyances regarding the format of the segment. Just about all those annoyances were washed away when "Special K" filled in recenly for Carrie Moten. My immediate and unending thought throughout these segments ...

You're fired, Carrie.

... Uh ... woops ...

Play the record scratch noise right here.

This whole post is a wash. I was about to talk about how Special K has done the Roses segment two times (July 23rd and August 6th) and both times did everything that Carrie never did and made the segment about a billion times better in the process. She gets to the point of the schpiel (aka the scam) in about a thousand less words than Carrie and she makes the dude feel much more comfortable in the process by (imagine this ...) flirting! I was going to talk about how K has no problem "digging" and just outright asking the cheating dudes if they are cheating rather than being all nervous about pissing off a dude that they are outright trying to embarrass. That's the whole point of the segment. No need to try to be cute about it. Just play the role of the nosy florist girl and ask about the chick receiving the flowers! "Are you dating this girl?" "Are you in love with her?" "Are you two hooking up?" "Is it like a girlfriend that you guys are trying to keep it on the down low?" (The last one is an actual quote from the 7/23 show!!!) The answers to these questions are the point of the whole segment! Just ask!

How did we spend 3+ years handling this segment so badly? Carrie, that's how.

As I was just about to write all of the above, I went to look for a link for Carrie Moten and found out ... Carrie actually was fired. Or she moved on. Whatever.

Anyway, kudos to you, Special K. You have taken Roses miles from where it was in the course of 2 segments.

Mental note: next post must be about fantasy football or oil changes or crushing beer cans on my forehead in order to maintain some semblance of manliness.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's gonna take a montage ...

... a Vegas birthday montage. What happens in Vegas is chopped up and then put back together with The Whitest Boy Alive as the backing track and then published on YouTube. Behold! Oh and check out some pics too if ya like.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Bachelorette Musings - Jillian - Season Finale

Sup. I skipped over "The Men Tell All" cuz I heard Wes was booked putting on a concert for his adoring fans in Chihuahua, Mexico. Ergo, I'm out. Onto the finale! If you really think about it, could this franchise's track history make their finales any less climactic? All we'll learn tonight is who Jillian will date for 6 months before they break up, right? ANYWAY I guess watching the train wreck unfold is what it's all about.

Tonight's questions: will Ed wear his green shorts again? Does Kiptyn have a 12 pack or a 24 pack? Will Ed be able to give Jillian the "passion she deserves?"* Let's find out.
  • Apparently tonight is the most emotional season finale ever, but I still don't think it will top the most dramatic outside shot of a hotel room light turning on ever from the last episode. Ah, memories.
  • In a show filled with "journeys," "connections," and "staying true to yourself," what exactly does "slaying dragons" mean? Is Wes the dragon? Or maybe she means Ed's pride?
  • [Gasp!] White pants!
  • Jill to Ed: "Do you wanna tell everyone our story?" Ed: "Let me start." Jill: "Okay you start." Me: "Yeah, that's what 'do YOU wanna tell everyone our story' means. You don't need to ask to start when someone requests a story directly from you."
  • You know what's fun? Job interviews -- er, I mean, a conversation with Peggy. Oh wait, same thing.
  • Hey, Peggy. 1) I think you're a robot. 2) How 'bout you slow down your blinking subroutine?
  • Anyone else notice that the family went equally apeshit for Jillian's arrival on both her family dates? Seriously what's with the squeal from Jill on both days and the hopping from the cousin? And what's with Peggy remaining emotionless and seated on the couch during the Ed/Jill arrival and then standing and hugging for the Kiptyn/Jill arrival?
  • You know what Jillian has here in this episode? She's got "the choice to choose between two guys." Couldn't have said it better myself, Peggy.
  • Seriously what is WRONG with Peggy? Why is she not facing Kiptyn on the couch and instead facing forward and rotating her head 100 degrees to her right? I used to like Canada, but this woman is giving me serious doubts.
  • How old is the Cousin Tory? 24? 38? 34? 27? 43? There are very few ages you could throw at me that would result in me blinking.
  • Do the producers of the bachelor understand that it is possible to go on a date that doesn't involve a helicopter ride? I'm pretty sure I'd be bored on a helicopter ride at this point.
  • She's picking Kiptyn. No way she doesn't. The chick that took the so-called "bad ass" Wes all the way to the top 5 ... is going to pick the dude that is playing hard to get. And that dude is Kiptyn.
  • See what they did? See what they did there? They showed the hotel room light turning OFF! And then they showed a volcano erupting! Kaboom! And then they showed a train going into a tunnel! Slam-zam! And then they showed a hot dog going into bun! Shame on you, ABC! This is a family show!
  • Nice to see they put the two dudes up at different hotels. Wouldn't want to have a "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" scenario on our hands ... or would we? Mental note made for next season.
  • If you fell asleep or walked the dog or entered into an extremely short term coma during the 20 minutes between the end of Kiptyn's date and Jillian's arrival at the final decision spot, let me catch you up ... I had some yogurt. It was good.
  • Well I'll be gd'd, Jillian. You're the first chick ever to dump lil' Kippy. Well done.
  • I'd pay a decent chunk of money to see Jill take a wrong step on the bridge and go head first into the pool. At least it would break up the most boring hour in bachelorette history.
  • Bigger twist? Reid showing back up in Hawaii? Or Reid showing back up in Hawaii wearing those ridiculous shoes?
  • Reid's following one of those age old mantras: if a girl rejects you, wait for her to have two overnight dates with other dudes and then propose wearing no tie and ridiculous shoes. Tale as old as time.
  • Just when you thought getting the boot on the last episode was embarrasing, eh, Reid?
  • How horrible is it that I'm giggling as Reid drives away? I mean those shoes were just ridiculous! No, but seriously shoes aside ... ridiculous.
  • Jillian drops the f bomb for the crane shot. Pretty endearing there, Canada. Well done.
  • ED! Purple tie! Sup, dude. Here's what I would have said if I were Chris Harrison: "Holy shit, ED! Dude, you have no fracking idea what has gone down here today. Man, seriously this is crazy times! Uh, that is a ... that's a purple tie there, my man. Anyway, for real, you really have no idea. Man you're lucky. Now get the f out there!" [pat on the ass]
  • Just after the proposal, cut to Chris Harrison: "Play them out, Wes!" How great would that have been?
Well ... another finale, another let down compared to Big Swayze. Good effort, Jillian. Good effort.

*When they say passion, they mean boner.

PS ... looks like the Simmons household agrees with me. Check the timing of my tweets vs. theirs.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Bachelorette Musings: The Final 3 in Hawaii with Jillian

Well, what better way to spend my last hours of twenty-dom than with the triumphant return of the musings! None, says I. I missed the first 10 minutes thanks to the lovely service at Fry's Pharmacy, but I think it's safe to say I didn't miss out on the moment that all the previews seem to be hinting at ... yeah, that moment. Before it happens, let's just reel off some jokes, shall we?
  • It's the limpest moment in bachelorette history! Kaboom!
  • Yes, we choose to forego our individual rooms tonight ... and any chance of arousal. Pazing!!
  • Jillian. Gentlemen, this is the final boner tonight! Zang!
  • Gentlemen, I'm sorry. Take a moment. Say your goodbyes ... to getting it on! Kuh-zingo!!
  • Ed, do you accept this Viagra? Cuz you seem to need it. Zorp!!
  • Fantasy suite? More like can't-asy suite! Hello!
Okay, onto the show ...
  • While I appreciated Jillian's rejection of all fantasy suite cards last week, have there always been dub-fantasy-suite opportunities in a given season? I mean, if the chick holds out on one fantasy suite, but not on the next, does that still count as holding out?
  • Jillian's aboot / about comes and goes like Cruise's German accent in Valkyrie.
  • Jillian's dress for her outdoor date with Reid looks like a gray top with a yellow skirt ... but it isn't! It's totally a two-tone dress. It's not a skirt/top at all. I'm serious. It's like a hypercolor and those Magic Eye paintings from the mall got together and had a baby. A dress baby.
  • Reid: "This'll be my first helicopter ride." Jillian: "This'll be like my 5th helicopter ride ... televised ... on ABC."
  • Helicopter pastor? As Puck from The Real World says, if you get married on a helicopter, you stay on the helicopter. Too obscure of a quote? I agree.
  • Jillian confirms the answers to her questions way too much. "Did you have fun today? Yeah?" "Did the marriage talk on the helicopter make you nervous? It did?" "Is it insanely hard to figure out if I'm cute or not? Is it?"
  • Last chance to nominate me while I'm in my 20s! 866-739-3150! Oops, too late.
  • Is Ed a big Magnum P.I. fan or are those shorts really short? Like Stockton short.
  • Holy crap, Ed. This is some boring times. Did y'all catch my 10-minute-road-trip music video? Much more exciting than meeting Ed's parents.
  • Woah! Jillian. That is quite the white out-of-the-bathroom top-thingy you've got there.
  • Okay, so "I couldn't show Jillian that I really, truly love her" = shoulda ordered up some Cialis from room service, right? Way to keep it ambiguous there, ABC.
  • Yeah, but, Ed ... did you do IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTT!!!?!?!?
  • If there's one thing you should know about these videos that the guys prepared for you, it's that they're private. Very private to be exact. So private that only you and eventually all of America will see them.
  • Is Jillian a robot? Did she just have a reboot or something? "Ed, I do. Have con-ssserns. That I ffffeel like are getting. In the way. Of my. Deh-ssssision." Run that tape back and laugh.
  • Ed and KG agree: anything is possible.
Well, that was sufficiently boring. Next week does not look bad. Hopefully Wes wasn't previously booked for a show in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Road Trip!

This is where we went.
So Ando and I took a road trip to all these places.
There are lots of pictures. And now there's video.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Luke's iPhone headphones / earbuds review

I have owned a lot of headphones.

A lot.

I figured I could use my spending for good and review them here. Let's go.

Earbuds in ascending order of goodness

Sony MDR in-ear headphones
These are good as far as comfort and sound goes. Don't buy the ones with the cord extender. The extender thing is heavy and weighs on your ear. Without the extender, the cord is too short.
V-Moda Vibe II Earbud Headset with Microphone

These have great sound, but the iPhone control is cased in steel and hangs where the two earbud cords meet. Another set with a pet peeve for me: weighty microphone and iPhone control.
Sony MDR wrap-around earbuds

These are basically the same earbuds as above except without the cord extender and with the wrap around. I prefer these to the ones above. Same great sound.
Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic

These have the latest and best iPhone control: play, pause, fast-forward, and volume up/down. The comfort is great. The problem for me was that the sound was just not the full sound I was looking for. Maybe they didn't fit my ears right. I got them for my dad and he digs 'em a lot.
V-Moda Vibe Duo Earbuds

These are the best earbuds I've ever owned in terms of sound. I wear these every day when I'm working out. Only problem is no iPhone control/microphone.
iPhone Stereo Headset

After all my searching, I ended up with the latest "standard" iPhone buds (which now come with the iPhone 3GS). I prefer the sound of these to the in-ear (allegedly superior sounding) Apple buds above. And the weight of the mic/control is perfect (aka not noticeable) plus the latest ones have volume up/down compared to the old fast-forward/pause only.
My cans review soon to come ...