You met us at a very strange time in our lives.

You really did. You don’t even know. You see, a while back we were sure that

but we were wrong, thankfully. Even though we tend to

we still haven’t forgotten that

and it just depends on your perspective, right? You just have to remember that

and everything will be fine. I know, I know, enough with the fucking semiotics, right? No patience, you. But that’s cool. We know that you’re just chilling there…

…and you’re thinking to yourself, “Fuck me, it’s New Year’s Eve!”

Time to get down, to party, to have a good time, right?

A super good time.

Hell yes. We hope you have a great time out there. An amazing time. A super fantastic sexy time on your NYE.

We sure as shit will (minus the children).

Oh yes. But that’s just us. That’s just how we get down, no biggie.  But just like us, you’re required to go out there and have a great time. Party like a lunatic.  It’s been a long, crazy year, hasn’t it? Full of good times…

…and bad. Times when you couldn’t tell if that thing you were looking at was

But it’s all over now. Now’s the time to have some fun. You deserve it. But, get it all out of your system and don’t forget that, just like us, in the new year, you are cordially required to

That’s right. That’s the only resolution you ever need to make (although “hitting the gym” and “stop fucking up” are still acceptable). You and us both. And remember, no matter what happens…

…cause it really is. You know why? Because

From everyone at Counterforce, have yourself a great NYE! And we’ll see you next year.

The year of blogging dangerously!

Or: “My Year In Lists, part four: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Just Wish The New Year (So I Wouldn’t Feel Any Different) Was Fucking Here Already!” What do you think, too long?

The year that was: food shortages, scares, and rising costs.

The year in photographs.

50 We know now that we didn’t know this time last year.

Many teens don’t keep their virginity pledges. Good on you, kids.

The coolest movie posters of the year. And big, stupid Hollywood movies to look forward to in 2009.

NYT‘s top pictures of the year.

And a whole other kind of best pictures of the year list.

The 7 funniest apolitical skits on SNL this year. Can you believe that there’s actually that many? Ha ha, I can’t!

What you can do to prepare yourself for a post peak oil world, part one.

The 15 best videos of the year (some of them have been around much longer than a year, though).

Insane discoveries that science can’t explain.

2008: Totally the year to take yourself out on a date and enjoy a nice dinner for one. Cause you know, nobody has to know!

The best 100 comics of the year, part 1 (#100 – 81). All I know is that the quite frankly fantastic endings to both All Star Superman and Y The Last Man and maybe even Pixu and definitely Young Liars had better be in the top 5 of this list. Or the conclusion to the second run of Casanova, which has been talked about here before. I could probably go on and on…

Also, here’s NPR’s best graphic novels of the year, a list which includes Local and Paul Pope, which pleases me, but I’m unhappy that it doesn’t mention Three Shadows. Or Bottomless Belly Button.


Best book covers of the year.

Top archaeology discoveries of the year.

The most embarrassing moments of campaign 2008.

Top tech breakthroughs of the year. And tech trends to expect in 2009.

Social media predictions for the new year.

Moments that mattered!

The best female bloggers of 2008. And the best male bloggers as well.

30 of the most notable blogs of the year.

2008: The year the geeks took over.

What not to miss in visual art in 2009.

The buzzwords of the year. Personally, I think they forgot “superdelegates.”

Some outrageous predictions for 2009.

Top astronomy pictures of the year.

A rundown of the talented (famous) people who’ve died this year.

15 overlooked deaths in 2008.

Counterforce‘s best music of the year, part 1. Part 2. Annnddd part 3.

The wildest rock photos of the year.

Want to catch your favorite band playing on New Year’s Eve? Here’s who’s playing where.

Jesus. Tomorrow’s the last day of the year. Can you believe that? What a long, strange trip it’s been…

How do you make God laugh?

It’s Sunday on the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and everything feels, I don’t know, a little laid back. At home, at work, everywhere, right? What better time to take it easy and relax, what do you say? Why don’t you relax with us as we listen to one of our favorite albums, Plans, by Death Cab For Cutie, courtesy of youtube, hmm?

Track 01: “Marching Bands Of Manhattan

“It’s true what you said, that I live like a hermit in my own head,” is a line from this song that I’ve never been able to shake, honestly. On an album that is so very much about the Big Issues such as death and loss, I think this line is incredibly important. Because after you lose something, where do you go?

Track 02: “Soul Meets Body

This was the first single from the album and, of course, leaked early onto the internet. The record label was understandably displeased with that development, but Ben Gibbard was quoted as saying, “I love it. The more anarchy we can give the record industry, the better.” Personally, I think that’s the perfect thing for the lead singer of a much beloved and respected indie band to say about the first single from their major label debut, don’t you?

Track 03: “Summer Skin

Much the same way that Radiohead couldn’t possibly exist in it’s current form without Thom Yorke’s voice, the same could be said for Ben Gibbard‘s voice. Not just his lyrics, mind you, but his voice too. It holds the entire package together, buoying it nicely on his foundation of fragile intimacy and a boyish sense of romance, both idealized and heartbreakingly remembered.

Track 04: “Different Names For The Same Thing

This is was (before the lawyers snuck in there) the version of Directions, the video album that followed shortly after the release of Plans, and which gave 12 different directors a chance to interpret the songs their own way. This video is directed by Autumn de Wilde. The video is quirky and silly, but it’s always really fun and I like it a lot.

Track 05: “I Will Follow You Into The Dark

This was the third single released from the album, and probably the best known song from the album. And while it’s not a title track, it’s almost certainly the mission statement of the album. Of the song, Ben Gibbard said this: “It’s the just idea that what if somebody dies and we’re just floating, just stumbling around in infinite darkness, and I’m just trying to find some kind of spiritual kind of peace with myself, and the world.” This is a home made video I found online, and there’s two official videos, one for the single release featuring Gibbard playing the song on his band while an expanding dark abyss begins growing on the floor of his apartment and one from Directions. I didn’t find the the single version, but if you can, I highly recommend watching it.

Track 06: “Your Heart Is An Empty Room

“And all you see is where else you can be when you’re at home,” the song says. “On on the street are so many possibilities to not be alone.” A perfect description of self-enforced loneliness, perhaps?

Track 07: “Someday You Will Be Loved

To me this sounds very much like a Decemberists’ song and it’s a lovely reverse on what you think you’re in for with the somewhat sappy title because the boy is leaving the girl here, telling her that soon she’ll forget about him when someone new comes along, which seems to be quite the opposite of the normal pop song, no? Anyways, this is the Ace Norton video for the song from Directions.

Track 08: “Crooked Teeth

This was the second single from the album and is definitely one of my favorites of not just this album, but the band’s entire catalog, and highlights the band’s almost genius ability to combine melancholy with a nice sense of rocking about. “You can’t find nothing at all if there was nothing there all along.”

Track 09: “What Sarah Said

Wow, so much to say about this song. This song is possibly my favorite song off the album and by the band as a whole. It’s also the closest thing to a title track on this album and I’ll share with you here what Ben Gibbard said about the album as a whole: “I don’t think there’s necessarily a story, but there’s definitely a theme here. One of my favorite kind of dark jokes is, ‘How do you make God laugh? You make a plan.’ Nobody ever makes a plan that they’re gonna go out and get hit by a car. A plan almost always has a happy ending. Essentially every plan is a tiny prayer to Father Time. I really like the idea of a plan not being seen as having definite outcomes, but more like little wishes.”

Track 10: “Brothers On A Hotel Bed

The first line of this song is “You may tire of me as our December sun is setting because I’m not who I used to be.” I always seem to think this is the last song of the album when I listen to it, but it’s not, even though it would be a perfect one. Also, when I listen to this song I can’t help think of the line “If the silence takes you, then I hope it takes me too,” from “Soul Meets Body.” Above is the video for the song from Directions, directed by Josh Victor Rothstein.

Track 11: “Stable Song

Despite my always thinking the previous track is the last song on this album, this is the last song, and it’s a beautiful one. I’ll end this with how drummer Jason McGerr described this album: “If Transatlanticism was an inhale, then Plans is the exhale.” Hope you enjoyed listening with us. Take a deep breath and we’ll catch you next time.

My year in lists, part three: Memento Mori.

Like I said yesterday, while I started a bit early, I wanted to talk about some of the incredibly talented people who’ve left us behind, and now faced with that prospect, I know that there’s no way I can truly do that subject justice. But every year someone famous dies, leaving behind a (possibly) nice body of work, and all we can hope to do is remember them and why we liked them in the first place, right?

“The fall will probably kill you!”

Paul Newman, 1925 – 2008. The George Clooney to Robert Redford’s Brad Pitt. My mother made sure that our household when I was growing up was always very pro-Redford, so other than The Sting and Butch And Sundance, I had to discover Mr. Newman on my own, but even for just those two classics alone, he deserves high notice on this list. And for Road To Perdition. And, of course, for his delightful line of salad dressings.

“Florida, Florida, Florida!”

Tim Russert, 1950 – 2008. Here was the pundit that you didn’t quite realize the worth of until he was gone. This was the everyday kind of guy who knew what he was talking about and wouldn’t let himself be bullshitted. Am I the only person that missed his wild infectious enthusiasm for the sports of politics this last election cycle?

“Who’s the man who would risk his neck for his brother man?”

Isaac Hayes, 1942 – 2008. I don’t think it even needs to be explained why this is such a powerful loss. Just listen:

We’re just gonna try to forget about the whole Scientology thing though, alright?

“I was never one to obsess about the past. Too much to do in the future!”

Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919 – 2008. Mountain climbing and philanthropy. Not too shabby. Hillary, if you don’t know is one of the first men, along with sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, to reach Mount Everest’s summit in 1953. When Hillary got back, he told his longtime friend, George Lowe, “Well George, we knocked that bastard off.” Awesome.

“One never knew, after all, now did one now did one now did one…”

David Foster Wallace, 1962 – 2008. A real loss. Not only a writer who had impressive output and influence, but who whose better days seemed to be laying ahead for him. Not so much, according to this very informative bit from Rolling Stone.

A remembrance of things past.

Harold Pinter, 1930 – 2008. A heavyweight of storytelling. Do I need to explain why Pinter is fantastic, do I? Do I really (though I still have some questions about The Birthday Party, but I’ll let them slide for the moment)? Maybe I’ll just throw out this clip as proof of the man’s immense worth:

That’s “The Betrayal,” one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld, based on Pinter’s The Betrayal, but you can also find the entire episode on youtube, only re-reversed, which is actually kind of… unsatisfying.

Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.

Michael Crichton, 1942 – 2008. The sad thing is that his dead didn’t have any effect on me at all, you know? And it is sad because when I was ten, Crichton’s books made reading and being smart and most importantly wanting to be smart and enjoy that kind of thing in your reading cool. For a long time, this was the author who released a small masterpiece every few years and typically backed it up with a new degree that just screamed authenticity about whatever his latest cautionary tale was about, but the last few books… Tremendous crap. Not just the writing, but the angles he approached them from (he didn’t believe in global warming and thought that SETI was more religious idealization than anything approaching near science) and petty attacks on critics. He finished one last book before he died and it will be released in May of next year. Personally, I’m crossing my fingers in hope of the redemption of a literary master.

“I want to be evil.”

Eartha Kitt, 1927 – 2008. Not only did Miss Kitt want to be evil, but she made me want to fall in love with an evil girl. An affliction I’m happy to have still not quite shaken off.

“…From my cold dead hands.”

Charlton Heston, 1923 – 2008. This one’s tricky, especially since in the last few years of his life, Heston’s come to stand for and be a proud symbol of a lot of the things I despise in this world. And yet, the man was a brilliant actor once upon a time…

…which may seem like a trite statement when coupled with a clip from Wayne’s World 2 (which is a brilliant movie, alright?), but it’s very indicative of how strong of an actor Heston could be, even in cameos. And cameos were what he specialized in back in the 90s. But try not to remember the man as the racist gun nut that he died as, but as the mega star of biblical classics and Touch Of Evil and The Omega Man and The Planet Of The Apes. Oh, and another thing: “Soylent Green is people!”

“Why so serious?”

Heath Ledger, 1979 – 2008. This is the very definition of an actor cut down in his prime. By the end of The Dark Knight, you’re just hungry for the return of this character the way that Ledger’s played him, but you want to run out of the theater and get your hands on everything this actor’s ever done before and devour it. And sadly, while there’s been some wonderful films in his filmography, there’s also been some crap, and he leaves behind too small of a legacy for an actor so tall in talent.

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits.

Just note that other blogs will merely refer to the seven dirty words you can’t say on television, but Counterforce goes there and tells you them flat out. We’re fucked up, nasty people, we are. But from there we go into the creator of that bit of comedy, George Carlin, 1937 – 2008, and Bernie Mac, 1957 – 2008. I list them together because they’re both hilarious comedians who’ve certainly made their mark but also because I’m not huge fans of them, but for similar reasons on opposite ends of the sprectrum. Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to too much Carlin, but more of the people who were inspired by him, and yet somehow, I feel like I was more exposed to the comedians who inspired Mac. Somewhere in there is a happy medium in which I respect both of these funny men.

Countdown To Mystery.

Steve Gerber, 1947 – 2008. I end this list with the man you’ve probably never heard of, and that’s a shame. Gerber was a giant in the comics industry, creating Howard The Duck, which you can see up above (and yes, you remember the movie, you know you do)(cause it was hot, sweaty genius, it was)(nevermind it, though, go read the original comics, which were brilliant) and the awesome Omega The Unknown, not to mention work on hundreds of other titles. The man was loud and opinionated and he backed it up with awesome skills. Also, you can watch Howard The Duck on hulu, which you should totally go do right this second.

I want to be evil.

I was planning on saying something about some of the very talented people who’ve died this year, but I think that one that I’m the most upset about right now is Eartha Kitt.

The woman, whom Orson Welles called “the most exciting woman in the world,” died on Christmas day, losing a long fight with colon cancer at 81 years old. It’s painfully ironic that that was the day she died since one of the many things she was known for was her 1953 song, “Santa Baby,” a song that’s probably been covered a million times since then. It’s the exact opposite of a present.

If you don’t recognize her almost feline from the role of Catwoman on the 1960s Batman show, a role she took over from Julie Newmar. Now, I should say that to me, Julie Newmar was Catwoman in that show, that she was just perfect and so incredibly sexy in that role, and to me, she’ll just always be Catwoman in my head to a certain degree because she was my first notion of that role realized (kind of like how the first James Bond or Doctor Who or Star Trek incarnation you encounter is the one you feel belongs to you), but I can’t stress nearly enough that Eartha Kitt was equally perfect in the role. She was the perfect embodiment of strong without losing a kind of feminine softness and purringly seductive and as you were watching her, despite the horriblly camp writing, you were equally terrified and kind of secretly hoping to get her claws in you.

And mind you, that was the 60s to, which doesn’t seem that long ago today, but when you think about how horrible the state of civil rights was back then, it feels like it was hundred of years ago. And there was an incredibly talented woman, a product of mixed race rape by the son of an owner of a southern plantation, rising up to a role of serious prominence in a major television franchise. And what I loved about her taking over that role was that no one stopped to say, “Hey, isn’t there something a little different about Catwoman all of a sudden?” No, because once Earth Kitt pounced onto the set in her sexy black catsuit and domino mask, she owned the place.

I was mesmerized to a certain degree from the first time I saw and heard Eartha Kitt sing, which was, of course, her song “I Want To Be Evil,” but in my life I’ve been lucky enough to know three different women who’s not only sung the song for me, but acted it out. And if you know the song (and if you don’t, you will in a moment), it’s a song that really has to be performed. Seeing this performed by Miss Kitt as a kid was amazing, just to see a woman in such command of music and performance with a song that was sweet and innocent and tough and naive and knowledgeable and self deprecating and beautiful all at once. Long story short, it changed my life, and it’s incredibly sad to know that the person responsible for it is no longer on the planet with us.

The unspeakable vault of doom (So this is X-mas?).

Ingenuous Age once more essays to find/A proper Gift for Youth’s sophistic Mind/Well tho’ he know how bootless ’tis to send/Aught that his own Head can comprehend.

Of Wit and Beauty keeps discreetly chary,/And forfeits Sense to the contemporary.

Devoid of Pomp as Woolworth’s or McCrory’s/And cerebral as Vogue or Snappy-Stories.

-H.P. Lovecraft, accompanying a volume of Proust sent as a gift to Frank Belknap Long for Christmas, 1928.

“Santa” opens fire at a California party, 3 dead. That’s what I woke up to this morning.

He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special.

Ill child gets a White Christmas.

Mom insists that hot daughters continue Christmas traditions and sit on Santa’s lap. Santa doesn’t mind.

You’re only making it worse on yourself.

Scientists warn that Christmas lights harm the planet.

Iran leader’s Christmas message decries bullies (like us).

The guy who translated “Silent Night” from German to English is buried in Jacksonville, Florida. You’re welcome for that update.

Americans still choose “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays.” I think I prefer to say “Happy Holidays” because it’s not X-mas for everyone (nor is it necessarily merry), but I tend to go with the “Merry Christmas” just out of habit, sadly.

“However – I am not quite such a solemn prig as you probably assume from my letters.” -Lovecraft, in a letter to a Mr. Harris, February 25 to March 1, 1929.

And happy New year. Let’s hope it’s a good one… without any fear.

All I want for Christmas is your two front teeth.

You think I’m joking, don’t you?

Most likely… I’m not.

NORAD Tracks Santa. You know, they’ll probably think he’s a terrorist and shoot him down or something. Maybe that’s just what I’m hoping for. Maybe.

Robot Christmas!

I am Saint Nick!

Do I Wish You A Merry Christmas?

A very special episode of Alf, “Alf’s Special Christmas.”

Anti-Christmas movies.

This is totally where my head is at now:

from here.

The Robot Chicken Christmas special.

Aimee Mann’s Christmas Carol.

Christmas music videos you totally need right now:

Wham! “Last Christmas

Band Aid “Do They Know It’s Christmas?

John Lennon “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” (Man, I wish that war was over, John.)

Sufjan Stevens “Put The Lights On The Tree

Bowie meets Bing. This still freaks me out a bit.

Santa Sutra: 9 Holiday Sex Positions That Will Stuff Your Stocking.

Oh, and immaculate conception? Give me a fucking break.

You know, I really like It’s A Wonderful Life. Sadly, one of the few rituals I used to have in a year was watching that movie whenever they’d air it on network TV around this time. I don’t own it, and I’d only watch it when it was played on TV. Appointment television at it’s finest. That movie is a classic for a reason. And you know what happens at the end of watching it? I fucking cry. I do. I really do. Well, no, I don’t. Maybe I do. None of your fucking business, alright? And Mr. Potter might have been right after all. Also, Donna Reed was hot.

It should be pointed out that Counterforce does not solely endorse Christmas as the ultimate end of the year holiday. In fact, other than the tame Santa stuff, we’re all pretty either atheists or agnostics or something far more narcissistic. But we do party like Catholic school girls. Oh yes.

“…there you are, reading your blog, enjoying your comic spread, and then there’s the Family fucking Circus in the bottom right corner just waiting to suck…”

Good night, Santa. Good night, Mrs. Santa’s sister.

Picking up the pieces

Hello friends, and most friends alike. The recent best of lists have just been great. But no list is complete with one’s own subjectivity, which is why I’ve decided to add on. I have no quarrels about any of those picks. In fact, I liked them so much I wanted to make my own.  These picks have been something I’ve listened to endlessly since the start of the year and feel would make other’s lives richer if they did the same. And this is where we shall begin.

Ladytron – Velocifero

One can only beg for an album like this. Ladytron’s previous work strived to be more electronic, and whilst this doesn’t fall far from the tree, they’ve managed to insert cute and catchy pop riffs into songs such as Ghost and Runaway. I fear for what their next work might be because of such a success like this. And by success, I mean something I couldn’t stop listening to for months. Incidentally, I saw them live before the cd even dropped in stores, so most of the songs on their set list where rather new. Their raw energy can not be matched on disc and such a fantastic light show can and most definitely will be compared with Pink Floyd. Yeah. I said it.

Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell

I wonder how old these guys can be. Their music, I’m sure, isn’t meant to appeal to someone of my age and stature, but it most definitely does. They sound like something 14 and 15 year old girls long to have in their life, but have not met one person who has appreciated their work as much as I have. When learning of their full length album coming out, I put their EP”s on repeat to get myself psyched. A lesson in crime and Smith have been worthy, but this trumps them both. As an added bonus you even get an extra disc full of a few remixed tracks when you purchase this cd. I’m sure few did though. I feel they are probably misunderstood on which direction to take their music. I mean, they must certainly want fans other than guys like me, right?

Sia – Some People Have Real Problems

I remember first learning about Sia. It was a cold, dark knight. Yeah, I spelled it. I was listening to a certain show my favorite radio station does for people like me who stay up past midnight. And one of her songs just popped right on it. I was thrust into spiraling emotions when hearing the sheer depth of her words. I was then put on a quest to find her music. Her cd had not yet been released in the U.S. Fuck, I though. It was ok, I got it eventually.  And then this came out. Her follow up to Colour the small one. I prefer the previous, but this just struck me in such a way I can’t explain. With tracks like Academia and Lentil, I just longed to listen to more. I even went so far as to buy her live album that came out between her last album and this one. Anything I could hear by this woman, I wanted. I missed a rare opportunity to see her live by waiting too long to purchase tickets. Apparently, I’m not her only fan as the single show I’ve ever seen her play in my region of the globe, was sold out. She is one of the few artists I would probably travel out of my town to see. And that’s saying a lot.

My Brightest Diamond – A Thousand Shark’s Teeth

One of my biggest obsessions is trying to remember how I found out about an artist. I discovered this wonderful little band in The Rolling Stone of all fucking places. They interviewed Colin Meloy of the Decemberists about something. This was a time when I would kill for new music, and once did, but that’s a different story. He mentioned My Brightest Diamond. He said it was a band he was listening to at the moment. Being really into the Decemberists at the time, I had no other option than to take poor Colin’s advice. And take it I did. I went through many hoops to obtain her first cd, which can still make a grown man cry. Whether that man is me, I can not say, but she has such a voice one can only dream about listening to. The kind of voice that makes you want to tell others about. Like I am now. When I gained covert information about a non-remixed follow up to her first cd Bring me the workhorse was coming out, I went ape shit. After months of waiting, this was the result. I always find it amazing when an artist touches my emotions perfectly with that one special song. On her previous album it was Gone away. On this fantastic record it was To pluto’s moon. I had the distinct pleasure of seeing her play this live. Even more impressive was the intro to the song. She used those things you wave around as a kid that makes those “whoosh, whoosh, whoosh” noises. They’re about a foot long, almost any color of your choice, ridges on the side. How amazing to use a childhood object to portray such a sadness that only an adult can feel. The only downside was her incredibly short set. Maybe 10, 11 songs. But no matter. Being able to catch her was a gift itself.

Health – Disco

Not too much to say about this band, because they don’t have much to say themselves. I find it hard to like a band with very few words in their music. Granted, they are a noise band, but I still feel that’s a little strange. What’s nice about this album is that this is most of their hits remixed by more vocal, lesser known bands/dj’s. Sadly, I prefer this cd to their only other one, Health. It’s probably a band’s worst nightmare to sound better remixed than their original recordings. But what can I say? They are a noise band after all. The remixes just add so much more… noise!

Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules and Love Affair

Probably the most baffling thing about the previous music blogs was not seeing this in there. With Crystal Castles and Cut Copy alike, Hercules and Love Affair takes such a bold move with their music by infusing it with little bits of disco and dance. I hate to categorize the music I listen to as dance, or disco for that matter, but this was a very danceable record. With hits such as Blind and Hercules Theme, one can’t help but get that tingly feeling in their leg. Which feeling is that? Well, it might be the feeling of an erection hitting your leg, which, for obvious reasons, I hope isn’t happening. Why, you ask? Well, the singer on a few tracks is Antony Hegarty from Antony and the Johnsons. Yes, that’s a man. Yes, that’s a very, very gay man. But, the tingly sensation I would hope you’d be getting is that of rhythm. A common feeling, yes, but one usually invoked when the music is good and the bitches are hot. While I know not of any hot bitches, it may be the good music. I can’t help but listening to this cd over and over. It’s a nice, fresh take on disco, which is such a worn out concept. Hopefully this band can sustain without the vocals of flamboyant male singers.

Lightspeed Champion – Falling Off The Lavender Bridge

Lightspeed champion isn’t anything new or original, but a very relaxing wave of rock. I don’t really know how else to categorize him. Recorded by Saddle Creek producer Mike Mogis. Saddle Creek, as we all know, also put out other great artists such as Bright Eyes, which Mike is a part of, The Faint, and Art in Manila. I imagine this was a very big change for singer Devonte Hynes, formerly of the english punk band the Test Icicles. He only played guitar for them. What made him branch and record his own album? Who knows? But I’m not complaining. I had this in my car for at least a month. I can’t tell you what it is about him that I just got addicted to, but I yearn for more.

Honorable mentions – Spoon, Morrissey, Atmosphere, She Wants Revenge, Vampire Weekend, and The Duke Spirit.

…For the rest of us.


Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.

Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?

Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us

The script to “The Strike” episode of Seinfeld.

How you can celebrate Festivus.

How to make a Festivus pole.

But just remember…

…Festivus isn’t over until you pin me!

My Year In Lists, part two: We’ll be the man with the broom if you be the guts of the room.

“Everything that has a beginning has an ending.”

Do you remember how bad the Lord Of The Rings movies were? If you read the books (and loved them, because that’s what happens when you read those books, I don’t care who you are), you knew they, the movies, were shit. Also, if you had taste, you hated those movies too (but that’s just a given), but do you especially remember how bad the last one was? we stole the line from the theatrical outhouse that was The Return Of The King because here we are, bringing you the epic-ness of a fantasy trilogy, all packed into the second of two (we presume, but who knows?) mega posts looking back on music from this past year.

You cannot pass… this up! And here we are, ladies and gentlemen, bringing you:


part two

Oh yes.

We’re leaving this list un-ranked and from that you can just assume that if the album has made the cut with us thus far, it’s just awesome and that’s that, right? Right. So let’s do this thing, shall we?

Santogold, Santogold.

Lollipop Gomez: If your music is featured on Gossip Girl, then you’ve arrived, baby. This is a great scene because I hate Dan Humphrey and want him to burn in a fiery crash.

Marco Sparks: I’m embarrassed to be quoting Entertainment Weekly here (it’s the kind of thing that douchebag Dan Humphrey would do), but I will with their statement about how “the album is hardly flawless, but in era that retro-fetishizes rock whitewashed pop, Santogold feels both raw and real.” Also, “L.E.S. Artistes” is just a great fucking song (about hipsters and scenesters). And I don’t want to forget to mention that Top Ranking, her mixtape with Diplo, is pretty fantastic too.

Beach House, Devotion.

Marco: This is an album that I love, but in a deeply melancholy sort of way. You know when you hear about a doomed love affair, always looking back at the person that’s no longer in your life, describing them almost as if they’re a ghost who never left? That’s what this album feels like to me, only in the present tense, with the falling embers of future sadness landing all around you.

No Age, Nouns.

Marco: Just a nice, simple, and fun guitar album. Poppy when it needs to be and grungy when it feels like. This is the band performing “Eraser” on the Craig Ferguson show and this is Brittany Julious talking about the album wonderfully as she always does.

The Kills, Midnight Boom.

Marco: You know, it doesn’t escape our notice that there’s a lot of dirty, sleazy guitar all over this list. We’re somewhat ruthlessly cultured people and I promise you we don’t always sit around awash in soundtracks to dive bars, but hot and trashy will always have it’s naughty appeal. Watch this video for “Last Day Of Magic” and just try and tell me you disagree. Just you try.

Here’s Brittany Julious’ wonderful write up on the album.

Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours.

And in a double whammy of weird wildness:

Deerhunter, Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.

Atlas Sound, Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel.

Marco Sparks: Two things. Firstly, I feel like no review of a Deerhunter (Peanut posted one of their videos last week) or Atlas Sound album can seem to escape mentioning Bradford Cox’s Marfan syndrome, which greatly contributes to his somewhat offputting physical appearance (he looks like a walking, talking freak indie messiah, like he should be in a robe and baptizing people in a river with Devendra Banhart), which is cool because I feel like his appearance contributes to his overall presence. You look at him and his image screams “Outsider!” to you and you believe that even more when you listen to his music, so strange and weird and haunting and perfect in all those regards. Secondly, it’s totally and horribly unfair of me to bunch these albums together, both spearheaded by Cox, because they’re completely different and yet compliment each other so nicely. Both have elements of ambient shoegaze drifting in and out of them and both sound like could be epic tales of love and longing and loss, sung by ghosts. One’s just a bit more rocking.

Hot Chip, Made In The Dark.

LG: Made In The Dark was my favorite this year and as my favorite, it’s hard to say why. It’s a dance party in songs like “Ready for The Floor” and “One Pure Thought” and it’s the perfect 3 am and a joint sound with “We’re Looking For A Lot of Love.”

Shugo Tokumaru, Exit.

Marco: This album came out last year in Tokumaru’s native Japan, but didn’t make it’s way over to our shores and into my brain until this year, and I’m incredibly thankful it did.  This is the gorgeous “Parachute” which kicks off the album:

There’s something delightfully atmospheric about this quirky feel good album, sung entirely in Japanese, and definitely carrying a lovely foreign-ness to it, but still feeling wonderfully universal in it’s tunes and harmony. This is something wonderful to get lost in.

Portishead, Third.

Marco: If I had to distill my appreciation for this album down to a simple sentence, it’d be: Totally worth the wait. I’d compare this album to finding a long lost obscure book by your favorite author whose works you discovered years ago… and then you found this. It’s challenging at first, but wonderfully so, maybe not picking up exactly where the previous works left off, but carrying that signature voice. Beth Gibbons’ beautiful and sad voice in this case. I can’t say enough wonderful things about an album that starts off with a little magic, jumps into a car chase, and then pummels me with it’s machine gun.

TV On The Radio, Dear Science.

Marco: An album I had no real expectations of and maybe that’s why it took me personally by surprise? I mean, I only kind of liked their last album, and, well, I really like this one. I’m trying to avoid the cliches you’ve heard about this band and this already, things like “art rock with a face” and “Prince-like,” but they’re accurate. This is a fun album, a smart album, a good album, a rocking album, a sexy album, and an album that can be enjoyed for a long time to come. That’s just my opinion, but maybe I just feel that way because it’s safe for me to do so?

THE Honorable (and maybe not so honorable) Mentions: Peter Bjorn & John, Beck, Death Cab For Cutie, Stars, Fleet Foxes, Deerhoof, NIN, Let’s Wrestle, Gang Gang Dance, Fennesz, Department Of Eagles, Nas (I may be the only person who liked this album, sadly, but I’m okay with that)(also, his mixtape with DJ Green Lantern was awesome too), Shearwater, Wale (which I’m both amazed and pleased ended up on Pitchfork’s best of list), Gnarls Barkley, MGMT, The Notwist, Marnie Stern, Abe Vigoda, The Helio Sequence, BSS presents Brendan Canning, Paavoharju, Fuck Buttons, Basia Bulat, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, Moscow Olympics, Q-Tip, Sam Sparro, Jay Electronica (but that doesn’t really count since I only just discovered him this year), Annie, Mogwai, Wolf Parade, The Cure, Elbow, Kleerup (everyone loves the Lykke Li on this album, myself included, but I think I like the Robyn track even more), School Of Seven Bells, Fucked Up, The Verve, David Byrne & Brian Eno (“The Bush Era was not a particularly hopeful time for many of us, Byrne writes in the liner notes to Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, “so where did all this exuberance and hope come from?”), Max Tundra, Between The Buried And The Me, Kelli Ali, Be Your Own Pet, Empire Of The Sun, Black Kids, Native Korean Rock, Protest The Hero, The Sea And Cake, Brazilian Girls, Tokyo Police Club, Foals, The Vivian Girls, Bon Iver (mayb? yeah, sure), and of course, Guns N’ Roses. That’s a whole lot of covering our asses right there, isn’t it? :)

Moscow Olympics “Ocean Sign” (mp3)

No Age “It’s Oh So Quiet” (Bjork cover)(mp3)

Ringo Deathstarr “Starsha” (mp3)

Beach House “You Came To Me” (mp3)

The Notwist “Good Lies” (mp3)

Passion Pit “Sleepyhead” (mp3)

Before we leave you with your mind completely blown by our excellent listing skills here, here’s Stereogum‘s 50 mp3s of the year and their 20 albums they’re most excited about in the new year. It’s an interesting list, including The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Doves, U2, and Lily Allen, of course, but surprisingly not including the new Andrew Bird album, Noble Beast, which I’ve actually heard and enjoy quite a bit, nor the next offering from Metric. Take that, Canadians. Then, one my favorite end of the year lists, The Onion‘s least essential albums of  2008. On top of it, Kanye’s possibly been caught lip synching and here’s one couple’s list of rock stars they’re allowed to sleep with.

And now we will depart, slipping out your back door, or slipping in your back door depending on the mood, and we’ll do so while humming our jam of the year: