My Year In Lists, part one: Are we human or are we dancer?

Well, the year is even closer to an end than it was before, and since we’ve been threatening it for a while now, prepare thyself for…


part one

Why would there be more than one part? Because while it’s been a kind of not quite fantastic year for music, there have some good albums this year, so we’ve decided to split this up a little. On Monday, we’ll give you the official Best Of The Best, but today, we break down for you, by category, some runners up…

(A much simpler way to sum it up would be… today we’re human. And next week? Dancer. I think.)(LG: Or Danza? )(MS: Hold me closer, Tony Dannzzaaaa!” Okay, sorry.)

Alright, enough bullshit. Let’s do this!

Best album to pretend you’re in a brooding French film about a sad love affair:

M83, Saturdays=Youth.

Lollipop Gomez: And not just any love affair. The saddest one. The film will have a bunch of long, one take shots of you walking down a corridor with a blank expression on your face, while you flash back to all the amazing sex you had, that you’ll never have again. And we’ll follow you into your apartment, where only your cat will greet you and you’ll sink into bed and listen to this album in the dark while staring at the ceiling, snorting a line of Xanax and falling asleep. Yes, I just described every single day of my life.

Marco Sparks: But in the 1980s. Hello, Molly Ringwald-ish girl on the cover!

Best album by an artist that I used to consider wack and probably should still:

Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III.

Marco: Others have have put the surprising effectiveness of Lil Wayne into verbal context much better, so I’m not even going to try. That’s just an invite to fall flat on one’s face. Instead, I’ll sum up this artist and this album on a very personal level: Lil Wayne is the Riki-Oh of the rap game!

LG: All I could ever hope to say about Lil Wayne is summed up beautifully in my favorite essay of the year, I Will Forever Remain Faithful by David Ramsey.  His amazing single “Lollipop” is definitely my favorite song of the year (why? because well… shorty wanna thug? bottles in the club). It’s also where I got my Counterforce nom de plume.

Best album to autotune your broken heart to:

Kanye West, 808s & Hearbreak.

LG: My brother has listened to this non stop for several days now, so I disagree on principal. But Kanye provided some of the best LOLs of the year with his blog. To wit, a quote from my favorite entry:

“I am  sick of negative  people who just sit around trying 2 plot my downfall… Why????  I understand if people don’t like me because I like me or if people think tight clothes look gay or people say I run my mouth to much,  But this Bonnaroo thing is the worst insult I’ve ever had in my life. This is the most offended I’ve ever been… this is the maddest I ever will be.  I’m typing so fucking hard I might break my fucking Mac book Air!!!!!!!!

Best sugar sweet Swedish import you can sing and dance along to with little to no shame:

Lykke Li, Youth Novels.

Marco: I think I’ll speak for Lollipop and myself here and put this simply and succinctly: Just listen to this album. And then you’ll feel it. And then you’ll know what all the people are talking about. And here’s Brittany Julious talking about just that.

Best album to do blow to in the bathroom of a hipster club while wearing dirty skinny jeans:

Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles.

LG: I love this shit. It is sweaty dancing in a bar with a plastic cup of gin and tonic in my hand, wailing my hair around. It’s waiting forever to use the bathroom at a stinky club and finally forcing the dudes fucking in there to get the hell out. It’s making out in the photobooth, fingerless Marc by Marc Jacobs striped gloves, drinking coffee on a walk of shame home at 5 am. It’s youth and energy and dark and all that entails.

Marco: When I first glanced at the above paragraph, the only words I saw were “finger” and “fucking” at first. But I could not agree more with Lollipop. This is (controversial) danceable video game music gone crazy and then it was used perfectly in an episode of Skins, which I loved. I know, I know. Shut up about Skins, already.

Best album that’s been called James Joycean in someone’s end of the year list:

Girl Talk, Feed The Animals.

LG: I guess we’re required to like this, huh? I like the mashup of the 90s hits. I personally have never forgotten Here Comes The Hotstepper. I’m glad to see someone else still remembers.

Best indie dance pop album with a touch of the shoegazery:

Friendly Fires, Friendly Fires.

Best album by a great rapper going electrotechnotastic:

Common, Universal Mind Control.

Marco: It missed it’s originally intended summer release date (and thus vacated it’s original title of Invincible Summer) because Common’s becoming a movie star, but this album still has some hot shit on it.

Best Canadian post-punk caterwaul dissonant soundscape album:

Women, Women.

Marco: For some reason, when people say to me, “Hey, this album sounds like the end of the world,” I really pay attention. Well, does this sound like the end? Maybe only just a little, but in a lovely, poppy sort of way. (I should probably make special honorable mentions for Chad VanGaalen’s album and the Azeda Booth album here, too.) This is their myspace page.

Best Stereolab album of the year:

Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, Stereolab, Chemical Chords.

Best album that I should mention here because I don’t see it mentioned anywhere else and that’s a shame, a real shame:

The Roots, Rising Down.

Marco: As with the last few albums by Jimmy Fallon’s upcoming Max Weinberg Seven, this is not a chill album, but it is a good album, and a tense one, dealing with the racism in the music industry, how fucked up the world is, and a fin de siècle vibe that’s been floating around for a while. The title comes from William T. Vollmann’s massive Rising Up And Rising Down: Some Thoughts On Violence, Freedom, And Urgent Means, and it’s fitting since The Roots have always been about the “urgent means” in our culture.

Best double header by the international tweexcore underground:

Los Campesinos, Hold On Now, Youngster… and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed.

Marco: Oh, you crazy fun Welsh bastards. Congrats to you for not only putting on a super fun debut album, that’s intensely and immensely likable despite of or maybe because of it’s nuclear level pretentiousness, but then to follow it up with a high quality debut mere months later. Brilliant good fun.

Best Icelandic post-rock super folk party:

Sigur Rós, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (which translates as With Buzzing In Our Ears We Play Endlessly).

Marco: I honestly don’t know what to say about this band that hasn’t been said before, but better. There’s no super epic “Glosoli” or “Staralfur” here, but maybe that’s because this album feels slightly more grounded, somewhat more intimate, and a tad skittish in a really fun way. Plus, any album that necessitates this perfect NSFW video is always aces in my book.

David Byrne & Brian Eno “Home” (mp3)

Friendly Fires “I’m Good, I’m Gone” (Lykke Li cover)(mp3)

Friendly Fires (ft. Au Revoir Simone) “Paris” (Aeroplane remix)(mp3)

Stereolab “Three Women” (mp3)

Women “Group Transport Hall” (mp3)

Azeda Booth “Ran” (mp3)

Music news: U2 announce the title of their new album (fucking finally), and Brian Eno is going to score Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. Brian Eno is going to jump Peter Jackson’s not so lovely bones. There. I Said it. There’ll probably not be a second Postal Service album (any time soon), Andy Samberg talks about the upcoming album from The Lonely Island, and Sparks (the liquid cocaine) is dead, long live Marco Sparks?

The Onion AV Club‘s celebrity guest list of best albums of the year. Also, the AV Club talking about the most awesome-ist band names this year. Here’s a nice collection of end of the year lists for just about everything and Stephen King lists some 70s music and some sleaze rock in his top albums of the year, while calling Girl Talk just as dense as Ulysses, but you can dance to it (see above), and citing AC/DC, Buckcherry, and The Pretends as his top albums of the year. Wikipedia is nice enough to give you a rundown of music in 2008, and here’s This Recording‘s top 20 albums of the year, Rolling Stone‘s top 50, and, of course, Pitchfork’s top picks for individual best songs of the year and top 50 albums. All of these lists are decent attempts at being the definitive subject, but we’ll see you back here on Monday for the real deal, yes? Oh yes :)

It was I who was looking at her for the first time.

I’m sure that The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button is going to be a fine movie (read: probably not totally horrible). Fincher, despite maybe not capitalizing on his talents and seizing opportunities like he should (and wasting time befriending jackasses like Fred Durst), is still a fine director. And Brad Pitt is Brad Pitt, you know? Angelina and he may be their own walking, talking tabloid franchise and have a complete little league team living under their roof, but he’s still a solid actor, right? Her too, besides the dreck she sometimes lowers herself too. But still, the trailer for Button freaks me out.

Why? Plain and simple: The images of Pitt as a tiny old man, thanks to movie magic special effects. It throbs the vein of two of the things that scare me the most in this world: old people and midgets. Combine them and the hair on my body parts stands up and tries to strangle me with fright.

The sad thing is that I sit here, ruminating on that, and I wonder to myself if the original short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald is in the public domain (a quick check tells me that it was published in 1922, so yeah, that’s public domain). I have to remind myself that “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button” is by F. Scott, and not James Thurber like I always want to think it is. Maybe I’m getting “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty” and it confused, maybe? Who knows, but now I’m thinking of one of my favorite Thurber stories, for some reason, which I’ll happily share with you thanks to the beauty of fair use:

The Little Girl And The Wolf

by James Thurber

One afternoon a big wolf waited in the dark forest for a little girl to come along carrying a basket of food to her grandmother. Finally a little girl did come along and she was carrying a basket of food. “Are you carrying that basket to your grandmother?” asked the wolf. The little girl said yes, she was. So the wolf asked her where her grandmother lived and the little girl told him and he disappeared into the wood.

When the little girl opened the door of her grandmother’s house she saw that there was somebody in bed with a nightcap and nightgown on. She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

(Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowasdays as it used to be.)

How very true.

I’d love to share my other favorite Thurber story with you, but I don’t want to push the limits too much. But it’s a classic, so most likely, you’ve read it before. It’s “The Unicorn In The Garden,” which I’m happy to report that you can read right here.

Other stories I’d like to share with you at the moment (some in the public domain and some not):

The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.

The Bet” by Anton Chekhov.

Lamb To The Slaughter” and “Man From The South” and pretty much anything from Someone Like You or Switch Bitch by Roald Dahl. Oh, and “Beware Of The Dog.”

The Lady Or The Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton, and “The Discourager Of Hesitancy.”

The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin.

The Birthday Of The Infanta” by Oscar Wilde.

Araby” by James Joyce. And, of course, “The Dead

Eyes Of A Blue Dog” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which starts out like this: And then she looked at me. I thought she was looking at me for the first time. But then, when she turned around behind the lamp and I kept feeling her slippery and oily look in back of me, over my shoulder, I understood that it was I who was looking at her for the first time.

Here’s a bit on other adaptations of the Little Red Riding Hood story. And The Onion‘s best films of 2008. Salon reviewed The Wrestler and this is Slate‘s best books of the year list. Oh, and this is Stephen King’s top ten films of the year, a list that literally includes Death Race and The Ruins on it, a list on par with how horrible his selections for top albums of the year, but that’s a whole other shitty story. And here’s a bit on the daily writing routines of  science fiction writers. Until next time, beware the big bad wolf out there, kids.