Category Archives: Meaning of Life

25 Favorite Albums of 2009 (Chris)

The placement of the top 5 is absolute.  Everything else shifts around a bit. There were others, but these were the ones that left the biggest hole in my brain.  My apologies to Animal Collective.  I still love you (that new EP is great!), but I guess “MPP” didn’t stick with me like it did every other person in the world.  No EPs or singles (which leaves out a bunch of awesome dance and dubstep records, unfortunately).  I’m bummed that I STILL haven’t heard the new Fuck Buttons or Califone.  This was honed from a list of about 60, so if it’s on here, it’s worth your time (maybe).  Like Nas said, you can hate me now.

25. A Place to Bury Strangers – Exploding Head

24. Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs

23. Pan American – White Bird Release

22. The Phantom Band – Checkmate Savage

21. Junior Boys – Begone Dull Care

20. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz

18. Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Part II

17. Fever Ray – Fever Ray

16. The Juan Maclean – The Future Will Come

15. Khanate – Clean Hands Go Foul

14. Girls – Album

13. Atlas Sound – Logos

12. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm

11. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

10. Kylesa – Static Tensions

9. Future of the Left – Travels With Myself and Another

8. Wolves in the Throne Room – Black Cascade

7. Bat for Lashes – Two Suns

6. The Flaming Lips – Embryonic

5. William Basinski – 92982

4. Tim Hecker – An Imaginary Country

3. Mount Eerie – Wind’s Poem

2. Sunn O))) – Monoliths & Dimensions

1. Clark – Totems Flare

Are the Heene Boyz the New Beasties?

The Balloon Boy in a Few Years

The Balloon Boy in a Few Years

Today the world stopped what it was doing to watch a balloon fly across the Colorado sky.  Usually this would mean that the world was really, really stoned.  Turns out, this wasn’t entirely the case.

Now that Falcon Heene is a bonafide celebrity (and due to the Beastie Boys’ current hiatas), perhaps his brotherly rap group can finally get the respect it deserves.  I really don’t know how the following video still has less than 3,000 views.  IT SAMPLES COLD!!!  These kids are going to be huge.

*UPDATE: Apparently the view count has gone from less than 3,000 to OVER 124,000 in just a couple of hours.  Ladies and gentlemen: meet the new viral sensation!

Chris Piercy

Is Hannah Montana Better Than Indie Rock?

On October 5th, Vampire Weekend (or Vamp Wknd as they will forthwith be known) leaked the first song off their upcoming album, Contra, to the internets.  An album which is apparently being released on Ralph Lauren’s upstart label Yachts What She Thread.

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In July, which totally seems like three years ago in Internet Time, Miley Billy Ray Ray Hannah Montana Cyrus released her hit single “Party in the U.S.A.”; a song to soundtrack her fashion-forward Wal-Mart clothing line.

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In “Horchata” and “Party” we have two equally divisive pop songs: one approved for rice milk drinking indie preps and one specially formulated for Dr. Thunder chugging “regular kids”.  Both are completely horrendous and that’s the end of the story. You can go back to playing your Nintendo now.

Well, not exactly.  I recently loaded both songs onto my Sony Walkman and spent an afternoon playing them ad infintium.  Both ditties have ridiculously catchy choruses that all the q-tips  in the world couldn’t scrape from my brain.  They also each have intermittently annoying verses that make me want to search out the nearest guillotine.

Here are the opening lines to Vamp Wknd’s song:

“In December drinking horchata/I’d look psychotic in a balaclava”

Here are the opening lines to Miley’s tune:

“I hopped off the plane at LAX/with a dream and a cardigan”

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take white girls singing about cardigans over white dudes singing about balaclavas any day.  I like cardigans.  It’s a sensible outfit for sensible kids hopping off planes.  And I’ve TOTALLY hopped off of planes at LAX!  I can relate to that!  Drinking horchata while wearing a balaclava might be psychotic, but I’m more concerned about how annoying it sounds to sing about doing so.

Our Literacy Trumps Your Record Sales

Our Literacy Trumps Your Record Sales

Some have claimed that Vamp Wknd are merely a pleasant musical representation of how small our world has become.  These dudes listen to NPR.  They probably own some bitchin’ high life vinyls.  I’m sure they voted for that guy from Kenya.  I’m down with all of that, and I don’t begrudge their Ivy League education.  If I had also gone to Columbia I probably wouldn’t be writing a blog about Hannah Montana right now.  I found their debut album to be pretty nice, but did I suddenly start listening to Vamp Wknd more than Graceland or Hall & Oates?  No.  Maybe if they had mustaches.

My Dad Can Beat Up Paul Simon

My Dad Can Beat Up Paul Simon

I have never watched more than 38 seconds of an episode of “Hannah Montana”, but I’m certainly aware of its existence and cultural importance.   Miley Cyrus is a huge pop culture figure and a young woman whose music I had somehow managed to avoid…even in my occasional trips to Wal-Mart.  But when someone writes a song this catchy, that makes a meta reference to working your hips to Jay-Z, eventually it is going to reach my ears.  Like yeaaahhhh.  And I have to admit that, between these two songs, “Party in the U.S.A.” somehow seemed less annoying than “Horchata” after double-digit listens.  Maybe it’s because I’m lactose intolerant and don’t really care for rice.

You can download “Horchata” here.

I don’t love or hate either of these tunes.  They both exist in the part of my brain that I call “The Muppet Zone”: a place that is repelled and attracted by cute/annoying pop culture.  Sometimes these songs are Kermit and sometimes they are Miss Piggy, but the entire time my mind is being critiqued by Waldorf and Statler.

I come away from my time spent digesting these songs asking myself if catchy indie pop is really any more valid than catchy mass-marketed tween pop.  I guess the only thing that remains certain in the world is that Billy Ray Cyrus WILL sleep with your wife.  That’s a world I can handle.

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Chris Piercy

DVD Pick: “Old Joy” (2006)

Since Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (Will Oldham) has a great new album out (Beware) and is on the current cover of my favorite music magazine (Wire), I decided to finally get around to watching this movie.  Well, plus there is that whole beef with Wes Anderson*.  Old Joy is a simple meditation on growing up and growing apart that I guarantee will make you book a camping trip as soon as possible.

*And he does have a point.  I agree that American cinema has a tendency to use pop music as a crutch that the great European directors don’t seem as likely to rely upon.  That’s a different post though.

Chris

Film: Is The “Crank” series the grind cinema for our time?

I’ve spent the past 4 1/2 years studying film. This past year, my hard work was rewarded with a framed piece of paper that solidifies this. And pretentious babbling on our own blog is going to be the only way I use said degree.

One thing I took away from my studies is a new-found appreciation for, what is largely know as, trash cinema. How did I spend my past two Saturday nights? Why, the director’s cut of The Toxic Avenger and re-mastered edition of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, that’s how! Grind films are as horrific as they are entertaining to me. They present the kind of freedom/surrealism in cinema that Salvador Dali could appreciate despite the fact that someone like Frank Capra would be puking all over his shoes. Counter-culture films are how I like to see them.

Grind films were the most prevalent in the 70’s and 80’s, then kind of got washed away for a few years. There were some cases that popped up in the 90’s (I would argue that some of Lynch’s films, ie Lost Highway, share some similarities), but for the most part, it had nearly dissipated. Thus, when Crank first appeared in 2006, a dim light had be re-ignited. Hell, Crank was so extreme, it flared up like a fire in Backdraft.

Sexploitation, class abuse, racial stereotypes, and top it all off with a bit of the old ultra-violence. It was an immoral, cinematic car wreck that had me calling “Shotgun!” I loved it! A true escapist film. A sympathetic hitman who, when poisoned with “The Chinese Shit,” is forced to keep his adrenaline up in order to stay alive…or at least long enough to get his revenge! It was the kind of film that hasn’t been seen in cinemas for a long time.

Crank was filled with send ups for a generation fueled by video games, blood-thirsty media, energy drinks and Google. A grind film in every way possible. Last weekend saw the release of it’s hellbent brother, Crank: High Voltage. After surviving the events of the first film, Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) returns to hellish streets of Los Angeles. This time, someone’s taken his heart, and replaced it with an artificial one, and he has to keep it electrically charged until he can track down his original ticker. For the next 80+ minutes, the film somehow manages to offend, entertain, and disgust more than the original.

Crank has kicked opened a door that was on it’s way to being dead-bolted. So, the question is, “What comes next?” I’m hopeful that another entry in the series is on the way, but what about the rest of Hollywood? With studios like Lionsgate and Rogue, true genre pictures have a haven, but it’s not a very lucrative one. In the wake of a water-boarding administration, can Americans seek refuge in the likes of characters like Chev Chelios and The Toxic Avenger? Or are we afraid that Jack Bauer is sitting two rows behind us?

-Chase

Nirvana – “Territorial Pissings” (Live on Jonathan Ross)

Today marks the 15th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death.  Like most of you reading this, Nirvana was a substantial reason for why I love music so much today.

I was channel-surfing at my aunt’s house when it was announced that Kurt’s body had been found, and that moment carried quite a bit of weight throughout my adolescence.  If you think it makes you cooler to pretend to retroactively hate on Nirvana, fuck off.

Chris

Last Weekend’s Party Pics

You know all those blogs postin’ pics of coked up girrrrls and boyyyyys in fancy dancy hipster swag?  Yeah…we don’t know those people.

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Chris