Okay okay okay. I’m late. We’re well into 2013 and I’m finally getting around to posting my favorite records from 2012. No excuses. I got kidnapped by a bear. That’s not an excuse, it’s just what happened. Luckily, I managed to escape. And then I ran immediately to the Internet and started typing up this list because one thing I will never do is let some traumatic incident with a stupid old grizzly bear stop me from writing about the records I love. That’s a promise.
13. Internet Forever – Internet Forever
I first heard “Break Bones” by Internet Forever forever ago in Internet time, back in 2009. It was catchy and charming and great, so I went onto this search engine thing I know about called Google and found 2 other songs by them, both of which were also catchy and charming and great. Here are 2 of those 3 songs.
I have some bad news to report, friends. We used the wrong kind of dirt in the Awkward Press content farm and all our writers died. I think it was the soil. It also could have been the thin, airless plastic box we made them work inside and the fact that our in-house cafeteria only served pencil shavings.
Our humble little farm.
So on to the next plan for bringing this crumbling blight of a web presence back into the public eye. In looking at our stats, it has become clear to me that people love two things: lists and horror. The perennial top two articles are our friend Clay McLeod Chapman’s “Top Ten Horror Movies That You Probably Didn’t See,” years 2011 and 2009. I will not be competing with Clay’s wonderful articles, because I don’t know the horror genre well enough to say anything that would add to the national discussion. Luckily there is plenty of horror to be found out there in the real world that can be fashioned into an arbitrary list, so without further ado, I present to you: The Top Ten Real Life Horrors.
Houseflies are the filthiest, most disgusting thing in the universe, and they are ALL AROUND US. They lay their eggs in shit. Their eggs hatch into squirmly maggots that get their kicks snacking on human flesh. They hang out on garbage and filth and then get their filthy garbagey feet all over your food. They vomit acidic saliva on their (your) food before they eat it and they spread tuberculosis and they look a fright. They taste with their feet, for Christ’s sake. That’s all the proof you need that God hates them. (more…)
At a certain point, you just have to say “fuck it.” Every year, I go through the records I picked up over the course of the previous 12 months and find a handful of albums I truly loved and a bunch of music I barely spent any time with. So I gather all the albums into a playlist and spend the last month of the year (which is usually December) furiously listening in the hopes that I will stumble upon a bevy of hidden delights that somehow remained hidden upon initial listens. And I listen to them all with clear eyes and a full heart and inevitably end up saying “fuck it” and writing down the records I liked before the end-of- year listening marathon began.
This year presented some particular difficulties because this is the year I became a dad. I don’t want to be one of those guys who becomes a dad and totally loses touch with new music, because music is still really important to me. True, I haven’t seen a band play all year. Ugh, I just wrote that and felt a little sick. But that makes sense because seeing a band means leaving the house at night when I would rather be sleeping. Listening to music, on the other hand, is something you can pretty much do during every hour of your waking life, particularly if you’re someone like me who sits in front of a computer all day and doesn’t ever need to talk to another human being. I hope for your sake you are not someone like me.
You can even listen to music with your kids, if you want. Although I also don’t want to be one of those guys who’s like, “my kids are only allowed to listen to the Velvet Underground and Captain Beefheart.” Because every kid needs to have his or her crap music phase, right? Thankfully my daughter is still at the age where I can listen to adult-oriented stuff in her presence without her bothering me all the time with questions like, “what’s a gat?” and “why is the woman in the song making those horrible moaning noises?” I mean, I turn it off when her ears start bleeding. I’m a very conscientious father.
But having said that, I didn’t really have the time to sit with records as much as I would have liked this year. And very few albums really blew me away, aside from my number one album, which is one of my very favorite albums of the last several years. With all those caveats in mind, I’m just going to say “fuck it” and present the fifteen records that did the best job of breaking through the clutter.
15. Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness
There are bands you want to fuck and bands you want to cuddle. Los Campesinos! is decidedly in the latter camp. But that’s okay … the band you want to fuck will only disappoint you and leave you miserable in the end. On the Campesinos! fourth record, they cover much of the same territory they’ve explored on their previous albums: heartache, loss, sorrow, and the impossibility of finding true love. The genius of the Campesinos! is that even when they’re nursing broken hearts, they still sound like they’re having a good time. Even if you’re not bowled over by their recordings, be sure to catch them live … if you can leave that venue without feeling like you’ve had a spiritual experience, I’ll give you your money back.
That’s not true. I won’t give you your money back. But I will be like, “whaaaaat?”
Rejoice, all ye connoisseurs de la decrepit! 2011 is coming to a close—and what a particularly petrifying year it has been! Let’s look back and give thanks for what has been a boon year for the macabre, arguably a step up from last year at least—what with the death of the Saw-franchise, a diminishing roster of remakes, and some superbly bloodcurdling flicks you most definitely missed at the multiplex. Here’s my top ten…
I know, I know—you don’t have to tell me. Kevin Smith made the list. As a Hostel retread, at least one-third of Red State fumbles for its torture porn aspirations—providing Smith’s dunderheaded high school horndogs some of his most humorless dialogue yet. But Michael Parks performance as ultra-fundamentalist Abin Cooper conjures up a cool-headed psychotic in the vein of Westboro Baptist Church’s pastor Fred Phelps mingled in with Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter. His fifteen-minute sermon at the center of Red State is worth the rental alone.
From the minds of Saw, fused together with the producers of Paranormal Activity, these two frighteningly successful franchises join forces to deliver a technical exercise in cribbing from the greats. Fans of Poltergeist should file a lawsuit, but I’ll argue that the first half of Insidious is a rather sturdy rift on the haunted house yarn, supplying an proper dosage of violin strings (and boy are they shrill), bait-and-switch Boo!-scares, and a decent heap of eeriness to thrill the kiddies for the film’s requisite 90-minute run-time. Let’s skip any discussion on Insidious’ latter half, shall we? When Lin Shaye pulls out the WWI-era gas mask and starts communing with the dead, you can almost hear the pinched warble of Zelda Rubinstein calling from beyond: Carol Anne? Tell her to go to the light! (more…)
In honor of our commitment to awkwardness in all things, I decided to create a very special list for 2010: the most awkward news events of the year. Why 8 instead of 10? Because 8’s a more awkward number.
So here, in my humble opinion, are 8 of the most awkward things that happened in 2010. In chronological order.
1. January: the tallest man-made structure ever built, the Burj Kalifa in Dubai, opens. This is awkward for two reasons: one, this tower is so much taller than absolutely every other building anywhere near it that it simply looks ridiculous; two, Dubai ran out of money while building it and had to turn to its neighboring Arab Emirate, Abu Dhabi, for finishing funds. As a result, it was renamed “Burj Kalifa” at the behest of the Abu Dhabi government. This is a little bit like building the tallest building in the world in New York and having to name it after the Canadian prime minister.
2. April: Volcanic ash from the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull interrupts air traffic across Europe for over a week. This is awkward both because it’s almost inconceivable that a word could have as confusing a spelling as “Eyjafjallajökull,” and also because it reminds us that Nature can still kick Man in the ass whenever it wants. (more…)
It’s that time of year again, folks. What would our end-of-the-year wrap-up be without a lil’ Top Ten Horror Movies of 2010 That You Probably Didn’t See?
Truth be told –- this year, it was pretty slim pickings for the genre. Rib-bone thin. The multiplexes presented a dearth of horror flicks worth leaving the house for. Venturing beyond the genre offered a few deadly diamonds-in-the-rough for those brave enough to go hunting for them – but they’re out there, believe you me, lurking within some of the furthermost sections of the video store. I can feel myself already catching heat from the die-hards for a few selections on this list, but let’s be completely honest with ourselves here: Some of the most unnerving, truly frightening, utterly engrossing horror films of the year wouldn’t even be considered quote-unquote horror by traditional genre standards. I dare you to defy my selections for the best horror films 2010 had to offer…
Buried, Splice, The Crazies, The Last Exorcism, The Children, Altitude, Survival of the Dead, Rec 2, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, The Eclipse, and The Horseman.
Written and directed by Adam Green.
Watch the trailer here.
Full confession: I am not a fan of Adam Green’s Hatchet films. At all. Reductive rather than resourceful, his lauded slasher re-hashes smack of microwaved leftovers from a Vorhees family Thanksgiving dinner circa Friday the 13th Pt. V. So – imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to encounter FROZEN. Coming in with the lowest of expectations, I was happy to discover a film that prefers patience over genre-pandering. Taking a very simple concept, a trio of friends stranded on a ski lift, Green goes for broke and milks every conceivable polar-moment for their blistering potential. Frostbite has never felt more palpable onscreen… or this much fun. The camera lingers on skin-in-distress to such an intense (zero) degree(s), it’s impossible not to feel one’s own flesh crackle while viewing it. Kudos to Green for favoring the simplicity of a humble story and telling it well, taking the physical limitations of his conceit and turning them into narrative strengths – which only makes the fact that FROZEN was book-ended between Hatchets, parts one and two, all the more disheartening. Back to the slasher re-treads, I guess… (more…)
2010! What a sneak surpriser of a year. Until I sat down and started compiling this list, I had a suspicion that 2010 had been kind of a bust. But once I really took a hard look at the records that came out over the last twelve months, I realized that this was, in fact, a kick-ass year for the art form known as music. In fact, I could expand this list to 25 records without batting an eyelash. But I won’t, because neither of us has the time. Or maybe I’ll just toss the final 10 in at the end as a bonus beat for all you hardcore readers who really want to know what’s up.
So then! On with the show!
15. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest Halcyon Digest is a difficult record to critique, because it sounds like a completely different album every time I listen to it. It’s not the kind of record that normally gets high marks from me … as an avowed fan of the pop hook, I generally gravitate toward music that gets stuck in my head. And every time I listen to Halcyon Digest I immediately forget what the songs sound like, making every listen a fresh experience. It has nothing to do with the hookiness of the songs … there are plenty of hooks, from the 60s radio shimmy of “Don’t Worry” to the Brit-pop of “Memory Boy” … but the hits rise up like sneaky venus flytraps out of the foggy audio swamp that permeates the record. Or swamp is a bad word, because that makes it sound like the record is muddy or bluesy, which it isn’t at all … if it’s muddy at all, it’s angel mud. And the venus flytraps are those Super Mario flytraps that climb up into the sky when you hit the right block.
(…and now one of those year-ending top-ten lists from guest contributor Mike Segretto of Psychobabble…)
I may purport myself to be some sort of authority on classic Rock & Roll, psych, pop, and punk records, but in reality, there are lots and lots and lots of them I’ve never heard. Nevertheless, I’m happy to say that I’m still discovering great old albums that are new to me, whether I’ve long heard about them but have yet to give them a spin or I’d never even been aware of their existences. Here are the ten finest retro-rock records that were new to me in 2010, presented in glorious chronological order…
1. We Are Ever So Clean by Blossom Toes (1967)
Having long read about We Are Ever So Clean, a real cult favorite of British psychedelia, I was a bit disappointed on first listen. “When the Alarm Clock Rings”, which concludes Rhino’s Nuggets II box set, was all I knew from Blossom Toes prior to hearing their only LP, so I was a bit taken off guard by how thoroughly daffy, and often cacophonous, it is. I’m glad I gave the record a number of additional spins. Now it sounds perfectly conceived, and that includes the more insane tracks, such as the borderline grating “The Remarkable Saga of the Frozen Dog” and “Look at Me I’m You”, which sounds like William Burroughs diced up the master tapes of Revolver, and reassembled them willy nilly. Still, the album’s best songs are its most straightforward. There’s the rousing “When the Alarm Clock Rings”, “I’ll Be Late For Tea”, a marvelous Kinks pastiche that fuses that band’s early heaviness with their mid-‘60s pastoralism, the groovy “Telegram Tuesday”, “What’s It For”, with its chugging cellos, and the Move-esque “I Will Bring You This and That”. Definitely the psychedelic find of the year.
2. Pandemonium Shadow Show by Harry Nilsson (1967)
It’s quiet out here today. Meet the Authors is over. We’ve already met ‘em. Well, most of ‘em. Some of them would rather you meet them in the pages of Awkward Two, which is just fine. It’s a good place to meet people. Did I mention that we’ve soft launched? We’ve soft launched. The big push comes next week, but we’re taking orders. This is the part where I get a little nervous, the part where we start taking people’s money.
Well, we need something, to keep with this nice stream of traffic we’ve been generating lately. So I propose a list of songs that get in our heads in certain situations. For example:
- Every time I buy an apple at the farmer’s market, I get Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” in my head. (“Give me spots on apples/but leave me the birds and the bees.”)
- There’s a Fountains of Wayne song called “Seatbacks and Traytables Up” that cycles through my head whenever I’m on a plane.
(Editor’s note: As the end of the year approaches, the Awkward contributors have been hard at work putting together their end of the year lists. In today’s installment, Honor offers some helpful advice on managing your New Year’s resolutions. Enjoy our other lists here.)
1. Improve Your Relationships
Trust me, I used to work above a place in Beverly Hills called Dr. TATTOFF: Wait until after the paternity test results come in to get that tattoo. Ballpoint pens have blue ink for a reason.
2. Exercise More
Medical fact: you burn calories by breathing, digesting food and excreting waste. Save exercise for when you’re dead and these methods are no longer an option. (more…)