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Archive for ‘Best of 2011’

The 15 Best Albums of 2011 that You Probably Will Not Like

December 21, 2011 By: Category: Best of 2011, Greatest Hits

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?”

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The Top 10 Horror Movies of 2011 That You Probably Didn’t See

December 13, 2011 By: Category: Best of 2011

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…

 

TOP TEN

10. RED STATE
Written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Trailer: http://bit.ly/vMIYiP

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.

9. INSIDIOUS
Written by Leigh Whannell. Directed by James Wan.
Trailer: http://bit.ly/uzDzkw

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…)