Monday, January 31, 2005

____ of the Week/Feedback/Randomness

Song of the Week - "Carrot Rope" - Pavement
URL of the Week - - the website for the world's greatest radio show, This American Life. Check out EVERY show they've done via RealAudio. I can't recommend this highly enough.
Quote of the Week - "I have to remember I'm not at school" - Armac being a dirtbag
Away Message of the Week - "CHILDREN" - Ken Beck, who has had the same one every day he's worked at a school
Television Event of the Week - This AWESOME lecture i caught about the Big Bang Theory - i'm totally serious
Meal of the Week - The self proclaimed "Schmorgasborg" at the Queensbury Hotel
Letdown of the Week - Me being a predictably shitty skiier
Beatles Song of the Week - "I Need You"


Feedback from "Dear Landlord"

(no one noticed that i nicked this title from a Dylan song - uncultured swines!)

Anonymous said...
I am NOT a ho!


BVS - do you prefer tramp?

Anonymous said...
Oh man this was fuckin' hilarious rant-action. Am I allowed to say fuckin' on this site? I am pretty sure you have dropped the F-bomb, but now that we're on these reply-page, I can't check. I guess we'll see, shant we?As addendum to subject 1, I would like to present that the children of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore are named Scout, Rumer, and Tallulah.Also, I would like to apologize for laughing my ass of at this rant, because these things are doubtlessly quite the hassle on you.


BVS - Please Sean, i post these because laughter is the greatest medicine, and i have always had a secret ambition to be a pharmacist.

Anonymous said...
For the millionth time get the damn dog whistle. It may seem cruel at first, but it's a form of conditioning for the pooch

oh and also, i hit the "next blog" button on the top right hand corner and got this:


BVS - the dog whistle is a brilliant idea, but i'm reluctant to do it because i'm going to have to hear the dog barking even more. Yes, 4am, during dinner, and when her family is over will make the barking hillarious, but still noisy. And that blog is fantastic.

Feedback from "It's Educational!"

Anonymous said...
Pixies note - I was at Dee's on the South Side last night when the Pixies came on the jukebox, I squealed like a little girl.Kind of relating to the whole red state thing, are you pissed off reading about how people are mad that "The Passion of the Christ" wasn't nominated for best picture? Of course they believe it is Hollywoods bias towards Christians. I think it might just be The Academy's bias against nominating average films for their highest award. (Of course there are examples going against that as well... Gladiator) What are your thoughts on these peoples complaints?

- Ed

BVS - Ah, Dee's, my second favorite establishment on the Southside. Next time i'm in town, we have to hit up there and Jerome's for some nectar from heaven. And i think that the Passion of the Christ and Farenheight 9/11 both suffered the same fate for essentially the same reasons. 1) the people who were old school, pre-Vatican II Catholics before, or who were already voting against Bush, LOVED the films. However, this is like wondering why the Grateful Dead never crossed over to the easy-listening crowd - because only stupid stoners liked their music - "normals" didn't. Well, Joe Sixpack who is a Protestant middle of the road politico doesn't want to see either one of these films. And if he did, he'd probably be disappointed. These were both "good" films that certain groups had "great" experiences with - i've had great experiences with Death Wish, but you don't see me crying that Bronson wasn't given an Oscar for it.

Dave said...
Hey B, It's funny that you talk about the gayness of SpongeBob. Here's a site that I think you will fancy.More SpongeBob silliness.Make sure you check out the video section of College Humor and look for "the Gayest Ref". It would even make Hitler laugh. (lil' joke there cuz Hitler was a closeted Homosexual)Anyways, good luck skiing. Have fun. Don't fly into a tree. And talk to you "Blogmaster".

BVS - Ah, Hitler humor - the great uniter.

Erin said...
Clearly you do not recall the VERY similiar forward sent around in highschool involving the sesame street gang. Things are only funny when they're original (or when it's me saying your jokes)

BVS - I think this is better written than the Sesame Street FWD, plus it has a more colorful cast of characters.



Name the movie: "Stop your job, look at the insenstive man! That's what they're paying you for!"

I really love Netflix with all of my being.

I'm almost as bad of a skiier as i am an ice skater, but not that bad. Nothing i do is that bad.

I neglect my banjo too much - so i'm making a pact that February will be "use the banjo more efficiently" month

Thursday, January 27, 2005

It's Educational!

Sometimes you can hear/know/love a song for years before it really sinks in. I'm sure you all know what i'm talking about here - you could write out the lyrics, and tell someone what it is about, but one day it just hits you differently. Well, last night that happened to me with the song "U-Mass" by the Pixies. As the title implies, this is a song about the University of Massachusets. However, when you really inspect the lyrics, it really is the perfect anthem of every Northeast liberal arts university:

"In the sleepy west
Of the woody east
There's a valley full
Full o' Pioneer
And they're not just kids
To say the least
We've got ideas
To us that's dear
Like capitalist
Like communist
Like lots of things
You've heard about
And redneckers
They get us pissed
And stupid stuff
It makes us shout!
Oh dance with me
Oh don't be shy
Oh kiss me cunt
Oh kiss me cock
Oh kiss the world
Oh kiss the sky
Oh kiss my ass
Oh let it rock
Of the April birds
and the May bees
Oh, baby

It's amazing how those few words can really sum up the typical white college student's experience in a blue state.

Speaking of blue and red states, everyone and their sibling has something to say about SpongeBob being outed before he was ready. Obviously, this is horseshit. Many smart people have already commented on this, but by far the funniest account of it happens right here:

I'm going skiing this weekend - i hope i don't pull a Sonny Bono!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Dear Landlord...

Dear Landlord,

Hi! It's Brian, your tenant in the other half of your duplex. I have a few complaints that i'd like to make known now, as i have just passed the 6 month mark on living here.

1 - Silence your dog.

Now, i am the biggest dog lover in the world, but this thing has got to shut the fuck up at some point. I mean, the dog barks constantly, at nothing. Sometimes when i close the oven, he barks. Other times i'll turn the TV on, and that will set about a 20 minute barking spell if no one is home in your unit. How do i propose you silence your dog? Any way possible. I don't condone killing it, but kicking its ass and ripping out its larynx sound perfectly reasonable to me. I just lowered the blinds on my window and he barked. Plus, his name is Christopher - what kind of name is that for a dog? Dogs should be named the things you'd name your kids if you were a celebrity and could get away with ridiculous things like naming your child Prince.

2 - Lawn Ornaments = White Trash

I don't care how nice you think the little gnomes, ducks and does look on our lawn, they make us officially white trash. Not only that, but you keep them up during the winter, when snow covers them and makes them look even stupider. Now it just looks like some moron tossed random oversized hummels into the snow - which, come to think of it, is pretty much what happened. Here is photo evidence of how stupid this looks :

While walking to my front door to take that picture, the dog started to bark.

3 - False Advertising

Advertising that your apartment for rent has a "working washer and dryer" would imply that the washer and dryer work. Oh lordy, is that not the case. The washing machine jams if anything more than 3 or 4 items are placed inside of it, and on top of that, the dryer took over 2 hours to dry 4 pillow cases that i had put in there last week. This is not my definition of a successful washing/drying situation. And remember how you blamed me for not cleaning the lint trap, only to reveal that the link trap was replaced by piece of a screen door? That was classic.

Also, if the stove/oven is plugged in, there is no way to stop it from BEEPING ever 59 minutes, until you set the timer back at 59 minutes. This isn't even when the oven is on, just if it is plugged in. I have had at least 5 people inspect this (including the work matinence man who used to work in the appliance department at Wal-Mart), and all their conclusions are the same - it is a falty range. Also not noted in the listing!

Oh, and the carpet used to smell like cat piss until i Febreezed the shit out of it.

4 - The Internet

How come you and your wife have no idea about the internet? And i'm not talking about being a whiz at it or anything, but just general knowledge of what it is. Both of you looked dumbfounded when i explained that no, i did not have 2 cable television lines coming in, but one cable tv line and one internet line. "Inter-net?," you pondered. Yes, the invention that has changed the world more in the last 10 years than just about anything else save cell phones (which also confuse you to no end - you don't understand how my cell phone doesn't have an Oakland prefix since i LIVE in Oakland).

5 - Simple Physics

If you have the TV up so loud that i can hear it in the other unit, then is closed captioning really needed? I would think that if you had them both on, you'd be confused as the captioning takes a good 10-15 seconds to catch up to the talking heads, so you're hearing it at 12:01:00 and reading it at 12:01:15. I don't know about you, but that would drive me nuts. So, the scenario must follow as such: either you don't read the captions or you don't hear the volume. So, ELIMINATE ONE OF THEM. I sympathize with the hard of hearing, but this is just pointless. You don't see people who are legally blind sitting an inch from the screen while blasting the volume, do you? NO, because that would solve nothing. This is not a one time occurance either - whenever i have to venture over to that barky, old person smelling hovel, the TV is up full blast and the closed captioning is on.

I hope that you consider these suggestions and work through them so that the next tenant does not have to deal with these little perdicaments.


PS. For the 5th time, i have never flushed condoms, tampons or paper towels down the toilet as you insist i do every time. Trust me, i would love to do nothing more than clog up my own toilet and make my sink gurgle like a motherfucker every few hours, but i sadly am not responsible. Perhaps it was the ho who lived here before and left two of her thongs in the barely working washer.

Monday, January 24, 2005

______ of the Week +Some Feedback Answered

Song of the Week - "There Is No There" - The Books
URL of the Week -
Quote of the Week - "I knew you were going to do this. You are dead to me. Dead like Jen..." - Matt Popovich
Away Message of the Week - from the lovely Ed Kelly - "All I want to do is watch "The Price is Right" but I can't becasue that assmunch Bush is on."
Television Event of the Week - I Love the 90s Part Deux - it slowed my Netflix queue down to a crawl
Meal of the Week - Pizza w/ Erin last night, and then a Chipwich
Let down of the Week - The Mets not getting Carlos Delgado
Beatles Song of the Weel - "Don't Pass Me By"

Ok, here is my favorite part of the old rant, and that is responding to the feedback!


renegadeprincess said...

Eternal Sunshine was def a kick-ass movie. Wouldn't it be sweet if we really could delete people from our memories?

B - i don't think so. what i took from the movie was that we forget the really beautiful, nice moments when they are clouded by anger/sadness. if we have patience and wait out the anger/pain, we will still have those beautiful memories that would be erased.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you put Shaun of the Dead on your list of films or else I was going to have to call you on it. Enjoyed the rant as usual, nothing to bitch and moan about on my end of things.
Yes, the freak in the movie theatre. I wanted to tell him, just to piss him off, that Marvel Comics sucks, even though I was wearing a Captain America logo shirt that day (not as dorky as it sounds folks, it's just his shield on the chest of the shirt, but didn't really feel like getting into a whole fanboy argument cause comic fans can be annoying.
For your Top 10 films of 2005, will you be putting any of my films on that list? Come on baby, SPACE WOLF! You know you loved it.

B - Unfortunately, unless you and Rich re-make Space Wolf in '05, it is not eligable, as only new films are up for my lists. But i did enjoy Space Wolf a great deal.

Anonymous said...

I saw the film that Larry King was so excited about (The Phantom of the Opera). All I really remember is that a kid with Tourette's let out 4 blood curderling screams during the most quiet part of the film and that Joel Shumacher doesn't appreciate the difference between screen and stage acting.
The Rant in blog form is much like TV fast food commericals, I'm loving it!!

B - Glad you're behind the move Eddie. Other THT members aren't so much (wait and see).

Vinny said...

A.) Everything stated in your reasons why this is a blog now is all the reasons to have a blog. You can call it the rant in blog format but its still a blog and you LOOOOOVVVVEEEE it so dont even play like you don't. Biznatch!
b.) No Napolean Dynamite? I see how it is! I see.
c.) I HEART Blogs!

B - A few people commented on my lack of Nap. Dyno on my top 10 list - well eat my ass! Was it funny? Yes. Was it better than any of the films on the list? No! Would it be #11 on my list? No! Maybe #13 or 14, but no higher. Deal with it folks - it was funny, but its not a classic.

Erin said...

First I beat you in trivial pursuit:book edition now you get a blog-2005 is the best year ever!
I agree with Eternal Sunshine being the best movie of the year. It even makes my top 5 romantic movies ever list.

I don't even think I saw 10 new movies this year, but I'll agree with Vinny that Napoleon Dynomite should be on your list. But do whatever you want to do, gosh!

B - I want a rematch in TP:BE, as i WILL i schooled you at TriBond yesterday.

Queen D The Original Southern Diva said...

Technically that artist is called "Flava Flav" and I am making your blog the blog of the day. I know where you're coming from regarding the HTML stuff, but I have found that blogger is the lesser of the evils when it comes to blogging tools and I've tried a number of them.
You can view your link at

B - Thanks D, and sorry for the typing error - i know his name is Flava Flav, but when he does his trademark shout, he says FLAV-ER FLAV, not FLAV-A Flav, and that is why i was confused. Welcome to the rant!

Ryan McIntyre said...

You sold out faster than a supply Tickle-Me-Elmo's at Christmas of 96. I am ashamed...But I am going to try to see all of your movies you've selected because although I am ashamed, I respect your taste. Garden State here I come...
PS- No Harold and Kumar? Napoleon Dynomite? Wait til I'm done training to be a cage fighter, I'm gonna kick your ass, right after I beat you in the crave case challenge.

B - Still haven't seen Harold and Kumar because a certain someone decided that his sister was more important than watching that with me...

Eileen said...

I have to agree with Erin, first she kicks your ass book style, then Vinny and Steve kicked your ass pop culture style and now you're blogging it up with the best of us! Although I must say I prefer the Rant in mail form, I think this will work out for me eventually. (The blog form is like Jon Stewart on the Daily Show -- one day I'll realize I was a fool for ever thinking the original is better! Of course THAT'S something you don't forget, but my birthday or my name, you'll forget that in a second. But I digress.)
I can't believe you and I agree on films! I loved Garden State and Spiderman 2 (as you know, I almost jumped out of my seat in excitement for it). I can't wait to see your album list, especially since I'll know like 2 of the musicians on it, but I do love seeing the Rant (blog) back. Please don't forget your stuff of the week every once in a while because I do enjoy that and I enjoy seeing Erin's response to it.

PS: You are such a sell-out.

B - I know I'm a sellout. But at least i don't post redundant comments! SNAP

Anonymous said...

Brian -
My heart broke a little when I saw that you've switched over to the blog format. I was just having a discussion with my buddy nate how in general blogs have caused nothing but pain, pain usually inflicted by women and gay men towards straight men.
This being said since as far as I know you are neither a woman or a gay man I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Now, nothing against women or gay men, I just think that sometimes they forget that the pen (or keyboard) truly is mightier than the sword.
Also I appreciate the rant-theme of your blog. Most ones I've ever read before I gave up reading blogs (I guess until now) have been similar to this: "dum-dee-dum I went to the store today, yippidee-yip, I'm going on vacation, look at me, read what i say, LOVE ME, doop-doop de doop." The biggest shame about typical blogs is that they're written by intelligent people who somehow get obsessed with the fact that they're scholarly and all that and decide to ramble on about boring shit from their masters theses or their girlfriends. Anyway, I'm sure the rant blog will be an iconoclast for the blog world.
Lastly, GREAT movie list. I'm not going to list all of my little gripes with it but I'm very glad you included some of my favorites which have gone unappreciated: COLLATERAL and THE LIFE AQUATIC. I will say that I'm in the minority of people who did not like ETERNAL SUNSHINE. Don't get me wrong, the acting performances are great and the story is intriguing but my issue is that I felt the movie was too affecting. Kaufman, who usually adapts his fascinatingly surreal scripts with an air of objectivity, passed the buck on this one, in my opinion, to creating a tear-jerker. It just didn't float my boat...I had the tears, but it felt cheap, it was a surrealist one-night-stand.
That's it

B - Woah there Biggot Jeff! Just kidding, i know your comments were made in jest (And i hope everyone else realizes that as well). I promise to keep the blog about the same things the rant was about - me bitching and moaning and my opinions on trivial pop culture stuff, with some random political commentary. Check out the albums list if you get a chance, i think you'll dig at least a few of them. Watch your back at Kent.

Anonymous said...

I knew you were going to do this. You are dead to me. Dead like Jen...

B - i knew Popovich would hate me for this. Oh well, he'll come back. He always does.


k said...

I enjoyed the list, Brian. It's nice to see someone give Sufjan the credit he deserves for Seven Swans. Yeah, the reviews were good, but I can't recall seeing him crack any critics' top 10 lists. Anyway, the album is unbelievably good, as is Brian Wilson's SMiLE. I was able to see both of them on tour for these albums within a month's time, and they didn't dissapoint.

B - You lucky bastard! I missed the SMiLE show, but i did see Sufjan 3 times in '04, which was a treat. Also saw the Pixies 4 times, Camper Van Beethoven, the Unicorns, Ben Kweller, They Might Be Giants and many others. It was a good year for live music,


Vinny said...

I agree Bri... wtf! I was watching the news before... an hour long program where... 30 min, half the show, was dedicated to the snow. How much was to shovel...what the pattern looked like... how it tastes.... the scientific makeup of a snowflake... RIDICULOUS!! Calm the hell down Effers! You'd think there would be more important things to report on.... war... how Bush sucks.... tsunami relief efforts. Apparantly not, only the impending blizzard. Whatever.

B - Not only that but this shit happens every year! Its not like this is the first blizzard ever, there have been many big storms over the past few years. I guess i should expect this from the same people who pay to see "Are We There Yet?"

Student Slave said...

LOL. Completely agree! People choose the most inappropriate times to go out to window shop. Thunder storms, powercuts (no, you can't come in and buy stuff, our tills are all jammed shut with the power cut! duh!)
Great blog!

B - Hello and welcome to the rant! I'm glad to see that its not just Americans that are nuts about this stuff.

Anonymous said...

At least is isn't yellow snow. Imagine, a blizzard of urine soaked snow. Now THAT is something to worry about.

B - Yeah, that would be fucked up and i could see freaking out about that

Anonymous said...

I hear ya man. I went out to get some milk yesterday, and you'd figure that the same amount of people would be out buying milk as a usual Saturday right? But no, everybody was "stocking up". Geez.
Go Steelers!

B - The other side of this story is that my 'rents needed to have the boiler fixed that day, and the guy said that some people on the road was driving as if there wasn't 3 inches of snow falling an hour - so we have 2 kinds of assholes - the kinds that overreact and the kind who don't even notice the while shit falling from the sky. PS RIP Steelers this season.

Anonymous said...

yeah b-rock i know what you're saying... i work at a deli/convenience store and yesterday was INSANE!! there was a line from the beginning of the deli to the door and then it doubled back and curved around the aisle. people think that they're going to be trapped in their house for the rest of their lives but if they have 3 lbs of thinly sliced olive loaf they'll make it through... not to mention the car fire that occurred in our parking lot.. yeah some ass left a lit cigarette in his ash tray while he went in to wait on the 45 minute line for some bologna, the cigarette fell out of the ash tray onto his seat and in those 45 minutes set the interior of his car afire... one of my friends/coworkers was outside on her break and saw him as he opened his door and smoke and flames were shooting out... talk about dedication to his deli-needs...
apparently snow=apocolypse i vote we abolish winter and all it represents!
<3 teresa

B - Wow! A carfire! And i thought when the circuit breaker caught on fire here it was exciting. Man, the joys of deli-working. Eat your heart out now-retired Nick D'Ippolito!

Anonymous said...

the stores were insane on saturday, like they completely slept through the blizzard of '96. I was working in Kings on saturday and we made more that day than we did for the entire day of Christmas Eve (the store made 17 grand in an hour).
have a good week :)

B - Note to up a supermarket...

Be good everyone - 'til next time...

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Get a GRIP PEOPLE! You get a shovel, you bend (with your knees, not with your back), you scoop and you keep moving. This will not end civilization as we know it - Bush's 2nd term will do that quite nicely. My parents said that A&P was like a madhouse - do you really think that there won't be enough food in your house to last...GASP...ONE DAY? I understand if you feel like making soup, so you're out getting celery and chicken stock, but lay off the military rations and deal with reality - this happens a few times a year, and you've survived so far.

How I'll Spend My Snoweekend:

-watching my Netflix DVDs (Water Drops on Burning Rocks {German indie}, The Office {Brittish TV series}, and Wild at Heart {David Lynch film})

-do laundry


-other normal, non-panicky things.

Random Thought: Anyone else notice that the Shuffle on iTunes is much better than the Shuffle on the iPod?

Currently Listening to: "Nothing Better" - the Postal Service

Top of the Pops

Here at long last are the top 30 albums of 2004 as picked by your gracious host. I must note that the two albums that my label worked with this year (Joe Zelek's Thousand Ways and the self-titled Burn the Worm) are not in contention, as that would be playing favorites. I also did not get a chance to hear all the albums i wanted to this year, so releases by such favorites as Jonathan Richman, Neko Case, Tom Waits and Jonny Polonsky were not able to be factored in to the running.

30. The Arcade Fire – Funeral

Truly uncategorizable and truly hard to grasp even after 10+ listens, Funeral is one of those records that just has a certain SOMETHING about it; but no matter how hard we try, we cannot name what it is. It is unmistakably well crafted and overflows with ideas. Overkill? Perhaps. Unique? Certainly.

29. The Black Keys – Rubber Factory

It has been said that the White Stripes are the modern equivalent to an old blues band. That my friends is a crock of shit. The JSBX (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion to the uninformed) and the Black Keys are the REAL source for modern day blues, and Rubber Factory might be the best blues record of since Hendrix died and Clapton sold out. Oh, and the drumming makes Meg White look more like a child than her face does.

28. A.C. Newman – The Slow Wonder

Not exactly a substitute for a New Pornographers record, NP frontman Carl (A.C.) Newman brings his second record in 2 years that wins the best hands down “pop” record of the year. Catchy melodies, lots of enthusiasm and a picture of a tiger on the cover – what more could you want in a solo record? Oh, and because he is a Canadian singer, the Canuck government dolled out money as part of their arts program which funded the entire recording of this album. Why haven’t I moved yet?

27. Various Artists – The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Australian documentary scores, classic rock cuts, Portuguese-language Bowie covers and a selection of tunes written by former Devo-man Mark Mothersbaugh, this soundtrack looks like it should be overkill, but it is anything but. Actor/singer Seu Jorge makes the 5 Bowie tunes come alive (although I did enjoy his “Ziggy Stardust” that was used in the movie but isn’t on the soundtrack) in a whole new way. And as usual, Wes Anderson and co. have the perfect catalogue choices that give the songs entirely new meaning.

26. Royal City – Little Heart’s Ease

One of the many great releases from Jim Guthree’s Three Gut Records (get it? Gut-three? Three-gut?), Little Heart’s Ease is a bit more of a straightforward record than its predecessor (Alone at the Microphone), but still has the complicated themes of faith, death, and sex wrapped up in some sad sounding acoustic guitars and some nice vocals. This record doesn’t sound all that different than any other record in the alt-country genre, except in the quality of its songs.

25. Iron and Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days

Anyone who has heard the first Iron and Wine album (The Creek Drank the Cradle) will think this album sounds as polished as a Kiss record. Despite the sonic clean up, the songs remain the same – southern gothic tales hushed over fingerpicked guitars. Aural Flannery O’Connor.

24. PJ Harvey – Uh Huh Her

This record makes you feel dirty. It sounds like a dank, humid hotel room in a seedy section of Los Angeles. And that is a good thing. Raw and guttural, Uh Huh Her is a return to form for Polly Jean Harvey which sees her playing all the instruments but the drums and returning to her sleazy roots while still sounding downright sexy. Plus, anyone who can thank Mr. and Mrs. Captain Beefheart in the credits is good enough for me.

23. Ben Kweller – On My Way

Ben Kweller is the musician I know who is most in need of a lyricist. His tunes are catchy, memorable and enjoyable, but his lyrics are usually pretty damn goofy. “I want to kill this man but he turned around and ran/I’ll kill him with karate that I learned in Japan.” Even though his lyrics are sometimes laughable, Kweller is still a musician to be taken seriously. Not only does he have great taste in other music (I’ve seen him at Unicorns, Pixies and one of Felipe’s folk-band shows), but he has an infectious voice and style that makes his music leap off the speakers and into your head. On My Way is no where near as fun or great as Sha Sha, but the added meat from the live-style recording and Ethan Johns’ production makes it worth a spot in your collection.

22. Devendra Banhart – Rejoicing in the Hands

The leader of the current “freak folk” movement, Banhart writes simple, haunting songs that echo a sadness, complexity and a maturity that sets them far above the rest. And this was only one of his two solo albums and one compilation that he released this year. Plus, the guy is friends with R. Kelly. Seriously. Certainly someone to watch out for in the future.

21. Mosquitos – Sunshine Barato

One of the greatest musical accidents of my life was walking into Tonic in NYC and seeing Mosquitos perform (holla back Ed Kelly). It led to me discovering all sorts of Brazilian music, including Os Mutantes, now one of my favorite bands. Their second album is much stronger than their self-titled debut from last year, and their sound growing both more American rock and roll and more Brazilian bossanova. And JuJu their singer is so cute it hurts.

20. Beastie Boys – To The 5 Boroughs

A little less than three years since 9/11/01, the Beastie Boys, New York’s ubiquitous white boy rappers, finally emerged with their reaction to the terrorist attacks. To The 5 Boroughs is the most straight ahead hip hop album they have done since License to Ill, and for that reason it is also probably my least favorite Beasties album. The way they could mix funk, rock, jazz and rap was what initially drew me into their music, and this time around it is distilled to its purest hip-hop incarnation. All that being said, it is still a great record – even if at times it is a bit too high on the 9/11 subject matter.

19. The Beta Band – Heroes to Zeros

The unexpected swan song to an interesting career, Heroes to Zeros features some of the most straight ahead “rock” songs the band ever recorded, as well as throwbacks to their earlier records and a real funky Stevie Wonder circa Innervisions era track.

18. Sonic Youth – Sonic Nurse

How much longer can a band call themselves Sonic Youth when no one in the band is under 40? Name aside, Shelley-Moore-Gordon-O’Rourke-Ranaldo are still in prime shape, and Sonic Nurse continues with the incorporation of classic rock sounds introduced on Murray Street. Even though there are parents in the band, Sonic Youth is still music that is on the edge and is pushing the boundaries without being weird for weird’s sake.

17. TV on the Radio – Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

Doo-wop + post-rock + prog + noise + bass = TV on the Radio. Catchy at times, dissonant at others, TVOTR have the unique distinction of having almost no sonic reference points. Only seven or eight word descriptions seem to do them justice, and even those leave something lacking. The best way I can describe their full length debut is “varied and not for the lazy listener.” In other words, let it sink it and don’t expect to hear the same sound twice.

16. Various Artists - Team America World Police: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

You know a musical parody works when you can’t get it out of your skull. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have done it again and produced the most memorable musical film of the year (take THAT De-Lovely!). This album’s non-scored instrumental pieces are all winners, and will all make you piss yourself laughing. Nothing makes me laugh harder than Trey Parker’s determined, aging rocker voice that he uses on “America: Fuck Yeah!” If you think this is too high on my list for the soundtrack to a puppet movie, then you have not hear it.

15. Mike Watt and the Secondmen – The Secondman’s Middle Stand

Mike Watt has been in some of the greatest trios in the punk/college/alternative rock era: The Minutemen and fIREHOSE. Add the Secondmen to that list. The Secondman’s Middle Stand is a rock opera (Watt’s second) loosely based on both Dante’s The Inferno and the illness that nearly killed Watt a few years ago. This album is totally unique: organ/bass/drums playing rock music with heavy influence from both The Stooges and John Coltrane.

14. DJ Danger Mouse – The Grey Album

Without this record, To The 5 Boroughs would be the best hip hop album released in ’04. But The Grey Album just blows it away. I did not, and do not, own Jay-Z’s The Black Album before hearing this mash up, but I was quite familiar with The Beatles, or “The White Album” as its commonly known. Jay-Z’s words and the Beatles’ music should NOT match up this well; “Long Long Long” as a hip hop sample seems ludicrous; “Helter Skelter” + “99 Problems” seems like it would drain the best parts of both songs. However, the combination is nothing short of breathtaking. And it is even better the 100th time than it is the first.

13. They Might Be Giants – The Spine

Consistency is one thing given no credit in music today. Sure, the Ramones made the same album 15 times – but you could set your watch to them. Similarly, They Might Be Giants have been making great albums since the mid-80s, but have nary respect to show for it. Ignorantly dismissed as a novelty band, TMBG uses humor and melody to get across their sometimes downright depressing lyrics. The Spine is a fine addition to their catalogue, treading the same ground as their “comeback” album Mink Car and featuring songs about all the usual TMBG material: plants, misdirected hostility, film, depression and clothing.

12. 50 Foot Wave – 50 Foot Wave

A new trio from Throwing Muses front-woman Kristen Hersh, 50 Foot Wave is a bit heavier and faster than her work with the Muses, but it still retains their tuneful nature. This “mini-album” is a teaser because of its brevity, but its 6 tracks are all killer. Unfortunately, the recent tsunami in south-east Asia may force them to change their name, which is doubly unfortunate because it is actually a reference to the lowest pitch a human can hear (a low F creates a 50 foot sound wave). Watch for their full length debut in March.

11. Camper Van Beethoven – New Roman Times

Ah, the reunion record: the scorn of music lovers everywhere. Usually, when a band gets back together after “breaking up,” the record is less than what you would have hoped for. This was especially true pre-late 90s/early 00’s when bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Mission of Burma, and Wire all came back as strong as ever (although it was true for the horrific reunion album by Jane’s Addiction). Thankfully, Camper Van Beethoven, after a few tours together, have recorded an album that fits right in with the rest of their catalog, albeit with a strong concept of a backdoor draft, pointless war, and the atrocities of the military thrown in for good measure.

10. Animal Collective – Sung Tongs

No weirder album was released in ’04 than Sung Tongs. Noise, found sound, bizarre harmonies, songs about cats and some really great songs are all part of the Animal Collective. Oh, and one of their two members is named Panda Bear. Almost too bizarre to be taken seriously, but not funny, this record is the perfect soundtrack to doing almost anything – in a surrealistic dream. Not for the unadventurous.

9. Knife and Fork – Miserycord

Truly nice guys and musical geniuses usually don’t coexist within one human being, but Eric Drew Feldman is both. A longtime sideman for the likes of Captain Beefheart, Snakefinger (ex-The Residents), the Pixies, PJ Harvey, Frank Black and producer for the Polyphonic Spree, Reid Paley and a dozen others, this is the first time that Feldman has been the main “task master” as he puts it. And boy does it impress. Dense, full soundscapes with haunting female vocals courtesy ex-Ovarian Trolley singer Laurie Hall fill this album with more than the typical sounds. And I’d expect nothing less from EDF.

8. Frank Black and Two Pale Boys – Frank Black Francis (Disc 2)

The Frank Black Francis album was simultaneously a look backwards at the beginnings of the Pixies (the first disc was a set of demos for the songs that eventually became the first Pixies release, The Purple Tape) and a look into an alternate future (the second disc was a collection of sonic reworkings of Pixies songs sung by Frank Black {with a little bit of acoustic guitar} and heavily mutated by British duo {and frequent Pere-Ubu front man David Thomas collaborators} The Two Pale Boys). The result of disc 2 was called blasphemy by many Pixies fans, but has a real charm as the space-age reworkings reveal that the tracks in their original incarnation are just as unique and innovative as they are in these alternate spaced out and twisted versions.

7. Joanna Newsom – The Milk Eyed Mender

Quickly name three things that would not make for good music: harp, songs about fairy tales, and a shrill female voice that is indistinguishable in terms of age. Somehow these three things combine for one of the most bizarre and beautiful albums of the year. Newsom’s songs are simple and heart-felt. If I did not know what she looked like I could not tell you if she was 7 or 70 by the sound of her voice. At first it sounds like the worst thing you’ve ever heard, but as you listen it grows on you and it becomes possible that hers is the most beautiful voice in modern memory. Give it a chance or seven and you will not be disappointed.

6. The Bad Plus – Give

Jazz music is a love I share with my father, and not many other people that I regularly converse with. However, the Bad Plus get much more of a reaction when I mention them in conversation because people know their covers of “pop” songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Heart of Glass” and “Velouria.” Those people who dig the covers and not much else are seriously missing out on some of the best music being created period, regardless of genre. Their second widely available album, Give, is not quite as strong as their debut album These are the Vistas, but still shines more than almost any other album released this year.

5. Wilco – A Ghost is Born

For a ghost to be born, something must die. For this Ghost to be born, Wilco had to continue to shed its skin and become something almost unrecognizable. Having dropped a band member either during or directly after their last 3 albums, Wilco would appear to be transforming into more of Jeff Tweedy’s backing band than anything else; this illusion is incorrect. On A Ghost Is Born, Wilco sounds more like a band than they have since Being There, and though their songwriting is more direct and focused than on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, it still feels exciting, new and unpredictable. It will not sell as many copies, or be as universally praised as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but I think time will reveal that this is the better record. The closest thing America has to the Beatles right now in terms of consistently great and changing albums.

4. David Byrne – Grown Backwards

Former Talking Heads architect David Byrne is back with one of his many solo albums, but this one is quite different than previous releases. Byrne’s solo work, like much of the Heads’ later-era work, has always been very groove and beat oriented, but this album takes a sharp turn away. Grown Backwards features The Tosca Strings, a classical ensemble on many of the tracks, as well as a guest spot from They Might Be Giants principle John Linnell on accordion. And the choice of covers is great: genre-less Nashville ensemble Lambchop’s “The Man Who Loved Beer” and two arias by Verdi and Bizet (the later featuring a duet with Rufus Wainwright).

3. The Magnetic Fields – i

A collection of songs whose titles all begin with the same letter, i does not sound as forced or contrived as you would expect an album written in such a structured way to sound. Stephin Merritt’s outstanding songwriting is the key reason for its natural sound. Merritt’s deep baritone is what carries this record, unlike the lush 69 Love Songs, which had 4 singers taking turns on the tunes. i is much more focused than any of the other MFs releases so far, and that is a very good thing. Plus, who doesn’t love the return of the ukelele into the pop music spectrum?

2. Brian Wilson – SMiLE

This album could have been the biggest letdown of ’04. Brian Wilson has gone through a lot both mentally and physically since writing this record with Van Dyke Parks in 1967. His voice is weaker, he is on more medication than any normal man his age should be, he has been in and out of major psychotherapy (at one time having infamous quack Dr. Eugene Landy accompany him in public at all times) for the last 25 years, and has taken more acid than humanly conceivable. However, nearly 40 years later, Wilson and Parks have reunited and produced a record that nearly blows everything else released this year away. Sonically, structurally and melodically intricate, yet simple and beautiful. Wilson’s “teenage symphony to God” is finally out there for public consumption. Hallelujah.

1. Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans

An album that is so consistent it feels almost blasphemous to listen to it out of sequence, Seven Swans is the album I probably listened to most in 2004. Stevens’ music is a mix of banjo, faith, almost whispered vocals and some of the best songwriting ever to come out of Michigan (next to Iggy Pop). So delicate are these songs that it almost sounds like you are eavesdropping on someone playing music for themselves in a room. Smaller in scope than his previous release (Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lakes State, which is the first in a proposed series of 50 records, one for each state), Seven Swans sounds like a few people singing songs around a campfire. And I can’t imagine a better sound this year.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I am a sellout

So here i am in "blogspace" and i am a sellout. I still dislike blogs in general but for the rant to continue, something had to be done for a few reasons. First of all, this allows me to post smaller updates and not wait until i've accumulated a whole rant (which has recently taken months). Second, i can post photos. Third, it is a more direct feedback system that will keep all the feedback in one place. Fourth, there is less of a chance to lose information. Finally, it will (hopefully) expand the number of people who read my diatribes. So i am embracing my selloutness. Relish this moment because its likely to never happen again. And be thankful bitches, the blogger system is incredibly annoying to use if you're a pure HTML guy like myself. I must really love all of you.

So, without further ado:

Things i've learned from the commercials shown during I Love the 90s Part Deux:

-when buying maxi pads, apparently women look for "odor protection"

-parents are bastards and lie to their children

-Flavor Flav went from washed up nobody to overexposed celebrity faster than anyone since OJ Simpson

-apparently, Americans are so stupid that they want recreations of their terrible shows from 30 years ago

-that "a shift has been made"

-that Las Vegas makes old people liars and sex maniacs

-Larry King LOVES The Phantom of the Opera, but apparently everyone else thinks its shite

-speaking of Larry King, since when is he an authority on movies? he's just famous and a journalist so i guess it is not even acknowledged by the American people that he knows dick about movies. just like you wouldn't care if Al Roker or Chuck Scarborough loved a movie. i wish i was famous enough to be able to trick people that way.

On that note...BRIAN'S TOP TEN FILMS OF 2004:

10. The Incredibles

Even though "The Fantastic Four were the first fantastic family (holla back Ian, Liz, Erin and Kenny)," this was one of the best films of the year. Plus, part of me really enjoys the idea that little kids everywhere sat through 45 minutes of musings on middle age, infidelity, feelings of worth and Edith Head jokes just to get to the final battle sequences.

9. Collateral

Michael Mann is pretty much the only director who can get me excited about a non-comic book action movie. Not only that, but he uses both Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise to the peak of their ability and made Mrs. Will Smith look both hot and like a good actress (something the Matrix films couldn't do).

8. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Wes Anderson is hands down the most creative director working today, and it says something when his worst film is still one of the ten best made this year. I never thought i would say this, but Jeff Goldblum steals this picture. And who can resist the adorable Bud Cort?

7. Spiderman 2
This movie made me geek out almost non-stop for 2 hours. Truly better than the original, which is damn hard to do. Kirsten Dunst is really hot, Alfred Molina is brilliant as Doc Ock, and i'll be damned if even a corny "I'm back on the moon!" line can't ruin this movie.

6. Before Sunset

The reason i know i've matured despite my still laughing at people falling down is my love for things this film and its prequel, Before Sunrise. Its this simple: 80 minutes in the life of two people who haven't seen each other in 9 years. That's it. They have 80 minutes until Ethan Hawke gets on a plane, and it is how they spend that time. Julie Delpy may also be the most beautiful actress working today.

5. Shaun of the Dead

The tagline says it all: "A Romantic Comedy. With Zombies." Fall down funny, scary at times, touching at others (the shit with his mother is truly sad), Shaun of the Dead was a pleasant surprise. Plus for a Zombie movie fan, there are tons of injokes featuring references to the Evil Dead series, Night of the Living Dead and others. Plus, using a Queen song in a zombie movie is too great to pass up.

4. Garden State

Another movie that hits on a lot of emotions, Garden State is an impressive debut for Zach Braff as a writer/director. And, to quote Barry from High Fidelity, the soundtrack kicks fucking ass. This reminds me why i love Natalie Portmann despite her shitty films. Plus, who can resist the adorable Ian Holm?

3. Kill Bill Vol. 2

Kill Bill Vol. 1 was a bloody mess, and i loved every second of it. Vol. 2 is significantly less bloody, but also significantly better. From the Superman monologue to the Western-theme, to the painfully complex Bill/Bride/daughter relationship and the sublime acting of David Carradine, Vol. 2, when taken in with Vol. 1, is one of the most enjoyable, and totally different bookends of all time.

2. Sideways

Paul Giammatti is the man. Hands down. This is the second year in a row that he has made the top 2 of my best films of the year list. Sideways is another indication of my maturity, as 5 years ago i would've been bored to tears by a movie about wine, golf, and infidelity. Alexander Payne, as a director, can perfectly walk the line of touching, funny and sad all at once.

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Like Wes Anderson, just because Charlie Kaufman's screenplay is his weakest yet, it doesn't mean that it isn't fantastic. An unlikely love story told from the breakup backwards, Jim Carey and Kate Winslet somehow make you start off hating their characters and you wind up loving them both. Plus, i have a soft spot for trick photography, Jon Brion scores and David Cross w/ a moustache. Only of two new films this year that I've watched twice (the other being Garden State), but this is a cut above.

Stay tuned for my Top 30 Albums of '04 Coming Soon.

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