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I guess it’s that time of year again. The time of year where I relentlessly put off things like studying and finals to somehow narrow down all that I’ve listened to in 2011 to a coherent 25 albums, which proves to be a near-impossible task every time. Yet, knowing that I’m almost certainly going to hate this list in a couple months, here I am anyways, trying to explain how or why these albums are better than the rest, and why some are better than those, and why one is better than them all.

I mean, I always mess it up. For context’s sake, last year I inexplicably managed to put Sufjan’s The Age of Adz at the top position, in a year that had The Monitor and The Wild Hunt and a bunch more deserving records. This year I also go with an out-of-nowhere oddball, a brilliant record that I didn’t realize was so amazing till very recently. I don’t know why I do this. Seriously. I mean, I guess it always becomes an emotional thing at this time of the year, when subjective thought takes a backseat. I feel as if this can be excused, though. It’s almost Christmas.

And it’s been a hard year. Without getting too sappy or self-involved or anything, a tragic event happened this year that shook me and my entire community to its core. Four of my friends died in a car crash coming back home from…

This has been everywhere on the Internet today, but for those who, for some reason, have missed out on what will almost certainly end up as a defining moment for hip-hop in 2011, then watch the video below. Unbelievably, OF manages to scare the fuck out of old white people in middle America, make Fallon watchable (and even sorta cool), and make Mos Def go totally insane, in less than four minutes. These guys are so totally gonna blow up like crazy. Swaaaaaaag

I don’t know much of anything about Young Magic (I don’t even know, really, what that picture above is, except has something to do w/r/t the artist), except that his debut song, “You With Air,” is the exact kind of dark, soulful, lo-fi pop that I’ve been searching for relentlessly after Love Remains spiked this hunger, this crave, for such music into my brain. It’s a little more spirited than How to Dress Well, with less focus on ambiance, but the song’s stifling, throbbing synths and the confessional slur of the vocalist combine to give the same sort of nightly glow. Plus, it’s rather catchy, which is always a plus. More stuff to be moody to, basically.

You With Air 7″ comes out February 11, 2011, on Carpark Records.

Young Magic “You With Air” by carparkrecords

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t attracted in the least bit to Best Coast because of their music. This isn’t because their music is bad, of course (well, it mostly isn’t) – “The Road”, found on the band’s Something in the Way EP, is one of the best songs of this young year. But what intrigued me was that Bethany Cosentino, the muscle behind the project, was also affiliated with a Cali band called Pocahaunted, which is a totally psychotic psych-folk band that doesn’t sound like it should have any associations with something as phosphorescent as a band like Best Coast. Questions brewed in my mind: why would someone like Cosentino want to take part in a lo-fi, unapologetically trendy project like this? For fleeting recognition from bloggers? (She succeeded in that regard.) Or, perhaps, and this is what I believe to be the case, Cosentino got hung-up in the confines of Pocahaunted, a band so experimental that doing something more traditional would seem like a cop-out. Thus, a new moniker, and a new beginning from those who don’t discover your music through means that involve your former band, was born.

It won’t surprise me, however, if Cosentino totally defies her past allegiances; “The Road” is a step towards doing so. While “Something in the Way” and “Wish He Was You” were sunshiney to the point of being vexatious, “The Road” is immediately a different beast: its opening riff is hard and instant, and propels the rest of the song…

To let everybody know, I was originally going to post something a bit more relevant for my first ‘track of the day’ feature, being a new Flying Lotus song from Cosmogramma (which is great, btw, even if its leak is in pretty shitty transcode; am definitely buying for the occasion when it’s released on April 20th). But I’m ultimately ruled by Lala, which is some fucking music service kind of thing that I have to add our Track of the Day to for I don’t know what reason, and Lala definitely ain’t reppin Flylo. Lala was also hard as hell to figure out, and that’s for damn sure.

But, alas, I’m forced to find some other song to quickly write about, and I ultimately landed on a Neil Young song, who I’ve been incessantly listening to and basically rediscovering recently, to great rewards. And in this process of rediscovery, I’ve decided that “Cowgirl in the Sand” is easily Young’s definitive and best song, a ten-minute bruiser that highlights why Young’s music is so great. His vocals, equally rough and effeminate, twist around lyrics that concern a lost love: the effect is something like listening to a drunkard bitch about his ex for ten minutes straight, but not annoying. The tale Young spins is interrupted with sonic booms of guitar feedback and hair-raising solos: a Young specialty, first perfected on this song after he stumbled through Buffalo Springsteen and a bland, unremarkable debut. You could say he peaked early, but…

I have quite the thing with (not for) music books.  Basically, I can’t read one without eventually getting royally pissed off about some stray unneeded inclusion or irregularity or overwhelming example of intolerant ignorance towards fans/artists. This is all the odder considering that I own like seven of them. I mean, I usually don’t start frothing at the mouth, but there’s just always something that will ruin my experience reading a music book, whether it’s an overload of encyclopedic information about something that nobody needs to ever know (not even a fan who’s willing to shell out money to read about the subject) or a fawning, doe-eyed style of writing that pressures the reader to the point where they feel like they must like this shit, as portrayed in David Browne’s not-particularly-reader-friendly Goodbye 20th Century, which casts Sonic Youth as The Most Important Band Ever; you can feel Browne practically breathing with anticipation as his narrative moves from Sister to Daydream Nation to Goo, foaming at the mouth to describe yet another Endurable Classic. Like, there’s a reason the book skims over the band’s later period at a feverish pace, instead of abrasively embracing these album’s shortcomings, which would have ultimately been more interesting. And I even like Sonic Youth, like a lot.

Point is, music books are usually cumbersome, bloated, and tiresome, and often irk me in some way or another. But I keep buying them. Like, incessantly. The two I’ve bought most recently are different, in a…

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