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Musings

Do you want to know why I’m starting to believe that 2012 is the end of the world? Because it has to be. Hell, at this point I hope it’s sooner. Consider this a small sign of the apocalypse: a couple of weeks ago, Billboard announced Nickelback’s Dark Horse as the best selling hard rock album of 2010. Dark Horse is a terrible album by an awful band, an album so bad that it relies on idiomatic blanket statements to emphasize just how bland it is. It’s like listening to dry paint. Paint which is dry because Dark Horse came out in 2008 and yet here we are, with 2010 coming to a close and listeners still finding new ways to avoid the heap-shit that is Nickelback’s sixth album.

I found this online. Isn't the world a depressing place to live?

That’s where Fred Durst comes in. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll be the hump that breaks the [dark] horse’s back. Then maybe, just maybe, we can take Dark Horse behind the shed and shoot it one, two, three times in the fucking head. Limp Bizkit has the chance to save hard rock, but for that to happen, and for Durst & co. to make my weirdest dreams come true, they’ll actually have to release Gold Cobra, their first release in a decade with their original line up. The problem is, I’m starting to think it’ll never come out.

For a lot of early-to-mid 20-somethings,…

EPs & Honorable Mentions | 50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1


10. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me

[Myspace] // [Review]

As much as year-end lists are basically a conglomeration of everything said about an album over a twelve-month period, it would be criminal not to repeat once more the artistic merits of Joanna Newsom. Newsom went from a quirky (bordering on annoying) harpist intent on increasing her listeners’ patience to a well-developed songwriter and accomplished vocalist who learned how to trim the fat from her songs to create a much better product, and from an elfish girl who posed in animal skins to a sexy woman in hot pants and high heels. She has always had ambition, but never has she been as focused as she is on Have One on Me, which overflows with realized potential and the kind of songs we always knew she could write. Perhaps what is most surprising about the album is the fact that, after her grating warble on Ys, the songs on this album go down easy. Yes, like falling asleep. – Channing F.

09. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

[Myspace] // [Review]

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Halcyon Digest was just how warm everything sounds. Whereas Bradford Cox and company’s earlier work was an…

Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty died on Tuesday following a long illness. He was 63.

Rafferty enjoyed moderate success in the early ’70s with Stealers Wheel, landing a lone hit single with the Dylan parody ‘Stuck in the Middle’ before breaking up in 1975. ‘Stuck in the Middle’ was given the new lease of life in 1992 when director Quentin Tarentino chose it to score the iconic torture scene in Reservoir Dogs.

After Stealers Wheel broke up, Rafferty resumed his burgeoning solo career and, in 1978, released his best-known work, City to City. The album’s success was fueled by its lead single, ‘Baker Street,’ whose burning saxophone hook has been credited with the “Baker Street phenomenon,” an explicable ursurge in saxophone sales across the UK in the late ’70s.

Rafferty never recreated the success of ‘Baker Street,’ in part an effect of his shyness and unwillingness to perform live, but he periodically released albums right up until the turn of the millennium.

It’s hard not to have a grudging respect for Jimmy Kimmel.

Not really funny enough to draw in Conan’s fans and not polished enough to draw in Leno’s golden oldies crowd, he just sort of swims along in the half-life that is ABC’s night-time schedule. He has that sort of look about him, as if he grew upwith the dream of becoming a talk show host and stoically accepted the deserved beatings that came with that dream. But he also has the look of a grizzled former idealist, of a man who’d worshiped a certain Italian-American pocket-plunger before finding out he was a cunt.

Kimmel is good, not great, but occasionally he and his team come up with some genuine gold: think ‘I’m Fucking Matt Damon’ or the completely undisguised loathing he exhibited for Leno during the Conangate fiasco. This Josh Groban sketch falls into that category. The only really disappointing aspect is the fact that we won’t shortly be able to buy the advertised 752-song opus inspired by the great man’s tweets.

EPs & Honorable Mentions | 50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1


30. Letlive – Fake History

[Myspace] // [Review]

As 2010 grilled our patience for new Glassjaw material from crispy to charred, we got a record from California’s Letlive that was arguably just as good as anything the former ever released. Fake History might not have Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence’s cathartic, slightly uncomfortable angst or Worship and Tribute’s deranged perfection, but what Letlive ape from their most obvious influence they amplify, polish, and release with more honesty and heart than Daryl Palumbo’s cryptic lyrics and ironic vocal style could ever allow. Letlive don’t shy away from cheese – lead singer Jason Butler’s clean vocals have more than a hint of Claudio Sanchez – but they’re not winking as they indulge in it. Fake History oozes passion, Letlive selling rage as though they are under the impression that they’re the last angry band out there. And though there’s not much density to the album, there doesn’t need to be. Letlive remind us that sometimes you don’t have to give an album a great deal of thought for it to be all sorts of awesome. - Adam D.

29. Daniel Bjarnason – Processions

[Myspace] // [Review]

Modern classical composers live in a strange

EPs & Honorable Mentions | 50-3130-11 | 10-1


50. Anberlin – Dark is the Way, Light is a Place

[Myspace] // [Review]

It has come to the point where we can safely proclaim that Floridian quintet Anberlin could not record a bad album if they tried. Their fifth LP, Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place, may not be as ambitious or influential as Cities, nor as catchy and immediate as New Surrender, but it turns out to be a real grower. Densely layered and subtle musical touches abound, but it is Stephen Christian’s majestic vocal work that takes center stage. From the catchy ‘Impossible’ to the acoustic ‘Down,’ from the hard-hitting ‘To The Wolves’ to the splendid ‘The Art of War,’ there is something for everyone on this slightly back-loaded LP that contains absolutely no filler. - Davey B.

49. The Saddest Landscape – You Will Not Survive

[Myspace] // [Review]

The Saddest Landscape got everything right in 2010. Mostly, it involved just being there. See, ever since their hiatus five years ago, there’s been a Saddest Landscape-shaped hole in the musical scene where a band who continually pushed sonic boundaries used to be. Then, out of nowhere, they took everything that happened in post-hardcore since their departure and crammed in

As anyone who knows me knows I’m pretty big into Twitter. I use it a lot—follow me at @tylrmunro if you’re into shameless plugs—and one of the users I enjoy following* is Jose3030. In addition to running 3030fm, Jose is known for having a quick trigger when it comes to capping basketball clips and either putting them on YouTube or converting them to GIFS.

This is not one of these such instances.

And you know what? I’ll leave my commentary out of it. This one kind of speaks for itself

Is Jose3030 the first to discover this? More importantly, does that really matter?

*okay, so I don’t actually follow Jose3030, mostly because I ultimately see his best content via re-tweets. I should probably still follow him, though, and you probably should too if you’re a basketball fan.

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Those of you in the Sarnia-Windsor-Detroit area are familiar with 88.7FM/CIMX, the so-called “new-rock alternative” for the region. If not, you’re free to stream them live anywhere in the world [[from their official site]].

While their 5:00PM all-request hour seems to be the same people calling in (just once I would love to drive home from work and NOT hear “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails at the same fucking time every day), the station does have its perks on days I forget my iPod: The Top 9 @ 9 (which is exactly what you’d expect it to be), the People’s Choice (two songs ’square off’ with the winning song advancing to the next day to take on a new challenger), the “Catch of the Day” (at 4:30PM, prior to the aforementioned Request Hour, a non-single or forthcoming single is aired) are 89X mainstays.

Also, Dave and Chuck The Freak’s morning show (which rivals Grand Rapids’ “Free Beer and Hot Wings Morning Show” as the funniest morning show from my former home state) can be so hysterical that I’ve thought I pulled a rib or two, and all of 89X’s DJs remain attuned to their listeners and go out of their way to give back to the community.

For example, each of the 89X radio personalities served as guest baristas at Caribou Coffee locations throughout Metro Detroit, as part of the station’s “12 Days of Christmas” celebration. Proceeds from this event were donated to charity:

It’s fitting that we should begin Christmas Eve with a rendition of ‘Silent Night,’ for it was the song that was sung by British, French and German soldiers during the Christmas Truce that was referred to in yesterday’s post. It was the only Christmas song they knew that had been translated into all three languages, having originated as a German carol (‘Stille Nacht’) from the pen of Austrian school teacher Franz Xaver Gruber (music) and priest Joseph Mohr (lyrics).

It’s interesting to note that the original, besides being German, differed from the modern in that it was intended as a mid-tempo dance tune rather than the slow-paced lullaby that it has become. First performed in 1818, the song was a fast success and it spread quickly through the various churches of Europe, eventually making its way to America and its first English translation in 1859. More or less everybody is aware of the “standard version” so I’ll push right ahead and highlight artists who’ve put their own unique spin on the track.

First up, we have Enya. Ireland has been a recurrent figure in this series, but for once I have a reason other than familiarity for focusing on a song, as the former Clannad singer’s recording is ample demonstration of the song’s inherent flexibility: the original can be sung in at least 44 different languages with very little lost in the way of meaning.

By contrast, Simon & Garfunkel’s 1966 recording involves a radical rethink of the song’s…

“Don’t give up your day job….”

The above is the subject of a million glib remarks – so many, in fact, that we tend to forget there are people out there who give up well-paying jobs to pursue a career they have absolutely no aptitude for. In this case, pro skateboarder Jereme Rogers – a man already burdened by the failings of his parents, who were so confused by the similarity of “Jerome” and “Jeremy” that they named him a bizarre hybrid of the two – retired from the sport at the age of 24 to pursue a career in the rap business.

Barely a year later, Rogers returned to pro skateboarding, but it hasn’t stopped him from continually dipping his toes in the music industry. ‘30 Thousand 100 Million Freestyle’ appears to be his first single under the new name J. Casanova – he’d previously recorded under his given name – and I can categorically say it’s his best recording yet under the new name.

To be honest, there’s probably not enough time and space on the internet to detail exactly how whacked-out this video is. For instance, he claims he has women all around his waist “like a shoestring” – is it normal to keep your pants up with shoestring? I use a belt, but then again I don’t know what the fashion is among millionaires these days. Even better is the self-satisfied smirk he can’t seem to remove from his face after he drops the zinger: “Though

The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best Christmas movie of all time. Now, you might be thinking “well, I don’t know about that, Downer, I mean it’s good and all, but there are so many other classic, canonical films,” and true, Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life are close seconds, but I speak the truth. Trust me.

Here are a few of the many reasons why (Spoilers, maybe?):

1)      Hans Zimmer’s absolutely perfect score.

Zimmer’s songs are universally fantastic (if you skip through the Tiny Tim one), fitting the Muppets’ brand of satire comedy while also being wonderful tunes by themselves. The opening number “Scrooge” exemplifies this; it’s a minor key march whose major key chorus betrays that its lead character (Michael Caine, in a career defining performance) isn’t really threatening, just a grouchy guy we’re going to love unconditionally. Later, “Marley and Marley” turns a haunting into a thrilling duet between Statler and Waldorf in one of the film’s most memorable and meta-awesome scenes. And “When Love If Gone” is actually kind of a tearjerker when you ignore the completely flaccid actress singing it. As far as Christmas musicals go, Muppet Christmas Carol gets it right by having all their songs be instantly recallable and undeniably lovable.

2)      It’s the best version of “A Christmas Carol”

In the context of “Christmas Carol” adaptations, it’s no contest: Muppet Christmas Carol gets the story pitch perfect for the holiday season. This version blends whimsy…

Christmastime is a time when, traditonally, families come together. However, in coming together, we also tend to be more acutely aware of those that are missing: those we’ve lost and those that, for whatever reason, can’t be with us.

The story goes that, on Christmas Day 1914 (the first of the First World War), peace broke out. German, British and French trench troops crossed into no man’s land to exchange gifts and, famously, play games of football together. The scenes would not be repeated the following year, or any other. Whether motivated by basic humanity or naivety, those early gestures of solidarity quickly gave way to the horrors of the most brutal and senseless war in modern history.

It’s in the latter context that Jona Lewie’s greatest hit (it was only beaten to #1 by a re-release of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ shortly after the singer’s death, about as far from a fair fight as you can get) is set. Set to ironically regal horns, ‘Stop the Cavalry’ is one of the most established songs of the Christmas canon, worldwide but particularly in Britain, however it only contains one actual reference to the Season to be Jolly, in the lament of a frontline soldier: “Wish I was at home for Christmas…”

Modern wars bear little in comparison to the large-scale destruction of human life that were the World Wars. However, though we may all disagree on political issues, it’s imperative on all of us to spare a thought for military servicemen…

Not a lot of people know this, but as well as being an accomplished singer of showtunes and a country & western star, John C. Reilly makes a working man’s living as a comedic actor. Will Ferrell is also adept at saying ridiculous things with a straight face.

On a completely unrelated matter, here’s a video of David Bowie dropping into Bing Crosby’s house at The Most Wonderful Time of the Year for a spot of singing/jousting to the tune of ‘Peace on Earth’ and ‘Little Drummer Boy.’ Make sure to click through for a free download of the track.

12 Days of Christmas: #1 - White Christmas / #2 – Popical Island / #3 – Last Christmas / #4 – Christmas in Harlem / #5 – All I Want For Christmas is You / #6 – Fuck Christmas / #7 – Merry Xmas Everybody#8 – Ferrell & Reilly / #9 – Shit Christmas Without You / #10 / #11 / #12

You could say I had an interesting Saturday night. I’d say it was one for the ages.

warning: what you are about to read does get a little graphic.

So I was visiting a friend in Hamilton, a shit-smelly city situated about 45 minutes Southwest of Toronto. The night started out pretty dull, actually, consisting of us sitting around watching Saved by the Bell episodes, sometimes with the commentary on, and eating soggy homemade ravioli. I don’t think we could ever imagine how the night would end just a few hours later.

After briefly deliberating, then wisely declining the prospect of going to a cougar bar, we wandered around downtown Hamilton for a few minutes. On our way, I met a homeless man who was really interested in Winter Solstice conspiracy theories and loved yelling at taxi cabs parked in crosswalks. Eventually, one of my friends pointed out a nearby bar, “Doors” I think it was called. He said the bartender was named Tyler, to which I vaguely remember saying, “hey, that’s my name”.

Cool story bro, right?

Then he goes on to tell me that the bar is known for having some weird goings-on. That and it’s often blasting Scandinavian metal. Against my better judgement, I started running. I never run. I wish I hadn’t. Walking inside, I didn’t hear Scandinavian metal. No, instead I saw a guy and girl duo on the turntables and MPC, a scruffy tall white guy rapping and someone dancing…

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