Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best Most Listened-To Albums of 2014

As usual, throughout the year I tracked what I listened to using Instead of doing something stupid like using my brain, I passively relied on this data to compile my "best of the year" list. Here it is, with occasional comments, and the albums that I would choose as the best, if I did think about it, in italics.

Runners Up:

These are the 2014 albums that were in the top 50, but didn't make the top 10.

Chlöe Howl - Rumour EP: It's an accomplishment for a 4-song EP to make the top 50, since I don't correct for album length here. But I could listen to this weirdly sincere deep 'n dancy pop over and over. Rumour is definitely the best song of the entire year.

Tove Lo - Queen of the Clouds: Meg plays this over and over. I've probably heard that Habits song 100 times this year. It is one of the best pop songs of the year, but only because there wasn't much competition.

Pink Floyd - The Endless River

Mogwai - Rave Tapes: Okay, but I was even more impressed by their soundtrack to the French TV show The Returned (it's awesome, and on Netflix!).

Kiesza - Sound of a Woman: Ooo! Ahh!

DragonForce - Maximum Overload: As you'll see, my cheesy metal intake increased a lot this year.

Jack White - Lazaretto

Sam Roberts Band - Lo-Fantasy

Die Antwoord - Donker Mag: I think I miss a lot of the South African subtext of this stuff, but that just makes it all the weirder. Weird is good.

Amaranthe - Massive Addictive

Lights - Little Machines

La Roux - Trouble in Paradise

Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World

The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers

Poemss - Poemss

Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the King

Royksopp - The Inevitable End: Supposedly their last album, but hopefully that just means they'll be working with Robyn full time now.

Die Mannequin - Neon Zero

Ingrid Michaelson - Lights Out

Warpaint - Warpaint

Michael Jackson - XSCAPE: This is surprisingly good for a dead dude.

The Crystal Method - The Crystal Method

Charli XCX - SUCKER: This album came in late to almost single-handedly restore my faith in pop music in 2014. In a year dominated by stupid boring songs about anacondas, "that bass," and whatever the hell Ariana Grande is, Charli XCX is a foul-mouthed breath of fresh air.

Skrillex - Recess

Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow

In This Moment - Black Widow: Holy fuck I love this album. Its intensity borders on sappy, but I couldn't get enough of it. Maybe it's just me, but it was a good year for metal and hard rock bands fronted by women.

Brody Dalle - Diploid Love: Everything she's ever done has been amazing. No exception here. Plus, now I know what a diploid is. Educational!

Kongos - Lunatic

The Glitch Mob - Love Death Immortality

Album that would have been here if not for the artist's lack of connection with technological reality: Taylor Swift - 1989. I love all the singles, but Swift pulled the album from streaming services like Rdio, and I'm not going back to importing MP3s into iTunes like a god damn caveman. It's not even about paying less for music. It's just that Rdio is where my music is now, and if you're not there, I'm not listening. Sorry Taylor. I still love you.

And here it is. The top 10. I'm sure you're just leaking with excitement.

10. Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence: Every aspect of Lana Del Rey's music, voice, appearance, and lyrics fit together into a moody whole. None of the songs stand out on their own, but as part of the overall aesthetic of her, it's pretty cool.

9. Foxes - Glorious: Honestly, I don't remember listening to this that much. I couldn't name or hum a single song from it. Maybe I was drunk?

8. Phantogram - Voices: Fall in Love is probably, I'd say, the best song of the year. What genre is this even? Who cares? It's good, and unusual, and also good.

7. Pharrell Williams - G I R L: Basically a continuation of Daft Punk's Get Lucky. But have you seen the guy's hat? It's large. Damn! That's a large hat. LOL.

6. Alt-J - This Is All Yours: This is mostly self-indulgent bullshit, but the moments of brilliance make up for it. Every Other Freckle is the best song of the year, in my opinion. They even make sampling Miley Cyrus, if not listenable, at least interesting.

5. RAC - Strangers: Bouncy and playful. It's pretty hard not to like this guest-star-fueled debut. RAC should stand for, uhh, Radical / Awesome / [Can't think of one].

4. Future Islands - Singles: Seasons (Waiting On You) is a mind-blowing song. Probably my favourite of the year. Wait, have I already said like 5 songs are the best of the year? I forget. TBH I didn't sleep much and I think my body is already getting itself drunk in anticipation of New Year's Eve.


3. The Pretty Reckless - Going to Hell: I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas the other day, and it was a bit odd to see the kid who played Cindy Lou Who, who grew up to front one of 2014's best rock bands. And be hot as hell. Where I'm going.

2. David Guetta - Listen: Wow, this just came out, and it's already near the top of this list? It's just so easy to "listen" to. Guetta brings together a bunch of guest artists for a diverse set of pop songs that somehow feel cohesive as an album too. I suggest you "listen" to it. ("Listen" is the name of the album).

1. Hozier - Hozier: Taaake me to church, I worship blah blah blah. Try getting that shit out of your head after hearing it on the radio. Best song of the year for sure. The rest of the album is equally catchy and confident, weaving together pop, rock, and blues for a set of songs that grab attention without gimmicks. Good job, Hosher ... Hozer ... Hozyay ... hooowever you pronounce it. Good job.

See also:

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Cover For Stars and Other Monsters

After a few decades of dinking around, I'm starting to take this writing thing more seriously. In 2014, I finally published a few books, and in 2015 I plan to publish even more. Part of taking it seriously is realizing my limitations and hiring professionals to help overcome them. 

My self-designed cover for Stars and Other Monsters (my first novel - BUY IT) was pleasant enough, but it really didn't get across what was in the book. It looked like some literary journey of self discovery; anyone expecting that, and instead finding various monsters ripping each other the fuck apart, would probably be disappointed.

I wanted a cover that couldn't belong to any other book. Something pulpy and mildly retro, like a poster for the cliché-filled old movies that the novel both skewers and pays homage to. I'd seen Keith Draws' work before, and his style totally fit the bill.

So here's the new cover:

Keith did an awesome job and was awesome to work with. Awesome. He'll be back for the sequel, which I'm working on now, and will probably be much better than the first one.

I always thought mailing lists were spammy as fuck, but apparently every author has one these days, and I guess it's better than relying on Amazon to notify you when a new book you want comes out. So, sign up for my mailing list to get notifications about new stuff I write. Or just check back here. Or follow me on Twitter. Whatever.

Oh hey, happy new year, by the way. I'll be back with my annual list of the music I listened to most this year. See you then.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hope as Zombie Fuel

The London Ontario Zombie Walk, 2011

Here's the heart-warming thing about the zombie apocalypse:

The zombie affliction only spreads where there is hope.

Picture a human survivor with no hope. She is attacked by 20 zombies, manages to kill 5, but then she gets bitten. Realizing she is fucked and has no chance to survive, she offs herself, or just lets herself get fully devoured by the zombies so she doesn't return to life. The 15 remaining zombies shuffle to the next survivor, who kills 5 before losing hope, rinse and repeat until there are no more zombies.

It's a quirk of (most) zombie mythology that zombies are not driven by reproduction. They just want to eat. Reproduction is a side effect of their meals being squirmy with hope, because it's only the humans who get away who become new zombies.

The people with hope are the bastards responsible for the spread. After getting bitten, they continue to fight for their lives. But really, after being bitten, they're just keeping a body fresh and nimble for a new zombie. That zombie is better able to find other suckers, ready to offer up their futile hopefulness as raw material for the next generation of the undead.

It's the human need for survival that ensures the spread of the affliction that will end all human survival.


P.S. Apply this metaphor to disease/consumerism/memes as you see fit.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Superman's Severed Face

This is the best Dollar Store Halloween costume I've ever seen, for several reasons:

  • It's not a Superman costume. It's a Brandon Routh playing Superman costume. The kid wearing this costume isn't pretending that he is Superman, with his own face and everything. No, he is pretending he is the actor who played Superman three movies ago. Or he's just wearing Brandon Routh's severed face.
  • I don't remember Superman wearing a mini toga thing. And it's convenient that the picture stops at the waist, leaving out the ratty sweatpants that the kid probably has on.
  • Damn, the "lite" up feature is non-functioning. Even if it worked, though, what is lighting up? Is that ... Kryptonite? Here is what Kryptonite does to Superman:

  • So if this kid is really into his role as Brandon Routh playing Superman, he'll pretend to be Brandon Routh pretending to writhe in pain as the lite-up Kryptonite poisons his insides. It should come with blood capsules so he can properly simulate the face-bleeding.
  • Which is also consistent with the "I stole an actor's face" backstory to this costume.
Kids, this Halloween, please strongly consider the Dying Superman Accessory Set.

See also: Halloween disguises are the new Halloween costumes.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Saying Yes to No

Oh, hi.

I just read this article on Medium: Creative People Say No. The premise is that many prolific creators are not afraid of guarding their time by refusing requests for it. This quote, attributed to Charles Dickens, resonated with me:
“‘It is only half an hour’ — ‘It is only an afternoon’ — ‘It is only an evening,’ people say to me over and over again; but they don’t know that it is impossible to command one’s self sometimes to any stipulated and set disposal of five minutes — or that the mere consciousness of an engagement will sometime worry a whole day … Who ever is devoted to an art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it, and to find his recompense in it. I am grieved if you suspect me of not wanting to see you, but I can’t help it; I must go in my way whether or no.”
I don't think it applies only to other people. Saying "no" to yourself is just as important if you are to take that mountain of daily tasks, responsibilities, and hobbies, and carve out enough time to create something of value.

So that's my excuse for not blogging. I've been saying "no" to my brilliant blog post ideas and writing fiction instead.

In addition to my novel, Stars and Other Monsters, I have a short story out. Strangers at a Funeral is about unfamiliar people at death ceremonies. Here's a blurb:

Brandon notices them at his grandpa’s funeral first: a pair of men in sunglasses who nobody seems to know. They’re not family, they're not friends, they’re just … there. No big deal, until they show up again at the next funeral. Drawn into a world of funeral selfies and burial crashers, Brandon needs to know what these strangers want from the dead.

Only problem is, nobody gives a crap except him, and his school frowns upon skipping classes to watch people get buried. His sanity can’t take many more funerals, and those bulges in the strangers’ coats probably aren’t concealing anything pleasant.
It costs 99 cents. If you like the shit I write even a little bit, I'd appreciate if you bought it a whole lot. However, I won't be offended if you say "no."

Strangers has ties to Stars and Other Monsters, if you're paying attention. Speaking of which, I'll start writing a sequel to that soon too. I need to know what happens next.

Which means saying no to other stuff. It's nothing personal; I just like fictional characters more than I like you.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Stars and Other Monsters is Out Now

Have a hankering for a novel about a paparazzo and his dog getting kidnapped by a vampire? Today is your lucky day! Stars and Other Monsters is out, on Kindle:

And in print:

I think a lot of you will enjoy it. It's no masterpiece, but a 3.5, maybe 4 star fast-paced bundle of cheap thrills. Not unlike this blog. If that's worth less than the price of a coffee, go buy it soon so I become rich and famous. Then I'll become corrupt. Just like in the book. (You'll see).

Thank you.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Stars and Other Monsters - A Novel by Phronk (Me), Out on June 13th

I wrote a novel. I've decided to release it to the world on June 13th (the only Friday the 13th in 2014). It's called Stars and Other Monsters, and it's a horror novel about celebrities and vampires. Here is the cover:

If you've been reading my blog, you might enjoy my novel. They are similar, in that I wrote both. So mark your calendar for June 13th and buy Stars and Other Monsters from Amazon, so that it climbs the charts and makes me famous.

More information about the book can be found on its Goodreads page, and I've given it its own little site at Or, if you find that offensive, try (but maybe you shouldn't read the book or this blog).

I'll be writing about Stars and Other Monsters quite a bit in the next few weeks, because I am excited about trying this whole publishing thing and sharing my not-bad creation with the world. Stay tuned.

P.S. Somehow wasn't taken either!

Update June 13: It's out now! Buy it on Amazon:

Buying my book is the only way I can guarantee not cursing you on this Friday the 13th and night of a full moon.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: The Five, by Robert McCammon

I haven't been keeping up with my book reviews. Oops. Well, here's one I've been reading for months and only just finished: Robert McCammon's The Five. Only minor spoilers here.

The Five is the story of a rock band consisting of five people. They're called The Five. They embark on their final tour, first touring through the hell of knowing that the band's career is doomed, then soon realizing that their lives are doomed too. Ultimately it's a story about music's role in the eternal struggle between light and dark, life and death, good and evil. In that spirit, here's the good and the bad:

The Good:

  • The music. McCammon clearly has a passion for rock and roll. Not just the music itself, but the culture of it, the life of a musician, the meaning behind it all. That shines through on every page. From the dozens of fake band names to the cheesy lyrics of entirely fictional songs, The Five will make you love music even more.
  • The subtlety. Those expecting a balls-out supernatural horror novel will be disappointed. The supernatural is there, but barely; like a whispered background vocal that only comes through when all the other instruments momentarily fade. It comes dangerously close to religious mumbo jumbo at times, but never quite crosses that line enough to ruin it.
  • The ending. It just hits all the right emotional notes.

The Bad:

  • The omniscience. Maybe only because it's so uncommon these days, but I find omniscient narration jarring. One paragraph it's inside one character's head, the next paragraph it's onto another character's thoughts, not so much as a scene break between them. I thought the purpose may have been to emphasize that the whole band was the main character, all so deeply interconnected that the story was told from their collective perspective (there's a band name, Collective Perspective). Except then the point of view changes to a random character standing in the background, so, not so much.
  • The length. If The Five were an album, it would be half filler songs. The self-indulgent ballads that had to be there to get the album up to twelve songs despite only having six good ones. Except it's a book, so there's no hitting fast forward when you get to a whole page describing a minor side character's living room furniture. 
When it ends, The Five is, like the song that apparently inspired it, a bitter sweet symphony. It's ultimately satisfying, but there's a lot of boring making ends meet and being a slave to money before getting to the fun dying part.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Ironic Pleasure of a Farting Baboon

I recently wrote a novel consisting of nothing but the word "fart" 100 000 times, then tried to sell it on Amazon. It was an experiment designed to provoke all points of view in today's book publishing industry, and it worked. I summarize the rest of the story of Baboon Fart Story over on Forest City Pulp.

I won't say much about what the success slash failure of Baboon Fart Story means for publishing. Like any Dadaist masterpiece, it speaks best through the reactions to it.* The reactions to my flatulent tale were overwhelmingly positive. Which brings up an interesting question: is it possible to enjoy shit?

By "shit" I mean: something that is both subjectively and objectively bad. Put to any known test of quality, artistic merit, or worthiness, it fails. Will people still willingly consume shit like that?

Of course. "The Bachelor is the downfall of humanity but I love it" could be stamped on the forehead of half the people watching it. Rebecca Black's Friday has 65 million views. Troll 2 spawned a legion of fans and a documentary called Best Worst Movie.

People enjoy shit. But the next question is: does that count as genuine enjoyment?

Of course. The English language doesn't have enough words to describe the wealth of subtly different ways in which we can enjoy something (although Mccoy and Scarborough, 2012, have labeled the enjoyment of shit I'm discussing here as "ironic consumption," "guilty pleasure," and/or "camp sensibility"). The end result is happiness though, and that's kinda the whole point of existing as bags of gas on this giant spinning rock, so maybe we should just roll with it.

People can enjoy a burrito for its spiciness, or a crunch wrap supreme for its crunchiness, or a waffle taco for its ... mmm ... Godliness.

Regardless of the route there, it gets you to a full belly, recharged vigour, spiritual fulfilment.

Which comes back to Baboon Fart Story. Reading the word "fart" for 200 pages may not be inherently enjoyable, but people liked it for a few reasons. They liked the ridiculousness of pee-pee and farts. They liked the contradiction of rampant ridiculousness living in a place where gatekeepers would typically kick it out. They liked what they believed that said about publishing in 2014. Best of all, they liked being a part of it all; the metadata for the book, rather than the book itself, was delightful. People's reviews (kindly archived by Kay Camden here) were the funniest part of the experiment.

Those are gone now. Which is ... hm ... okay, maybe I'll make one point about publishing: who the fuck is Amazon to provide a supposedly open platform for anybody to publish to, but also decide which kind of enjoyment is allowed to be derived from that platform?

Regardless of the experiment's result, I got a special kind of enjoyment out of seeing how much other people enjoyed it.

I'm not the first to tap into ironic enjoyment, or explore the implications of it. For example:

To summarize: if you force a fart, sometimes you get shit. Embrace the shit. Revel in the shit. Love the shit.

* For example:
  • You can see all the reactions on Twitter here (yes, I fed my hungry drooling ego with frequent Twitter searches). What weirds me out most is seeing some of my writing heroes react to my work. Except that work is fucking Baboon Fart Story
  • Chuck Wendig, who came up with the thought experiment, points out that it satirizes self-publishing while only existing because of self-publishing, but ended up saying more about Amazon than anything else. It's important to note, after all, that his premise was wrong; you can't just upload that cool motherfucker right to Amazon. However, his ultimate conclusion was that the goal of publishing is success, and as we saw, neither path will give that up easily.
  • Damien Walter emphasizes that casual viral dynamics are hitting ebooks.
  • Hugh J. O'Donnell used it as motivation: "I just want to do better than Baboon Fart Story."
  • David Alex Shepherd explored various lessons that could be learned from the farting baboon.
  • Fellow local writer James Shelley went further down the Dadaism path, exploring the role of rejection in art.
  • Edward Paul thought it proved that there will always be gatekeepers.
  • Misanthropology similarly called the death of the no gatekeepers theory.
  • Death is Bad went so far as to say that publishing to Amazon is not self publishing.
  • Venture Labs is the only place where you can hear the words "Baboon Fart Story" said out loud in video form.
  • Coventry Corner was inspired to dig deeper into Amazon's rating algorithm, and found that it is plagued with scams and fake reviews. And they're not even amusingly ironic.
  • Laura Roberts wrote SEX: A Saucy Baboon Fart Story Parody. You can probably guess what it's about.
  • Metro New York interviewed me to find out what I think of self publishing, and how to find a picture of a baboon drinking its own pee.
  • Charles Stross, as usual, took the story in a delightfully weird tangent; he proposed a method for adding meaning back into BFS by replacing all the farts with words, keeping only the punctuation and pagination, and wondered what that would mean.

-- R. Mutt


Friday, January 03, 2014

The Best Most Listened-To Albums of 2013: Top Ten

Every year, I use to track what I listen to, and at the end of every year I list the albums I listened to most. They may not be the best albums, or even my favourite, but something made me listen to them more than any others. Yesterday I counted down the honourable mentions, so today's the top ten.

I've italicized albums that I'd consciously choose as my favourites. Consider them recommendations to listen to if you're using this as a way to find new music. Do what you want with my bloggy.

  • 10. Daft Punk- Random Access Memories: I found it strange how hyped this album was. Somehow, not doing anything for a while caused Daft Punk to suddenly be the band everyone was talking about. The talk stopped shortly after the album was finally released, but the hype wasn't for nothing; Random Access Memories is a decent balance of artsy bullshit and accessible horseshit.
  • 9. Tricky - False Idols: Tricky hasn't changed much. 1995's Maxinquaye and 2013's False Idols have a similar sound. Yet this type of trip-hop doesn't, to me, sound retro. I guess that makes it timeless. What a tricky trick.
  • 8. Anamanaguchi - Endless Fantasy: It took me like ten tries to write that name and I'm still not sure if I got it right. Anyway, this is another Kickstarter-backed album consisting of crazy-ass 8-bit video game inspired insanity. It's like Mega Man is jizzing in my ears.
  • 7. Lady Gaga - ARTPOP: What's with stylizing album titles with capital letters? There are like 5 of them on this list alone. STOP YELLING, MUSIC. Anyway, I'm still clapping for Applause, the first single off of ARTPOP. The rest of the album is an improvement over 2011's Born This Way, but still tainted by the bullshit of trying too hard ("I've overheard your theory, nostalgia's for geeks" ... what? Nobody has ever said that), but it's pleasant enough.
  • 6. CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe: I've been anticipating this album since I first heard Recover, an unironically 80s-influenced bit of synthy loveliness. The full album lives up to the promise of that single, and like I said before, I think fresh sounding albums like this are really what pop was about in 2013. There's an emotional honesty here that's missing in the faux-depth of ARTPOP or the calculated shock value of Bangerz. 
  • 5. Arctic Monkeys - AM: I always dismissed this band as another critically-acclaimed bore. But something changed with AM, with its fuzzy guitars and weepy lyrics. It scratches the same itch that the Black Keys do, except the Black Keys didn't put out an album in 2013, so I just let those monkeys go nuts and now I'm hardly itchy at all.
  • 4. Selena Gomez - Stars Dance: After seeing Gomez starring in Spring Breakers, all I can think of when I see her is James Franco creepily growling "spring breeeaaaak" over and over. Regardless, Stars Dance is one of my favourite straight-up pop albums of the year. The title track is a highlight, though I'm skeptical of her claim to be able to make stars dance. Stars are non-sentient balls of gas and do not respond to music. 
  • 3. White Lies - BIG TV: Probably the best of the "still doing the 80s voice" bands. The songs here stand out even aside from the retro atmosphere. It's cheesy, but a little cheese never hurt anyone. I particularly like blue cheese, even though it's basically rotten food. Seriously, blue cheese is like eating gunk from the garbage. Delicious, delicious garbage. Wait, what are we talking about? Oh yeah, music...
  • 2. Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob: This could have been a disaster, moving to a slick mainstream pop sound. However, what's always made Tegan and Sara special is their raw emotional core, and that remains intact even if it's surrounded by synths instead of guitars. It still feels weird to see them go from little Canadian folk duo to full-fledged pop stars hanging out with Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, but I can live with it if they keep making ditties that give my tear ducts a workout. 
  • 1. Haim - Days are Gone: Gosh damn I love this album. I don't even know why; it's mostly unremarkable pop songs, but they are just put together so perfectly. Haim's influences are from previous decades, but have a sincerity that makes their songs sound fresh in 2013. Once in a while, it's nice to listen to a bunch of actually-talented people doing good songs.

IT'S OVER. What did you listen to in 2013? Tell me in the comments.

If any of you are still out there, that is. Apparently I only blogged six times in 2013. I guess blogging is...well, not dead, but frail. Only useful for certain purposes. I'll still blog on the rare occasions when I have a thought that exceeds 140 characters though. Happy new year 'n shit.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Best Most Listened-To Albums of 2013: Honourable Mentions

Every year, I use to track what I listen to, and at the end of every year I list the albums I listened to most. They may not be the best albums, or even my favourite, but something made me listen to them more than any others.

I've italicized albums that I'd consciously choose as my favourites. Give those a listen for sure.

Here are 2013 albums that made my top 50 but not the top 10:
  • Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus: I never really "got" Fuck Buttons until this album. What sounds like inaccessible noise at first slowly reveals itself to have layers of gooey goodness inside.
  • Black Sabbath - 13: Somehow, they've still got it.
  • Morcheeba - Head Up High: They've come a long way from 90s trip-hop roots (unlike Tricky, who we'll see later), but this is a nice little pop album.
  • Little Boots - Nocturnes: Little Boots' debut, Hands, is my 4th most listened-to album of all time. Nocturne isn't horrible, but feels bland in comparison.
  • Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience: Speaking of bland, Justin Timberlake managed to put out two albums full of music that seems more concerned with promoting how cool and sexy he is than it is with actual music. Fuck Justin Timberlake.
  • Britney Spears - Britney Jean: But Justin's ex is making pop that's exactly what it needs to be. The continued EDM influence is getting a bit old, but it still works.
  • Lindsey Stirling - Lindsey Stirling: Finally, a full album of sweet sweet violin and dance music mushed together.
  • Lorde - Pure Heroine: this:

  • Pretty Lights - A Color Map of the Sun: Everything they do sounds the same, but it never gets old.
  • Five Finger Death Punch - The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell: Two albums of pure angry cheese. 
  • The Weeknd - Kiss Land: It feels a bit less bold and more sleazy than his trio of amazing self-released albums, and, seriously? "Kiss Land"? But it's not a huge step backwards or anything, and well worth listening to.
  • Capital Cities - In a Tidal Wave of Mystery: One of the top entries in the "hipster bullshit" category.
  • Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP2: Better than anything he's done in a long time. It's not as shocking as it once was, but at least he's trying.
  • Amaranthe - The Nexus: Not sure how I stumbled on this Swedish metal/pop/electronic, but I fucking love it in all its corny glory.
  • Miley Cyrus - Bangerz: She played the shamelessly-attracting-attention game perfectly this year. Well done. And at least the music's not horrible.
  • Classified - Classified: Between this, Shad, and k-os, it was a good year for Canadian hip hop.
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito: Sacrilege was one of my favourite songs of the year. The rest of the album is decent too.
  • Avicii - TRUE: Successfully infuses dance music with a bunch of other influences. Nice. NICE.
  • Katy Perry - PRISM: This sounds like a more mature album for Katy Perry, but I'm not convinced that's a good thing. Most tracks are snooze-inducing, aside from a few mild attempts at spurting some explicit sex references onto them. In the war between Katy and Gaga, I think the real winners are the other pop artists on this list who are doing something different instead of bland "maturing." [Apologies to Kitty Glitter, who probably strongly disagrees due to his love for Katy Perry] 
  • Rob Zombie - Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor: More of the same, but that's okay. I'm just fine with Rob Zombie doing his thing as a musician and filmmaker without bothering to vary it.
  • k-os - BLack on BLonde: Yet another double album, with the nifty concept of jamming together a hip hop album and a rock album.
  • Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends: This was produced by Danger Mouse, and it seems that everything he touches ends up sounding like Danger Mouse. But other collaborations, like Broken Bells and Electric Guest, have ended up near the top of my charts in previous years. I thought this one would be higher too; it's one of my favourite albums of the year, with its cross-genre bundle of weirdness.
  • Skylar Grey - Don't Look Down: After fucking around with an endless list of other artists (Eminem, mostly notably), Skylar Grey finally released her own lovely album of dark pop.
  • The Limousines - Hush: Here's something you would't have heard 10 years ago: The Limousines used Kickstarter to fund this album and release it without the help of a label, then I streamed it more than most other albums this year.
  • The Neighbourhood - I Love You: Moody downtempo pop that I normally wouldn't be into, but it struck a (minor) chord with me for some reason.
  • Patterns - Dangerous Intentions: If you distilled the neon-coloured parts of the 80s into a sonic beam, it would sound like this. The aesthetic has crept into a lot of pop music this year (perhaps because of the popularity of the Drive soundtrack), but it's at its purest here. 
Come back tomorrow for the top ten.