Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Best Most Listened-To Albums of 2008

Who am I to say what the best music of the year is? I haven't listened to every album that has come out, and I'm no music critic. What I can do is say which albums captured my attention enough to listen to over and over. Luckily, Last.fm keeps track of what I listen to, so it's easy to see which albums those are. Here are the top 10 albums released in 2008.

(and don't miss the honourable mentions from a few days ago)

10. Portishead - Third: They took a decade to make this album, but it was so worth it. Portishead have pulled off something amazing; they've created an album that still sounds like their early work, but has evolved to the point where, even a decade later, following countless imitators, it sounds fresh and unique. I love this album.

9. Ladytron - Velocifero: Like some other albums on this list, a lot of Ladytron's appeal lies in nostalgia. In this case, for new wave Depeche Mode type music. But as with Portishead, it still sounds fresh. I think its dark, cold sound is especially fitting for these winter months.

8. The Killers - Day and Age: This just came out, but I guess I've already listened to it a whole lot. Like The Killers have been saying in interview after interview, Day and Age is little more than a continuation of their two previous full albums, which is not a bad thing since both of those were wonderful as well.

7. The Dears - Missiles: Sad but beautiful music. A rare album that starts off strong and builds as it goes, ending in the epic, powerful masterpiece Saviour. Love it.

6. Sia - Some People Have Real Problems: Even if you haven't heard of Sia, you'd probably recognize her voice from her work with other artists like Zero 7. Or her song from that final scene of Six Feet Under that makes me want to bawl every time I friggin hear it. But anyway, her latest solo album is a nice little collection of sweeping, powerful songs that I apparently listened to a lot. I don't know what the fuck is up with the album art though.

5. Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line: A solid album reminiscent of Vampire Weekend or Arcade Fire. Probably not much better than those, but I guess I listened to it more.

4. Justice - † (Cross): I'm surprised this isn't higher. Justice makes kickass upbeat music that makes you want to D.A.N.C.E. I put this on when I'm doing cardio and feel like I could run forever. Justice masterfully weaves noise and, more importantly, silence, into something beautiful.

3. Katy Perry - One of the Boys: Shit, this is embarrassing. But numbers don't lie. If I managed to sit through this more than most other albums this year, it must be quality music. I guess. Or maybe I just couldn't stop listening to I Kissed a Girl over and over again. Shut up, it's catchy.

2. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs: I was late on the Death Cab bandwagon. Bandcab? When I first heard of them a few years ago, I didn't see the big deal in their generic-sounding indie pop. But they grew on me with every album, culminating in Narrow Stairs this year. I'm even down with the 8.5 minute version of I Will Possess Your Heart; a song that should serve as inspiration for stalkers everywhere.

1. M83 - Saturdays = Youth: Not exactly an original "choice" for album of the year, but damn, what a great collection of songs. It somehow evokes nostalgia for the 80s without directly sounding like anything from that era. It's got upbeat pop songs and rambling chillout songs, all of them great. If you haven't already fallen in love with this album, go do so now.

One reason I'd make a crappy music critic is that I enjoy pretty much any competently created music I hear. But complaining anyway is fun, so...

Worst Album of the Year: Lady GaGa - The Fame: OK I love that Just Dance song. There are a few other catchy songs on there, but the depth of the lyrics can be summed up in one of her song titles: Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say).

There is probably a lot of great music that came out this year that I never even heard. So if you're thinking to yourself "awww, what about [band I like lots]?", you either have shitty taste in music, or I haven't heard it. You can just pretend it's the latter.

Now, what music did you listen to the most this year, and why aren't you blogging about it?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Youtube Generation

Comments on my video from the GWAR concert:

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Best Most Listened-To Albums of 2008: Honourable Mentions

Who am I to say what the best music of the year is? I haven't listened to every album that has come out, and I'm no music critic. What I can do is say which albums captured my attention enough to listen to over and over. Luckily, Last.fm keeps track of all the music I listen to, so it's easy to see which albums those are. In a few days I will post my most listened-to albums of the year. But today, here are some albums that probably would have made that list, if they came out or I'd gotten them earlier in the year.

of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping: I've already written a bunch about of Montreal. They're one of my favourite bands ever, and their latest album is another masterpiece. It would probably be #1 most-listened-to if it had come out earlier.
Weezer - The Red Album: This probably should have actually been near the top. I think my iPod screwed up or something. In any case, while Weezer's latest doesn't have the emotional depth of their earlier albums, they've put together a collection of silly, catchy, songs that are a blast to listen to and/or play in Rock Band.
Girl Talk - Feed the Animals: Girl Talk takes existing music and mashes it together to create something new. Musicians have been doing this since the 80s (remember Jive Bunny and the Master Mixers), but Girl Talk has perfected the art of mixing dirty gangster rap with squeaky clean pop music and making it work.

The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing: Speaking of squeaky clean pop music, the Ting Tings have perfected bouncy lightweight pop. Good stuff. I think we'll be hearing more from them.

Does it Offend You, Yeah? - You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into: Kinda in the same category as Justice, via Daft Punk, with a bit of Chromeo thrown in. Probably not as great as any of those other bands, but still pretty awesome.

Woodhands - Heart Attack: Kinda in the same category as Does it Offend You, Yeah?, except more... I dunno... Canadian? It's good.

Dr. Octoroc - 8 Bit Jesus: Kinda in the same category as Woodhands, but... ok enough of that. This is an album of Christmas songs done in the style of 8-bit Nintendo tunes. If that doesn't give you a bit of a chubby, I don't know what will. download half of it for free here.

Shearwater - Rook: Sean at Everything is Pop named this album of the year, so I gave it a download. It is indeed a great album. Reminds me a bit of The Dears, who we may or may not see more of when I post my full list. STAY TUNED OMG.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


When I got home last night, I was covered in blood and slime, my legs hurt from standing all night, and I couldn't hear out of my left ear. Best concert ever?

When you hear GWAR is coming to London, you wouldn't expect them to play at Cowboy's Ranch, the local country music bar. But last night it traded crappy country for sweet, sweet metal.

Some lesser-known bands opened. It started with Toxic Holocaust, whose lead singer talked exactly like Nathan Explosion from Dethklok. Here is their lyrical masterpiece, Feedback, Blood and Distortion.

Then came Kingdom of Sorrow, who were actually pretty awesome.

But it was all about GWAR. They put on more of a fucked up variety show than a straight metal concert. The band members are dressed in elaborate costumes with an elaborate back story. A plot unfolds throughout the concert, told through videos in the background, and brutally violent live skits. While the band plays, monsters battle it out on stage. John McCain gets decapitated. Hilary Clinton gets her boobs ripped off. Here is a baby getting ripped in half then impaled on the lead singer's shoulder spikes:

(uh, it's easier to see if you click to Youtube and watch it in high quality)

And throughout all this, gallons and gallons of fake blood squirt out over the crowd. We were pretty far back, avoiding most of the gunk, but when Barack Obama lost his head, his magic hope-and-change Jesus blood rained down upon us. There's something awesome about a room full of hundreds of people, all covered in fake blood.

You can probably understand why I didn't get my camera out too often.

I showered when I got home, but my whole head is still sorta pink. It remains to be seen if my clothes will pull through the same colour they used to be. But dude, it was so worth it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Best Video Ever?

I often flip on the television before getting into my nicely-made bed at night, because it's easier than turning a light on to see by. Of course, then there ends up being something awesome on TV, like, say, Gremlins, and it's 4 in the morning before I realize I have to be up early the next day, and I've already reached the hangover stage. I'm usually hungry at that point too, but, well, it's after midnight.

But the best part is the commercials that are on at 4 in the morning. The one below, it plays in my head like a lullaby as I drift off to sleep, and it's still awkwardly wording its way through my brain when I wake up. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Making It

They say that people never change. Not true. I think people change, sometimes for the worse but often for the better.

For example, I never used to see the point in making one's bed. I even wrote a blog post about it. However, over the last few weeks, I've started making my bed every morning. I didn't see the benefit before, but now I do think it's worth a few seconds of time so that the room looks nicer, and for added newly-sockless comfort. I also find that if there are two or more blankets, as there tend to be at this time of year, they get all tangled up if I leave them unmade for a few days, and then it's impossible to get in bed with the blankets at the right angle. Another unforeseen benefit is that if it's dark in the room, making the bed causes sheets to rub together and make kickass sparks of static electricity.

If you would like to see this freshly made bed and the spectacular light show that ushers it into existence, I am taking applications for guided tours of my bedroom.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Worst Video Ever?

The best part about this is that they're completely serious.

The worst part is that the horrible song is stuck in my head now.

Monday, December 08, 2008

X Mas

I love Christmas. In a totally platonic, non-religious way, of course. Today I started putting up decorations around my apartment. The fooseball table was taking up a lot of room, so I took it apart and put it away to clear room for the Christmas tree my parents gave me. That was before I opened it up and realized how comically small it is. I had to put it on a chair just so it reaches eye level.

And I'm not sure the plastic instruments really count as holiday decorations. Oh well. It's better than nothing.

And look at this leprechaun-Santa my mom got me. I think it's pretty random/awesome.

This Christmas is bittersweet for me. It's the first in a long time that I'm not spending with a significant other. Hanging up these decorations, knowing that I'm the only one who will be enjoying them on a regular basis, makes me a bit sad.

I'll half-miss spending time with three different families over the holidays. Only half, because it can get pretty damn stressful trying to split up a few days of time to spend with a few dozen different people. Also, this year I can spend all my time with my one family, who will be gathering here from all across the globe for Christmas. I really look forward to seeing everyone again.

Oh, and my Xbox tried to play along with the holiday decorating by flashing three red lights and dying. I was afraid it'd be out of warranty, but luckily, Microsoft is self contradictory; the warranty for the 3 red lights is 3 years, but they will repair it after 3 years if the problem is 3 red lights. Wha? Still, having to send in the console for repairs once a year is a bit annoying. And I had to use Windows for the first time in a month today, and it sucked ass. Therefore, what I really really truly want for Christmas, Leprechaun Santa, is for Microsoft to burn or collapse or maybe get blowed up by a nuclear weapon of some kind. Thanx.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Nihilist Spasm Band

I went to the Forest City Gallery the other night to see a group of noise music bands. As the name implies, noise music is noise. The instruments used can be traditional, but more often, they are home-made (one dude used a pot with a chain in it as an instrument). They are not tuned to each other. There is very little rhythm or melody. Random chanting or screaming replaces lyrics. Basically, all the defining properties that make music music have been thrown out the window.

But there's something to it. As I sat there with my ears hurting from the extremely loud high-pitched squeal of feedback, there were moments of musical bliss. Even when a bunch of people are just banging out seemingly random sounds, some form of expression, some emotion, still squeaks through. It's like people can't help but create music. Or maybe it's just that people can't help but interpret noise as music. Or maybe it's just that anything remotely pleasing-sounding brings relief after excruciating discord. In any case, while I wouldn't listen to it every day, yeah, there's something to it.

The main act are called The Nihilist Spasm Band. These guys have been around since the 1960s, and there is something strangely awesome about a bunch of old dudes that still get together just to make noise.

Here are pictures:

Nihilist Spasm Band

Disguises. Crazy homemade trumpet thing.

Disguises again. Singer/screamer and chain in a pot.

Forget this guy's name. His noise was entirely electronic, with a bunch of tapes running, and some weird magnet thing that would fuck up the sound.

Here are videos:

Nihilist Spasm Band

Nihilist Spasm Band with guest screaming girl.


Crazy electronic dude (and me forgetting that you can't take videos sideways).

I didn't take this one....but it's the Nihilist Spasm Band being laughed at on Japanese Television. These dudes are world famous.

Edit Dec 8:

OMG, I forgot to show you my button! OMGFG I LOVE BUTTONS!!!!

No music.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ruh Roh

Are we in an economic crisis, or is it a pending economic crisis? Are separatists part of the coalition or not? Is trying to destroy other political parties "part of the democratic process"? Is "there is blame on both sides of the coin" a real saying? Is "prorogue" a made-up word?

Is it "politics is confusing" or "politics are confusing?"

Here is what "prorogue" should actually mean:
  • A World of Warcraft character that is very good at stealth and ganking.
  • The title of the first chapter of Scooby Doo's autobiography.

This post probably makes no sense to most people.

But I Won't Do That

I was thinking, and I thought for a moment that I hadn't left the house today, and I was very disappointed in myself for being so lazy and antisocial. Then I remembered that, no, I went grocery shopping today. And I remembered that I bought frozen meatloaf in a box. And I remembered that I ate it. Then I was even more disappointed in myself.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I got tagged again! This time by Sharkboy. I'm supposed to post the 6th picture on the 6th page of my Flickr account. I wish there was another 6 in there, then it would be like, 6 6 6! The number of the beast! This picture reveals how you will die!

Uh, but, here it is. Just a whole lotta dogs.

Monday, December 01, 2008


New blogfriend Dale tagged me with one of these questionnaire meme things. Since I've already written a novel and my life no longer has purpose or meaning, what the hell else will I do? Here are answers to some intrusive questions:

Five names you go by:

1. Phronk.
Yes, many people still call me Phronk in real life.
2. Mike. A creative short form of my name.
3. Mike the Spike. My sisters call me this. I don't know why. It's probably some horrible inside joke at my expense.
4. Woneloaf. I am a level 64 dwarven hunter on the Maelstrom server. Since I see a lot of my friends more in World of Warcraft than in World of Reality, I think this counts as a name I go by.
5. Woof *face lick*. A lot of dogs call me this.

Three things you are wearing right now:

1. Family Guy underwear.
2. A moustache (and beard) left over from Movember.
3. An expression of complete and utter indifference.

Two things you want very badly at the moment:

1. A chocolate truffle. Or maybe a chocolate truffle cake. Or maybe a chocolate truffle cake topped with chocolate truffles with a side of chocolate truffle ice cream. I would also like to create an episode of a TV show in which a space ship is overrun with chocolate truffles that must all be eaten in order to save the universe. It will be called The Trouble with Truffles, and it will star me.
2. Mila Kunis. I had this dream last night where I was working part-time in some office, and I stayed to work late one day because it was too snowy outside to leave. Then Mila Kunis came in and I found out I was using her desk. So I let her check her email and flirted with her and it was wonderful, since she is both extremely hot, and plays World of Warcraft (Woneloaf on Maelstrom, Mila! Look me up!)

Three people who will probably fill this out:

How about, if you like filling out these things, just do it and pretend you saw your name here.

Two things you did last night:

1. Finished writing 50000 words of a novel (can't say I finished the novel itself, because the story still isn't complete).
2. Went to a restaurant called Tasty Coast, on Springbank Drive, with my parents. The menu had a nice variety of Asian foods, and what we ended up getting was quite tasty.

Two things you ate today:

1. I ate a leftover chicken ball at about 1 in the morning, so that counts as "today."
2. Hot chocolate with a spoonful of cream cheese mixed in. It was good despite a few chunkage problems. I'll write about it on my food blog if it ever actually exists.

Two people you last talked to on the phone:

I can't remember. I don't really do phones any more, with text messaging and the internet and World of Warcraft replacing real interaction. I think my dad, and maybe Jardo.

Two things you are going to do tomorrow:

1. Work on my neglected thesis and dozens of other research projects.
2. Maybe pick up our tickets to see the Trailer Park Boys live. That's gonna be de-cent!

Two longest car rides:

1. Edmonton Alberta to London Ontario. When we first moved here. I don't remember much of it, but it was long.
2. London Ontario to the east coast.

Two of your favourite beverages

1. Bailey's Irish Cream
2. The blood of one thousand virgins Coffee