Top 10 Albums of 2013

Brand New, The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me

“The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me”

It’s list time!

While 2012 had been the year I fully switched to streaming instead of buying and discovered a lot of new music, I mostly stuck to the familiar in 2013. Only a handful of albums released this year made it into my rotation, which is not to say that there havn’t been some great records, just that I didn’t feel like seeking them out.

Here are the ten albums I listened to the most in the last 12 months:

  1. The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me” (Brand New, 2006)
  2. The Hazards of Love” (The Decemberists, 2009)
  3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
    (Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, 2007)
  4. Midnight Boom” (The Kills, 2008)
  5. Lost (Season 3)” (Michael Giacchino, 2008)
  6. The 20/20 Experience” (Justin Timberlake, 2013)
  7. Mosquito” (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 2013)
  8. Blood Pressures” (The Kills, 2011)
  9. TRON: Legacy” (Daft Punk, 2010)
  10. Violent Femmes” (Violent Femmes, 1983)

Four of these were in my Top 10 last year, too: “The Devil and God” at #7, “Blood Pressures” at #8, “Midnight Boom” at #9, and “The Assassination” at #10.

Oh Land

With the Simpsons tournament moved off and my thoughts on movies and TV mostly shared through Twitter these days, what else is there to blog about? Right: music.

My current obsession is Danish pop singer Oh Land, whose latest album, “Wishbone,” offers some pretty catchy tunes, and its singles make for some even catchier music videos:

Oh Land – Pyromaniac (Vimeo)

Oh Land – Renaissance Girls (Vimeo)

And two of her earlier videos that I like: “White Nights” and “Sun of a Gun.”

Do It With a Rockstar

I talked about my current favorite music video last week, and if you know me then you know that I never have just one favorite something. So today I want to talk about my other current favorite music video.

Amanda Palmer - Do It With a Rockstar

It’s Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra‘s “Do It With a Rockstar,” and you can watch it, depending on your whereabouts, on Vimeo or YouTube. (It’s NSFW.)

Amanda Palmer has been popping up in my periphery for a while. I’ve seen her name in my Twitter feed attached to links to her TED Talk (“The art of asking”), her Kickstarter project to fund her 2012 album “Theatre Is Evil,” her poem for Dzhokhar, and most recently her open letter to The Daily Mail.

I have to admit that I paid little to no attention to these things.

But then I started listening to the music.

(I’ve tried to reconstruct how exactly that happened, but all I could put together was that I first listened to her song “The Killing Type” on September 14, 2012, and then to the whole album – which you can ‘buy’ for whatever price you deem fair – on that same day. Judging by my Twitter archive, other significant things I did that day were meeting a super nice dog in a waiting room and binge-watching “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix. So all in all a pretty good day.)

I don’t watch a lot of music videos. I used to, but I don’t have TV anymore, 99% of all music videos on YouTube won’t play in Germany and the other sites that offer them are all terribly clunky and not something I’ve got time or energy for.

But every once in a while I will stumble across or actively seek one out, and that’s what happened in the early hours of June 4, while I was writing my tirade about peeing. I needed a break, the song was just playing, and I was curious to see what the people performing this wonderful music might look like.

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra

Turns out they’re all incredibly awesome.

I think the video very much speaks for itself, but if you want to learn more about its making you can read Palmer’s first-hand account on her website, including lots of great backstage photographs. And there’s an interview with her about it on, too.

The video was directed by The Flaming LipsWayne Coyne (awesome) and prominently features Stoya (awesome), who you may know from, I dunno… YouPorn (NSFW, duh.), but also from the slightly less NSFW – and, if you ask me, much more interesting – Hysterical Literature project. She also writes articles for VICE and takes photographs of her cats for Instagram.

She’s also one of the two subjects – James Deen is the other – in one of my favorite photographs, by Clayton Cubitt:

Click image for nakedness.

Click image for nakedness.

(I could write about how both Stoya and James Deen seem to be extremely interesting, sex-positive people who, somewhat disappointingly, appear in porn that is – with a few exceptions – neither, but maybe that’s for another time.)

Anyway. Amanda Palmer. Great song, fantastic video.

Oh, and she’s married to Neil Gaiman (awesome).

My Ten Favorite Albums of 2012

Inspired by Oli’s post, here are the ten records I’ve listened to and loved the most this past year. I wanted to write a few words for each of these, but halfway through I remembered that I hate writing about music, so a list and some pictures is all you’re getting. Click on the covers to listen to the album on Spotify. My Top Ten Tracks of 2012 and a few word on my changing listening habits are here.

  1. John Fullbright – From The Ground Up (2012)

  2. Cat Power – Sun (2012)

  3. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (2012)

  4. Jack White – Blunderbuss (2012)

  5. Lana Del Rey – Born to Die (2012)

  6. Father John Misty – Fear Fun (2012)

  7. Brand New – The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me (2006)

  8. The Kills – Blood Pressures (2011)

  9. The Kills – Midnight Boom (2008)

  10. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

The Year in Review: Top Ten Songs and a few words

The Kills

The Kills

My Top Ten Songs 2012

  1. The KillsNight Train
    This was a “UK Download Bonus Track” from 2008’s “Midnight Boom,” so I never knew it existed until Spotify came along this year, where it quickly became my most listened-to song. As you may know I’m seriously in love with most Kills tracks, but for me, this one goes even beyond that, maybe even surpassing No Wow. (But let’s not say things we can’t take back.)
  2. Knife PartyBonfire
    As heard in Rian Johnson‘s excellent episode of “Breaking Bad” this summer, this was all the dubstep I needed this year. Try listening to this on your bike or in your car and not have fun.
  3. Lana Del ReyBlue Jeans
    Most of her songs took a while before I warmed to them (I’m still not sold on all), but I was mesmerized by “Blue Jeans” from the get-go. And I needed a new synthetic pop star to marvel at ever since Lady Gaga got stale a couple of years ago.
  4. The HeavyAnd When I Die
    A great discovery from one of my favorite curated Spotify playlist, “Best of KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic,” this song was apparently featured in season three of “True Blood,” which I haven’t seen, but the soundtrack is promising.
  5. RJD2Ghostwriter
    As utilized to perfection in this amazing video.
  6. Fiona Apple Every Single Night
    No explanation needed. So instead here’s a link to Apple in conversation with Marc Maron. Gotta love Fiona Apple.
  7. The Belle BrigadeI Didn’t Mean It
    Not sure how this song came to me (it’s on the pretty great soundtrack to “Twilight, Episode 4,” but I haven’t seen that, either). Awesome lyrics!
  8. John FullbrightSatan and St. Paul
    Fullbright and his excellent album “From the Ground Up” came to my attention when Ken Tucker reviewed it on Fresh Air in May. I’ll write more about it when I post my Top Ten Albums of 2012.
  9. Lianne La HavasFinal Form
    Another one where I’m not sure how I know it, but I’m glad I do!
  10. Beat TorrentBack Again
    I have a playlist called “Running music” and it’s just this song, over and over.

And, if you’re interested, a couple of words about my changing listening habits:

The last physical piece of music I bought was “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me” on seriously limited edition vinyl. (And if you ever have to buy the last of anything, the best album ever recorded is a good choice.)

That was a 13 months ago. 2012 was the first year since I started acquiring music that I didn’t buy any LP, CD, cassette, or what have you. I did spend money on music. Some on concerts (Boy, Wallis Bird, die ärzte, Florence + the Machine, Dispatch, probably one more I’m forgetting right now), the rest on Spotify.

Yes, 2012 was the year I switched to streaming, and paid one, at that. Movies as well as music, but let’s focus on the music, for now.

I pay around 10 Euros ($13) per month for unlimited streaming, I get to keep up to 3,333 tracks (which I’m nowhere near of) offline on my phone and PCs, I don’t get any ads. Yes, not everything is on Spotify, but most new stuff is and I have already imported my Led Zeppelin CDs and Beatles records, so I’m pretty much all set. And it’s not like I’m not allowed to ever buy records ever again.

And as you can see in my Top 10 Spotify allowed me to discover a lot of music I wouldn’t have listened to without it. I’ve subscribed to a lot of great playlists (here‘s a pretty useful one) and even created a couple of popular ones myself.

And then there’s the radio feature (think Pandora), and the apps. (The apps!) Sorry if this turned into a commercial somehow, but, what can I say, I like Spotify.

More lists coming soon, including my revised Top Ten Movies of 2011, because I know you’re all on the edge of your seats about that.

Comments and your own recommendations welcome, of course!

Music: “Bonfire”

So my idea of a weekly Top 5 isn’t really working out. Some weeks I don’t listen to enough songs, others I just listen to the same song over and over. In both cases there’s not enough data for a meaningful Top 5. So instead I’ll just continue what I did two weeks ago and just share some of the songs that are currently in my heavy rotation.

I’ll be embedding links to Spotify, because that’s what I use to listen to music to (and, frankly, so should you) but I’ll try to find links to working videos (V), too.

Very much my “song of the moment” comes, no surprise, from “Breaking Bad.” The best drama on TV also has one of the best soundtracks – this playlist has almost every song to ever appear on the show and is updated weekly. The episode from a week ago, directed by Rian Johnson (everybody go see “Brick,” it’s awesome), opened with an ass-kicking montage set to Knife Party’s “Bonfire” (V), which has been playing on my way to work and back every day since.

[Top 5] Songs for the week ending 29 July 2012

I’ve listened to 384 tracks last weeks (that’s about 55 per day), but, mostly thanks to Spotify’s huge catalog, only 68 of them (under 20%) were songs played more than once. So, like last week, there isn’t enough data to give you a meaningful Top 5.

Instead, here are a couple of song’s I’ve starred (marked as a favorite) last week:

The Enterprise” by Jerry Goldsmith, from the score to “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”

Beautiful Emilie” by Keziah Jones.

From Now On” by The Features and “I Didn’t Mean It” by The Belle Brigade, from the “Breaking Dawn, part 1″ soundtrack.

It’s Time” by Cityreal & Wes Mackey
Cityreal & Wes Mackey - Good Morning Blues