Archive for January, 2005

Kids do the darndest things

Jan 17, 2005 in Linkage

In the spirit of Tard-Blog (a terribly hilarious blog written by a series of Special Ed. teachers), comes I Am A Japanese School Teacher, a series of anecdotes about a black(?) American man teaching English in Kyoto junior high schools.

Time to put the ‘P’ in front of “resident Bush”

Jan 15, 2005 in Current Events

On the eve of his re-inauguration, President Bush appears to be acting a little more… presidential in anticipation of his second term.

He has recently expressed regret over his tough cowboy talk such as “bring ‘em on” and “dead or alive.” He also appears to have done some serious reading, despite his publicly anti-intellectual posture.

Signs seem to point to a change in Bush, a slightly more refined president than the cowboy maverick who governed his first term by the seat of his pants. Now that he’s a lame duck, liberals can take comfort in the fact that the second Bush term will probably be less interesting than his first (barring a scandal or other earthshaking event). I predict that, despite the firm Republican grip on the federal government, the GOP and the President will find that advancing their agenda is much tougher than they thought.

And the number one song this week in Germany is…

Jan 11, 2005 in Music

A novelty song about a crocodile sung by a four year old girl is the number one hit single in Germany this week. Schnappi das kleine Krokodil started out as (what else) an internet phenomenon, and has inspired several remixes on it’s way to the top. mp3’s can be downloaded here.

My Favorite Albums of 2004

Jan 08, 2005 in Music

It’s time to partake in that new year’s tradition of listing one’s favorite albums of the past year. There’s really nothing on this list that isn’t present on hundreds of other top album lists, I just thought I’d throw in my twelve cents. So without further ado…

1. Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News: Modest Mouse finally shed the annoying idiosyncracies of their past work and left us with an album of breathtaking genius. The larger listening public rewarded them appropriately by making this album a near-platinum hit.

2 - 3. Madvillian - Madvilliany / MF Doom - Mmm… Food: Madvillian, the collaboration between MF Doom and Madlib, became every white music critic/geek’s favorite hip-hop album of the year. The MF Doom solo album, for me, became the one hip-hop album this year that I couldn’t stop listening to.

4. Brian Wilson - Smile: The greatest album never released was finally completed this year, and it didn’t disappoint. 38 years wasn’t too long, now was it?

5. Nellie McKay - Get Away from Me: This precociously talented redhead burst onto the scene this year with a double disc debut of witty, genre-defying piano jazz stylings. Nellie was embroiled in scandal when it was revealed that she lied about her age and possibly exaggerated parts of her biography. But the revelation didn’t seem to affect Nellie’s career, as the public responded “Who the hell is Nellie McKay?”

6 - 7. Danger Mouse - The Grey Album / The Kleptones - A Night at the Hip-Hopera: 2004 was the Year of the Mash-up. The Grey Album, a mash-up between Jay-Z’s Black Album and The Beatles’ White Album, inspired a series of poorly executed copycat efforts involving bands such as Weezer, Pavement and Metallica. A Night at the Hip-Hopera was an epic mix that paired the Queen catalog with some of the best-known rhymes in hip-hop.

8. Deerhoof - Milk Man: Deerhoof honed their no-wave inspired pop weirdness into their finest album yet. At times sweet, mysterious, experimental, and raucous.

9. Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat: The Fiery Furnaces debut album posed this married duo as a quirky, poppier White Stripes. Their sophomore effort, Blueberry Boat, proceeded to destroy that conception. A dense, sprawling album that constantly shifts from one musical idea to the next, sometimes several times within the same song.

10. Dizzee Rascal - Boy in Da Corner and Showtime: Dizzee saw two albums released in the States this year, the reissue of his debut album, and it’s followup, Showtime. Dizzee has pioneered a volatile mix of dancehall, hip-hop and garage into a genre that some have dubbed grime.

11. The Streets - A Grand Don’t Come for Free: The UK’s other big hip-hop artist of the past year. This got a lot of play on my radio show.

12. Joanna Newsom - The Milk-Eyed Mender: With a voice that sounds like a cross between Bjork and Iris Dement on helium, Joanna Newsom presented us with one of the quirkiest albums of 2004. Newsom accompanies her idiosyncratic voice with some accomplished harp playing and the occasional harpsichord. Charming, but can be difficult to listen to in one sitting.

A few other albums I enjoyed this year:

Rogue Wave - Out of the Shadow
of montreal - Satanic Panic in the Attic
Stereolab - Margerine Eclipse
Big Songs for Little Attention Spans: A 100 song mix of short songs
Aqui - The First Trip Out
Air - Talkie Walkie

The great albums of 2004 I’d like to hear, but havent:

Devendra Banhart - Rejoicing in the Hands
Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans
Animal Collective - Sung Tongs
Nick Cave - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

The Overrated: Every year, there’s at least one band whose debut is hailed as the second coming of Jesus. Massive critical acclaim and worship follows, and curious music fans rush out to buy the album. A backlash inevitably ensues. These are my picks for the most overrated bands of 2004.

The Arcade Fire
Franz Ferdinand
The Killers
The Libertines
Overrated repeats: Wilco, Interpol

I’m not dead, just extremely lazy.

Jan 08, 2005 in Personal

Yes, I know I haven’t updated since before Christmas. First, my PC blew up. Then I went home for ten days. Then I came back and fixed the PC. Also, I’m on break.

For those of you who are tech-savvy and like to upgrade your own computers, remember to replace the power supply every five years of so, especially after you’ve put hundreds of dollars of new hardware into it.

I am officially sick of hearing the word ‘tsunami’. Once time has seperated us from this tragedy, I can see the word snaking it’s way into normal everyday conversation:

(Tasteless used car commercial) “It’s a TSUNAMI of SAVINGS!”

(Mom scolding child) “Ashley, clean your room! It looks like a tsunami tore through it.”

Unfortunately, for you aspiring rockers out there, the name Tsunami has already been taken; more than once according to AMG.

Were it not for said computer failure, I would have updated previously with a pithy entry on the ‘disaster porn’ that pervaded our airwaves for days after the disaster, as if no other news was taking place other than the aftermath. But alas, the moment has passed.