Friday, December 30, 2011

The best of 2011 - #8-10

So... about timing.

I had originally intended to spread these posts out, and have them finished by the wrap-up of the year, but instead of that, I decided that I would give people something to read in the doldrums of early January, so that's why I'm doing the bottom chunk of my top 10 today, and then I'll devote a bit more space to #6 and #7, and then give each of the top 5 their own posts, and rightly so, because they're all rad.

Yeah... that's the way it went. It completely wasn't that I just forgot to get on these posts early enough. Nope. Not that at all.

Anyway, so here are the bottom three of the best 10 albums of 2011. They're good stuff. I'm including a video for one stand-out track for each, but as you might imagine, you don't get on a top-10 list without having more than one awesome song, so I'd recommend giving the entire albums some serious listening time and attention. Do it. You know you want to.

Without further ado -

#10: Social Distortion - Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes

Listen to this pretty much anywhere, but make sure you slap it on while you're driving at least once.

Good old fashioned rock and roll - heavy guitars, great licks and anthemic choruses - without the rampant Nicklebackishness that drives so many people to schmaltzy indie "rock" lately.

Presenting: Bakersfield.

#9: Hugh Laurie- Let Them Talk

Man... is there anything Hugh Laurie can't do? From British comedy genius (do yourself and your unsplit sides a favour and spend some time with Fry and Laurie and Blackadder) to prime time American medical drama crusty genius to blues great.

He's always been an awesome musician, and all of House's reflective piano diddling has been Laurie himself rocking out, so for people who've been paying attention, there's no surprise that this album is great, but with the collection of classic gospel/jazz/blues tunes, and the selection of talented guests, Laurie's got himself an awesome offering in this one.

Presenting: St. James Infirmary

#8: Cake - Showroom of Compassion

Have you ever tried to describe Cake's music to anyone? It's really, really hard.

"Well... the singer sortof talks, but he's singing, and there's a trumpet, but no ska or shout choruses, and there's a lot of percussion, but usually only stuff that's used once or twice per song... here. Just listen."

That tends to be how it goes. Yes, it's hard to describe a lot of bands' music with ease and do it justice, but something about Cake has always been distinctly other from other bands active at the same time, which results in a timeless quality to their tunes. You hear a solid Cake track for the first time, and the next time you hear it, it's like you've always been listening to it.

Presenting: Sick of You

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The best of 2011 - the rest

'Tis the season for a lot of things, but chief among them is weighing in to the wild and wondrous world of listing your own personal top 10 list for music produced/released over the past year.

As you've probably guessed, I'm in.

Before fully launching into my 10 favourite albums of the year, I should give the nod to those that got honourable mentions - those that contained a few gems and/or were by bands that I generally like, but that didn't actually contain quite enough solid Grade A tunes to warrant a top 10 appearance.

Those other notables include (in no particular order):

Weird Al Yankovic - Alpocalypse
Flogging Molly - Speed of Darkness
Blink-182 - Neighborhoods
Eddie Vedder - Ukulele Songs
Dropkick Murphys - Going Out in Style
The Lonely Island - Turtleneck & Chain
Travis Barker - Give the Drummer Some
Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
My Morning Jacket - Circuital
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Tao of the Dead

Some of these really surprised me by not actually making it on to my top 10, particularly Travis Barker, Trail of Dead and the new Foo Fighters, all of which have been on heavy rotation on my iPod since they came out, but there you have it.

I'll be back in a day or two with my #10 album. Until then, I recommend (highly) that you follow some of those links if you've not had the pleasure of making those artists' acquaintance, and introduce yourself to their awesomeness. It'll be worth it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Too good to not post...

I'm hesitant to start posting recycled content so soon, but I can't help but share this particular gem.

My first son, Thomas, was born in December, 2008, and my wife and I had our second, Oliver, almost two months ago, in mid-September.

Many (most?) of my wife's friends from her home town are married and parents, but virtually none of my friends are either, so I find myself talking about what it's like to be a parent.

To try and explain it to someone else, it's a little like trying to describe a colour to a blind/colourblind person. Maybe language only fails me, though, and someone better with it could do an admirable job of explaining it.

Which brings me to Jeff Atwood's spectacular post on fatherhood on his otherwise-non-parent-centric blog, Coding Horror.

Atwood uses his own words, and those of others, to paint a pretty accurate picture of what it's like to have your life no only turned upside down by having children, but also inverted, painted, reupholstered and then transmogrified.

It's great. Read it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


So Tumblr got boring and irritating, all at the same time, so I went back to Blogger.

There are apparently some problems with Blogger that weren't around the last time I came here, so I'm still here with the generic background until I either get sick of trying to find out how it can be physically possible to have an image that's 1800x1600 that somehow still manages to be smaller than 300K (come to think of it, why in the world would Google not be able to put even a slightly higher limit on what image you could upload to use as a custom backgroundLink anyway?) and go back to a normal template, or I'll figure it out and stick with this one.

Anyway, to "business."

This morning I got into a conversation with a co-worker who (foolishly) disputed that well known fact that Snoopy vs The Red Baron by The Royal Guardsmen was a lesser Christmas song than White Christmas as performed by Bing Crosby.

I know. Ridiculous, right?

So anyway, I leave it up to you, whoever ends up finding this particular corner of the Interwebs. Here, for your viewing/listening pleasure: the greatest Christmas song ever recorded, and that Bing Crosby one.

Ta for now.

And, as a special bonus for those people who like their Snoopy with a little Ska, I present: The Hotshots!