Category: Best Of

Top 50 Albums Of 2013

“I can’t get my head around it
I keep feeling smaller and smaller”

Press play above or listen via Spotify.

Top 50 Albums Of 2013

1.    The National – Trouble Will Find Me      

2.    On An On – Give In      

3.    Justin Timberlake – The Complete 20/20 Experience      

4.    City And Colour – The Hurry And The Harm      

5.    Typhoon – White Lighter      

6.    Lorde – Pure Heroine      

7.    Arctic Monkeys – AM      

8.    Little Comets – Life Is Elsewhere      

9.    Sara Bareilles – The Blessed Unrest      

10.   Daughter – If You Leave      

11.   Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady      

12.   Drake – Nothing Was The Same      

13.   J. Cole – Born Sinner      

14.   Atoms For Peace – AMOK      

15.   Washed Out – Paracosm      

16.   Childish Gambino – Because The Internet      

17.   Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II      

18.   Rhye – Woman      

19.   Jon Hopkins – Immunity      

20.   Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City      

Click here to see the rest of the playlist…

My Top 10 Films Of 2012

My favorite film of last year… Les Misérables.

Top 10
1.  Les Misérables
2.  The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
3.  Searching For Sugar Man
4.  Argo
5.  The Dark Knight Rises
6.  The Avengers
7.  Looper
8.  The Intouchables
9.  Flight
10. Ted

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
Indie Game
Zero Dark Thirty
End Of Watch Lincoln
Wreck-It Ralph
The Impossible
Django Unchained

Significant Letdowns (in no particular order):
Cloud Atlas
Moonrise Kingdom
Life Of Pi
Beasts Of The Southern Wild
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Top Albums Of 2013… So Far

“I can hardly stand upright / Hit my head up on the light
I have faith but don’t believe it / It’s not there enough to leave it”

2013 is halfway over.  So I thought I’d round up my favorite albums from the first six months of the year and sort ‘em out.  Here are my top 25 LP releases of 2013 so far.

If an album was released after June 30th it will have to wait until my year-end list.  Also, there are always some albums that I’m late getting to, so if your favorite record missed that cut… it’s probably cuz it’s awful.

Press play above or listen via Spotify.

Top Albums Of 2013… So Far

1.    The National – Trouble Will Find Me       (track: “Don’t Swallow The Cap”)

2.    Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience       (track: “Mirrors”)

3.    City And Colour – The Hurry And The Harm       (track: “Thirst”)

4.    On An On – Give In       (track: “The Hunter”)

5.    Atoms For Peace – AMOK       (track: “Judge Jury And Executioner)

6.    Fall Out Boy – Save Rock And Roll       (track: “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)”)

7.    J. Cole – Born Sinner       (track: “Power Trip (ft. Miguel)”)

8.    Kanye West – Yeezus       (track: “Black Skinhead”)

9.    The Neighbourhood – I Love You.       (track: “Sweater Weather”)

10.   Sigur Rós – Kveikur [“Candlewick”]       (track: “Ísjaki [“Iceberg”]”)

11.   Local Natives – Hummingbird       (track: “Heavy Feet”)

12.   Dawes – Stories Don’t End       (track: “From A Window Seat”)

13.   Jimmy Eat World – Damage       (track: “I Will Steal You Back”)

14.   Cayucas – Bigfoot       (track: “High School Lover”)

15.   Leagues – You Belong Here       (track: “Spotlight”)

Click here to see the rest of the playlist…

Top EPs Of 2013… So Far

“With this love like a hole
Swallowed my soul”

Press play above or listen via Spotify.

My 5 favorite EPs from the first six months of 2013.

2013 Top 5 EPs… So Far

1.  X Ambassadors – Love Songs Drug Songs   (track: “Litost”)

2.  WALK THE MOON – Tightrope   (track: “anywayican”)

3.  The 1975 – Music For Cars   (track: “Chocolate”)

4.  Sons Of The Sea – Compass   (track: “Lady Black”)

5.  Wild Nothing – Empty Estate   (track: “A Dancing Shell”)

2012 Top 10 EPs (with Sampler)

“You give me life still, let me breathe

Keep my face on, you’re what I need

Leave the lights on, you’re all I see

Getting wasted, you’re all I need”

Press play above or listen via Spotify.

I don’t consider EPs when making my list for best albums (LPs) of the year, so I’ve constructed a separate ranking here of my top 10 EPs of 2012.  Below is the list, including the name of the track I put in the above sampler.

2012 Top 10 EPs

1.  Kitten – Cut It Out   (track: “Cut It Out”)

2.  The 1975 – Sex   (track: “Sex”)

3.  The Antlers – Undersea   (track: “Endless Ladder”)

4.  Dum Dum Girls – End Of Daze   (track: “Trees And Flowers”)

5.  School Of Seven Bells – Put Your Sad Down   (track: “Secret Days”)

6.  Daley – Alone Together   (track: “Those Who Wait”)

7.  Ben Howard – The Burgh Island E.P.   (track: “Burgh Island”)

8.  Frightened Rabbit – State Hospital   (track: “Home From War”)

9.  Azure Ray – As Above So Below   (track: “The Heart Has Its Reasons”)

10.  Lana Del Rey – Paradise   (track: “Ride”)

The Critics’ Top Albums Of 2012

An aggregate of “best of” lists results in

this year-end master ranking.

The following are the critics’ 50 best albums of 2012 as based on an aggregate of 72 publications’ (from the US, UK, Ireland, and Canada) year-end lists.

The majority #1 album of 2012:   Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE

Follow these links to listen to a selected song from each album in spotify:
Critics’ Top Albums Of 2012 – Disc 1 and Disc 2

Critics’ Top Albums Of 2012

1.    Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE

2.    Grimes – Visions

3.    Tame Impala – Lonerism

4.    Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city

5.    Swans – The Seer

6.    Fiona Apple – The Idle Wheel Is Wiser…

7.    Grizzly Bear – Shields

8.    Chromatics – Kill For Love

9.    Japandroids – Celebration Rock

10.   Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

11.   Beach House – Bloom

12.   Jack White – Blunderbuss

13.   Jessie Ware – Devotion

14.   Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

15.   ∆ – An Awesome Wave

Click through for the rest of the 50!

2012 Top 50 Albums Sampler

“We tore up the walls.  We slept on couches.

We lifted this house.  We lifted this house.”

Press play above or listen via Spotify.

Over here you can find the complete list of 50 albums.

2012 Top 50 Albums Sampler

Track Listing:

1.  WALK THE MOON – Anna Sun

2.  Foreign Fields – Fake Arms

3.  Of Monsters And Men – Dirty Paws

4.  Dry The River – No Rest

5.  Frank Ocean – Pyramids

6.  Beach House – Myth

7.  Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)

8.  Port St. Willow – North

9.  Geographer – Life Of Crime

10.  Paper Route – Letting You Let Go

11.  Metric – Breathing Underwater

12.  California Wives – Purple

13.  Reptar – Orifice Origami

14.  School Of Seven Bells – Low Times

15.  Jonquil – History Of Headaches

Click here to see the rest of the playlist…

50 Best Albums Of 2012

“I must’ve tumbled out of a plane

Cause I free-fell all year”

It’s time to look back at 2012 and discuss our favorites in music and film. While my list for best movies of the year won’t be completed for another month as I catch up on some awards season favorites, I’ve digested 163 albums (and previewed many more) and derived this list of 50 stand-outs.

Stay tuned next week for the top 10 EPs of the year (which, as such, have been excluded from this list.)

My #1 album of 2012:   WALK THE MOON

CLAIMER:   I’m a sucker for hooks. A catchy tune gets me every time. This album was my home for happy.

Follow this link to listen to a selected song from each album in spotify: 2012 Top 50 Albums Sampler

50 Best Albums Of 2012


2.    Foreign Fields – Anywhere But Where I Am

3.    Of Monsters And Men – My Head Is An Animal

4.    Dry The River – Shallow Bed

5.    Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE

6.    Beach House – Bloom

7.    Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city

8.    Port St. Willow – Holiday

9.    Geographer – Myth

10.   Paper Route – The Peace Of Wild Things

11.   Metric – Synthetica

12.   California Wives – Art History

13.   Reptar – Body Faucet

14.   School Of Seven Bells – Ghostory

15.   Jonquil – History Of Headaches

Click through for the rest of the 50!

My Top 11 Films Of 2011 **REVISED**

And the winner is…  Drive

**This list was revised to include “In A Better World” which upon viewing could not, in good conscience, be left off.**

I realize we are over halfway through 2012, but I was finally able to see all the movies I wanted to before making this list.  So let’s look back at the previous calendar year in film.  The following is a list of my favorite movies of 2011.

11.  Shame

An excruciating plunge into the world of sexual addiction.  The shame of Fassbender’s character continues to sink its teeth into you well after the credits roll.  The acting is possessed and unruly, leading it to be a very uncomfortable film to watch.  This is one of the most provocative portrayals of a tortured and compulsive existence to which I’ve endured witness.

10.  Moneyball

Six words: Brad Pitt. Jonah Hill. Aaron Sorkin.

9.  Take Shelter

Probably a victim of mis-marketing, Take Shelter is actually a psychological drama; and one of the most terror-ific kind.  Ambiguous endings seem to be the theme this year as we must decide for ourselves whether Shannon’s character is truly mad or remarkably prophetic.

8.  We Need To Talk About Kevin

While this is not the kind of movie that I would casually recommend to someone, it deserves commendation.  Great editing (especially sound), great directing, great acting, and great style.  It’s a grisly and harrowing story, and one I’m still thinking about weeks later.

7.  The Artist

Nothing short of amazing.  What is accomplished with no (well, almost no) sound is incredible.  I’m not much a fan for silent film, but somehow, perhaps magically, director Michel Hazanavicius has both captured and set free the wonder of cinema.

6.  Incendies

Boasting some gorgeous cinematic moments and a story you’ll have to see to believe, Incendies is my favorite foreign film of the year.

5.  Melancholia

The more time that passes the more I look back on this film with adoration.  While there’s a lot left unsaid, Melancholia is begging for its audience to bring themselves to the experience and embody the gaps.  With an obtuse balance of surrealism, minimalism, and meaning, Melancholia is a visionary, albeit demanding, experience.

4.  Warrior

Much how 127 Hours made my top 10 last year, Warrior holds its place as the most emotionally moving film of the year for me.  I’m a sucker for a good martial arts story (thanks TMNT) and the dynamic between the brothers was intensely significant to me.

3.  In A Better World

In A Better World is more aptly described by its Danish title, Hævnen, which means Vengeance but also serves as a play on the spelling of “Heaven.”  It is a subtle yet complex and deep drama about the struggles inherent in human co-existence.  No one character is without flaw.  There is no hero and there nearly is no villain(s) (unless you count the Sudanese warlord among the primary cast.) Susanne Bier has once again directed a masterpiece.  Beautiful filmmaking and gorgeous cinematography undergird this Academy Award winning film that all at once captures our weakness and our beauty.

2.  Martha Marcy Mae Marlene

I was completely engrossed in this film.  I loved the cinematography and art direction.  The performances were impeccable, especially by the star Elizabeth Olsen.  The ambiguous final scene, albeit frustrating at first, is the only way this psychological suspense story could “end”, and opens up a multitude of interpretations I was blind to during my entranced viewing.  This is a complex, dark, and wonderfully constructed work.

1.  Drive

I love this movie.  I never watch movies more than once so the fact that I’ve seen this three times speaks volumes.  If you saw last year’s list you might remember that I’m defenseless against highly stylized films; and this 80s-noir thriller-drama is, for me, one of only a few five-star films of 2011.

Honorable Mentions:

Margin Call

Intelligent and well-acted.  An engrossing movie for an aspiring Quant like myself.

Horrible Bosses

The funniest film of the year (yes, sorry Bridesmaids), Horrible Bosses is hilarious, a credit to the pitch perfect cast who are able to maximize this irreverent and immodest office comedy.

The Help

Another powerhouse performance movie that affected me deeply.

A Separation

While it’s almost less about divorce than the suspenseful drama who-dun-it that propels the story along, the relational complexities of this broken family are the soul of this story.  I can find nothing wrong with this film.  You will remember it.

Significant Letdowns:


Watching Paquin’s character, Lisa, emotionally vomit on everything in sight for two and a half hours is not my idea of a good time.  Turns out, it doesn’t make for a very good movie either.  If there was an actual story through-line buried in this wreckage of a handful of superbly acted and existentially meaningful scenes, it’s too much to ask to unbury it.  Not to mention that the exercise of sifting through debris for meaning is a wholly pretentious one at that.

The Tree Of Life

A mesmerizing journey for the senses, The Tree Of Life, for all it does right, sinks its roots deep into Malick’s pretentious theology-art and doesn’t offer any symmetry from which to interpret its abstractions.

The Interrupters

A good documentary gets you to care about the subject(s) or the cause.  This did neither.

Certified Copy

Are you satisfied with a copy, or do you want the original?  I was not only unsatisfied by this “certified copy” of a disintegrated relationship, I was irritated.  It’s not that I find it pretentious or too artistic, it’s more that it’s shambling to the point of frustration.  I’m aware this film is a bit of a mystery, framed in the form of a question, but the lack of something real to sink one’s teeth into is both revelatory of my rationalist/realist disposition and the infuriating ambiguity of the nature of the co-stars’ relationship.  This movie should come with a warning, or at least a more directly offered foreshadowing of the duality of the make-believe that dominates the majority of the runtime.  But if the question to be answered is not whether it’s real or fiction, but rather whether you are content with a good copy or prefer the real thing, Certified Copy wholly succeeds.  And I clearly prefer the latter.

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My Top 50 Albums Of 2011

Bon Iver…  was there ever any doubt?

I listened to 112 albums from 2011. The following are my top 50 albums of the year.  It’s a personal list based on my tastes and preferences and it should be noted that the rankings are inspired by my song ratings on each album and their cumulative valuation. #nerdalert

You can play a select mix of 50 songs from each of the 50 albums by clicking on the image to the right.

My 50 Best Albums Of 2011

#1 - Bon Iver       Bon Iver, Bon Iver
#2 - Other Lives       Tamer Animals
#3 - Wye Oak       Civilian
#4 - Beirut         The Rip Tide
#5 - Dawes       Nothing Is Wrong
#6 - The Weeknd       House Of Balloons
#7 - Youth Lagoon       The Year Of Hibernation
#8 - Treefight For Sunlight       A Collection Of Vibrations For Your Skull
#9 - The Antlers       Burst Apart
#10 - Caveman       CoCo Beware
#11 - City And Colour       Little Hell
#12 - Saigon       The Greatest Story Never Told
#13 - tUnE-yArDs       W H O K I L L
#14 - Lykke Li       Wounded Rhymes
#15 - Active Child       You Are All I See
#16 - Radiohead       The King Of Limbs
#17 - Incubus       If Not Now, When?
#18 - M83       Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
#19 - Switchfoot       Vice Verses
#20 - Seryn       This Is Where We Are
#21 - The Milk Carton Kids       Prologue
#22 - Fleet Foxes       Helplessness Blues
#23 - Slow Club       Paradise
#24 - Laura Marling         A Creature I Don’t Know
#25 –    Lia Ices            Grown Unknown

Click to reveal #26-50!