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Archive for January, 2010

Top 10 Albums of 2009

I’m gonna keep the descriptions short simply because there’s ten of them and I’m lazy. Just listen to them, the songs speak for themselves.

10. “Sainthood” by Tegan and Sara

This one surprised the hell out of me. Not because I didn’t think they were any good, but just because I never thought I’d listen to them. Well I did, and I’m glad.

Best song: The Cure

9. “Vancouver” by Matthew Good

Matthew Good has always been one of my favourites. Not only does his music rock, but he’s probably Canada’s most impressive lyricist. This is his best solo album to date.

Best song: The Boy Who Could Explode

8. “Them Crooked Vultures” by Them Crooked Vultures.

No album surprised me more this year than this one… okay maybe that’s a lie, but no album surprised me more that I liked it. I’ve been slowly moving away from hard rock over the past couple years, the genre just didn’t appear to have anything new to say to me. At least, that’s what I thought… then this little group (composed of absolute nobodies I believe… yeah that sounds about right) came out of left field and blew me away with their awesome beats, bass lines, and guitar shredding. Epic and awesome album.

Best song: Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I

7. “Tonight” by Franz Ferdinand

This album took quite a while to grow on me, but now its like a horrible, horrible disease that eats away at me on the inside. The thing is, I don’t want to get rid of it. Ferdinand has come a long way from their debut album and changed their style quite a bit. At first that put me off, but now I’m happy they have. Staying the same is a death march for an artist, you need to show that you can both adapt and change. This band can and that’s a rarity in the industry.

Best song: Bite Hard

6. “A Brief History of Love” by The Big Pink

This is another album that took a little while to grow on me, but like “Tonight”, the waiting just makes the overall enjoyment all the more worth it. This is a hauntingly beautiful and dark album. Every song oozes atmosphere and the lyrics are precise, cutting to the heart. An amazing debut effort from a band that I can’t wait to hear more from.

Best song: Velvet

5. “Three” by Joel Plaskett

You’re gonna be hard pressed to find a more talented Canadian artist than Joel Plaskett. His songs manage to be both personal and poppy all at the same time, a rare feat indeed. Quite simply put, if you’ve never heard him before, do so now. Plus, a concept album made at the age of 33, that includes 3 CD’s, song titles with three words, and it’s the third solo album that he has ever made? That’s just ballsy and genius.

Best song: Through, Through, Through

4. “Swoon” by Silversun Pickups

Ever since first hearing Lazy Eye by Silversun Pickups, I have been in love with the band. “Swoon” is no different. It might not have a stand out song like Lazy Eye, but overall it’s a much stronger and more sincere album. Give them a few more years and something great’s gonna happen.

Best song: The Royal We

3. “Humbug” by The Arctic Monkeys

I’m not gonna lie, the ranking of these next three albums fluctuates all the time, depending upon my mood. I wasn’t huge on The Arctic Monkeys after their first album, but their second one more than sold me on their unique and down and dirty sound. This album has furthered the love affair. It’s the most “classic” album made all year.

Best song: Crying Lightning

2. “Daisy” by Brand New

Another top-notch album from the best band in the world. Yes, Brand New is my favourite band, so it’s of no surprise to see their newest album this far up the list. “Daisy” might not be “Deja Entendu” but it’s still fucking amazing. And the best part? How Brand New re-invents themselves with every album. Needless to say, after a very misleading and quiet opening, Vices exploded in a fashion that I never saw coming. It took me five minutes to love their new sound, it took me six to realize that I was going to love the album.

Best song: Sink

1. “xx” by The xx

I found this album quite late in the year and I wish I had found it earlier. This is a band that just has to be heard to be believed. Very minimalist in nature, every second and beat of every song is perfect. It also doesn’t hurt that it contains the best song of the year. Search it out and listen.

Best song: Shelter

 

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I like end of year lists. I know, I know, that makes me sad. It also (often times) makes me lonely. All of these opinions and no one to share them with… that’s where blogging comes in handy  I suppose. The Ether. The Globalized Village. The Internet. Here, my voice (supposedly) counts! It makes me feel all special inside. Anyway, on with the first list. (There’ll be more coming up… expect ones from film, comics, and music before we’re done here…) The top five television shows of 2009 are as follows:

5. “Better off Ted” Season 1

Balls to the wall funny and crazy, what more could you want? This show came out of nowhere and was the funniest sitcom of the year as far as I’m concerned. Sure there are other comedy shows that I love a whole hell of a lot more, but none of them impressed me as much this one did this year. It might not be for everyone, but if you enjoy a healthy dose of zaniness with your sense of humour, then this show is a golden ticket. After all, how can you really hate a show that devotes an entire episode to an Underground Medieval Fight-Club?

4. “Lost” Season 5

This is the year that I finally jumped aboard the “Lost” bandwagon, and while I’m glad I finally did, I’m also glad I waited this long. Why? Because I have ended up loving this show so god damn much that if I had been waiting from the very beginning of this mess to finally get some answers as to what the hell is going on with this Jacob damming Island, I probably would have Jeremy Benthamed myself two years ago. (Yes, I just used two names of characters from “Lost” as punchlines… you see how crazy and sad this show has made me?) And what did Season Five have to offer? Time Travel! LaFleur! Sawyer and Juliet! Jughead! Desmond beating the living shit out of Ben! Flocke! The Man in Black! There was so much to love that the only reason this show isn’t number one on my list is because I’m trying to be a realist and contain my inner fanboy before he tears me apart. Want another reason? Because “Lost” is just so god damn good that to call it the number one show on television is just too easy. It’s like saying that The Beatles are your favourite band. Of course they’re your favourite band, they’re the mother frickin’ Beatles! Every song they ever wrote was hand crafted by God first and then handed down to the greedy hands of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and yes, sometimes even Ringo! “Lost” is the exact same thing.

“Dexter” Season 4

I haven’t heard so many people talking about a season final in years… hell, possibly even ever. But let’s all take a step back and just admit a few things okay? Yes the final few minutes of the finale were jaw droppingly awesome. But the fifty minutes before hand? They were just okay. “Dexter” has always struggled with finding the right balance for intrigue in its season finales, and this year was no exception. Fortunately though, the entire season leading up to that episode was phenomenal. Michael C. Hall and John Lithgow were perfect this year, plain and simple. Before Lithgow was known as a wonky and cooky alien, he played some bad asses in his day, and thankfully he came back this year and showed us all that he’s still got it. And as good as the finale was, it sure as hell doesn’t top the “Hungry Man” episode. Best. Thanksgiving. Dinner. Ever.

2. “Rescue Me” Season 5

Colour me delighted. I didn’t think Leary and Tolan had it in them. After an extremely disappointing Season 4, “Rescue Me” came back and better then ever. (Well, okay, maybe not quite Season 2 and 3 territory, but pretty damn close.) And the most amazing thing? They kept it going for 22 episodes! Everyone on the cast just seemed to be reinvigorated and looking forward to telling captivating and hilarious stories once more. Hell, this season even had musical numbers! And they were pretty damn good! Sure the ending was a little too cliffhangery for a show that doesn’t need to be so, (and sure it was basically the same cliffhanger that they left us with at the end of Season 3) but I’ll forgive these small things because Leary is back at the top of his game, and when he’s on fire, there ain’t nobody better.

1. “Breaking Bad” Season 2

Two words. Bob Odenkirk. And he wasn’t even the best part of this season! The writing in this season was flawless. The acting in this season was flawless. The directing in this season was flawless. Hell, even the titles of the episodes of this season were flawless! (Seven Thirty-Seven Down Over ABQ!) Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Simply put, there’s just no reason not to be watching this show. What started off as a humorous but deep portrait of a dying man has turned a complete 180 into the portrait of a mad man, and I couldn’t be happier. I might be counting down the days to when “Lost” premiers first, but that’s only because it’s happening sooner. If you have never seen this show, do yourself a huge favour and do so immediately. Then do the world a favour and tell a friend. We don’t just need more television shows like this one, we need more art like this.

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Surveillance

Dir. Jennifer Lynch

I started off really wanting to like this movie, but by the end of the film I was left with a somewhat nasty taste in my mouth. It’s nothing to do with how violent or disturbing the film is, (thought it is both and often) but with how vehemently it tries to present itself as an extremely clever thriller. What makes the experience all the more frustrating is that, half the time, it actually is quite clever. The acting is awesome (Bill Pullman especially, who seems to be channelling an even more extreme version of the character that David Lynch plays in “Twin Peaks”) and there are even some noteworthy turns from both French Stewart and Cheri Oteri, two individuals whom I normally cannot stand. (I didn’t even know that French Stewart was still alive, honest.) It’s also extremely atmospheric, utilizing both sound scape and its minimalist settings to absolute perfection. Jennifer Lynch even manages to channel her father’s ear for absurd yet absorbing dialogue… but somehow it still manages to fall apart. Most of the problems probably stem from the twist ending that can be seen coming from miles and miles away, and the fact that despite the interesting performances from these character actors, there is seldom any real chemistry on screen. By the end of the film you don’t care about any of these people, and all that you’re baring witness to is a mindless orgy of violence. (Quite literally.) Still a Lynch is a Lynch, which is better than no Lynch. Certainly a movie worth checking out, just don’t expect too much.

Trailer:

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World’s Greatest Dad

What a strange, hilarious, beautiful, and heartbreaking movie. And from Bobcat Goldthwait? I’ll be honest, every review I have ever read for this film has been glowing, but I still can’t believe that that crazy bastard has this in him. How the hell did the man who set fire to Jay Leno’s chair make this film? Honestly…

Regardless, it is easily one of the top comedies of the year (that was) 2009. Robin Williams is quite possibly the best he has ever been in this film, which is extremely important to note because connecting with his character was the only way that this film was going to work.

Watching this film is the emotional equivalent to watching the most tragic train wreck of all time and still being able to find the humor in the situation. Because let’s face it, without a sense of humour, life just wouldn’t be worth living.

Trailer:

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Seeing as how I don’t have anything to add right away to this beast, might as well share a video with you of the man that this blog takes its name from. (Because yes, I know it’s weird.) So without any further ado, ladies and gentleman, I give you Norm Macdonald!

If you don’t like Norm… odds are pretty good that you will find nothing to hold your interest here. But if you enjoy Norm and often find yourself disappointed that words like quisling and canard are so seldom used in your everyday life, (I know I do) pull up a chair! We could be good friends. More to come.

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