•January 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

for 6 years i did some sort of “favorite music of 20__” on my blog. today these are the music recommendations i care more about:

:: listen to music a lot

:: sing/dance/drum/air guitar along with it, even (especially) if you are on a crowded subway platform

:: don’t let cOrPoRaTe aLgOriThMz dictate your taste! listen to things outside of spotify, watch things that aren’t on netflix instant. this feels so trite to say but those companies are capitalist engines and don’t care about supporting art!

:: try to listen to more music that isn’t made by white dudes

:: try to listen to more music made by artists who live near you

:: pay for music whenever you can! paying for spotify doesn’t count. pay especially if it’s directly through an artist’s bandcamp or label page and not itunes, especially if it’s from someone who isn’t already making a lot of money, especially if it’s not a white dude, especially if they live near you

:: don’t worry about taste hierarchies. “guilty pleasure” is an oppressive notion. wtf should guilt have to do with it?? if you like a song, it’s good. it is the right song for you to listen to at that moment. listen to whatever song you want to 100 times in a row

:: talk to your friends about music all the time. ask them how a song they like makes them feel. tell them to check out a song you love and gush about what you love about it. think about what it’s doing to your brain and how a sound is reminding you of a day in spring when you were in 6th grade and someone you had a crush on looked really nice. overanalyze the weird way alanis morissette pronounces words while driving through mississippi. i promise you will enjoy these activities. but then again i’m someone who thinks the most romantic activity possible is lying in bed with someone and poring over and discussing the complex emotional history behind each other’s top 25 most played lists in itunes

for real tho hearing music and making meaning out of it is such a fun and rewarding thing to do in life. i do it every day and it’s so reassuring to know that unless i go deaf i will literally always be able to do this thing that i fucking love. even if i spend the rest of my life in a box performing some sort of sisyphean task and not talking to anyone if i had some good earbuds i would be ok i think

ALL THAT SAID because precisely one person asked (s/o felipe) i put together a “favorite music of 2015” thing

here is a hastily assembled list of what seemed at that moment like my very favorite songs of the year. i went a lot of places this year so each of these is associated with a very specific place memory. maybe someday i’ll write about dancing to “fourfiveseconds” at a house in mandeville, louisiana, or listening to , “yes i’m changing” cruising in my friend’s car in tahoe city, “silver car crash” on the going-to-the-sun road in glacier natl park, or “sparks” in big sur. for now i’m just listening and remembering and leaving words out of it

here’s the spotify version of a playlist i kept in itunes throughout the year, of albums i fell in love with
as ever, not all of them were released in 2015. as ever, not all of them are on spotify: don’t miss lil b & chance the rapper’s delightful free (based freestyles mixtape), ratking’s 700 fill ep, vince staples’ shyne coldchain vol. 2, adele’s 25 (as if that would be possible to ‘miss’) and divers from the inimitable joanna “spotify is the banana of the music industry, it just gives off a fume, also i hate bananas” newsom

i started compiling the equivalent rolling list of beloved tracks (much more comprehensive than the shortlist above) and quickly got frustrated how many of them were not on spotify so i stopped. banana newsom is right yall, spotify is pretty dumb


Best of ’14 Extravaganza!

•January 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment


i’m sitting in the union sq think coffee waiting to see selma in a couple hours, listening to what i call in my head the ‘holy trinity’ of sky ferreira songs (you’re not the one / i blame myself / everything is embarrassing, OBVI) trying to recall the wise and clever things i wanted to say in this ‘year end music blog post’
i guess *a* thing i want to say is that i see very little utility at this point, for me personally, in trying to say something comprehensive and intelligent and unifying about ‘the year in music’ — i don’t have much motivation of late to write about music in any context, or even to write in general, tbh i’ve spent a fair amount of time this year trying to figure out how to make ‘writing pieces’ (aka things that aren’t emails and/or journal entries) feel like anything other than a staring contest with my computer screen
i’ve also spent a fair amount of time this year thinking about canonization in general. brad and i discussed this in our sole podcast episode a year ago and since then i’d say my feelings about it have drifted towards ‘canonization is stupid / stultifying / a tool by which hegemonic notions of cultural superiority are reinforced’ — drew daniel of matmos / soft pink truth said some smart things about this over at the quietus a few months ago
independent of any political feelings i have about the idea of canonization, creating a top 10 list or whatever at the end of the year just doesn’t at all meaningfully reflect the way i listen to music anymore. i can barely even conjure a speedy answer when someone asks me what i’m really into *right now* — there’s always too many answers to this, and i let my various itunes playlists do the remembering for me so i don’t have to store all that information in my head. so trying to create some pseudo-objective metric by which to compare two albums i had very different relationships with 11 months ago seems like a fool’s errand to me
so my playlists of favorite albums* and favorite songs are (like my favorite songs playlist from last year) really more of a “listening diary” than a retrospective evaluation. if, at some point during the year, i felt powerfully drawn to or locked in with an album or song *for the first time* (or at least in *a fresh new way*), i added it to the playlist. which means that many of the albums and some of the songs were released in other years
below i also included, for funsies, screenshots of my top 50 artists / songs / albums of the past year from last.fm. of course, this metric privileges certain types of listening as well. most rap or metal, for example, is not the type of music i can easily listen to while sitting at a desk or reading something, so i may hold it in equal esteem as something that shows up here with way more plays. i don’t think i’m alone in admitting that i just can’t emotionally sustain frequent spins through to be kind. lyrically dense albums like sun kil moon’s benji or lil herb’s welcome to fazoland i engage with more like a collection of short stories than a play-it-over-and-over-again album. needless to say, things released at the beginning of the year obviously benefit greatly from this approach. in other words: the number of times i listened to something is also far from an objective representation of how meaningful it was to me this year. BYE BYE
*p.s. not included in the fave albums spotify playlist are the nicki minaj & drake mixtapes i made, which definitely belong on there but would’ve taken forever to assemble on spotify. ALSO please note how many things i loved are greyed out on your spotify interface — most of them are probably mixtapes and are probably free to download! check them out and don’t let spotify be the arbiter of what music you listen to, that would be weird and bad!
p.p.s. if u wanna nerd out about music videos or want some suggestions of good ones just holla and i’ll send u an invite to view my nerdy google doc where i keep track of music videos that i like







Nicki Minaj / Drake singles comps

•October 31, 2014 • 1 Comment

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 2.04.15 PM

friends, we are very lucky.

we are lucky because we are alive and have ears in Our Year of Drake & Nicki Minaj 2014. the near-constant stream of singles and features that these two have bestowed upon us of late is, heard in sequence, as exhilarating and memorable as any proper album released in 2014; as such, i’ve roamed hither and yon o’er the vast mp3 fields of the internet and harvested those tracks for you. (i would make this a spotify playlist but a lot of it’s self-released and as such isn’t on there.)

nicki’s released her fair share of excellent singles this year (as well as what may be my favorite video of the year), but her comp skews more towards a prolific and indomitable run of features that have asserted her as, for my money, the greatest rapper alive. who else is performing at such a high level that every line of every verse demands your absolute attention? (ok, kendrick, but he’s been relatively quiet this year.) on wednesday, she released “only”, the third official single from the pink print (following “pills n potions” and “anaconda”, which collectively have me hyped as fuck for her album), on which her, drake, and grandpa weezy go Full Ham — and i mean, like, hammy. not H.A.M.

that willingness to ham it up is a huge part of what’s so great about these two: their cheeseball theatricality. rap is being run by a couple of theater kids who delight in the artifice of performance. even when they’re at their most aggressive, threatening, boastful, there’s a delightful aura of camp to it. it pokes holes in rap’s foundational braggadocio while simultaneously reaffirming and reveling in it.

with nicki, that experimentation with rap’s ideological underpinnings goes hand in hand with her explosive, raunchy, and still widely misunderstood feminism —rly tho, how can you watch the “lookin ass” or “anaconda” videos and miss the incredibly powerful things she’s saying about the male gaze and being a woman in the pervasively male world of rap?

with drake, that theatricality is an amplification of what has always been a huge part of his appeal. early on, he’d spit a dumb ass punchline in one verse, get all mushy the next, and wrap up with a never-quite-believable threat. on nothing was the same, we saw Cornball Drake, Sentimental Drake, and Evil Drake all merge into one: it’s that fusion that made “worst behavior” such a monument of personality. the unimpeachable spree of impromptu soundcloud drops he’s unleashed since that album’s release are just the victory lap. on a song like “trophies” he’s more boastful AND more campy than ever, and it’s the camp that helps sell the aggression (plus the fact that he now churns out memorable one-liners at a truly alarming rate).

i could go on endlessly about this but i’ll leave it at that. you’ll notice some stray songs from 2013 on drake’s half: “5am in toronto,” “girls love beyonce” and “the motion” were all released prior to nothing was the same but they’re great and i figured you might want em. “we made it” and “trophies” were released late last year. and the “versace” remix is just too good to leave off.

umm and yeah they’re in mostly-chronological order with some flip-flopping for flow.

nicki – [download]

01 :: ‘lookin ass’
02 :: yg – ‘my n***a’ remix ft. lil wayne, rich homie quan & meek mill
03 :: young thug – ‘danny glover’ remix
04 :: tyga – ‘senile’ ft. lil wayne
05 :: ‘chi-raq’ ft. lil herb
06 :: ‘pills n potions’
07 :: ‘yasss bish!’ ft. soulja boy
08 :: usher – ‘she came to give it to you’
09 :: future – ‘rock star’
10 :: ariana grande – ‘bang bang’ ft. jessie j
11 :: ‘anaconda’
12 :: beyoncé – ‘flawless’ remix
13 :: juicy j – ‘low’ ft. lil bibby & young thug
14 :: trey songz – ‘touchin, lovin’
15 :: rae sremmurd – ‘no flex zone’ remix
16 :: ‘only’ ft. drake, lil wayne & chris brown

drizzy – [download]

01 :: ‘5am in toronto’
02 :: ‘girls love beyoncé’ ft. james fauntleroy
03 :: migos – ‘versace’ remix
04 :: ‘the motion’ ft. sampha
05 :: ‘we made it’ freestyle ft. soulja boy
06 :: yg – ‘who do you love?’
07 :: ‘trophies’
08 :: ‘draft day’
09 :: ‘days in the east’
10 :: lil wayne – ‘believe me’
11 :: ‘0 to 100 / the catch up’
12 :: ‘how about now’
13 :: ‘heat of the moment’
14 :: ‘6 god’
15 :: ilovemakonnen – ‘club goin up on a tuesday’ remix

Best of ’13 Extravaganza?

•January 16, 2014 • 1 Comment



So if you listened to the first episode of Brad and I saying words as the Incompletists recently, you learned that we think hierarchical Best Of The Year lists might be antithetical to the open-minded way in which both of us are striving to engage with culture. So I’m not gonna do a big listmania thing on here like I have the past few years. But you ALSO learned that we think lists are a nice, harmless way for critically-minded folks like ourselves to recommend things to our friends, so that’s the mindset I had in creating a few Spotify playlists that attempt to capture my listening life this year.

You might already be following my “rolling favorites of 2013” playlist, which kept throughout the year as a running tally of songs I was “obsessed” with at one or more points during 2013. Not all of them came out in 2013, but I did fall in love with all of them for the first time this year. KEEP IN MIND that there’s a lot of stuff on there that isn’t on Spotify; it should show up greyed-out in the list anyway but I’m not all that confident about that.

I also hastily threw together a thing of albums I really liked and one of songs that reallllllly pulled me into their orbit. These playlists are in an order that very, very vaguely reflects how much I care about these things, at this specific moment in time. Take it with a grain of salt but know that the things near the top are the ones I’m recommending to you HARD.

The albums list ended up being 41 albums, which is more than I wanted/intended to have on there, but hey. More recommendations for ya! I’m very bad at being judicious about this kind of thing. 5 of those albums are not on Spotify but you should ¡ABSOLUTELY! not let that prevent you from hearing them — those albums are Run the Jewels’ self-titled, My Bloody Valentine’s m b v, Beyoncé’s self-titled, Jai Paul’s self-titled, and ESPECIALLY Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap. This is maybe my favorite album of the year and it’s a $FREEEEEE$ mixtape! Go download it!

The fave songs list ended up being 14 (fun numerical symmetry!); I’m counting Meek Mill’s incredible, heart-wrenching “Lil Snupe” diptych (pt 1 / pt 2) as one song. That duo, along with Chance the Rapper’s effervescent “Cocoa Butter Kisses” are the only ones on that playlist missing from Spotify. Animal Collective’s “Safer” came out back in 2009 but it meant a lot to me this year.

Go forth!

Mixtape – “Eastern Parkway”

•October 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

eastern parkway

cover photo credit Cooper Hardee! cover design credit, me.

Hi! I made a mixtape of songs I’ve been listening to with steady to alarming frequency for the past few weeks as the weather has changed. Many of them could be said to possess “autumnal vibes” but that could be said of like, almost every song that isn’t “What Is Love?”, and pseudo-synesthetic music/season association is such a subjective kind of thing anyway. The other commonality is that I’ve had sort of A Special Moment with each of these songs as I’ve biked down Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights on my way home from work; hence the title. You should support all of these artists and buy their music if you like these jams, but you should ESPECIALLY support Alpenglow, who are people I like a lot and deserve your dollars. They just released their sublime debut EP, which you can listen to and buy HERE.

I would just make this a playlist on Spotify or whatever but I wanted to do some crossfading of the tracks to make this thing flow, so it comes to you as a zip file. Can u handle that? Just think of it as…an artisanal playlist. Many artisanal touchpad clicks went into making this nice handmade digital object for YOU. So unzip that thing and let the patient folk and gentle psychedelia wash over you.

Point your eyeballs at the tracklist below and download it HERE!

01 Animal Collective – “Guy’s Eyes”
02 Brendan Canning – “Plugged In”
03 Arcade Fire – “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)”
04 Alpenglow – “Catskills”
05 Fishmans – “Part 5”
06 The Acorn – “Misplaced”
07 Houses – “Soak It Up”
08 Vetiver – “Can’t You Tell”
09 The Walkmen – “Lisbon”
10 Cass McCombs – “Everything Has To Be Just So”
11 Andrew Cedermark – “Memories, Ah!”
12 Mutual Benefit – “Advanced Falconry”

Kanye West’s next moves

•May 16, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Whoops! I refer to Kanye and Kim Kardashian as being married at least two times in here. Totes thought they were married. Turns out they’re not.

Pusha T’s “Numbers on the Board” clearly ain’t meant for radio play. But it’s been given the full kanyewest.com splash-page treatment accorded to last year’s mega-smashes “Mercy” and “Clique”, not to mention “N***as in Paris”, “Otis”, “Power”, “Runaway”, and other monoliths of yore. This prompted me to expect a bit more from the new track on first listen, and when Kanye (who produced the track, obvs) pauses the bizarre, minimal beat to drop in a sample from Jay-Z’s “Rhyme No More”, I felt a momentary thrill that the song would erupt into a fierce posse cut, with a middle verse from Jay, and Ye running anchor leg. Instead, it’s merely an interesting, accomplished, but relatively minor cut — certainly not the crossover smash that Pusha has ostensibly been searching for since Clipse went on hiatus, the one that elevates him from respected-sideman status into rap’s current pantheon.

I didn’t quite know what to make of the release, presuming it to be one of those increasingly common “for the fans” press bump/mp3 dumps (like Jay’s “Open Letter”, released earlier that same day), but then last week I saw the video:

First, there’s the fact that they made a full-fledged video, which you don’t do for the one-off you drop on Soundcloud that never gets an official release. And the video itself — which, like the song, is strange, spare, and assembled with subtly masterful timing — communicates a thrilling sense of dread. With Pusha stunting like a demon, it has the feel of a nightmare, or more accurately, one of those slow, haunting dreams where even the most mundane image oozes foreboding. (This is a thing, right? I had one of these the day before Hurricane Sandy rolled in that still gives me chills when I recall it.) That foreboding left me feeling excited about forthcoming hell-ward moves in Kanye World; the cameos at the end of the video — from Kanye and, more tellingly, Chief Keef — mark it as not merely an unusual single, but rather an artistic beacon of what’s next for Ye and, by extension, his most closely-associated G.O.O.D. Music underling, Pusha.

If this seems like overreaching, well, it probably is. But aren’t we having fun playing detective? And, lest we forget, West is a man who long ago mastered the art of building hype for an album, an extension of his incredible ability to build a compelling, multifaceted, immortal pop star persona for himself. (He’s been doing this self-mythologizing from the get-go…but maybe you’ve forgotten, because when was the last time you listened to The College Dropout‘s interminable origin story “Last Call” all the way through?) He’s incredibly meticulous and controlling about how every extratextual detail feeds into a specific artistic vision. Yes, this includes his notorious award show outbursts, dick pics, unfathomable fashion choices, etc.

I’ve always argued that he’s more aware than he’s given credit for of how exactly his seemingly impulsive behavior has built him into the utterly engrossing pop star that he is. I’d feel silly arguing that September 2009’s Taylor Swift Incident was Kanye’s way of kicking off an album cycle for a record that wouldn’t be released for over a year, but look how perfectly it set him up to play the underdog leading up to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘s November 2010 release: the teary apologies on Leno, followed by the eight month exile. Then, kicking off an unstoppable run of free weekly singles in June with “Power”, not to mention the insane twitter account, the “living painting” video, the short film, on and on. Why not follow your worst impulses, as he often has in his public life, when they fit so neatly into an emotional narrative that reads like great fiction? Even when a mediocre album like Cruel Summer (which was great when he appeared on a song a disastrous when he didn’t) retroactively deflates some of a hype campaign’s grandiosity, his intuitive control of that hype is undeniable.

With Kanye’s ironclad grip on pre-release album details in mind, let’s look at some more clues. Oh boy! First, there’s Album Six’s bonkers list of rumored collaborators: unsurprising inclusions like Odd Future, 2 Chainz, John Legend, No I.D., The-Dream, Malik Yusef (formerly Mos Def), and Hudson Mohawke. Skrillex and Daft Punk bring the WTF factor. And, perhaps unsurprisingly (as they share a home city), but most tellingly, Chicago drill scene standouts Chief Keef, Young Chop, and King L. That “I Don’t Like” remix that closed out Cruel Summer was a mess, but it’s exciting to imagine how Kanye will graft drill music’s nihilistic minimalism onto his typically maximalist style. The inclusion of dance music producers indicates he’s favoring bleeps and bloops over MBDTF‘s lush analog trappings (funny, considering Daft Punk just took a gigantic leap in the opposite direction). The exposure we’ve had to his new material, while incredibly limited, confirms this hypothesis: peep the murky Vines taken by A-Trak and Jaime King at the Met Ball, and the slightly-less-murky video of new material dropped into a Hudson Mohawke set in Poland:

Most of all, there’s the thrilling video from a couple months back of Ye closing out a show by screaming like a man being burned alive and hurling the mic down on stage at the end of “Touch the Sky”:

Some, I think, viewed this video as the source of a good LOL, but I find it quite powerful. It reminds me of the primal scream therapy Lennon injected into Plastic Ono Band on “Mother” and “Well Well Well”. Yes, I’ll grant that it’s a bit counterintuitive for us plebs to imagine that men like Lennon or West, who ostensibly “have it all”, can feel such overwhelming loneliness and anguish. But this disregards the obvious fact that those emotions are a huge part of what makes their art so compelling — not to mention it denies their basic humanity — so I don’t really understand why anyone ever gripes that such feelings are unreasonable or surprising, coming from the uber-famous. In any case, A-Trak’s Vine assures us that visceral screaming will play some role in the new album, as does this quote from Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter on their visit to West’s Paris studio: “It was very raw. He was rapping — kind of screaming primally.” In case it’s not clear, this is GREAT news.

Oh wait, I started this off talking about a Pusha T single, didn’t I? It’s not as if I don’t care about My Name Is My Name: I’m a huge Clipse fan, I’d love to see Push produce a work more coherent than the spotty Fear of God and Wrath of Caine mixtapes, and I’d really love to see an undiluted purist like him cross over to real-deal tier-one rap superstardom, though I fear it’s unlikely.

But Kanye is Kanye. Why am I currently writing thousands of words that have been solicited by absolutely nobody? Because Kanye, that’s why. And Pusha being Ye’s G.O.O.D. right-hand man, it stands to reason that his upcoming album will be at least somewhat aligned with Ye’s vision. Both “Numbers on the Boards” and lead single “Pain” reaffirm this.

Back to Yeezy: his original education-themed trilogy of albums aimed to cover a great deal of stylistic and thematic ground, and succeeded almost universally. But it’s useful to think of 808s & Heartbreak (which closely followed the death of his mother) as the turning point in his career: with that album, he became singularly devoted to exploring a void at the center of the human heart that no amount of money nor adulation can fill. Ever since that left-turn of an LP, he’s been trying to access that raw darkness from different angles. In 2009, he turned away from Auto-Tune and seemingly tapped into a previously undiscovered vitality as a rapper, stealing the show with every guest appearance he made (see: “Run This Town”, “Maybach Music 2”, “Knock You Down”, “Kinda Like A Big Deal”), up until the VMA debacle. With MBDTF, he used excess to express a nihilism and a loneliness greater than anything he had communicated before. (“Runaway”‘s dying-robot denouement leads directly into “Hell of a Life”, which is followed by the schizophrenic internal monologue of “Blame Game”. Bleak shit.) Watch the Throne — being, as it is, an album fundamentally about bromance — made some more room for good times, but it marks the beginning of West’s interest in “street”-inspired sonics as a way to access that rawness. Which brings us up to Cruel Summer, which I’ll mostly choose to ignore, with the exception of the aforementioned “I Don’t Like” remix.

Let’s talk about Chief Keef for a second. By now, you know the story: in early 2012, a nascent rap scene arises out of Chicago’s staggeringly violent South Side; Chief Keef releases “I Don’t Like”, which promptly blows the fuck up; controversy ensues. Inserting Keef into the “Numbers on the Board” video as a sort of spiritual talisman may seem incongruous: what could a 17-year-old from impoverished Englewood possibly have in common with Kanye West, who jets around the world on a whim and debuts songs at fashion shows or Facebook’s headquarters and marries Kim Kardashian? Well, the spiel on “I Don’t Like” goes that an inner-city male like Keef has already been so numbed by violence that he’s too apathetic to even hate — he merely doesn’t like. That’s a nihilism more all-consuming than anything Kanye could ever capture; Ye can only ever, will only ever care SO MUCH. But in trying to wrench his own darkness out of the depths of his soul into the daylight, for all the world to see, I imagine Kanye is drawn to the soul-deadening sentiment expressed in “I Don’t Like”. Whether or not drill’s influence is evident in the new album’s sonics, I imagine it’ll provide one of its primary philosophical tenets.

Presumably, married and with a baby on the way, Kanye has more reason to be happy than he’s ever had — so why now dive further than ever into the abyss? Well, for one, he’s an artist exploring a theme; people seem to have a harder time separating artist and IRL human being in music than in other media, and this is even more true with rappers, due to the genre’s often-autobiographical nature and, let’s face it, some underlying racist assumptions. We can never know the true nature of Kanye West’s inner life (though he willingly makes it more available to the general public than most figures of his stature), but let’s just pretend that we do know for sure that all the rage and anguish expressed in his music are his truest feelings. Doesn’t that make for some truly fascinating art, for one of the most beloved musicians of all time, married to a famously beautiful woman, obscenely wealthy and infinitely respected by his peers, to feel nothing but contempt for the world around him? Think of “So Appalled” and how it took the world of ultra-wealth and made it sound, hypnotizingly, like a soulless, apocalyptic wasteland. Observe, in the mic-slam video, how he takes the formerly triumphant “We on top of the world!” from the end of “Touch the Sky” and makes the top of the world sound like the loneliest, most desolate place in the universe. “I Am A God” is rumored to be the name of the song debuted at the Met Ball; Mount Olympus actually did sound like a pretty terrible place to be a lot of the time.

“Why would I pity a man with the unfathomable hubris to name a song ‘I Am A God’?” is the final hypothetical question I will insert in my imaginary contrarian reader’s mouth. Therein, I answer, lies the crux of what has made Kanye so exciting from day one: his egotism and his anguished self-doubt form a perfect ouroboros, feeding off each other infinitely. What begets radical egotism if not an unkillable self-hatred? Anyone who writes off Kanye for being merely egotistical (which, like, why do you care if someone whose actions will never impact your life is egotistical, especially if it makes their art more interesting?) is missing out on his career-spanning examination of the nature, origins, and consequences of egotism. If the album’s a dud (always a possibility) or if it espouses nothing but good vibes (not really a possibility), then I’ll look like a fool for writing this already foolishly long missive. But I have my hopes up that he’s about to take us on one of the most thrilling journeys yet into the muddy depths of his soul.

P.S. I wrote this on Wednesday night, and the word on the webs is that Ye is playing a private show at Roseland tonight, so we’ll probably know more by the time this is posted.

Best of ’12 Extravaganza

•February 7, 2013 • 2 Comments


TODAY: 11 Favorite Albums of 2012, 38 Also-Favorites and 54 Almost-Favorites
SOON: 11 Favorite Songs of 2012 and a Spotify Playlist with a Bunch of Other Songs That Are Also Really Good
ALSO SOON: 11 Favorite Music Videos of 2012 and a Very Long List, Longer Than I’m Willing to Count, of Other Music Videos That I Like (I Watched a Lot of Music Videos This Year)

Welp, a month and change late, I’m raising The Ashtray Says from the dead to humbly present to you my favorite musical things of 2012, in groups of 11, because it’s a way more fun number than stodgy old 10, don’t you think? My 11 favorite albums, unranked, followed by two more tiers (“love” and “almost love”) of great albums, presented alphabetically. 11 favorite songs (also unranked), with a link to a Spotify playlist containing 74 more songs that got under my skin in a serious way at some point this year. And 11 favorite music videos (you guessed it, unranked), followed by a very long list of other great videos you could peruse if you’re really trying to kill some time.

I’m presenting these favorites in a format both more condensed and more sloppy than I have in the past two years, because instead of burning myself out on the process, I’d prefer to use this listifying as a way to ramp up back into music writing in 2013 after a rather long hiatus. And, in my mind, it’s better to do this a month into the new year, when you’ve had some time to sit with the year’s music, than to do it in late November, a ridiculous deadline that most major music publications seem to have adopted.

So, why leave everything (relatively) unranked? I mean, obsessing over numerical rankings can be fun (for nerdly nerds like myself), but let’s face it — on an individual level (versus, say, a magazine’s voting system), it’s pretty thin facade of objectivity. Love for music (or any cultural work, obviously — but music especially, I tend to think) just doesn’t work that way; if I re-ranked the albums on my 2010 and 2011 lists today, the order would be utterly different. And also, like, priorities, right? That shit takes a long time.

I almost considered not putting anything at all together this year, because listening to music with the intention of slotting it somewhere into a list in the distant future is a pretty silly habit. But fortunately, a few members of the small but loyal group of people who pay attention to these blobs I write specifically requested it. (These are people I know we’re talking about here, I’m not trying to say I got, like, emails about this. Ha.) My buddy Ryan, in particular, was adamant that I do this, and it was his birthday a few days ago, so happy birthday Ryan, hope you enjoy it.