Hey, y’all, it’s that time of year again. I’m dusting off the old blog, and I’m going to share my favorite music releases of the year. Just for clarification I consider a release anything from a 7″, EP, LP, or a mixtape. Pretty much everything is eligible unless it’s just single solitary song. Last year, I tried the whole song list thing, but it wasn’t me. If you want a decent list of those, go visit Nic’s blog. She’s a song person.
Alright. For the sake of brevity, I made a Spotify playlist for y’all to subscribe to. It contains a single song from every album I mention here. The playlist is located right under this text. You can just listen to the playlist and forego the whole reading my explanation/feelings about each release. Note: There are two releases from Sport and Human Hands that are not on Spotify that made the end of year list. Embedded frames for their albums from Bandcamp can be found later in this post.
Another clarification, these are my favorites. Don’t get upset with me when your faves not on here. Okay?
Beyoncé – BEYONCÉ
This album came out two weeks before 2014, and it didn’t make my 2013 list because it was released so damn late. This is the first Beyoncé album I loved. There is not a skippable song on this thing, and it might be the best thing to happen to the Internet/world since the polio vaccine. I don’t know. Jury’s still out on that.
Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again
I actually didn’t like Joyce Manor when I first heard them a year or two again. I was so surprised when friends of mine were reaching out to me to tell me how great this album was. I fell in love upon first listen. It’s a perfect mix of emotion, solid songwriting, and catchy hooks.
Weatherbox – Flies In All Directions
It’s rare to find bands that pay a lot of attention to the dynamics in their music, especially in the “punk” genre. Weatherbox draw you in and blow you away in the span of a single song. It’s really fantastic to see live. I suggest catching them if they roll through your town.
Childish Gambino - Kauai/STN MTN
Childish Gambino just went ahead and answered all of his critics with these two joint mixtapes. Kauai is a solid solid release that highlights Donald’s ability to write a great song with personality. STN MTN feels like a big middle finger to his critics who say he isn’t real enough or street enough. He did the same stuff a lot of rappers are getting tons of credit for in hip hop but better and with more passion. I’m officially a Gambino fan, guys. It finally happened.
Two Knights - Shut Up
I love watching this band live. Seriously. Go see them. You can see my head in the back in this video.
Isaiah Rashad - Cilvia Demo
I’m definitely excited to see what Mr. Rashad has ahead of him. He’s definitely got the skills to make something of himself.
Donovan Wolfington - Scary Stories You Tell in the Dark
Young and energetic are a couple of things I am no more. DW definitely use their youthful exuberance to bring a special kind of light to their music that’s missing from a lot of emo bands at the moment. I’m very excited to see what they do in the future.
The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There
I’m trying not to play favorites with my favorites, but this is definitely a top 5 if not top 3 release for me this year, and I just heard this album this month. I couldn’t believe I missed its release earlier this year. I’m about 10 months late, but I don’t care. This shit bangs.
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
Mount Olympus was the Star Wars trailer of music this year. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I just wanted to hear it over and over again. I was so hype. This album is that feeling in a 17-song pod. Jesus. Thank
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
One of the top albums of the year for a lot of people. This thing is propulsive as hell. You can’t help but dance to RTJ2.
Logic – Under Pressure
I was a big fan of this guy’s cypher during the BET Hip Hop Awards this year. It was one of the few bright spots of the entire awards ceremony. I really wanted to check his music out, but I didn’t really know where to start with his discography. Luckily, this album came out shortly after the
BET Hip Hop Awards aired. It’s really a mix of a lot of my favorite things about hip hop at the moment. I strongly recommend listening to this album.
Dads – I’ll Be the Tornado
Another emo band. I can’t help myself.
empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) – You Will Eventually Be Forgotten
Empire! Empire! are one of my favorite band. I’ve been anticipating their second LP for a while now. Although it doesn’t hit the heights of What It Takes to Move Forward, it’s a very good record.
Dikembe – Mediumship
Dikembe’s sound has changed pretty extensively over the past few years in my opinion. With every release, their sound evolves. Mediumship is the next chapter, and I’m really interested in how they got here from Chicago Bowls. Someone ask them for me.
Restorations – LP3
They remind me of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band without the horns and with more punch.
Dad Punchers and The Exquisites Split 7″
Dad Punchers wrote the emo song of the millennium for this split. Literally every emo kid that finds this song covers it.
Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron
Not going to lie. This album didn’t really meet the lofty expectations I had for it. That might be partly my fault. That doesn’t mean this album isn’t a really fun listen. There are some questionable song choices on this thing, but for the most part, this is a strong release.
SZA – Z
Another TDE release. I’m starting to sound like a gd fanboy, but I don’t care. This is a really interesting sound release in a genre that I’m not too familiar with, if we’re being honest.
You Blew It! – Keep Doing What You’re Doing
I’m still waiting for You Blew It! to release a bad album or even a mediocre album. Hell, even their cover albums are fantastic. All hail You Blew it!
Joie De Vivre/Prawn Split
Probably my favorite all around split of the year, Prawn and Joie De Vivre really put some of their best work together for this release.
SPORT – Bon Voyage
A French punk band, y’all. They’re sooooooo damn good.
Human Hands – s/t lp
I couldn’t buy or download this album for some reason. It wasn’t available to anyone in the US. I commented on a Facebook post about this album mentioning that, and someone from the band reached out to me and sent it to me for free. That’s so goddamn punk and amazing. I couldn’t believe it. Thanks to the people in Human Hands. Your album rules, and it got me through a lot of shit.
It’s the time of year again! Everyone’s lists are coming out, and you can’t wait to read them. I know you can’t wait. I see it in your eyes. Look at you. These are my favorite songs of the year. I usually do albums, but I thought I’d change it up a bit this year. Honestly, though, I have the habit of listening to albums all the way through. I normally don’t listen to one or two songs from an album. So, this is kinda like an album of the year list.
ANYWAY, I’m in no way saying these are the best songs of the year. I know I listen to some intolerable shit. I hope you enjoy this list and maybe find something that interests you. These are in no particular order. Oh, also, I only had 16 songs in my first list, but I made it a round 20 for dat azz.
Oh, and I’m going to read this list and talk more at length about it on a podcast I co-host with my girlfriend — Breakfast for Dinner Podcast.
Adventures “Promise” Clear My Head With You
Saw these beautiful people in their more metal incarnation, Code Orange Kids, at Fun Fun Fun Fest this year. I was sorta hoping they would just slide right into one of their songs as Adventures, but that was a fool’s wish. Their EP Clear My Head With You is one of my favorite punk releases of the year.
The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die “Picture of a Tree That Doesn’t Look Okay” Whenever, If Ever
There’s so much to love about this band. The dynamics, the builds, the atypical song-writing, all of it is just spectacular. TWIABP has definitely matured over the years, and I would say their LP Whenever, If Ever is the most impressive release of this band’s career. I will say that this music video looks like an iTunes visualization setting. There’s that.
Football, etc. “Down the Field” Football, Etc/Plaids Split
Not only are they based out of my hometown, footy, etc. are some of the most consistent performers in the emo scene right now. This track isn’t from their new LP Audible. It’s from their seemingly unheralded 7″ split with Plaids. They’re a mix of Rainer Maria and Mineral. Lindsey’s voice is so beautiful and sincere.
Joey Bada$$ ft. Smoke DZA “Death of YOLO” Summer Knights
Definitely one of my favorite rappers. The kid is trying to make it on his own, and I think 2014 could be a big year for him. He released Summer Knights with a lot of anticipation behind it, and I think he delivered. This is probably my favorite song from that record.
Kanye West “Blood on the Leaves” Yeezus
You ain’t got the answers, Sway.
Action Bronson ft. Wiz Khalifa “The Rockers” SAAB Stories
Action’s had a great year. He released SAAB Stories and Blue Chips 2 this calendar year. Blue Chips 2 is a wild ride through Action’s very serious flowing chops whereas SAAB Stories feels more like a polished album with aptly-timed highs and lows. I love this track’s beat and Bronsonlinho’s smooth delivery. Wiz Khalifa tries his best to ruin this song, but he can’t ruin EVERY feature he does.
Danny Brown “Handstand” Old
This is easily one of my favorite songs of the year and one of my favorite releases of the year. Danny gives us two sides of his complex persona in this record. Side A is really raw, hood stuff. Side B is bass-heavy and twerk-ready (Sorry for using that word). I love it all. I wanna walk down the aisle to this song, y’all.
Chance the Rapper “Juice” Acid Rap
Hands down top mixtape of the year. Got some getting used to, but this thing is as solid as anyone’s album this year. If you don’t already know this cat, go and get Acid Rap. It’s FOR FREE.
R. Kelly “My Story” Black Panties
I love his music, but finally I’m learning to dislike the man. Some things you can’t look past. That aside, I love this song.
Speedy Ortiz “Hitch” Major Arcana
I have a soft spot for this type of garage, languid 90s-era alternative rock. It reminds me of a more melodic Sonic Youth meets a female-led Nirvana with a tinge of Pavement. I dig the sound. I know it may be a bit derivative, but I’m 27 almost 28. I’m allowed to be a bit nostalgic.
Little Big League “Lindsey” These Are Good People
When I first played this song for Nicole in the house and told her how much I loved it, she looked at me like I was crazy. She couldn’t believe I would like something like this, but I think of it as a natural progression in my listening taste. This song has beautiful, intricate guitar work. It’s dynamic. It has really cool breakdowns. It’s got a lot of the elements I love in a good song. This song keeps moving and keeps you guessing. I love her voice too. Although, it can sometimes feel a big grating. Oh, and the lower end backup vocals near the end of the tune are really great. Reminds me of Guns ‘n’ Roses. #dadrock
James Blake ft. Chance the Rapper “Life Round Here”
To be honest, I didn’t really get Chance when I first listened to him, but after I heard this track, I decided to give him another shot. I’ve not regretted it yet. This is one of the best tracks of the year for me, and I gained an appreciation for James Blake I never had before. One of the smoothest white dudes on the planet.
A$AP Rocky ft. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T. “1Train” Long.Live A$AP
This is this generation’s “Flava In Ya Ear” (Remix). If you don’t know what that is, go listen to that song and come back to this paragraph. Okay. Now that you’re back, every dude on this song had a great 2013. This song has so many dudes featuring on it that haven’t even realized their full potential. It’s an exciting track and every verse has some memorable lines. Favorite moment: “Dick so big it’s like from Earth to Venus” -Danny Brown
Their / They’re / There “Concession Speech Writer” Self-title EP
This is just so damn good. The guitars make me drool. It’s so great to hear Mike Kinsella behind the drums again. Evan’s voice is just magic. Go see them if they’re rolling through your town. They’ve had two releases this year. You should pick both up post-haste.
Drake “Worst Behaviour” Nothing Was the Same
I know what you’re going to say. So, save it. Drake’s album was really, really good despite his simpin tendencies. “Worst Behaviour” is a glimpse into my favorite phase of Drake. “Stay Schemin'” and “No New Friends” almost made this list, but I thought this was the strongest track out of all of those. The production is fantastic. This video is great too. Totally makes up for the catastrophe that is the “Hold On…” video.
Dad Punchers “Haircut Man” Dad Punchers / The Exquisites Split 7″
This song is emo in its purest form. Beautifully storytelling, kinda shitty vocals, and passion. I almost cried when I heard this track for the first time. Couldn’t find a video that wasn’t an acoustic or live performance.
Mixtapes “I Think I Broke It” Ordinary Silence
Good ole fashioned pop punk done right. Female vocals, dude vocals, axe-grinding guitars, melody. \m/
Title Fight “Hypnotize” Spring Songs EP
I included the full EP in this list because I couldn’t find a YouTube clip that had “Hypnotize” on it. So, here we are. These kids are amazing musicians and are only getting better with time. Saw them twice this year — once at Fun Fun Fun Fest and another in Houston at Fitz — they were phenomenal each time. One of the best bands to go see live. They have a intense energy about them in person.
Diamond Youth “Separator” Orange
This is probably the most uncharacteristically Dago track in this list.
Foxing “Rory” The Albatross
This is a late entry for this list. This is a recent addition to my listening rotation, but The Albatross is definitely one of the most intricate and emotional releases I’ve gotten my hands on this year. Reminds me of Cursive a bit but with a smoother and more expansive sound.
I made a Spofity playlist with most of these songs in it. Subscribe, if it suits your fancy. Thanks for another great year, musicians. Here’s to 2014.
As much as I like to play a disinterested fool on the Internet, I’m pretty dang sensitive and probably more than most. I’m a highly idealistic person (not like in an elitist way but in a “everyone’s humanity should be respected” way), and it’s hard for me not to get my heart broken just about every day. I become enraged when I hear about the many innocent people discriminated against, bullied, hurt, and murdered every day in this country because of the color of their skin, their sex/gender identity, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We claim we’re better than that, but we’re not. I won’t list all of them off to you, but the past 18-24 months have been grueling in terms of tragedy in America.
I’ve got outrage/compassion fatigue. I know I’m not the only one. I’m not special.
I’ve been avoiding articles like this one all week because I can’t take anymore. I’m constantly faced with articles and videos in my various feeds on everything from bombings, shootings, murders, rape, various injustices, and the like. I wish I could set a filter in my Tweetdeck for “depressing” to be rid of it for a while, but no one tags their shit as #depressing. [Note to news agencies: Please start doing this.]
I grew up in a tough neighborhood, and for a long time I thought that gave me a special perspective on how to emotionally deal with injustice. It happened around me all the time. Family members were taken from us too soon. Mom constantly was trying to make ends meet while working 2-3 jobs. The legacy of a bloody civil war still looms over the heads of family members. Yet, I don’t think any of that has prepared me for this age of constant sorrow and hate. At least in my youth I still felt joy regularly. At least in adolescence I could still blame the problems of the world on adults. Now, I’m the problem, and I try to do as much good as I can through my work, but how can I make transformative change as one person?
We as a nation, or I guess an Internet community, rarely have moments of great joy or things to celebrate. When we do, there’s always this sinking feeling like it’s an anomaly. This won’t last, and the world will go back to being a sad place full of sad people doing hateful things to us. Someone will find a way to ruin this for us. 1,000 people will make snide, racist remarks about a beautiful brown woman that won Miss America, and they’ll get all the attention instead of focusing on a gorgeous, brilliant person that worked her ass off to achieve her dream.
This is us right now, and I when I think of my youthful desire to grow up and become a part of American society, I grow angry with myself. I am a fool for wanting this, and unfortunately, I’m not that disinterested.
Let’s talk pure evil.
For those of you not in the know, El Cucuy (El Coco) is the Latino boogeyman. Not, like, he has leopard seat covers and wears gold chains, but he terrorizes young Latin children everywhere. He pretty much embodies all the evil in this world and the next. If you weren’t a good little boy or girl, El Cucuy would come to your bed and eat your heart or tickle your little feet. You decide which one is worse.
I considered myself a good kid. I got into fights and stuff, but I’m not hardly as bad as my 6 year old brother is now. My lil bro beat a kid in a foot race and celebrated by head-butting him in the chest. When I heard that story I didn’t know whether to be mad or really happy that I’ll have an insane brother at my disposal when we’re both older.
I didn’t like sleeping in my own bed. That’s mostly because I do what I want, but also because my parents were comfy to sleep on. I was necio (stubborn), and my mom needed to figure out a way to make me stay in bed. One night, I was laying in bed with my door open. My parents insisted on the door being open, but it freaked me out. I couldn’t sleep, and I would whine to my mom from down the hall.
“¡MAAAAAA, no quiero dormir solo!” (Ma, I don’t want to sleep alone!)
::silence:: (en SAP that’s silencio)
Because I wouldn’t shut up and go to sleep, my mom decided that it was time to play on my debilitating fear of El Cucuy. It worked before. Why not now? Mother had taught me about El Cucuy from an early age. I wouldn’t want to brush my teeth. “El Cucuy te va comer, Daguito.” (The Cucuy is going to eat you, Little Dago.) Then, I’d do it.
Honestly, I’d never actually heard or seen El Cucuy. Also, no other kids talked about El Cucuy because, well, you don’t speak about such unpleasantries when you’re 5 or 6. Also, we had no reference material to be able to discern what was Cucuyish behavior. There’s no text! It’s all hearsay!
Anyway, my mom’s meowing became louder and louder. The Cucuy was about to enter my room and suck my guts straight out of my belly with his Cucu-straw. I pulled my sheets over my head and just started crying. This couldn’t be the Cucuy, I thought. That’s my mom. Oh, my God. WHAT IF HE GOT TO MOM AND DAD FIRST? WHAT? I’M DEAD!
Then, it stopped. El Cucuy was gone. My mom stopped after she probably realized how dumb she looked meowing down the hall at a 6 year old and that maybe scaring a kid isn’t the best way to get him to sleep. At some point, I fell asleep that night. I don’t know when or how, but I managed the strength to get over my traumatic, near-death experience.
To this day, I still can’t sleep with the door open.
The other night, at a bar, one of my co-workers who’s also Salvadoran and I discussed the odd truth that, no matter how reasonable and rational we may be as human beings, there will always be a mysticism and fear of spirits in us instilled by our parents and traditions brought here from the old country. No matter how much I hate El Cucuy, and how it informs my irrational fear of spirits, ghosts, and demons. I recognize it as part of being who I am culturally and individually. It’s kinda cool. I feel like sometimes I’m bonded to people, no matter what, by El Cucuy… and tacos.
So, here’s to you Cucuy, wherever you are.
Oh, crap, behind you.
I’m not really a big fan of Valentine’s Day. It’s not because I’ve never had anyone on the day or anything. I tend to find myself occupied on February 14th most of the time. This year is my second time around with Nic. Here’s the card I made her.
This reminds me of one of my first encounters with Valentine’s Day. It was 1st grade. So, like 1992. I was the only Latino kid in class, and for some reason the teacher called me Dagoberto instead of Dago. I liked Dago/Daguito better. On February 14th, all the kids did their usual thing. We all exchanged Valentine’s Day cards with our classmates’ names on them. Here’s one for Erin, Whitney, etc. I got a bunch in my little brown paper bag I had decorated, and I was ready to go home and survey my keep.
I got home and emptied the contents of my brown bag onto the kitchen table. My parents and I started going through all of the Valentine’s. For the most part, everyone nails it. Name is right. The cards either hold candy or are accompanied by candy. There might be a heartfelt message inside like, “Hapy velentines dey Dago.” The real honest stuff.
I get to one of the last ones. I turn it over, and on the front, it says, “To: Dago-bruto. From: Demon Girl Who Just Ruined Everything.”
I tried to hide it from my parents because I knew they would make fun of me (that’s my relationship with my parents and why I absolutely cannot stop laughing at things). My Dad snatched it out of my hand and read it out loud. “Dago… bruto? Mira, Judy. DAGO-BRUTO!” Cue the five minutes of tear-inducing laughter from my parents and me sitting in my chair arms crossed with tears in my eyes from embarrassment.
For those of you who don’t know, bruto means “gross” or “crude” in Spanish — “stupid” even if you say it in the right context. Of course, I wasn’t the slightest bit gross at 6. I was a genteel, Southern gentleman, like I am today. Nothing’s changed. My parents couldn’t believe the mix up. The girl who wrote it obviously didn’t mean any harm. She didn’t speak Spanish, but to this day, I am still reminded of and referred to as DAGO-BRUTO when I mess up.
So, thanks little girl. You ruined my life and Valentine’s day.
I was just reminiscing with my co-worker Alicia about bands we loved in high school and the labels those bands were on — Tooth and Nail, Fueled by Ramen, and of course, Drive-Thru Records. I was in a band that really wanted to be on Drive-Thru. We were a mix between Green Day and NOFX. I actually still kinda like it. Anyway, here are a couple of songs from a live performance we did. Can’t believe it’s been 10 years. Some of the strongest and best friendships I have had grew out of this period of my life. I’m super grateful for that. There’s a DVD somewhere of one of our performances, and if I can get my hands on it, I might share that.
Skip all the banter if you’d like, but it’s pretty great.
“Back for More”
I love these songs, and it reminds me of how much I love playing lead guitar or guitar in general. Anyone need an axe man?
Everyone’s writing these touchy, feely best moments of 2012 posts right now, and I’m not in the mood. I’ve decided to share my Top 5 Chelsea “Ah, shit” Moments of the Year. What do I mean by an “Ah, shit” moment? Well, it’s that moment when you think things couldn’t get any worse, and you’ve come to terms with the likely and shitty outcome. Sorry for the derp videos ahead of time!
Here we go!
5. UEFA Champions League Round of 16, February 21, Napoli 3 – Chelsea 1
After a promising start to the match via a Mata goal, the Blues flew back to London with their tails between their legs after losing 3-1 in the first leg in Naples. All looked lost. The players weren’t motivated. AVB kept getting everything wrong. By the second leg, Chelsea had fired AVB, replaced him with Roberto Di Matteo, and were playing better. They went on to win 4-1 in London in an inspired performance against Napoli. They moved on to the next round to play against Benfica. But, for reals, that was some “ah, shit” stuff.
4. Barclays Premier League, November 11, West Brom 2 – Chelsea 1
This was Roberto’s last match at Chelsea. It was the fixture that did in AVB, and it was the one that ended Di Matteo’s time as Chelsea manager. It was also a turning point in the season where it felt any chance of winning the Premier League was pretty much good and gone. It also led to #3.
3. My life, November 21, Rafa Benitez named Chelsea manager
This was a very unpopular decision for fans. Roberto Di Matteo was not only a supporter favorite for having won the Champions League and FA Cup, he was also one of the club’s great players. His replacement, Rafa Benitez, was Liverpool manager during the most contentious period of history between the two clubs. He also called Chelsea fans basic as fuck and stopped just short of calling us ratchet in the media. I almost couldn’t handle being a fan after the announcement. So much drama has been following Chelsea around this year. It was wearing on me. I wanted to give up on football.
Lately, the anger seems to have subsided. The team is playing better, and maybe some fans (me included) have remembered that Roman still makes the calls, and we’re a lucky lot.
2. UEFA Champions League Group Stages, December 4, Juventus beat Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukraine
Shakhtar had just one job. They needed to keep up their amazing home form against Juventus. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get past the Italian champions. Chelsea were equal on points with Shakhtar, but the Ukrainian team had the tie-breaker. So, Donetsk moved onto the knockout stages. Shakhtar’s loss condemned Chelsea to be the first club to not get out of the group stages of the Champions League after winning the competition the previous year.
Ah, shit. Relegated to the Europa League, Thursday night fixtures, and Sunday/Monday afternoon league matches.
1. UEFA Champions League Final, May 19, Robben’s extra time penalty
After his heroic late goal to send the final into extra time, 4 minutes into the added time, Didier Drogba gave away a needless penalty after he fouled Franck Ribery in the box. With his slight rake, he seemed to have cost Chelsea a shot at the trophy after all their hard work defending the onslaught that was Bayern’s attack all match. At that point, I thought the match was done. I thought we had lost the last opportunity Lampard, Cole, Drogba, and Terry would have at winning the Champions League. My heart sank. I felt awful. It was probably the lowest I felt in my entire footballing life. Luckily, it worked out.
Thank you, Chelsea for a topsy-turvy 2012. Sometimes, I think I wouldn’t have it any other way.