Playing Favorites 2014

a0748811866_10Hey, 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.

Check out lists from 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013

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.


 

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My Favorite Songs of 2013

I THOUGHT I'D PROBABLY DIE IN PRISON

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

Past years’ lists 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

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 yearBlue 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.

Title Fight

I’ve been all about this band for the past couple of months. I just pre-ordered their upcoming albumFloral Green. This is a track from that upcoming release. They remind me of all of my favorite indie punk bands from the ’90s rolled into one. Check it!

Another from their last album Shed.  Props to my friend Nick for showing me these kids. They’re so young, but amazing. 

Sounds

peacock_1
"I don't like the new Brand New album as much as 'The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me'." Bullshit, peacock!

Outside of the hearing impaired, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy music or even disregards its impact on their life.  There is no way that you can trot through life or consume in our society without considering music as an integral facet in your life.  As I write this, I’m listening to Bill Evans and Stan Getz get it on… musically.

I can’t get away from music in my own life.  This is self-imposed.

Even if you didn’t listen to a death-core album a day, which is proven to keep doctors away, your ears are pummeled by sound daily.  The television/radio jingles that you hear on your way to work, the lobby playlist at your dentist’s office, the crazy man on S. Congress that frantically strums and croons at passersby, etc. are all sonic reminders of how we are connected and, at times, disconnected through music.

Forms of consumption are often used as tools for peacocking.  In my life, I have found that no one is excluded from this practice.  Many of us use the universal concept of music  to connect to the people we care to be with, to separate ourselves from the ones we feel are different and/or to grandstand as connoisseurs, civilized or fun types.

I think I’m just writing this because I read Adorno this week and feel especially cynical about certain things.

——————————–

At 11, my mother decided that it was best that I not go to Sharpstown Middle School.  The gang initiations and violence had alarmed my mother enough to request my enrollment in Paul Revere Middle School’s Magnet Program.

Before my adventures in suburban schools, I was a Latino kid who lived in the “ghetto” and loved rap music.  97.9 The Box was the only station I listened to.  My cousin Tony from Chicago introduced me to the greats.  I loved Tupac, Biggie, Bone Thugs, Easy E, Ice Cube, Cypress Hill.  If they were gangsta’ and from the 90s, I listened to them a lot.  I even remember discussing the latest Lil’ Keke album with a chum during lunch in 6th grade.  Just like Texas, Dago was from “da souf”.

The culture was different in suburban middle school.  There weren’t as many “gangstas” around and the ones that pretended were just assholes.  I needed to fit in somehow.  I was smart, but that made you the butt of a lot of jokes.  I used music as my in.  I learned so much about these alien kids and their culture through TV and the radio.  I would listen to Top 40 Radio and the Alternative station because I wanted a clue.  There kids never heard of Los Bukis and for sure didn’t actively listen to “My Ambitions As a Ridah”.  I watched Dawson’s Creek and other shows with youth-driven plots because I wanted to get to know my peers better.

I borrowed copies of Green Day’s Nimrod and The Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream.  I bought my own copy of Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness in 7th grade–1998.  I know that’s a few years after the fact, but I was behind in the game, and the kids I loved to hang out with had older siblings that made them listen to their depressing/awesome alternative rock albums.  I was playing catch-up.

My mother and father were delighted about my new found love for music, or at least they pretended to be.  For years, I rode the wave of “alternative” rock and metal.  I loved Korn through high school, secretly through Junior and Senior year when I was in a punk band.  At 12 I had earnestly picked up guitar and learned three Korn albums in their entirety by 14 or 15.

In high school, I quickly learned that no one took you seriously if you listened to Korn. NO ONE.

Metal heads are never taken seriously because they are considered weird and focused on being strange.  This is a notion I still have today.

I had to change, and I did.  Then I changed again in college.

However, the latter was not purposeful in its progress.  It was more organic and without intent.  I listened to things I found interesting and challenging.  In my teens and early twenties, music had become my social crutch.  I used it to become more connected to the people around me.  There wasn’t necessarily a scene that I followed because, in all honesty, large gatherings always frighten me.  However, the fact remains that I used music as a means to an end and not as a leisurely activity.

I feel that a lot of us lose sight of ourselves in the selfish expectations that we create for others to consider when discussing us.  A lot of us create these images in order to fit in but only find ourselves empty down the line.  If we cut the bullshit how much more diverse could our society be?  How much harder could we make it for industry to capture demographics?

And it’s not that I don’t care what people are listening to.  I do.  No matter how much you fight the urge, you still want to peek your head out and see what the others are doing.  You want to remain socially functional in some sense.  This is the behavior that gets me in “trouble” and in possession of the new Dirty Projectors album.  I’m a hypocrite.

Fuck Dirty Projectors,

Dago

PS: Go Texans! 5 – 3, baby!

beginning things

This is my second/third (if you count an early-2000s era LiveJournal) attempt at a blog. I used blogs in the past to deal with personal issues. I would leave them open to the public, knowing what the consequences were. This blog won’t go down that road. To avoid most interpersonal conflicts, the intended purpose of this blog is to criticize the anonymous.  I hope the more I get the hang of this, the better the writing and topics get.

I want to discuss the everyday things I see, and hear. As any good American, I consume. Also, like any good student of the liberal arts (blegh!), I have a lot of opinions about things I interact with on a daily basis. You will probably not agree with what I have to say, have an opinion on whatever sport I’m yelling about or even like the way I write about it. I just want this blog to be fun. In fact, I’m pretty sure this blog will be fun at the expense of others. I hope you’re okay with that. OK.

Now, onto the most important thing—myself. I’m an out-of-shape, twenty-three year old male from Austin, TX. A graduate of St. Edward’s University, I have a degree in History (know-it-all), and one day hope to get my hands on a Ph. D.

I currently have two employers, but will probably disclose their names in another post.  I’m not a fucking bum!

I have opinions, and I, being a dirty fucking liberal fascist, feel like all voices are important. I suppose this will be mine, for now. I’m originally from Houston, TX—Sharpstown to be exact. I’m obsessed with sports, music, politics, lively debate and people’s day-to-day interactions. So, let’s just get started, eh?

Continue reading beginning things