However, I feel ok with saying this: CBS' How I Met Your Mother is the best comedy on TV right now (shocking, because I hate CBS - this is the first show I've really ever watched on that network). I know I'm rather late to this party and I have not seen the second or the current third season, but I don't care. After tearing through the first season recently (I got on a Jason Segel kick after Forgetting Sarah Marshall) I feel that even though I love 30 Rock, the Office, and Weeds, that this little guy surpasses them all. Why's that? Here's a breakdown in this week's edition of Monday Lists.
1. Arrested Development being cancelled
I figured I'd get this out of the way. It isn't my all-time favorite comedy. That honor goes to Arrested Development, which was prematurely cancelled thus opening the door for HIMYM to take the top spot.
Back to the point though, his love obsession could be grating in others hands, but Josh Radnor (the actor who portrays Ted) handles the situation with a charm and realism that lesser actors likely couldn't lend to the character. If someone besides Radnor had taken the role, the whole thing could have crumbled by now.
Ok, I'm a total sucker for shows with heart. This is of course shocking to some, as my favorite shows all time are Battlestar Galactica and Arrested Development, which are pretty cold really. However, as my Mom used to tell me, I'm a hopeless romantic and frankly, the story to this show really sucks me in. I always loved the concept of a storybook love (or at least the romantic comedy version - also, leave me alone, I can't help it!) and the heart displayed by the characters within this story are fantastically reminiscent of that concept.
Also, in case this is a concern for some...it's full of heart without being cheesy.
- Familiarize myself with lesser known bands: Check!
- Spend more time in the sun so I don't burn myself alive: Check!
- Work out camping plans: Check!
- Get new sunglasses: Complete and utter failure to this point.
- Get a new camera at an affordable price that has great stability features and optical zoom: CHECK!
For those wondering what exactly that is like, it is not good. It makes driving interesting and even though I get bored bored while driving, I'm definitely not looking for this kind of excitement. However, I'm not one to let Mother Nature bring my chi down, regardless of how evil she is being. Oh no, no I am not. Here's your weekend edition.
- Deciding on a Foosball Table (for the most part)
- Getting my camera (Booyah! See above post)
- Finally catching Lost (explosions, and Benjamin Linus, and smoke monsters! oh my!)
- Going out to Koots with Amy, Chris Sharpe, and Nick
- Dancing like an idiot and getting owned at Foosball
- Harold and Kumar go to Guantanamo Bay
- Bad Movie Night
- Snow City with Brian
- Bstar ruling...ho hum
- Finishing Season One of How I Met Your Mother (more on this later)
- Suite 100 with my parents
- Rocking out with Amy
Anyways, what am I going to elaborate on this week?
Well, this weekend's highlight had to be the bad movie night. Although less good than previous successes (but really, what night can top two times ago - Sleepaway Camp AND Surf School? Nothing. That is the only answer) it was still a fairly successful one. Really, the keys to any bad movie night are fairly simple:
- Good mix of people
- Alcohol (or sugar/caffeine if underage)
- Movies must try to be good - cannot try to be bad
- Must include one Uwe Boll movie
- Must mix genres (although horror movies from the 80's are seemingly always good picks)
It was a great time, however we made two huge mistakes - we started with Dungeon Siege which was over two hours long (total rookie mistake) and we Lorna somehow managed to pick a Skinemax movie for the third consecutive bad movie night (we knew it, but we thought we could make it work...again). They definitely brought the night down a bit, but we made it work great anyways. It was a great time like always, and any night I get to spend with my great friends is always one well worth spending. Especially when we're impersonating episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which is always great.
Good god, I love springtime/summertime. It's my favorite time of the year bar none, and it's finally turning that way in good ol' AK. It just seems like yesterday that I was complaining about getting snow dumped on Anchorage right and left, and all of a sudden it's 55 to 60 with sun pouring down upon us for three straight days. Just in time for the Heart Run on Saturday too! Not only that, but I've played Frisbee Golf for three consecutive days and there is even talk of hiking in the near future. Gasp! I can't believe it!
Regardless, keep it up AK. I'm loving this weather and want it to be exactly like this (just a smidge warmer perhaps) until at least September. I'm not asking for much at all, simply a small gift for one of your loyal residents.
Once again, I'm back with my Capitalist Pig Tuesdays segment, where I break down the best buys being released on this very day, along with convenient links to where you can purchase it and stream the album if you so please! If there is anything that stands out to you that I missed, please let me know because I am always looking for new things.
This week is a week of a few very exciting purchases, namely on the music side. Without further ado, here it is!
Album of the week: Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell
Ho hum. Great album, one of the best of the year so far. Already wrote about it, so I won't waste your time - I'll simply link you to it here.
Also, feel free to stream it for yourself in its entirety here.
Best album this week not made by Tokyo Police Club: Flight of the Conchords - Self Titled
This week we see the debut release of New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo, also known as Flight of the Conchords. For those that are not familiar with their comedy or their superbly hilarious HBO show (that I wrote a bit about last August, clink link to read), they are also known as Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement (or by their rapping alter-egos the Rhymenocerous and the Hip-Hopopotamus) and they may have released the best indie album pretending to be a comedy album (or is it best comedy album pretending to be an indie album?) of the year.
This album does it all, from taking you through PG rated raps about having tea with your grandmother, to Barry White/Marvin Gaye inspired ditties about getting down with your old lady, to a bizarre track influenced by David Bowie which also happens to be about David Bowie, shockingly titled "Bowie." In the show, most of their songs were only acoustic guitar based, but here they bring in a slew of other instruments (including a beat laid down that is an electric mandolin - booyah!), and it makes their sound far more full.
I can't tell if I should be even trying to review this seriously, as I don't know if it's serious or not. Either way, it's awesome, and should be checked out (along with their show) immediately. I'm extremely excited to be seeing the deadly duo in May at Sasquatch. They will definitely rock my party.
Feel free to stream the album in its entirety here.
Hip Hop Album of the week: Atmosphere - When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint that Shit Gold
Well Slug and Ant are back, but it hasn't really felt like they've gone anywhere as they just released a compilation of previously unreleased tracks called Strictly Leakage at the end of last year, along with three EP's just last year. So the Minneapolis duo is nothing if not prolific. However, does that dilute the quality?
Not one bit. This album is every bit as good as previous releases like Seven's Travels or You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having, but perhaps there has been a bit of maturation in their sound. Track "Guarantees" shows off this maturation quite a bit, as it is for the most part all soulful guitar combined with some light singing and rapping from Slug. It's stripped down rap at its best and something new for the duo. Atmosphere continues to produce some of the best hip hop in the industry today with this album. This comes very recommended.
The album is no longer stringing, but feel free to check out a couple tracks on their Myspace page.
DVD Release of the Week: Cloverfield, directed by Matt Reeves, written by Drew Goddard.
Although everyone thinks that there is a one man show behind this film (JJ Abrams, I'm looking at you), I think Reeves and Goddard deserve a lot of credit for putting together both a top notch monster movie and one where we actually care about the characters. A lot of the kudos I think have to go to Goddard on the latter subject, as his characters are developed quickly and are taken in consistently interesting and surprising directions. The key to a good monster movie is you have to want the people to survive, and they make that happen. If that didn't happen, all of the CGI in the world couldn't do anything to save this movie.
It is intense though, and it is very scary at times. It's a very riveting experience, and I fully recommend watching in darkness with a group of people who will take it seriously. It is a movie that really fits in theaters better than anywhere else, but considering that is no longer an option, do what you can to simulate it.
However, I'm unsure as to whether or not this is a "buy now" movie. It's very entertaining, and it's engrossing, but I'm unsure about how well it will work on repeat visits. I'm looking around for a good price, otherwise I may wait for Black Friday like I am with Juno, as this is assuredly going to be bargain basement on that glorious day. But it's a must rent for sure, and I recommend it to anyone in that regard. I'm just tentative to say it's a movie that deserves to be purchased.
It's List Monday once again! After last week was seemingly pretty successful (50% increase in visits!) and a lot of fun, I decided this was definitely a tradition I'd carry on. Once again the list is music oriented but it's an even harder subject than last time. This time it's favorite albums ever (not "best," but favorite), and I judged each album over a number of factors.
Primarily, I looked at how long I've been listening to it, impact on my listening habits, how much of the album I love, standout tracks, worst tracks, and overall appeal of the band. I also limited each band to a maximum of one album on the list, although if I hadn't there only would have been a couple repeats.
I also excluded compilations (such as the Beatles Love and the Rushmore soundtrack) as they felt like cheating. With that said, on with the list!
1. Gatsby's American Dream - Ribbons and Sugar
Favorite track: Recondition, Reprogram, Reactivate
This is Gatsby's second album and the first one I ever listened to of them. They are my favorite band ever, and this album never ceases to be as great as it was the first time I listened to it. Every track of this album is superb and fits perfectly within the album, and every element of each song works perfectly. It's strangely danceable, rocking, fun to sing along to - it's everything I want in a CD.
The only thing I don't understand about it is the fact that it is supposedly a musical interpretation of George Orwell's Animal Farm and I never figured out how exactly it is that. But I digress.
2. Anathallo - Floating World
Favorite track: By Number
Everything about this album is beautiful. From the exquisite (and freakishly delicate) packaging, to the lyrics, to the instruments, to the sheer grandiosity of the sound, to the vocals - everything is gorgeous. This album is the perfect chi balancer, and I have used it many times to study, stretch, work out, work, and to just refocus yourself on the task at hand. It's not for everyone, but I wish that everyone would give a chance because this band from Mount Pleasant, Michigan (by way of Chicago) put out one of the most incredible albums I've ever heard.
3. Cake - Fashion Nugget
Favorite track: Friend is a Four Letter Word
This was a tough choice. Originally I was leaning heavily towards Cake's album Prolonging the Magic, with Comfort Eagle as a close second. Then something snapped, and the history and memories tied to Fashion Nugget made it so this had to be the album chosen. Truth be told, it's probably the right one to be picked if only because this is before they started including their "radio hits" that were great as well, but managed to be killed by repetition (Short Skirt, Long Jacket - I'm looking at you).
Cake is not a complicated band. They're a band that puts out records that are perfect for every situation. Having party? Put on Cake. Depressed because your girl left you? Put on Cake. Taking a road trip? Put on Cake! (See what's happening here? Bet ya do.) Just because the music isn't complicated though does not mean it's bad. Fashion Nugget is fantastic throughout, and gets bonus points for being one of the albums to really get me into music.
4. Phantom Planet - The Guest
Favorite track: Anthem
In the summer of 2005, I lived in Moscow, Idaho and Lewiston, Idaho selling advertising in a campus directory for the University of Idaho and managing a three person sales team. During that summer, I was constantly in a car or on my feet, and perpetually listening to music. Before that summer, I liked sections of Phantom Planet's album the Guest, but never really got in to it. Enter listening to the album on repeat for three months, probably putting down a couple hundred full album spins.
Front to back, this is a perfect summer album. It's warm weather, sunshine, windows down, shorts, sandals, and t-shirts recorded as music. That job was crap, as I made very little money and it was stressful, but I'm thankful very often that I did it if only for discovering the truth about this album.
Also, don't get down on this album because of the track "California." It's only one song, and a good one no less, but it is nowhere near the best this album has to offer. Trust me.
5. Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends
Favorite track: Ghost Man on Third
This is the album (much to Colver's chagrin) that really, really got me in to music. I had listened to a lot of music before this album, but hearing this album more than anything sent me spiraling into the wide world of music more than anything. The dueling vocals, the shredding guitars, the incredible drums, the brilliant singalongs, everything about this album is stellar. Taking Back Sunday led me to the world of emo/screamo/punk, and from there I took the logical progression into indie, all the way to where I'm at now - listening to whatever I can get my hands on.
Although only ten tracks long, there is a lot of power on this album, and even though both albums since have been downgrades, this one maintains it's hold on me. Seeing them three times live (they're incredible) definitely helps, but listening to tracks like Ghost Man on Third and Cute Without the E takes me back to a time when it felt like I was opening my eyes for the first time. I hope some day they can get back to the level of greatness they were once at, but even if they don't they'll always have put out this marvelous record.
6. The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
Favorite track: Gone For Good
Disclaimer: I got in before the explosion they experienced after Garden State. Barely, but I got in before by just a tad. Not trying to be that guy to say "oh, I liked them before they were huge," but this band faced some of the biggest bandwagon jumping of recent memory in music.
These guys only put out great music, and maintain their position as one of my favorite bands, but Chutes is flat out their best album. Another short album for my list, as it only has ten tracks as well and clocks in at barely under 34 minutes, but that doesn't matter. This is the crown jewel of the barrage of indie pop records that came out over the last six years, all because of the sunny retro-tinged (and slightly country at times - gasp!) disposition to all of the tracks.
These guys aren't writing songs to be popular or to be critically acclaimed, they don't have an agenda. They just make brilliant pop music, and Chutes Too Narrow is where they brought it all together.
7. Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun
Favorite track: Olsen Olsen
This band is impossible to explain. Their music is ravishing, emotionally powerful, lush, gorgeous,
However, tracks Svefn-g-englar, Staralfur, and Olsen Olsen would be in a "Top 10 favorite songs" list if I ever got around to making it. All three of them. You could call this album top heavy, I call it my seventh favorite album ever. Pick up the album and try not looping those three tracks for hours on end. It's tough.
8. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Let's Face It
Favorite track: The Rascal King
If Tell All Your Friends is the album that took me to the next level of getting into music, this is the first album that really made me appreciate the album as an art form. I'll be perfectly honest, when I was younger I would listen to only single tracks off CD's. It blows my mind now, but it would happen often. This is the first album where I was taken aback by how great it was all the way through.
It's still a great album, one of my all time favorites, but it's definitely this high because of legacy as much as anything. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
9. Pete Yorn - Musicforthemorningafter
Favorite track: For Nancy ('Cos It Already Is)
This is another somewhat top heavy album, but what a half an album! The second half of the album is very solid, if not occasionally boring. But the first half? My god. Perfection. Standout track "For Nancy" is both the song most often associated with me by friends (good friend Sobo says that song always make him think of me) and also my favorite single track ever. Besides that, the rest of the first half are also delicious little ditties about love and heartbreak, all told through simple guitar rock that is just fun as heck to sing along to.
10. Eels - Electro Shock Blues
Favorite track: Last Stop, This Town
This is a very tragic album, as it is the album Mark Oliver Everett wrote after his sister and mother both died. What came from it is one of the most captivating and engrossing albums I've ever heard, at times being incredibly sad and others being marvelously uplifting. It's quirky and peculiar, but that is all part of E's charm.
I really think it's a very influential album, as this is a forefather to a lot of the indie pop that came from after it. It's definitely the best album E ever produced - which is saying something as this band has produced a lot of wonderful material. This is an underappreciated gem that should be loved by more, but for now, it's at least loved by me.
11. Gorillaz - Gorillaz
12. Muse - Absolution
18. Incubus - S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
19. Fenix Tx - Lechuza
20. Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape
30. The Offspring - Ixnay on the Hombre
- First dinner ever at Ginger
- Cirque Dreams at the Performing Arts Center with Colver, Lorna, and Kim
- Palmer Open House for GCI
- Being recruited to be a mascot performer
- Dancing at a busy intersection in Palmer with a coworker
- Making sushi for the first time with Amy
- Jason's Bday BBQ
- Rocking killer vocal/guitar duets on Rock Band with Amy
- King's Cup again
- Wrestling and rap battling
- Tragedy striking Battlestar Galactica
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall with the crew
- Finally watching my How I Met Your Mother DVD's and falling in love