3 Sep

Wow, posts look really weird without a 300×300 pixel album cover leading off.

Well, we’re halfway there. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know if I was going to make it past the first week when I began this project, and here we are, 186 albums later.  I need to commemorate reaching the halfway point in some way—I would have had this out earlier in the week, but school just started and I’ve been a little busy.  So, without further ado, here are the Top 5 records of Swole’s first half—look out for the Bottom 5 tomorrow.

5. tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l

I really thought that I’d never have to type out this ridiculously stylized band name again.  Oh well, Merrill Garbus’ ridiculously catchy glitch-indie makes it all worth it.  Honestly, this spot is more symbolic of the tUnE-yArDs project as a whole—both w h o k i l l and BiRd-BrAiNs are fantastic albums.  w h o k i l l earns the spot because of  Gangsta, though.  The record’s second single gets a listen from me almost daily, and it hasn’t lost any of its zest or infectiousness yet.  When I burn a copy of a CD for my car after only hearing its first half, you know it’s good.

4. Girl Talk – All Day

No, an album does not have to be great driving music in order to make this list, despite what records 4 and 5 may want you to believe.  All Day really is one of the most replayable records of all time.  From the intense/hilarious opening pairing of War Pigs and Ludacris’ Move Bitch, to the fitting and beautiful close with Imagine by Lennon, All Day never seems to lose its charm. This record shows why Girl Talk is, and will always be, the king of the mash-up.

3. Andrew Jackson Jihad – People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World

This record works surprisingly well as driving music too, believe it or not.  You’ve got to be in the right mood, though.  I’ve found that the unexplainable hybrid of stress and fury only felt when stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for extended periods suits People best.  AJJ’s talent of blending depressing, dark, but somehow optimistic lyrics still amazes me.  I’m very thankful that I don’t view the world the way lyricist Sean Bonnette does, but I’m also thankful that he’s decided to write about the way he sees things.

Yeah, I guess I am that shallow—this right here is the definition of driving music.  Foxy’s often-hilarious lyrics and insanely catchy neo-Queen riffs have been stuck in my head since I first pressed play on this record.  It’s one of those albums that I could listen to on repeat for days on end.  Currently, it resides at the top of my Desert Island Music list.


1. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

There are a few factors that led to Pains earning the top spot here:

  1. The sick white vinyl edition of this album that I got for preordering.
  2. The conversation that I had with Kip—the lead singer—before a show of theirs in April—I make awkwardness an art.
  3. The fact that this album really is amazing.

I still haven’t gotten over the one-two-three punch that Belong opens with—three amazing new-wavey synth-pop songs on a level that Pains’ imitators can only dream of one day reaching.  Heart in your Heartbreak is one of the catchiest songs in existence, with some of the most depressing lyrics that I’ve ever heard.  How this band doesn’t get radio play is beyond me.

Most importantly, Belong works as a whole—perhaps more so than any record that I’ve listened to so far.  Every track flows beautifully into the next, and the slower songs both serve to accentuate the record’s earth-shattering highs, and stand alone as amazing as well.  If I hear a record better than this before the end of Swole Ear, I’ll be very surprised.  Plus, it’s great to drive to.


8 Responses to “FIRST HALF TOP 5”

  1. Yuanny Dollar September 4, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    You know how I know that Pains of Being . . . deserves its number one spot? It was featured in the Disney movie Prom. That is one serious stamp of approval.

    So if Girltalk makes your top 5 is it really like the top 1000 to include all the bands he rips off while making “music” on a laptop in his basement in Pittsburgh? I saw him at Lolla. I like the albums as a nostalgia trip, but he should stay in his basement.

    As for David Bowie, I don’t think he really cares about your honorable mention. He has made a few lists in his day.

    Foxy Shazam — absolutely. They had me at Foxy Shazam. They should be headlining somewhere soon if there is any justice in the world.

    Toonyards? I still don’t get it. But unlike all you hipster critics, I’m not ashamed to say it.

    • elcheeserpuff September 4, 2011 at 6:41 am #

      Slamming someone because they sample music is like slamming Beethoven for ‘sampling’ notes. The idea that pure originality still exists is laughable, but that doesn’t mean great works can still be created.

      • Yuanny Dollar September 6, 2011 at 4:12 am #

        ECP: I like listenting to GirlTalk recordings, but his live show didn’t do much for me. As for comparing him to Beethoven, I think you’re using hyperbole for rhetorical purposes. You can’t really mean it and you can’t mean that what he does is comparable to composing a symphony. As for pure originality, I disagree. Go listen to something like Johnny Cash’s American Recordings — they were pure originals by a man who had been recording music for decades.

      • Alec September 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

        When would hyperbole not be used in rhetoric?

      • Yuanny Dollar September 7, 2011 at 1:21 am #

        Funny. Alec is a smart Alec.

  2. elcheeserpuff September 4, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    I’m surprised with your second reason for giving PBPH the top spot. I usually find that interactions between artists/celebrities/etc. only serve to ruin my golden-pedestal opinion of them, haha.

    I’m glad you did this list, I don’t think I ever read your Day 4 review of Andrew Jackson Jihad and now I’m seriously happy I got a chance to.

  3. Uncle Jiggly September 6, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    I’ll leave your taste in music to your other correspondents. A daily blog is a challenge and congratulations on making it half way! I look forward to the rest of the year.


  1. Day 222: Foxy Shazam – Introducing « Swole Ear - October 8, 2011

    […] of spectacular.  Regular readers may remember that it was good enough to earn the #2 spot on my First Half Top 5.  I love the approach to rock n’ roll that the guys take on that record—it’s one of the most […]

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