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On the final day

29 Feb

Believe it or not, a lot of thought went into today’s pick.  The original plan was to give something else by Pavement a listen, but I called an audible.  Those guys had their chance.  Why try and force something when there are a million better (active) bands out there?  While the “things have come full circle, OMG I’ve grown so much over the past 366 days” theme in a positive Pavement review might have been a cool way to go out, it wouldn’t get across the message that I’d like to convey today.  Picking a Pavement record would have felt like the final, closing note of Swole Ear.  Perhaps I’m being a bit sentimental, but I can’t bring myself to shut down this beautiful monstrosity of a site.  While I won’t be listening to a new album every day (thank God), I will be keeping the site up and posting occasionally.  Schedule TBD.

Look out for a review of Pet Lions’ Houses later tonight.  This is a record that I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time now. Scratch your heads all you want; listening to an up-and-coming Chicago band is the best way to mark the end of this project.

I’ll be taking a few days off after today; I think I’ve earned them.  Plus, I’ve got all kinds of statistics and fun facts from the past 366 days to compile, which I hope to post sometime next week.  Keep your eyes peeled.

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CENSORED

15 Nov

FIRST HALF BOTTOM 5

4 Sep

Now this was a challenge.  If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know why.  When I pan a record, I pan a record.  Picking just 5 from the countless number of negative reviews that I’ve dished out in the first half was hard enough—I then made myself listen to select songs from these albums again, just to get my blood at its optimal boiling temperature.  I’m bored; I’m angry.  Let’s do this.

5. The Drums – The Drums

I pointed out in my original review of this record that The Drums aren’t necessarily bad, but rather extremely trite and boring.  I’d like to retract that statement.  Yes, this band is still egregiously uninteresting, but I just listened to Down by the Water again.  It’s awful!  They just try to please too many people with their music, and what we end up with is a record that sounds like it was made by an evil indie rock cabal.  “Poor, deformed The Drums” indeed.

4. John Hiatt – Riding With the King

If you click on the record cover to the right, you can see it in it’s full, 300×300 pixel glory. Just look at that.  I don’t even have to write anything else here.  But I will.  John Hiatt, maybe if you decided what you wanted to be, we’d have some good music on our hands.  Yeah, the odds are slim, but that would at least make for a better record than Riding With The King.  Instead of butchering just one genre of music, Hiatt assaults 20 or so with his obnoxious voice and aura of mediocrity.

3. They Might Be Giants – Join Us

Speaking of bad album artwork…you know what, TMBG, I don’t think I will be joining you any time soon.  I imagine that if I hopped in your pink monster truck, your terrible, try-hard music would send us careening off of a cliff and into a bottomless pit.  The world would be a better place without you, though, and that’s actually a sacrifice that I would seriously consider making.  This record is really only so disappointing because of what this band was once capable of.  Now, like a dad on a longboard, they’ve lost everything that once made them cool, are trying desperately to get it back, and only failing spectacularly. The best part is, TMBG will release another one of these within two years, just because they can. 

2. Hoodie Allen – Pep Rally

You know what, I’m not going to type too much here.  If you’re new here, or have just forgotten, go ahead and click that link up yonder.  My thoughts on Hoodie and his music remain unchanged, and I think I sum it up as well as I possibly can in that post.  Hoodie, we’ve got out differences music-wise, and I still can’t stand the crowd that listens to your stuff.  I’ma leave it at that.

1. King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King

Wow.  I just read through my post about this album for the first time since uploading.  That right there is some anger.  Can you blame me, though?  I think that’s a reasonable reaction to sitting through 43 minutes of flute solos, uninventive, repetitive lyrics, and an overall cloud of pretentiousness.  The most annoying thing is that everyone on earth seems to love this record.  See, this is where some commenters’ arguments about me fall flat.  If I don’t like an album, no matter how great, influential, or inventive it’s supposed to be, you’re going to hear about it.  Hey, King Crimson, I didn’t catch you the first few times.  Did you talk to the wind?  If so, did it hear you?

FIRST HALF TOP 5

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.