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Will’s Best of 2015

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Some good tunes out there this year. If you like what you year, buy an album, or go see a show!

Download link (from my dropbox; sorry for the slowness) is in the comments.

Thanks to M O’H for more perfect artwork.

#s 50-90 in no particular order; #1-49 (roughly) ranked in order of awesomeness.

90. Alabama Shakes — Don’t Wanna Fight

89. The Dø — Trustful Hands

88. Christian Scott — Sunrise in Beijing

87. Wilco — You Satellite

86. Russell St. Bombings — Side Z. The first of a good handful of songs or artists I originally heard on Henry Rollins’ Sunday night show on KCRW. Tune in.

85. Tirzah — Make It Up.

84. Jose Gonzalez — Open Book

83. Toro Y Moi — Ratcliff

82. Summer Peaks — Swim Out. Great acoustic guitar riffing.

81. Monika — Secret in the Dark. I think she is a huge thing in Greece, maybe?

80. Lower Dens — To Die in LA

79. American Wrestlers — Kelly

78. Colleen — Captain of None

77. Toro Y Moi feat. Kool AD, SAFE — 2Late

76. Lady Lamb — Billions of Eyes

75. Kendrick Lamar — Alright

74. Deerhunter — Snakeskin. Poppy, but catchy.

73. Four Tet — Evening Side

72. The Old Ceremony — Sprinter (Direwolf Remix). Direwolf breathes life and dancing and beats into what’s a pretty so-so tune at baseline. 

71. Flaural — Olly Olly Oxen Free

70. Bjork — Lionsong.

69. Best Coast — California Nights. Sentimental.

68. Jahan — Thinly veiled hell.

67. Vince Staples — Norf Norf. Great video, great beat.

66. Sheer Mag — Fan the Flames

65. WIN WIN — Don’t Freak Out

64. Jacuzzi Boys — Happy Damage

63. Panda Bear — Mr Noah

62. Ned Garthe Explosion — Tonight (Live). I recorded this on my phone: not bad, eh? NGX live is pretty much the best thing ever.

61. The Arcs — Cold Companion

60. Clouds & Mountains — Cruel Universe

59. Wreckless Eric — Days of My Life

58. Sonny & the Sunsets — Happy Carrot Health Food Store. Talk to your dog.

57. Hop Along — Sister Cities

56. Fake Palms — Estates

55. of Montreal — Bassem Sabry

54. Viet Cong — March of Progress

53. The Staves — Steady

52. B. Hamilton — Maison, Miscene

51. Kamasi Washington — Change of the Guard

50. Fadioutou Wallet Inamoud — Wana Le Nouveau. Found this one (and a few others on this list) on Said the Gramaphone’s always excellent best of 2015 list. 

49. Hiiragi Fukuda — 316L

48. PEACE — World Pleasure. Eh, a mistake. This song isn’t actually that good.

47. Damaged Bug — The Mirror. John Dwyer.

46. Julia Holter — Vasquez

45. St. Germain — Real Blues

44. Royal Headache — Need You

43. Sonny & the Sunsets — Cheap Extensions

42. Sufjan Stevens — Should Have Known Better. Too pretty, too emotional to actually listen too.

41. Young Fathers — Still Running

40. Dick Diver — Tearing the Posters Down

39. The Staffords — Poor Folks Live

38. Torres — Sprinter

37. Bop English — Dani’s Blues (It Was Beyond Our Control).

36. Jenny Hval — That Battle Is Over

35. Neon Indian — Slumload

34. Speedy Ortiz — Raising the Skate

33. B. Hamilton — Tequila and Marigolds.

32. Mark Ronson feat. Kevin Parker — Summertime

31. Son of Rams — Jedi Zipper Kid

30. Deradoorian — Beautiful Woman (Live). Ripped from a video. Didn’t get to see her live, unfortunately. The live versions are a little more human than the album.

29. Doug Hream Blunt — Fly Guy

28. Diane Coffee — GovT

27. Unknown Mortal Orchestra — Necessary Evil

26. Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment — Go

25. Tame Impala — Let It Happen. Great track, morphs and switches and emerges.

24. Ty Segall — Mr. Face

23. Tijuana Panthers — Power Plant

22. Hot Chip — Huarache Lights

21. Mbongwana Star — Masobélé

20. Fuzz — Let it Live

19. Jessie Baylin — To Hell and Back.

18. Oops it looks i skipped one. With the empty space, I think I’d put in Xol Rumi by Vinyl Williams (I put together the list in late December). You’ll have to check that one out on your own.

17. Thee Oh Sees — Lupine Ossuary. Thee Oh Sees keep making rad music that is just different enough to keep your interest

16. Buena Vista Social Club –Black Chicken 37

15. High Plains Honky — Ronnie & Phil. Tight songwriting, engaging performance, great voice.

14. Mac Demarco — A Heart Like Hers. I don’t agree with this, but also I guess I agree with this a little bit?Screenshot 2016-01-16 03.10.17

13. Son of Rams — Heaven Sent

12. Father John Misty — Heart Shaped Box. What a cover. Only a few people could do justice to Kurt Cobain’s delivery, and Josh Tillman is one of them.

11. Deradoorian — Grow (Live on KEXP). I tried to edit this one so the KEXP dj doesn’t yell in your year, but oops i didn’t do it right.

10. Diane Coffee — Mayflower

9. Kurt Vile — Pretty Pimpin

8. Unknown Mortal Orchestra — Can’t Keep Checking My Phone. What we are all thinking.

7. Sam Gellaitry — Long Distance. This song fucking rocks. This dude is fucking 18. 

6. Kendrick Lamar — King Kunta. Bouncy, fun, unusual, serious.

5. Courtney Barnett — Pedestrian At Best. Saw her perform this song last year before her new album came out and knew it would be a hit. 

4. Thundercat — Them Changes. Dat bassline.

3. Tijuana Panthers — Foolish. Maybe my favorite album of the year. 

2. B. Hamilton — Didn’t I. This song could rip sheet metal to shreds. 

1. Sonny & the Sunsets — The Application. I’ve been humming this song pretty much every day since I first heard it. Catchy, funny, appropriately nonsensical. 

will’s best of 2013.

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Fewer long-winded descriptions this year because I’m a lazy bum. Find the dl link in the comments — and support the artists if you like what you hear. Most of these guys will be on tour in 2014, and all released something cool in 2013 (duh).

70. Drake — Started from the Bottom

69. Osk — The Gesture I Just Made Means I Love You

68. Junip — Line of Fire. Jose Gonzales on vocals.

67. Y La Bamba — Oh February

66. The GO — So Let’s Pinch

65. Pickwick — Window Sill

64. Marc Cary — Throw it Away

63. Parquet Courts — Borrowed Time

62. Fuzz — Loose Sutures. Ty Segall on the drums. Another great year overall for Ty Segall

61. Washed Out — Paracosm

60. Mazzy Star — California

59. Marc Cary’s Focus Trio — Todi Blues. Still a fantastic group, but missing David Ewell on the bass this time around.

58. Leif Vollebekk — When the Subway Comes Above the Ground

57. Chance the Rapper — Everything’s Good

56. The Mantles — Marbled Birds

55. The Moth & The Flame — Sorry

54. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper — Bird Balloons. This one grows on me more and more every time I listen to it.

53. The Sharp Things — Lights

52. Shacklock Meth Party — Chavez

51. Todd Terje — Strandbar (disko)

50. Ghost Wave — Here She Comes

49. Ty Segall — Music for a Film 1

48. Bass Drum of Death — Fine Lies

47. Royal Bangs — Better Run

46. Lost Animal — Say No to Thugs

45. Generationals — Put a Light On

44. Gun Outfit — Young Lord

43. King Khan & the Shrines — Born To Die. These guys have been around for a while, but I was totally sleeping on them. Hope they come tour the US soon, I bet the live show is awesome.

42. Tal National — Zigda

41. Blitzen Trapper — Ever Loved Once

40. Major Lazer feat. Amber Coffman — Get Free

39. Lorde — Royals. Man, I am totally lost on the straight pop music tip these days, but if you didn’t hear this song, you were living in a cave. And it’s so weird that this was a big pop hit — the beat is totally sparse and not particularly danceable, Ella Yelich-O’Connor’s voice is powerful and direct, but not particularly beautiful, and the lyrics pointedly criticize the songs that were played before and after it on KISS FM or whatever. It’s weird — and therefore closer to the more adventurous and trippy stuff you’ll hear on college radio. It’ll be interesting to see where Lorde goes next, and whether you’ll find her next record in the “pop” or “indie” section of your local music dispensary. 

38. Tennis — Cured of Youth

37. Thee Oh Sees — No Spell

36. James Blake — Retrograde

35. Ex-Cult — Shade of Red

34. Danny Brown — Lonely

33. Jai Paul — Jasmine. This is a great song.

32. Juana Molina — Sin Guia, No

31. The Tambo Rays — Night Feel. These guys are totally underrated.

30. Toro Y Moi — Harm In Charge. Bay Area people: do you hear anything familiar at the very beginning of this track?

29. Davendra Banhart — Daniel. Love is beautiful and very very sad.

28. Unknown Mortal Orchestra — The Opposite of Afternoon . Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s II is my favorite album of 2013. 

27. Vampire Weekend — Hannah Hunt

26. Mikal Cronin — Turn Away

25. Kool A.D. feat. Amaze 88 — Fettucini

24. Thee Oh Sees — Minotaur. Thee Oh Sees might be breaking up? Say it ain’t so.

23. AM & Shawn Lee — Two Times (Colorama Remix Vox Down)

22. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down — Holy Roller

21. The Spyrals — Easy Now. Hard to narrow it down; Out of Sight is a great album.

20. King Khan & The Shrines — Bite My Tongue

19. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams — Lose Yourself to Dance. Unlike Daft Punk’s other entry on this list (see below), I am totally not sick of this song, and will continue playing it often so I can pretend that I can dance like they do in this video (I cannot dance even remotely like they do in that video). 

18. Jim James — State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)

17. Kurt Vile — Girl Called Alex

16. Ghost Wave — Bootlegs

15. Gun Outfit — I’ve Got a Gift

14. Mark Mulcahy — She Makes the World Turn Backwards. This version is ripped from the video for this song, in which Mark and his band play this song in some kind of local meeting room with terrible acoustics. But those same terrible acoustics make the pointy vamp and reverb-heavy chorus all the more filthy. Great stuff. 

13. of Montreal — Belle Glade Missionaries

12. Local Natives — Ceiling

11. Arcade Fire — Here Comes the Night Time

10. Mayer Hawthorne — Her Favorite Song

9. The Dodos — Confidence. Still one of my favorite live acts. 

8. Cool Ghouls — Natural Life

7. San Fermin — Sonsick

6. White Denim — Pretty Green. Their new album, Corsicana Lemonade, was a little disappointing, if only because I was totally obsessed with 2011’s D. This track is pretty sweet though. 

5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra — So Good at Being in Trouble

4. Ty Segall — The Man Man. Segall went (mostly) acoustic for his latest, Sleeper, and it really, really worked.

3. Courtney Barnett — Avant Gardener. I love this track. 

2. Volcano Choir — Byegone.  Uplifting and expansive.

1. Daft Punk — Get Lucky. I had listened to this song over and over before making this list in late December, and I was all like “wow i could listen to this song forever its soo good!” Then January 1 hit and I became suddenly and completely sick of it. Dammit! But it’s good for the first  30 or so spins, I promise! 

Will’s Best of 2012

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Some good tracks this year, and hopefully a bunch that you haven’t heard (or haven’t heard too much). If you like what you hear, giving the artists a little something (buy a track or album, pick up the vinyl [records are awesome items to have in one’s possession], go see the live act, become a groupie [everyone likes a good awkwards-backwards]) is a very cool thing.

Enjoy and feel free to pass it around. Let me know how much you enjoy it so I can feel smugly self-important! Tell me that there is a serious dearth of country and metal and I clearly don’t understand music at all!

Many thanks also to Matt O’Hearn, who took the stunning photo above and allowed me to use it as the album art for this year’s best of. Dude can take some serious photographs.

Happy new year, and goooooooo 2013!!!

The link to download the whole thang is in the comments.

85. White Rabbits — Heavy Metal

84. Solander — Book of Advice

83. Jennie Gillespie — Sunshine Blood

82. Al Lover and the Haters — The Summer Solstice Suicides. Al Lover with the instumental hip-hop. 

81. Here We Go Magic — Make Up Your Mind

80. Elephant & Castle feat. Tune-yards — En Memoria. Merrill Garbus’ surprisingly delicate falsetto compliments the solitary, transparent ambience of this track really well.

79. Efterklung — Apples. Ok this song is actually pretty boring. My bad. It’s got some horns in it though so, uh… well.

78. Zeus — Are You Gonna Waste My Time? Good ole’ rock n’ roll. And is it just me or does this dude totally sound like Paul McCartney?

77. Blessed Fathers — By Song Through The Americas

76. Beach Fossils — Shallow

75. Two Humans — Rooftop. This song is hilarious, and creepy. But more hilarious than creepy, so it’s ok. 

74. Gorillaz feat. Andre 3000 and James Murphy — DoYaThang. This could have been so so good! Instead it is just pretty good. But pretty good is still pretty good. 

73. Tanlines — Brothers

72. Death Grips — Get Got. These dudes are just ridiculously interesting. They make this weirdo-ferocious punk-rap that is just really cool, futuristic, and eminently head-nod/bangable. Plus they put a picture of some dude’s dong on their album cover. 

71. Fiona Apple — Every Single Night

70. Cody Alan — Heart Like a Rabbit. You may remember this SF/NYC dude from last year, then recording under the name Lovecraft. You never know what the hell is going to happen next, but you always know that somehow the transition will be smooth, if not poetic. 

69. Joey Bada$$ — World Domination. This song really should be higher on the list. It’s rad. Old skool. Don’t listen to it with your mom unless she really likes people saying “fuck.”

68. Horse Feathers — Fit Against the Country

67. Willis Earle Beal — Monotony. Willis Earle Beale has a pretty crazy story. He makes outsider music that is fragile enough to break if you set it down wrong, but feels so heavy in your hands.  

66. Rocco DeLuca — Lucky

65. Sleepy Sun — V.O.G. Great guitar riff on this one. Gets a little lost in the bridge… but then the great guitar riff again! All is forgiven!

64. Allah-Las — Busman’s Holiday

63. Diplo feat. Jahan Lennon — About that Life

62. The Men — Open Your Heart. I missed these guys at Bottom of the Hill and shouldn’t have. 

61. Main Attraktionz feat. DaVinci — Do It for the Bay. The new Anthem.

60. Sinkane — Jeeper Creeper.

59.Plants and Animals — Shakey Shakey Shakey. The first of 3 tunes of P&A’s March 2012 album. That’s surprising because I was pretty disappointed by the album as a whole. But this song, like the others, has just stuck in my head. “Shakey Shakey Shakey” is a bonus track that frontman Warren Spicer said wasn’t finished. It’s spare but solid, sorrowful but somehow quietly optimistic. Maybe better that it is incomplete, like a thought. 

58. Mean Lady — Bop Bop. Love how her voice just rises and rises from tentative and sweet to strong and moving.

57. Delicate Steve — Afria Talks to You

56. TV Torso — No Idea Why. Probably the best thing about being fans of bands on facebook is that sometimes they post stuff by their lesser known band friends. White Denim told me about TV Torso, which I totally would not have found out about on my own. 

55. Big Baby Ghandi feat. Das Racist — Blue Magic.

54. Onuinu — Happy Home. This song is so freakin’ happy. Try to listen to this and not get all happy. It’s impossible.

53. PAWS — Miss American Bookworm

52. Dirty Three – Rising Below. Violins in pop music ftw.

51. Mac DeMarco — Freaking Out the Neighborhood. That loosey-goosey guitar riff just puts you in a good place. 

50. Grimes — Oblivion

49. Hot Chip — Flutes

48. M.I.A. — Bad Girls

47. Está Vivo — Sunrise. One of those tiny little bands that I don’t remember how I came across. But they’re good! 

46. Ty Segall & White Fence — Time. Ty Segall released 3 albums this year, and all of them were rad. See Ty Segall live. Mosh with teenagers and leave the venue literally soaking in sweat, and forget about using your ears for the next week or so. Later find it too easy to spot yourself as the big doofus moshing with teenagers in the youtube video someone shot from the balcony. 

45. Sun Kil Moon — That Bird Has a Broken Wing

44. Lotus Plaza — Strangers

43. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros — Fiya Wata. Their new album wasn’t as good as their first one, but it grew on me. 

42. The Helio Sequence — Hall of Mirrors. Mad respect for being around for hella years and still making good, loud music.

41. Swans — The Apostate. This is a 10 minute version of a 20 or 30 minute song. It is crazy. It sounds like a construction yard, and a motorcycle, and the ocean, and I don’t even know what instrument is playing that solo at the end but I like it.

40. Poolside — Slow Down

39. Nicholas Jaar — With Just One Glance. The understated vocals really work over the twisting and turning backbeat. Bruce Willis’s daughter is the one singing. You will remember that, and forget something important.

38. Plants and Animals — Before. This is the one song off Plants and Animals’ new album that could have been on Parc Avenue, aka The Best Album of All Time. 

37. Dirty Projectors — Just from Chevron. A sweet song from the DP’s most sweet record yet. Still so intricate with weirdo guitar figures, inventive percussion, and crazy harmonies, but perhaps less complicated than some of their previous stuff.

36. Liars — No. 1 Against the Rush. No joke this song is named for the San Francisco 49ers.

35. Lower Dens — Brains

34. Thee Oh Sees — Hang a Picture

33. Odd Future — Oldie. I’m not the biggest OF fan, but watching the video for this track reminds you that despite some of the nasty shit they say, they’re a bunch of kids having fun and making tight music while they’re at it. Also Frank Ocean’s verse is siiiiiick. Dude can rap. 

32. The People’s Temple — Looter’s Game

31. K.R.I.T. — Boobie Miles. Great flow, great beat. 

30. B. Hamilton — Didn’t I (Live in San Jose). B. Hamilton is amazing. Get your hands on their recent album “Everything I Own is Broken” as soon as you can. Great songwriting, great lyrics, bluesy, garage-y… just great stuff. This is a track I ripped from a video of a recent show they did in San Jose. Apologies for the low quality. But you can still hear the emotion and propulsion on this one. And how about that Edge-like solo at the end? 

29. James and Evander — Ambigamy. The video really did it for me. I’m pretty sure that’s what I look like when I dance. Apologies to all those people that have seen me dance. Oakland!

28. Grizzly Bear — Speak in Rounds. Shields is a really good album.

27. Mark Matos & Os Beaches — Do the Right Thing. Weird and slow and a dude with a pretty atypical voice but a rad guitar solo. 

26. Kool A.D. feat. Main Attraktionz — Ticky Tacky. Kool A.D. going Hyphy. I dig. Das Racist broke up which I dig less, but it’s clear that Heems and Kool A.D. can both do some pretty good things on their own. 

25. Thee Oh Sees — Lupine Dominus. Thee Oh Sees are way fun to see live. Even if you are literally not drunk at all. Also it was at this show that Stickle and I thought of how great it would be to go up to a bar and order a round of Clausthalers for everyone, who would at first be like, “yeah, this person rocks! Cheers!”, but then everyone would realize that Clausthalers are non-alcoholic beers, and now they have to drink a full glass of non-sweetened grain soda. But it’s too late, because they already cheers’ed and patted you on the back. 

24. Jen Shande — I Really Like Sonic Youth, and I Really Want to Have Sex With You. How could you disagree with a title like that? Also, it’s a great song of a really cool album. 

23. Jessica Pratt — Night Faces. What a voice.

22. Daniel Rossen — Return to Form

21. David Byrne and St. Vincent — Who

20. Kendrick Lamar feat. Dr. Dre — The Recipe. Initially I was all like, “whatever, Kendrick Lamar is overrated.” But the tables have turned, and now Kendrick Lamar is like “whatever, Will is overrated.”

19. Cat Power — Ruin

18. Matthew Dear — Up & Out. Sam says this sounds too 80’sed out, but I think it rocks. I hope I’m right, because the 80’s are the worst.

17. The Amazing — Gentle Stream. This year’s Fleet Foxes?

16. Andrew Bird — Desperation Breeds. I’ll always have a soft spot for Andrew Bird. Love the reverb-heavy electric violin picking on this track. 

15. The Field Recordings — We Will Become Strangers Faster Now. I found these guys on some random Connecticut indie music blog because I was in CT. Good find, me!

14. The Spyrals — Lonely Eyes. Local SF dudes, stummin’ guitars like it’s the 60’s. 

13. Poolside — Only Everything. I listened to a lot of KCRW this year. Great station. They play a bit more electronic music than I usually listen to, including a lot of this LA band. Disco! Pools! Cocktails! People in Bathing Suits! All good things!

12. Sun Kil Moon — Sunshine in Chicago. This is a sad song about growing older, which is a really sad thing. But it’s pretty. Sad + pretty usually equals heavy, but somehow this is light, almost buoyant. There’s gotta be a metaphor in here somewhere. 

11. Plants and Animals — Lightshow. During/after the Plants and Animals show at the Bottom of the Hill last May, I: a) supplied everyone around me with a needless excess of bad whiskey; b) snuck backstage to tell the band that the show rocked and invited them to a party that did not exist; c) was hip-checked by M O’H in the middle of 18th St. and possibly broke my patella; d) all of the above. 

10. Django Django — Hail Bop

9. Sic Alps — God Bless Her, I Miss Her. The Sic Alps are another one of those bands that finally got aboard the “hey, we’re pretty good, so let’s stop recording our music in lo-fi which makes us sound like we just learned how to play our instruments after we bought them at Target yesterday” train. Glad they did. 

8. White Denim — Gas On F. White Denim is a great band to see live. Super high energy, crazy segues from song to song. 

7. Mø – Pilgrim

6. Bonnie “Prince” Billy — Hummingbird, Pt. 1.  A classic bluesy stomp that entirely avoids the trap of being too boringly bluesy. 

5. Ty Segall — Thank God for Sinners. Ty Segall rocks so hard. For reasons I will never understand, he was invited to play a morning news show in Chicago. The anchors do not understand those reasons either. Also OMG I just learned that Ty Segall is moving to LA and that is just horrible news. 

4. Lianne Las Havas — Tease Me. I don’t know anything about Lianne Las Havas other than she has written this song, is really good at fingerpicking her guitar, and is really good at singing. Just sexy, smoky, and true. 

3. Tame Impala — Mind Mischief. Tame Impala does the new psyche thing better than anyone. 

2. Divine Fits — Flaggin’ a Ride. Divine Fits is made up the guy from Spoon and the Guy from Wolf Parade. This song sounds like a mix between a great Spoon track and a great Wolf Parade track. So that worked out pretty nicely. 

1. Daniel Rossen — Silent Song. Just perfect. Love the sound he gets out of his guitar, love the stages and phases of every song on his (too) short EP from earlier this year. By all means buy that EP and you will thank me. Just gorgeous, inspired, provocative, fun music. Daniel Rossen: please come to SF! You can stay on our airbed, and we’ll make you pancakes in the morning. 

Will’s Best of 2011!

Good year for music. Make sure to check the comments for the link.

81. The Rubbish Zoo – More Ink than an Octopus

80. Wolf Gang – Pyramid Song. Hard to cover Radiohead, but these guys do it pretty well. 

79. Prasant Rhadakrishnan – Bhairavi Ragam. Prasant plays in one my favorite jazz groups, Vidya; this track features his carnatic saxaphone accompanied by a sitar. Very meditative.

78. Fitz and the Tantrums – Don’t Gotta Work It Out

77. My Morning Jacket – First Light. Matt this is for you. 

76. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Ffunny Ffriends.

75. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

74. Lil Wayne – Dear Anne. When Lil Wayne actually tries to come up with an interesting flow, dude can rap.

73. Black Books – The Big Idea.

72. St. Lucia – The Old House is Gone.

71. Toro y Moi – Intro/Chi Chi. Tape loops always get me. 

70. Moonbell – Figurine. Psychedelic SF. Gotta include that.

69. e-dubble feat. Komplex – My Last Dream.

68. Cali Swag District – Teach Me How To Dougie. Not a whole lot of pop on this list, but man this song was hella catchy.

67. Olaf Arnalds – Fyrsta. Part of a week-long live series where Arnalds composed a new piece every day in his living room.

66. Man/Miracle – Valleys. Was expecting a little more from Man/Miracle’s new EP considering that their 2010 LP, The Shape of Things, was really, really good. Valleys has a more moody vibe and isn’t quite as exuberant, but it works. Local band go check them out some time.

65. Smith Westerns – End of the Night.

64. The Horrors – Still Life. Eh, shoulda been lower.

63. Cashier No. 9 – Oh Pity. Sounds like it should be in a James Bond movie.

62. Icona Pop – Manners.

61. Dominant Legs – Clawing Out at the Walls. Great guitar riff. This one didn’t make their album, don’t know why.

60. Zola Jesus – Vessel. Zola Jesus is pretty weird.

59. Emil & Friends – Short Order Cooks.

58. Big Tree – This Fall. Starts off slowly and builds into a really nice plateau at the end. Great vocals and lead guitar.

57. Alexander – Truth. Love the way Alex Ebert modulates his voice in this. 

56. Cut Copy – Need You Know. A lot of bands did the 80’s throwback this year; this one rose above.

55. White Denim – River to Consider.

54. Gangsta – Tune-Yards. Man, you gotta watch Merrill Garbus perform live. Youtube it. Shit is crazy.

53. Gorilla Warfare Tactics – Dream Green.

52. Cyhi Da Prynce – Woopty Doo feat. Big Sean

51. Yellow Ostrich – WHALE. This song was about 100x better than the rest of their album, for what it’s worth.

50. James Blake – Limit to Your Love. Really grew on me. Is this dubstep? What is dubstep? Does anyone actually know what dubstep is?

49. Black Keys – Little Black Submarines

48. Real Estate – All the Same. I was a little disappointed by Real Estate’s album this year, but I guess I also didn’t really like their first album. The singles off those albums, however, continue to be mostly awesome. 

47. Lovecraft – Malcolm Xes.

46. Vacationer – Trip. Lighthearted and fun.

45. Maffew Ragazino – Yowzers!. Love this beat.

44. Kurt Vile – Jesus Fever.

43. Chico Mann – Harmonía.

42. Jangula – Genji Glove. I was all about this song earlier in the year. Not as sure why now.

41. Black Lips – Bicentennial Man. Fun tune. Gotta see these guys live some time.

40. The Kills – DNA.

39. Washed Out – Eyes Be Closed

38. Foster the People – Houdini. Not sure if this was on their LP, but it was on their EP that came out last January. I read somewhere that the only real complaint you can make about Foster the People is that they are just too catchy. 

37. Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans. Really expressive voice.

36. The Antlers – Rolled Together (Daytrotter Sessions). This song really stood out to me when I heard this live version. Haunting.

35. B. Hamilton – Everything I Own Is Broken.

34. Thievery Corporation – Web of Deception.

33. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Morning Thought. Cheerful, earnest song. I like it.

32. Friends – I’m His Girl. Probably doesn’t deserve to be ranked this high, but that bassline! 

31. Jay-Z and Kanye West – Otis.

30. Ty Segall – I Am With You. Finally saw him live last July and it was fucking incredible. Couldn’t hear properly for days. Plus Stickle and I rearranged a restaurant letterboard to say that they served farts.

29. Hindershot – The Mark. Small band from Colorado has a few really solid tunes. Saw them last summer in SF and fooled Stickle with the old “look closely at the intricate design on the frosting of this cake” with a boob cake that one of the band member’s girlfriend had brought him for his birthday. Subsequently got chased around the bar by Stickle with a handful of cake; subsequently subsequently got kicked out of the bar. This was after we drank Tecates with Hindershot’s lead singer, Manual Hindershot, in their tour van, which still said “First Korean Baptist Church” or some crap. It was a pretty great night.

28. Al Lover – Natural Child – White Man’s Burden. Al Lover takes local indie records and remixes them with instrument hip-hop in mind. Somehow it totally works.

27. Thee Oh Sees – The Dream. SF band’s 7 minute freakout. It gets weird. Love it.

26. Lil’ B – Base For Your Face. The Based God lays it down. Great sample. 

25. Beastie Boys – Make Some Noise. Great old skool Beasties beat. 

24. Son of Rams – Black Widow. I love this dude. He’s put out 3 great, free records in the last year or so, all good. Just got the vinyl LP of his first one in the mail, straight up from him, for $8, shipping included. Not having a record player anymore has slightly crimped plans to listen to said vinyl LP, but whatevs. I am definitely happy that I own that item.

23. Bon Iver – Holocene. Hard to pick a favorite from a record that is meant to be listened to all together.

22. Toro y Moi – New Beat. Mellow fun from a super forward-looking artist.

21. Sic Alps – Battery Townsley. SF group, just kinda got into them. Need to get more into them. Excellent tune.

20. Lovecraft and Sleepwalk – Discount Magic Carpet. I don’t always listen to electronic music, but when I do, I prefer Lovecraft.

19. Girls – Alex. Love the drums on this one. And obviously Christopher Owens’ songwriting. Everything he writes is perfect. Not too poppy, not too out-there. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is one of the best through-and-through albums I’ve heard in a really long time.

18. Twin Sister – Bad Street. Fun song.

17. Radiohead – Giving Up the Ghost (live on Jimmy Fallon’s show, whichever one that is). I liked this song, but hearing the stripped-down live version really did it for me. Everything about it is perfect. Jonny Greenwood’s backing guitar is mesmerizing.

16. Death Songs – Ophelia. Small group out of Portland. Song starts strong and builds.

15. White Denim – Cat City. White Denim’s D, which came out this year, is one of my favorite records of the past 5 years, and I probably listened to it as the aforementioned Girls album. Cat City isn’t even off D; dudes put out another excellent EP later in the year. If you want to hear more about the huge boner I have for White Denim, just ask Matt O’Hearn, who will sigh.

14. Kreayshawn – Gucci Gucci. Best beat of the year, and girl can rap. Bay Arrreaaaa!!

13. Mike Simoneti – The Third of the Storms. Great, long, peaceful, flowing track. Don’t know much about this guy, but this track is excellent.

12. Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks. Too catchy!

11. little brothers – old shows. Can’t remember where I found this one. This guys are pretty small, but are obviously having an incredibly fun time playing in a band together. old shows is lighthearted but propulsive, and also really funny. I would love to see this group live. 

10. The Dodos – Good. I love the Dodos. Take 2 excellent musicians who have really distinctive styles on their respective instruments (drums and mostly acoustic guitar), give them plus songwriting ability and hella charisma, and you get a pretty swell end product. Check out the video for this one, and see them live if you can.

9. Mikal Cronin – Apathy. First record from a guy in SF who plays a lot with Ty Segall. Great guitar-driven SF-style garage rock. Love the weird sax at the end of the song. It’ll be fun to see where Mikal Cronin goes in the next few years, and I’m sure his live show is fantastic.

8. The Pieces of Shit – Lay & Love. The Pieces of Shit are David Byrne writing music, Bonnie “Prince” Billy writing lyrics, and Irish singer Michael Brunnock on vocals. This track is a cover of Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s Lay & Love, but it’s different enough from the original to make it wonderful in it’s own right. Great vocals, perfect, subtle guitars. 

7. The Black Keys – Lonely Boy. This is all you need to know about this song. You may want to avoid playing it early in the week, because the longer you have to wait to throw back 10 PBRs (or 1/2 of 1 PBR if you happened to be named Sam C.) and attempt to dance like the dude in the video, the more painful. 

6. White Denim – Keys. Closer from the album D. White Denim had a great year. 

5. Bill Callahan – Baby’s Breath. This was the first time I heard Bill Callahan and actually thought he was good. His poetic delivery on Baby’s Breath is outstanding, and his band backs him up perfectly. The spare guitar figure that starts the track (not to mention his audible sigh) and continues throughout conveys his message perfectly.

4. tUnE-YarDs – Bizness. Full-throated and passionate, but somehow accepting and fun at the same time. Another really well put together song by Merrill Garbus. Shouts “I’m a victim, yeah,” but in defiance and solidarity, rather than sadness or hurt.

3. B. Hamilton – On Borrowed Time. B. Hamilton is a band out of Oakland that released an incredibly good record, Everything I Own Is Broken in October. The songwriting is really high caliber, and the band really knows how to cut loose. On Borrowed Time is my favorite from the record; it’s haunting and melodic and really well-done. Looking forward to what more these guys have to offer. 

2. Girls – Die. Unexpectedly heavy song off a nearly perfect album. I’m amazed that Christopher Owens can write so many different types of songs so well, and have them all go together on one album without leaving the listener feeling confused or scattered. See Girls live. You will not regret it.

1. Battles – Ice Cream (feat. Matias Aguayo). This song is incredibly fun to listen to. Starts slow but quickly builds up into an awesome jam with multiple awesome riffs. 

Links are in the comments!

Muni operators operate on your wallet

This isn’t exactly a shocker:

Muni operators resoundingly rejected on Tuesday a package of negotiated labor concessions intended to save nearly $15 million in operating expenses over two years – money intended to stop a proposed increase in discounted passes for seniors, youth and the disabled and to blunt service cuts, according to the agency’s top official.

The always colorful sfgate.com comments at the bottom of the page are a melange of 50X thumbs-upped “boycott!”; “let’s see what they do with NO revenue!!!”, etc. And that certainly resonates: here’s MUNI, on the verge of raising the cost of passes, even for seniors and youths, and cutting service on almost every single line, even during rush hour; and here’s the MUNI operators union, who are rejecting a delay of their normal every-year raise and contribution to their pension fund that could have prevented or eased the huge service-slashing, old-person and young-person crunching changes.

But as much as I want to flip off the driver of the next bus I board, it’s not their fault. By rejecting the change to their previously negotiated contract, the operators are being perfectly rational. After all, their current contract, which mandates that their pay be tied to the the average of the two highest-paid transit agencies in the nation, is pretty frickin’ sweet. And unlike some of those other times that you’ve heard of a union taking a tax cut (think: airline pilots unions), MUNI operators don’t have to worry about their company folding if they don’t dock their salaries: the existence of MUNI is stipulated (wisely) in SF’s city charter, and won’t go bankrupt unless San Francisco does (not the case for United, Delta, etc.). If MUNI fares go way up, a few people might stop riding. But most San Franciscans who ride MUNI don’t do it because it’s easier or more fun than driving or biking, but because they don’t have a car, can’t pay for parking if they do, have a job that doesn’t mix with showing up sweaty after a bike ride, etc. So the riders will get screwed and pay more, and the drivers will not care, because they still have the 1.5th highest paying transit operator job in the nation. And why should they? Would you look that gift horse in the mouth? Everybody wants more money, and the MUNI operators are in a good position because they have a really good government contract. Walking away from that contract doesn’t mean fewer layoffs, or more money in the future because their company avoided bankruptcy. It’s perfectly rational for these guys, callous as it may seem, to stick it to the old farts and the under-18 set.

But let’s not forget that while it’s a no-brainer not to walk away from guaranteed raises, the citizens of San Francisco are the people who approved the guaranteed raises when we approved the amendments to the city charter included in Prop A in 2007 (h/t sf.streetsblog.org), and in our democratic form of government, we’re the ones that the MUNI drivers are eventually accountable to. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd is trying to put a measure on the June ballot that eliminates the raises guaranteed by Prop A, and I think it’s a good idea. We should pay our city employees well, but in a recession, local governments can’t afford to automatically disburse fat raises to all employees of a given agency. Driving MUNI buses is a hard job, but I can’t imagine that even with slightly curtailed benefits, you’d have any problem recruiting new drivers or keeping old ones around, which is all that we, as San Franciscans, need to care about. I know it seems crass and capitalistic, but if the MUNI operators get to seem crass and capitalistic, so can we.

Palin’s Tea Party Speech

Haven’t read too much about it, but it seems scary. Joan Walsh:

I know journalists aren’t supposed to use words like mean and dumb, but I can’t help it. Palin is one of the meanest people on the public stage today. She wallows in it. She loves it! Also? Possibly one of the dumbest. But mean works, and so does dumb. And so do lies, and there were many mean, dumb lies in her speech.

More later.

Vampire Weekend cool acoustic set in some house in France

I like their new album a lot. The melodies, while still taut and heavily seasoned with afropop style, seem a little more developed than on their first record, and the songs have a bit more variety. This is a sweet little acoustic set they did in some room in France for a French TV show or something?

< Goddamit can’t get the thing to embed. Check it out here, though. California English, without the autotune, is great. >

Ezra Koenig has gotta be my one of my favorite singers. He pulls off that falsetto/not falsetto, quiet/loud thing on the vocals just perfectly. Love that dude’s voice. So cool that in the video he’s not even using a mike, but rather just singing out to the audience.