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Who!

Posted on Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Dave!Who?

BETTY WHO! And tonight Jester and I got to see her perform LIVE!

Which was the perfect end to my day, even though it's now 1:00am and I'm ready to slip into a coma. Maybe it's because I'm old, but I thought 9:30 was a really late start-time on a work-night to be holding a concert. It was made all the worse when you consider Betty Who didn't even take the stage until 11:45...

  • 9:30-10:00 • Great dance remixes that set the tone for Betty Who perfectly, culminating with a great Blondie Heart of Glass remix. I had Shazam running the entire time so I could track down what was being played.
  • 10:00-10:45 • Some of the shittiest, most mind-numbingly boring, repetitive, redundant club music I've ever had to listen to. Absolute torture. I was THIS CLOSE to walking out.
  • 10:45-11:20 Music by Holy Child. Didn't hate it. If not for the terrible sound system at the Rickshaw Stop, I might have actually enjoyed their set.
  • 11:20-11:45 A better selection of club music.
  • 11:45-12:40 Betty Who...

She totally lives up to the hype. Her music translates beautifully to a live set. Her performance was energetic, infectious fun and Betty gives 200% to her audience. She has a commitment on stage that equals any "big-name" act I've ever seen...

Betty Who in San Francisco!

And that's what made this show so fascinating for me.

I was in Seattle as the grunge scene started to ignite. I saw small bands before they were huge bands. It was a genuine thrill to see these musicians in their early days, watching them work through the kinks, find their footing, and then go on to become these massive success stories.

Betty Who has the same feeling about her.

The sound system at the venue was awful. Weird things were happening with the mix. Betty's earpiece looked to be malfunctioning. The lighting was off. Her backing tape was miscued half the time. But it just didn't matter. Betty Who has the talent and star power to rise above it all. And the audience loved her.

I am genuinely thrilled, again, to see an artist at the beginning of their career. This was the last date on Betty's first tour and her first show ever in San Francisco. You can't help but wonder where she'll be a year from now... five years from now. Opening for P!nk on an arena tour, I'd imagine. She's that good...

Betty Who in San Francisco!

Betty Who in San Francisco!

   
Anyway... I had a great time. Though I did have to climb up on a table when I thought I might inadvertently be having sex with the two guys grinding away in front of me. They apparently liked Betty Who's show even more than I did.

Betty promised another EP with new songs will drop this Spring.

Then she stepped into the TARDIS and faded off stage, becoming one with time and space.

   
If you haven't bought her EP yet, you're missing out. CLICK HERE TO BUY IT! BUY IT NOW!

   

Bullet Sunday 365

Posted on Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Dave!Now there's a full year of Bullet Sundays ... because a Very Special THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIFTH edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Mac! Happy 30th Birthday to the Macintosh. It's easy to overlook the importance of something when you use it every single day, but I love my Mac more now than I ever have...

Macintosh 30th Birthday

If you haven't seen Apple's look back at Mac innovations, it's well worth exploring If I were forced to pick that one year of Macintosh history that was the biggest for me, it would have to be the release of the Titanium PowerBook G4 in 2001. Not only was it sexy as hell, but it was also the first time I felt I could do everything on a portable that I could do on my desktop Mac.

Here's to 30 more years of kicking ass.

   
• Truth! The greatest concert I ever saw was Depeche Mode's Music for the Masses tour back in 1988. A close second would be P!nk's Truth About Love tour from last year. Absolutely spectacular. If you didn't get to see it... or just want to see it again... it's been released on video and is for sale at the iTunes Music Store for just $15 and it's worth every penny...

P!nk Truth About Love Tour Poster

Just an FYI... the tour is actually still ongoing, with three more dates remaining for Anaheim, Fresno, and Las Vegas. If you've got loads of money sitting around, it's worth tracking down tickets for this sold-out show.

   
• Bernice! Looks like I need to start watching South Beach Tow! Because, BERNICE! How awesome is she?!?

Holy shit! I hope her ObamaCare has kicked in by now... she's got a rough job!

   
• Unintelligent! I have been recording the new show Intelligence on my DVR, stacking them up in the hopes of discovering another Black List. No joy. This is easily one of the stupidest shows ever to air on television. It's yet another one of those shitty series where the writers are constantly pulling some kind of random techno-bullshit out of their asses not because it makes sense for the story... but because they're too fucking lazy to come up with something... intelligent... for lack of a better word. "HOW ARE WE GOING TO STOP HER? SHE HAS A COMPUTER CHIP IN HER HEAD?""I KNOW! LET'S PRESS A BUNCH OF RANDOM BUTTONS AND EXPLOIT SOME HERE-UNTO NON-EXISTENT FLAW IN THE CHIP SO WE CAN HACK HER HEAD AND SAVE THE DAY!"YEAH! WHO GIVES A SHIT IF WE ARE THE VERY DEFINITION OF DEUS EX MACHINA! IT BEATS HAVING TO USE LOGIC FOR A LIVING! Seriously, I don't understand how this crap-fest ever made it to air.

   
• LEGO! Just when I think that I couldn't possibly be more excited about the upcoming LEGO movie, this comes along...

"Epic" isn't an epic enough word to describe the epicness of just how epic this movie is gonna be.

   
And there it is... a year's worth of 365 Bullet Sundays in the can. And you said it wouldn't last. Shame on you!

   

Morrissey

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2014

Dave!One of the few remaining bands on my 80's Must-See-List is The Smiths... but since that reunion probably isn't happening any time soon, getting to see Morrissey (whose early solo stuff I love) is the next best thing.

And since he wasn't coming anywhere near The Pacific Northwest and Seattle on the tour for his upcoming album World Peace Is None of Your Business, it meant I had to travel to see him. Off to Tampa I go.

I didn't eat much at all yesterday, so I woke up hungry this morning. I really wanted a falafel for lunch, but found out the mall across the street had a Grimaldi's, so my lunch plans were set.

But first... X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST!

It's no secret that I think Bryan Singer's original two X-Men films were crappy and boring... and that Brett Ratner's third film, the horrendously shitty X-Men: Last Stand, is one of the worst comic movies of all time. Nor is it a secret that I loved the Matthew Vaughn prequel film X-Men: First Class, and was thrilled that the X-Men franchise was finally getting a decent movie.

Which is why I was mortified when Matthew Vaughn dropped out and Bryan Singer returned to direct the First Class sequel... X-Men: Days of Future Past. And the fact that Singer was not only dragging his original X-Men back into the franchise... but he was also going to take a dump on a classic and beloved story from the comics... well, the movie had "disaster" written all over it. And that's pretty much what we got. In typical Singer fashion, inexplicable shit happens that has no regard for the characters, the source material, nor movie continuity. But back to the film...

In the future, mutants are almost extinct thanks to giant robots called "Sentinels" which hunt them down. In a last-ditch effort to save both mutants and humans, Wolverine's mind is sent back in time to his younger self so he can change history and save the world. The way he does this is to have Singer pull a new super-power out of his ass for Kitty Pryde, which makes no fucking sense, but oh well. What follows is kinda boring in stretches, but has some really good action sequences, so all is not lost, I guess. The best thing about the film is amazing performances by Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy... plus a killer sequence featuring the mutant Quicksilver (who looks fucking stupid, but is performed wonderfully). Overall, it's a decent flick that (wisely) abandons past continuity in an attempt to tell an entertaining story. I wish it was a better, tighter story which respected the source material more, but you can't have everything when it comes to an X-Men film, apparently. I give it a B-.

THEN it was time for pizza. I had them make a Da Vinci pie ala David's of Spokane... in a New York pizzeria... in Tampa... which was kind of strange. But it tasted great...

Grimaldo's Tampa

THEN, after working for the afternoon, it was time to make my way down to St. Petersburg for the show. Where I ran across this guy as I headed into town for a quick dinner...

St. Pete Bird

The Morrissey concert, which was playing at the Mahaffey Theater, was worth the trip. Mostly. The opening act was Kristeen Young, who had moments of brilliance interrupted by ungodly screeching and instrument abuse. I can kinda describe her music thusly: Part Tori Amos. Part Pat Benetar. Part hog slaughterhouse. Part car wreck. Part piano being shot out of a cannon. All accompanied by drum and guitar pounding. I don't know what to make of it, actually. Not my thing I guess. She was followed by an interlude filled with all kinds of bizarre crap before Morrissey took the stage...

Morrissey Concert Interlude

As for the main event? Moz sounded amazing, his band was very good, and he played a nice selection of songs. Sure, I wish he had done a lot more tracks from The Smiths and his earlier solo works, but even his later stuff sounds like classic Morrissey, so I enjoyed every minute...

  1. Hand in Glove
  2. Speedway
  3. Ganglord
  4. Certain People I Know
  5. I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
  6. The Bullfighter Dies
  7. World Peace Is None of Your Business
  8. Yes, I Am Blind
  9. Trouble Loves Me
  10. One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell
  11. Life Is a Pigsty
  12. Istanbul
  13. To Give (The Reason I Live)
  14. I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday
  15. Earth Is the Loneliest Planet
  16. Meat Is Murder
  17. First of the Gang to Die (encore)

Morrissey Concert Interlude

All the way, Morrissey was Morrissey. He told us of his disgust that a sinkhole at LEGOland was more newsworthy than Syria or the death of Maya Angelou. Had a discussion with some people from the audience what they thought about it. And he accompanied Meat is Murder with a horrific, graphic, bloody video showing the atrocities that happen to poor animals in the meat and dairy industry. He also took time to give a thbpt/raspberry to the people in the audience who "weren't listening" after thanking those who did.

The crowd was a little dead, which explains why he played just 17 songs with a single encore compared to the 19-20 he's done in other cities. No matter... the show was well worth the trip and price of admission.

Now if only I can manage to see New Order in concert...

   

Vihdeo

Posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Dave!Today was sure a good day for videos!

Starting with the international trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, which is shaping up to be a must-see film. This pleases me, because I was highly skeptical when Marvel announced it was on their development schedule. The comic book has all kinds of weird ties to the "galactic" side of the Marvel Universe, which needs a lot of subtext to be fully understood.

It also features a talking raccoon.

But with each new sneak peek and trailer that gets released, I love the idea a little more.

Especially the talking raccoon...

Can you imagine if we get an Avenger or two in the sequel? Holy crap is Marvel doing absolutely everything right in their film properties.

   
My love of The Daily Show is well-known. A lot of that has to do with Jon Stewart's genius delivery of the "news" stories he reports. But he's not the only talent on the show. His supporting reporters are all pretty darn good. One of the best was John Oliver before he left to do his own show... Last Week Tonight.

Now he's even better.

He is able to distill complex topics to bits that are as easy to understand as they are funny. His latest story on Fifa is an excellent example...

His take on Net Neutrality, one of the most important topics in this country today, was genius...

The YouTube Channel for Last Week Tonight is well worth a look.

   
In music news... OK Go has done it again. They've crafted an incredible video for their latest track, The Writing's on the Wall...

What's great about OK Go is not just that they know how to make uniquely great music videos... but that the music they put in those videos is really great too. This song has been stuck in my head from the minute I heard it.

   

If you've ever wondered what would happen if Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant Broadway musical The Book of Mormon were mashed-up with Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant cartoon South Park... well, wonder no more. Simon Chong has flawlessly animated exactly that...

I'm no fan of musicals... but The Book of Mormon was absolute genius, and this just makes me hope that we eventually get a movie version of the show.

   
The Brian Williams rap mashups that have been appearing on Jimmy Fallon are amazing because they're so brilliantly crafted. The latest installment for Baby Got Back is no exception...

In case you hadn't seen it, my favorite of all of them is Rapper's Delight...

If you can't get enough, here's a link to more.

   
And lastly... such a cool rescue catch by Brock Holt of the ever-awesome Boston Red Sox...

How sweet was that?

   

See? A pretty good day for videos!

   

Yahoo!

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2014

Dave!I'm a big fan of the television show Community.

When NBC decided to cancel the show after its fifth season, I was understandably upset.

YAHOO! TO THE RESCUE! — Thanks, Yahoo!

In other entertainment news, a trailer for The Skeleton Twins was released today. It looks pretty great. If nothing else, the soundtrack sounds terrific...

Secret by OMD!

Holy crap does than bring back memories...

=sniff!=

I miss the 80's.

   

Best/Worst 1

Posted on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Dave!On days where I do nothing but work, there's never much to blog about.

So I'm starting a new category here at Blogography to make my life easier. Whenever I have nothing to write about, I'll just toss out the best and worst things I've seen that day. Which will usually be YouTue videos I watch while eating lunch at my desk.

Bullet Sunday it ain't... but, eh...

The best thing I saw all day...

Miyazaki-san may have retired from Studio Ghibli, but his fingerprints are still on everything they release. Absolutely beautiful animation.

   
The worst thing I saw all day...

You have to watch it all the way through to appreciate the true horror of it all. Seriously, who wants to listen to this crap? Was the crowd actually digging it? Or were they waving ironically? What has humanity done to deserve this?

   
Now I have to get back to work. At 11:36pm.

I'm pretty sure I know what I did to deserve that.

   

Bullet Sunday 389

Posted on Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Dave!Smoke is in the air and so are bullets... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Spoilers! Since I have no desire to see yet another flaming pile of shit Transformers movie that's not about Transformers, I jumped right on io9's "Spoiler FAQ" for Transformers 4. Sounds just as heinous as I knew it would be. Even if you have no interest in this turd of a film franchise, Rob Bricken's comments are pretty epic. If you want an entertaining read that encapsulates everything that's wrong with modern movies, it's an article absolutely work reading.

   
• Don't Come! But... but... I've already been to Belgium!

Antarctica has been at the top of my travel destination list for years. Now I just don't know. Tourist crowds? In freakin' Antarctica? Blargh.

   
• Murder! I would like to add my outrage to all those people condemning dinosaur hunters for murdering these magnificent creatures...

Steven Spielberg, Dinosaur Hunter
Photo © Universal Pictures

What a bastard! NOT COOL, STEVEN SPIELBERG!

   
• Shawn! Started out my day listening to Jay-Z and found myself Googling him to see what he's up to (besides Beyonce). Ended up watching about 20 Jay-Z interviews on YouTube. He is awesome in all of them. This is probably my favorite. Not many people can out-Letterman Dave Letterman...

It's nice how Jay-Z feels the need to keep reminding us that he's cooler than 99% of the people on earth.

   
• Pepe! Click here for some wisdom from a true leader... President José "Pepe" Mujica....

President José
Photo © The Associated Press

They saved the most telling quote for last on the secret to happiness...
"To live in accordance with how one thinks. Be yourself and don't try to impose your criteria on the rest. I don't expect others to live like me. I want to respect people's freedom, but I defend my freedom. And that comes with the courage to say what you think, even if sometimes others don't share those views."

Sounds oddly familiar... a pity politicians in this country aren't so forward (er, backwards?) thinking when it comes to imposing their criteria (or, more likely, the criteria of the lobbyists who have bought them off) on the people they claim to represent.

   
• Thanks! Have you thanked your parents today?

And, to the woman hosting this video... marry me?

   
Now I suppose I should try to get some rest before The Week From Hell rears its ugly head. Blargh.

   

Bullet Sunday 390

Posted on Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Dave!Time to get weird... because a Very Special Weird Al Yankovic edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

Unless you've been hiding from the internet and all known media this week, you've undoubtedly heard that Weird Al has a new album out called Mandatory Fun. And to promote his latest release, Al is releasing one new video each day for eight days. As usual, they are absolutely brilliant. And it got me wanting to take a look back at my all-time favorites. Not an easy task when most every video the man makes is great, but here's my Top 12 in order of release...

   
• I Lost on Jeopardy (1983). I laugh every single time I see the video for I Lost on Jeopardy, which is amazing considering I was not a fan of the Greg Kihn original that it is parodying. It doesn't hurt that Don Pardo pops up at the end... and Greg Kihn himself closes out the video...

   
• Like a Surgeon (1985). Weird Al parodying Madonna's Like a Virgin had huge potential to go terribly wrong, but ended up being the video that confirmed Weird Al's early brilliance. Like a Surgeon was smart, funny, and came from an idea suggested by Madonna herself...

   
• Christmas at Ground Zero (1986). This non-parody track is just too funny... telling the ultimate horror story, but in the peppiest way possible. I especially love the video for Christmas at Ground Zero because it went all retro with a nifty throwback to Cold War paranoia...

   
• You Don't Love Me Anymore (1992). Okay... this is hands-down one of my favorite Weird Al songs. That he managed to come up with such a great video for You Don't Love Me Anymore (itself a parody of Extreme's video for More Than Words) is just too good. Adding a cameo by Robert Goulet is beyond good...

   
• Jurassic Park (1993). I never knew that I needed a Claymation parody of MacArthur Park in my life... but then Al came up with the amazing Jurassic Park and I wondered how I ever lived without it. This song is particularly great in how it manages to reach a sympathetic note while still being funny...

   
• It's All About the Pentiums (1999). I'm a bit surprised that Puff Daddy allowed a parody of It's All About the Benjamins but, much to his credit, he did. This resulted in a computer geek's dream anthem, It's All About the Pentiums, which proves without a doubt that there's no subject Al can't sing about...

   
• Close But No Cigar (2006). The song is clever but not a favorite. Until Al got John K. to animate Close But No Cigar, at which point it became genius...

   
• White & Nerdy (2006). A love letter to geeks everywhere, White and Nerdy pretty much sums up my life from high school onward. As if that weren't enough, it's a really good parody of Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone's Ridin'...

   
• Perform This Way (2011). A scathing parody of not only the hit song Born This Way... but the absurdity of its creator, Lady Gaga. On both counts, it's dead-on. So much so that it pretty much transcends "parody" to become art in its own right.

   
• Party in the CIA (2011). I rather liked Miley Cyrus' Party in the USA, and was happy that Weird Al parodied it with Party in the CIA. I was even happier when I saw the gorgeously animated video he released for it...

   
• Word Crimes (2014). Robin Thicke ruled the summer last year with his misogynistic song Blurred Lines which glamorizes rape culture. How Weird Al thought to turn it into a genius commentary on bad grammar with Word Crimes I'll never know. But he did, and I love it. My favorite track off of Mandatory Fun...

   
• Foil (2014). This catchy parody of Lorde's Royals starts out as amusing but mundane... then takes a genius left turn off the deep end by diving into government conspiracies and the Illuminati. I only wish the song were longer, as it seems to cut short at the end...

   
And... that's a wrap! You can tell that Weird Al has a darn good videography when some of his most popular videos (Eat It, Gump, Fat, Amish Paradise, Smells Like Teen Spirit, etc.) didn't make my list.

   

Bullet Sunday 394

Posted on Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Dave!Time to find some shade... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Theif! If I were going to be a master criminal. This would be my jam.

   
• Change.
You can't change the world
But you can change the facts
And when you change the facts
You change points of view
If you change points of view
You may change a vote
When you change a vote
You may change the world

The media controls us. It's what they do. Sadly, nobody seems to care... they're too busy feeling what they're told. But the ones we should really be worrying about is not the media... it's who controls them.

   
• Baddies?! Comedy is at its best when it has some harsh truth to it. This bit from Mitchell and Webb has been in my mind a lot lately...

Doesn't hurt to stop from time to time and evaluate your situation. You might not be where you think you are.

   
• Yossi! As I was digging through Netflix for background noise while I worked, I was shocked to find that there is sequel to the Israeli film Yossi & Jager (which I talked about here). Titled Yossi, it picks up ten years later. Shattered after watching his boyfriend die in his arms, Yossi Gutmann has buried his life as a gay man and put all his energy into becoming a cardiologist. Depressed, lonely, and with no social life to speak of, everything changes one day when the mother of his former lover appears at the hospital...

Yossi Movie Poster

So rarely does a sequel live up to its predecessor. This is an exception. I was really glad a reader had recommended the original film, and even gladder to have come across the followup. In many ways it not only provides closure for Yossi... but also the audiences who came to care about the character. Since this is a foreign film with subtitles... AND gay cinema... it hasn't gotten much exposure in its two years of release here in the States. That's a shame, because it's a good story regardless of your nationality or sexuality.

   
• Sunny! Wow. Be safe out there. And carry SPF 50...

The sun is your friend. So long as you're wearing protection.

   
• MMMMMEEEEEAT! According to Popular Science, there's a tick whose bite can make you severely allergic to meat. Obviously a sign from God that we're all meant to be vegetarians. Why else would something like this exist? No confirmation from Pat Robertson on that yet though...

Meat Allergy Tick
Photo from the Center for Disease Control

If this becomes an epidemic, it's good news for cows. And pigs. Maybe chickens and turkeys... I don't know about birds. Bad news for fish and sea creatures who'll have to take up the slack. Really terrible news for carrots, I suppose.

   
Annnnd... I need to reload.

   

Twins

Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2014

Dave!I never thought I would see The Thompson Twins perform live again. Since they are one of my favorite bands of all time, that's kind of a bummer.

But now, miracle of miracles, Tom Bailey (the lead singer and primary songwriter behind the band) is going on tour. Where he will be performing some of my most favorite songs. It seems too good to be true. It's all going to go all wrong, isn't it?

But then a video was posted of his pre-tour warm-up show...

Yes.

That'll do.

I Can't wait to see the Retro Futura tour next month. And who knows? Maybe next time he tours, Joe Leeway and Alannah Currie will join him. Wouldn't that be something.

That's not a question. It would totally be something.

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Bailey

Posted on Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Dave!It's a good time to be a Thompson Twins fan.

Frontman Tom Bailey is touring with some other terrific 80's acts (including Howard Jones and Ultra Vox's Midge Ure) on the Retro Futura Tour. And a Thompson Twins 2-disc set Remixes and Rarities is due to be released in September.

As if that wasn't enough, he sat in with The Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon this evening...

Tom Bailey on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show

Tom Bailey on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show

Please... please... please... let Tom be inspired to release some new Thompson Twins material after the tour is over. And then tour again.

And again.

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Bullet Sunday 395

Posted on Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Dave!Pull up a seat to the campfire... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Doctor! While I felt Peter Capaldi did a great job as the new Doctor Who, I was a bit disappointed in his debut episode. I'd like to blame it on all the build-up, hype, and anticipation pushing my expectations too high... but I honestly feel that had nothing to do with it. I was just bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. It was a boring episode.

Dr. Who Capaldi Edition

I'd have thought they would start this series out with a bang, but that didn't happen... at least in my humble opinion. I don't know what they're waiting for, but here's hoping next episode ramps things up to where they need to be.

   
• Thrice! Did I mention that the latest FREE issue of Thrice Fiction has been released? Well it has! And you can download it at absolutely no charge from our website!

Thrice Fiction No. 12 Artwork

Plenty of good stuff to be found within. Hurry up and get your copy before we come to our senses and start charging thousands of dollars for it!

   
• Star-Lord! My man-crush on Chris Pratt continues. I love it when famous people use their celebrity as a force for good instead of being self-centered assholes like so many seem to be. And kudos to Marvel for not starting up a lawsuit when Chris visited a children's hospital in-character as Star-Lord...

Chris Pratt as Star-Lord
Photo from @Twitter

What an awesome guy.

   
• Bunga! If you've got an upcoming journey to or through Europe, be forewarned that Iceland is ripe for yet another volcanic eruption. Mt. Bardarbunga is poised to blow. The potential for disaster being even larger than the previous explosion of Mt. Eyjafjallajokul that messed up travel plans for millions of passengers as flights were delayed and canceled left and right due to unsafe ash content in the air.

It's always something.

   
• Tom! I hate to be the All Thompson Twins All The Time Channel, but I'm a huge fan. And this is a really good interview...

Tom Bailey
Original Photo Uncredited

Can't. Wait.

   
• Human! And lastly... this video is titled Restore Your Faith in Humanity. It's aptly named...

   
Annnnnd... no more bullets for you. See you next week!

   

Bullet Sunday 396

Posted on Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Dave!Don't you dare despair... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• The Ramones! HOLY CRAP! If this is true... IF THIS IS TRUE... wow.

   
• Fun! Funko Pop! finally announced that they are releasing some Firefly characters in their line of vinyl pop culture figures...

Funko Pop! Does Firefly

I, of course, was compelled to pre-order my favorite character, Hoban Washburne, complete with one of his toy dinosaurs...

Funko Pop! Does Firefly

You can get your own over at ToyWiz.

   
• Dreamy! The entire Skyer album by the Swedish dream-pop group Postiljonen is achingly beautiful... but this song is just... beyond. How they managed to create such a lovely song around Whitney Houston's How Will I Know? is a mystery...

Though if forced to pick a favorite off the album, Plastic Panorama is absolute magic...

Of course, I'm a sucker for anything that quotes The Princess Bride.

   
• Cancelation. With quality television being a rare thing indeed now-a-days, I was disturbed to see that the A&E series Longmire has been canceled...

Longmire Poster

What's interesting in this case is that the show is being canceled despite pulling big ratings. The studio is shopping the show around to try and keep it on the air, which is encouraging, but it's hard to take news like this given the overwhelming amount of crap clogging network schedules.

   
• Roofs! If you have a head for heights, Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov have posted a stunning set of sphincter-puckering photos from Hong Kong on their website...

On the Roofs Hong Kong

Actually, "stunning" is under-selling it.

   
• Diane! A big thank you to Diane Sawyer for five years anchoring ABC's World News Tonight. I've been tuning in throughout her run and have become a fan. I look forward to future appearances as a "special correspondent"...

Diane Sawyer

The diversity was nice while it lasted. Now the "Big Three" networks are all once again being safely anchored by white guys.

   
And... my six-shooter has done ran out of Bullets.

   

Bullet Sunday 397: Retro Futura Tour 2014

Posted on Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Dave!Put on that skinny tie and flip up that collar... because a Very Special Retro Futura Tour 2014 Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Tom Bailey! I'm just going to cut to the chase here... as a diehard Thompson Twins fan, Tom Bailey's run through some of the band's greatest hits surpassed my every expectation. After 27 years you'd naturally assume that something would be lost. But it wasn't. Everything he sang was note-perfect and the arrangement of the songs, while freshened up a bit, was still respectful to the originals that everybody came to hear. I loved every minute that Tom was on stage, and nearly three decades of begging for a Thompson Twins tour was rewarded in every way I could have dreamed of (short of having Alannah and Joe show up, of course)...

Tom Bailey Retro Futura Tour 2014

Tom Bailey Retro Futura Tour 2014

Tom Bailey Retro Futura Tour 2014

Tom Bailey Retro Futura Tour 2014

The set-list was pretty much what you expect...

  • We Are Detective (instrumental). A short, playful, nickelodeon-style version of this classic song played while waiting for Tom and his Sisters of Mercy band to arrive. The crowd was already going a little nuts.
  • In The Name of Love. Tom takes the stage with a spotlight shining on the crowd while singing "Hey you! I've seen your face before!" and, just like that, an abbreviated version of the Thompson Twins were back as if they had never left. This was the song that broke the band wide open, was the first song of their's I had ever heard, and remains a favorite to this day. It's just as infectious now as it's always been.
  • Lies. Another early hit that was on MTV every ten minutes during those early days. If you had asked me before Retro Futura if it's held up over the years, I'd probably have said no, despite still loving the song. After seeing Tom breathe new life into it last night, I'm inclined to feel differently.
  • Sister of Mercy. Kind of the odd-man out in tonight's show, as I don't believe it charted here in the US and was only a minor hit in the UK. Still, it's a decidedly darker and more serious tone for the band, and I'm sure it was selected primarily to mix things up a bit. In that case, it succeeded. And it's a great song to boot.
  • You Take Me Up. I don't know that this is my favorite Thompson Twins song, but it's up there. It's subtle, but Tom's delivery of the title line in the song was quite different than in the original recording, making the song feel even more upbeat and uplifting than usual. In interviews, Tom has said that he re-recorded all the songs before heading out on tour... hearing this makes me really, really hopeful we get to hear those recordings one day. The lyrics-tracking video in the background during You Take Me Up was my favorite visual of the night
  • If You Were Here. This song wasn't a single or even a hit... until it appeared at the end of the classic John Hughes film Sixteen Candles. Haunting in a way that most songs can only aspire to, Tom's original breathless arrangement had to be beefed up vocally to translate to a live performance, but it's no less beautiful and timeless. In an interesting twist, a new verse was added to the song... but felt as if it should have been there all along.
  • Love on Your Side. This is one of those songs that translates perfectly to a live show because it feels as if it were designed as a performance piece from the get-go. And while Tom took as best advantage of this as he could by his lonesome (GIANT BLUE BALLOON TIME!), Joe and Alannah's on-stage theatrics were missed here more than anywhere else in the set.
  • Doctor! Doctor! An obvious pop-hit grab if there ever was one, this song more than made up for the cheesy lyrics with a beautiful musical arrangement. And that's exactly what we got... along with a surprising amount of audience participation.
  • King for a Day (Encore). I like this song quite a lot, but it's repetitive refrain wears thin after a while ("Love is all... Love is all... Love is all you need. Love is all you need! Love is all... Love is all... Love is all you need. Love is all you need! Love is all... Love is all... Love is all you need. I say love is all you need!). Of course, this opinion was formed before Howard Jones took the stage, but we'll get there soon enough.
  • Hold Me Now (Encore). The Thompson Twin's greatest and most memorable hit plays very well live, and this evening's performance was everything you could hope for. Letting the audience sing out the ending was a brilliant way of making people feel they were a part of the show, and there's no question everybody was left wanting more... much more... as Tom's set came to an end.

If time were permitting, I would have really liked to have seen Lay Your Hands on Me and Get That Love included. Maybe one day. And please. Please. Please one day let Tom Bailey take the trip back to Brit-Pop Land and give us a new album of Twins material. Please. If there's one thing his participation in Retro Futura has shown us, people are ready.

   
• Howard Jones! I'm a big HoJo fan. I love his incredible synth play and feel-good lyrics. His music is on regular rotation on my iTunes playlists. I've seen him perform live twice. Seeing him in concert should be one of life's highlights for me and, for the most part, it is. But good lord, man... does every tune you play in concert have to be the super-extended-disco-remix version of the song? Yes... I love it when a live performance brings a little something to the table that you can't get from the album... but you did that with the heavier pumping synth intros. There's no need to give us fifty refrains of WHAT IS LOOOOOOOOOVE, ANYWAY? DOES ANYBODY LOVE ANYBODY ANYWAY? All it does is serve to drive your beautiful song into the ground and make it run way, way too long.

Still... it was Howard Jones. And though the senseless, endless repetition was annoying, I still loved his performance...

Howard Jones Retro Futura Tour 2014

Howard Jones Retro Futura Tour 2014

And so did the rest of the crowd...

Howard Jones Retro Futura Tour 2014

By the way... Howard Jones has continued to release albums well after the 80's were dead and gone. His last release was in 2009. If you're a fan, it's well-worth checking out. Even so, for the sake of Retro Futura, Howard didn't stray from those early hits that made him famous... The Human Touch, Like to Get to Know You Well, Everlasting Love, No One Is to Blame, The Prisoner, What Is Love?, Things Can Only Get Better, and New Song.

   
• Katrina... sans The Waves! I should come clean here... I am most definitely not a fan of Walking on Sunshine, which is Katrina and The Waves' greatest hit (here in the US, anyway). I am, however, absolutely a fan of Katrina Leskanich's performance at Retro Futura last night. She worked her guts out to put on a good show and succeeded completely. And not just from her music, which was terrific, but from her conversations between songs... telling the story of how they came to be and how they impacted her career...

Katrina Retro Futura Tour 2014

My favorite track she performed was Going Down to Liverpool, a Katrina and the Waves track made famous by a cover by The Bangles. As Katrina explains it, the success of that song by another group led to her band getting signed. The rest is history.

It's worth noting that by opening the show, Katrina had to perform in full-on sun... which was blisteringly hot and relentless throughout her entire set. That she managed to get through her song list without fainting is pretty impressive. Even more impressive? The album she wrote and recorded in just five weeks before joining the tour. Take a listen here.

   
• China Crisis! This is a band that pretty much flew under my radar back in the day. The only song I remember latching onto was the beautiful Wishful Thinking which, thankfully, was performed in their set...

China Crisis Retro Futura Tour 2014

I don't know that Retro Futura turned me into a diehard fan of the group, but it did make me much more interested in taking a listen to their stuff.

   
• Midge Ure sans Ultravox! And here's where we get to the biggest surprise of the evening. I've played his album If I Was - The Very Best of Midge Ure and Ultravox so many times that the lyrics are burned into my memory. Every song on that album is absolute magic, and I was pretty excited to see Midge perform live, as I'd never had the opportunity before. Little did I know that he would blow the doors off the joint with a voice so powerful and pure that you could feel it to your very soul...

China Crisis Retro Futura Tour 2014

Absolutely amazing show. I think he took the breath away from every person in attendance.

When it comes to his track selection, any fan of Ultravox was bound to be disappointed because he only had time to perform five songs...

  • Hymn. A pretty track off of Quartet that played really well live. It was the perfect introduction to his set.
  • Fade to Grey. And speaking of surprises. Turns out Fade to Grey was not a song by Ultravox or Midge Ure's solo career... it's a song Midge wrote and produced for another band, Visage. A band I never knew existed, as I've always heard the song off of The Very Best Of... by Midge.
  • Vienna. To say that Midge did an amazing job on this song is under-selling it by a wide margin. He redefined the phrase "killing it" by blasting through the track with a vocal fury that exceeded even the astounding range he showed on the original recording... THIRTY-FOUR YEARS AGO! If there was anybody in the audience who wasn't already a fan when the show began... they are now.
  • If I Was. I love this song, obviously, but oh lord how I wish it could have been Reap The Wild Wind or Dear God or even Call of the Wild... all songs I love even more. What I wouldn't give to here those live (though, admittedly, Reap the Wild Wind would not be the easiest song to perform without a full band and backup).
  • Dancing With Tears in My Eyes. A great song I really like but, again, where was Dear God? After hearing how Ure belted out Vienna I was left dying to hear him tackle it. Still... this was a great track to close out his performance, and I'm happy I got to hear it live. I really shouldn't complain.

All in all... wow. Just wow. I would watch another show in a heartbeat.

   
• SHARK BITE EXTREME! Before heading to the Sandy Amphitheater, Marty (of Banal Leakage fame) and I headed to Joe's Crab Shack. They have a beverage called a "Shark Bite" that I really wanted to try (because it looks so cool), and the restaurant was fairly close to the venue. When the drink arrives, it's all vodka, rum, sweet and sour, plus Blue Curaçao... with a shark full of grenadine hanging off the side...

Joe's Crab Shack Shark Bite Drink

The idea is that you dump the grenadine into the blue "water" to make a bloody mess...

Joe's Crab Shack Shark Bite Drink

And it is cool... for a minute.

But what you ultimately end up with is a disgusting glass of purple stuff that's so sweet your teeth will ache afterwards.

You do get to keep your plastic shark though... and that's all I really cared about.

   

And there you have it. This afternoon I flew home from Salt Lake City without incident... walking on sunshine the entire way because I got to meet Erin Gray, hang out with one of my long-time blog friends, get a plastic shark... oh... and see one of my favorite bands of all time perform live after 27 years of waiting. A pretty great way to spend a weekend, I think.

   

Classroom

Posted on Monday, September 8th, 2014

Dave!I have watched every episode of The Tonight Show since Jimmy Fallon took over. I understand the criticism of his work there... he's not the greatest comedian and his interviews tend to wander... but that's not the point. The guy just knows how to have fun and get his guests to have fun with him. And because of that, it's easy to tune in and let Jimmy take you away from the troubles of the day. And for that I love the guy. He never fails to make me laugh, and having The Roots as his house band guarantees that you're going to hear some good music to boot... even if you don't like the musical guest.

Fallon has a number of bits that I enjoy, but sitting at the top of the list is where Jimmy and The Roots get a musician to perform one of their hits... accompanied by instruments from a kid's classroom.

The result is funny... but the song is always great too! In catching up on shows I missed while I was away, I ran across his best one yet. Meghan Trainor showed up to sing her track All About That Bass.

It's fantastic...

If you missed it, here's a few of my other favorites. Including Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines...

And Carly Rae Jepsen singing Call Me Maybe...

And, of course, the time Sesame Street visited to sing their theme song. How anybody can watch this and not smile is beyond me...

   
And then there's The Roots. Holy crap are they talented. They can do anything having to do with music. And I've seen Questlove fill in on drums more than a couple times for visiting musicians. Flawlessly. I have no idea how he does it. Just massively great at his job, I guess.

If you're not a fan, here's a video where The Roots backed Miley Cyrus acapella on We Can't Stop...

   
So people can criticize Jimmy Fallon all they want, but there have been times where watching him on The Tonight Show has been the best part of my day.

I can't offer a better endorsement than that.

   

Bullet Sunday 403

Posted on Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Dave!Put down that pumpkin spice latte, you coffee house hipster... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Bureaucracy. If watching this video doesn't make you want to execute every bureaucrat asshole in Washington D.C. responsible for dreaming up this bullshit, then you're not watching it correctly...

Wouldn't it be great if our politicians got off their worthless asses and actually fixed stupid shit like this? Well, don't hold your breath, they're too busy getting reelected to do anything actually useful.

   
• LEGO. As a lover of all things LEGO, I have to say that even imaginary LEGO makes me happy when it's as well done as this...

LEGO Wonder Woman Invisible Jet

LEGO Wonder Woman Invisible Jet
Images by JimmyLegs50

You really gotta see the whole thing to appreciate this level of genius.

   
• Dora. I had a little crush on Dora from I Married Dora. I had more than a little crush on Mirage from The Incredibles...

Mirage Gets a Hug

I was very sad to learn that the amazing actress responsible for both those characters, Elizabeth Peña, passed away earlier this week. She will definitely be missed.

   
• Hooks. As if losing Elizabeth Peña wasn't tragic enough... sublimely talented SNL veteran Jan Hooks also passed away this past week...

A terrible loss for her many fans... including me.

   
• Reverse. One of my favorite bands, Mackintosh Braun released an EP titled The City Below in anticipation of their new album Arcadia, due in 2015. My favorite track off the EP was posted to SoundCloud and is worth a listen...

You can pick up The City Below at the iTunes Music store.

   
• Equality. Progress sometimes happens...

Marriage Equality Map

   
And that's a wrap. Kinda nice to have Bullet Sunday actually land on a Sunday for once.

   

Jazz

Posted on Friday, October 24th, 2014

Dave!Hasn't been working so far...


Apple Pay

   

Maybe I need to sacrifice Justin Bieber to a goat or something.

   

Bullet Sunday 405

Posted on Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Dave!Halloween may be over, but the terror is just beginning... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Frozen. While my hockey heart will forever belong to the Blackhawks, my love of Boston Red Sox baseball spills over to the Bruins from time to time. Halloween was one of those times...

Boston Bruins as Frozen Characters

Dressing up as characters from Frozen to visit sick kids? That's pretty great. GO BOSTON!

   
• Corn! Okay... this took me completely by surprise...

Now that's a cat that likes corn!

   
• Rock. Oh... so that's what it takes for Saturday Night Live to be entertaining again! Chris Rock and Prince! As a huge fan of Chris Rock, I knew he'd blow in like a hurricane and ride the bleeding edge. He did not disappoint. With an opening monologue that was so brilliantly dead on that he should be arrested for assault, Rock tore through gun control, Christmas commercialization, Jesus, 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, and Ebola like his life depended on it. Yeah, it was uncomfortable in spots, but it was exactly what it needed to be... enlightening and damn funny.

Chris Rock on SNL

Now we just need to wait for FOX "News" to shit all over his performance like they do anything that they can spin into an attack on 'Murica. Then again, is there anything they can't spin into an attack on 'Murica?

As for Prince... he decided to skip the whole "two-song performance" tradition and combined his time for a single blistering medley of his latest tracks. I do not envy having to be the band who has to follow that next week.

   
• Bianco. How Christina Bianco can keep all those voices straight in her head is a mystery... but the result is pretty amazing...

What... no P!nk?

   
• Galactic. I was sorry to hear of the tragedy that overcame SpaceShip Two earlier this week. Forging into unknown territory is always a dangerous but worthwhile endeavor...

Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two

My thoughts are with the friends and family of co-pilot Michael Alsbury.

   
• OK! Yet another masterpiece from OK Go! This time they took their famous one-shot video concept to all new heights by using drones to shoot it. As if that weren't enough, the song is pretty awesome to boot...

Every time the band releases a new video, I wonder how they're possibly going to top it, and here's my answer. What's next? OK Go in space?

   
Click. Click. Click. Until next week then...

   

Bullet Sunday 407

Posted on Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Dave!Put down that shot of Jägermeister... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Foundation! Literary sci-fi nerds around the world (myself included) had a simultaneous orgasm when it was announced that Jonathan Nolan would be adapting Isaac Asimov's seminal work, the Foundation trilogy for HBO...

Foundation Book Cover Art
Foundation's Hari Seldon by Michael Whelan

My fear is, of course, that Foundation will get completely screwed up like Edgar Rice Burrough's A Princess of Mars did... but Nolan seems to be a serious fan, so here's hoping.

   
• Ash! As if a Foundation TV series isn't enough, it was announced that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell will be bringing The Evil Dead back as a Starz television series in 2015!

Evil Dead Poster Art

Kind of amazing that a cult property like The Evil Dead would be getting resurrected like this, but I'll take it.

   
• Salmon. John Oliver's Last Week Tonight came up with a mind-bogglingly cool set of guest-appearances for one of their latest bits...

Now that's pretty epic.

   
• Lighthouses. Stunning.

   
• Attack! While I was in Africa, I was always joking about how great it would be to see some kind of unbelievable animal attack scenario... like leopards attacking an elephant... or a herd of impala attacking a lion... or whatever. Little did I know...

Holy cats! I would have put my money on the lions. Way to go there Tantor!

   
• Ass. A couple months ago Marvel Comics unleashed a shit-storm of controversy when they got famous Italian artist Milo Manara to create an alternate artist collector cover for the Spider-Woman relaunch. I was blissfully unaware of the controversy until I saw a link to an article at Elle magazine where somebody was commenting that she looked like a porn star. I remarked at the time that this was pretty ironic given how Elle Photoshops their models to within an inch of their lives to look like porn stars. And, in many ways, their work was far dangerous because young girls looking at the Spider-Woman cover would immediately know it wasn't real... whereas with Elle they're presented with women that look real and whose beauty is obtainable but, in reality, are not.

Fast-forward to today, and one of my friends sent me this link...

So apparently Maddox is blogging again. Kinda. I don't always agree with him, but I think his take on Spider-Woman #1's alternate cover is pretty dead-on. Especially considering that kids today don't give a crap about comics, and most of the people reading them are adults that grew up with them.

   
And now... back to my impending hangover, already in progress.

   

Enough?

Posted on Monday, November 24th, 2014

Dave!This weekend I ran across a video for one of Depeche Mode's most beloved songs, Just Can't Get Enough. As is typical with YouTube, the videos are stacked up like potato chips and you find that you can't watch just one. Before I knew it, I had blown through dozens of versions of Just Can't Get Enough from their live shows over the decades. Turns out that they've played it a lot.

Not surprisingly, the band had changed it up a bit over the years...

Here is the video that started my journey. They look like they're 10 years old here. The original song is a bit tinny, but this is the only way I knew it for nearly a decade (from 1982)...

Now, in the above video, Alan Wilder has taken the place of Vince Clark, which means there are even earlier versions where he was still with the band (from 1981)...

I'm glad that the official video for the song has Vince performing the track. He wrote the thing after all. Just an FYI, this is the only DM music video he appears in (also from 1981)...

Jumping back ahead to 1982 and the post-Vince Clark period, this version of the song has Dave Gahan with a bit different ending than what I've heard before...

Then we come to what many consider to be the "classic era" of Depeche Mode. People Are People gets released and the entire world starts to take notice (from 1984)...

Of the many, many versions of Just Can't Get Enough I've heard over the years, my hands-down favorite is the live version from my favorite Depeche Mode album of all time... 101 (from 1988)...

A little harder on the synth, but not so much that it's a radical change from the original.

Alan Wilder left the band in 1995. The band was never quite the same. Nor were live performances of Just Can't Get Enough (from 1998)...

Not a lot changed in the years that followed (from 2006)...

Which leads us to last year's show (from 2013)...

This actually sounds like a step back towards the original, where the synth is a bit more brassy than deep.

And... out of the 200+ versions of the song I found on YouTube, that's a pretty good representation of the song's evolution.

I hope to hear it at many more Depeche Mode concerts in the years to come.

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Lies!

Posted on Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Dave!They're gonna get you.

They won't forget you.


   
Oh you know I know.

Lies.

   

Audio14

Posted on Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Dave!And here's the last of my "Best Of 2014" lists for the year. Which was a surprisingly good one given that none of my most favorite bands had releases this year!

   
THE TWELVE BEST...

#1 All That We Had is Lost by Postiljonen
Had I heard Postiljonen's debut album Skyer when it was released last year, it would have topped my list for 2013. But since Howard didn't tell me about Postiljonen until this year, I had to find a way to get them on my list. Hence, their All That We Had is Lost remixes album in my #1 spot. I love this band. Their beautiful dream-pop music has been playing constantly since the first day I heard it, and no band has consumed me like Postiljonen in a very long time. So... after you buy Skyer, you'll want to pick up All That We Had is Lost (a stunning re-work of Whitney Houston's How Will I know) so you can get the new track When All The Wild Things Die. Magical stuff.

   

#2 The City Below EP by Mackintosh Braun
As previous years will attest, I have -zero- problem putting an EP on my list. Especially when it's an EP that contains my favorite song of the year... the hauntingly sublime In Reverse. My guess is that The City Below EP was released to satisfy fans who were upset that Mackintosh Braun's long-promised album, Arcadia, was delayed until March 31st of 2015. It worked. The four tracks are all fantastic, and definitely left me wanting more.

   

#3 Sonic Highways by Foo Fighters
It's always surprising to me that Dave Grohl and Co. haven't made a single misstep in their entire catalog of work. They seem incapable of disappointing me, and everything they release gets played to death. Sonic Highways is no exception. It's a tight album of only 8 tracks... but each one is flawless. Foo Fighters are the face of modern rock in a day and age where rock music seems to be a dying breed. Pray to whatever rock gods ye may that they keep blessing us with new music for years to come.

   

#4 Take Me When You Go by Betty Who
Having playing both of Betty's EPs into the ground, it was hardly surprising that I'd fall in love with her all over again with the release of her first full-length album. Take Me When You Go is filled with melodic 80's-style pop that I can't seem to get enough of, and Betty's lovely voice bounces through each track with such effortless enthusiasm that it can lift me up even when I'm at my lowest. If you haven't jumped on the Betty Who train yet, there's no better time than now.

   

#5 Hungry Ghosts by OK Go
I often feel that OK Go's actual music is eclipsed by their amazing, mind-bending music videos. Yes, the videos are fantastic, but they wouldn't be nearly as compelling if the music sucked... but it really doesn't. OK Go has a knack for cranking out inventive, thoughtful songs that deserve the awesome music video treatments they get. The first single, The Writing's On The Wall is by far my favorite track, but there's a lot of pop magic happening on Hungry Ghosts that makes it worth listening to.

   

   

#6 Talking is Hard by Walk the Moon
Having friends who get me musically is an incredible blessing, because I'm always being exposed to terrific new music I would have otherwise missed. Many, many thanks to Jester for turning me on to Walk the Moon which is exactly the kind of pop music I obsess over. Talking is Hard is about as good as an album gets. Each track builds on the previous track to keep you moving from beginning to end. Sure, it's only been out for a month, but I've listened to it so much that I've probably played it more than half the other albums I bought this year.

   

#7 Sheezus by Lily Allen
Lily Allen never really registered for me, even though I very much enjoyed the occasional single I'd happen across. But then she made a guest appearance on P!nk's fantastic song, True Love, and I became obsessed. An obsession was rewarded when she dropped Sheezus back in May. It's an album of chirpy pop classics that never cease to make me smile.

   

#8 Ghost Stories by Coldplay
As someone who felt that Coldplay's best days were long past, I was taken a bit by surprise with Ghost Stories. It's a haunting album of love and loss that kinds of sticks in your head with each new listen. I don't know that the band will ever reach the marvelous heights found on A Rush of Blood to the Head, but if they keep hitting us with albums like this one, I'm happy to tune in.

   

#9 1989 by Taylor Swift
When a country artist as successful as Taylor Swift abandons her bread and butter for a stab at pop music gold, it would be understandable to think her insane. But 1989 was a gamble that totally paid off, and is responsible for two of my favorite songs of 2014 (Style and Blank Space). Sure it wanders in places, but it's an overall success story that has me hoping Taylor will abandon her country roots a few albums longer.

   

#10 White Women by Chromeo
While there are some inexplicably missable tracks on Chromeo's fourth album (I'm looking at you, Sexy Socialite!), the preponderance of vintage beats that make up White Women is too good to deny. This is unapologetic classic pop at its purest, and filled a void in 2014 that needed filling.

   

#11 Mandatory Fun by Weird Al Yankovic
While I've always been a Weird Al fan, his albums always seem so uneven that I hesitate buying them. Most of his parodies are dead-on, relevant, and funny as hell... other times they miss the mark so badly that you're left wondering why he even bothered. Al seems to have a bit better luck with his original songs, but they too can degenerate into a polka disaster from time to time. Fortunately, Mandatory Fun is much more gold than lead, and easily my favorite album in his discography so far.

   

#12 The Violet Flame by Erasure
I just can't seem to get into Erasure's newer stuff. The last album of theirs that I really liked was Nightbird back in 2005. Everything that followed doesn't feel very "Erasure" to me at all. With The Violet Flame they took a step back in the right direction, but it all feels so... I dunno... disco?... to me. The "snap" of their pop origins is just missing, with Andy Bell trying to go all operatic or something. Why they can't just give their fans the straight pop album they want I don't know. In the meanwhile, I guess this is better than nothing. And better than a lof of music I heard this year.

   
ALSO WORTH A LISTEN...

Sucker by Charli XCX
Had this album been released earlier (it just dropped a couple weeks ago) it might have made my list. As it is, I enjoy it, but it hasn't grown on me as much as I had hoped. While Boom Clap feels well-polished and repetitive, too many other tracks feel rushed out the door and repetitive. I'm hoping that Charli matures a bit with her next release, because she certainly has potential.

Singles by Future Islands
So there I am watching Letterman on my DVR and a band I've never heard of takes the stage and proceeds to blow the doors off the joint. The band was Future Islands and the song was Seasons (Waiting On You). Sadly, the rest of the album never reached that high, but many of the songs ended up in steady rotation on iTunes nevertheless.

Voices by Phantogram
It seems like an eternity since Eyelid Movies was released, but apparently Phantogram has put that time to good use, because Voices is one beautifully crafted work of synth-pop art.

Clark by Clark
Nothing makes me happier than being able to work while some deeply atmospheric synth music is lurking in the room to keep me company. Clark is filled with exactly that, and I find it playing more often than I intended.

Run the Jewels 2 by Run the Jewels
My music is all over the map and, given my pop music leanings, most people are surprised to find out that my tastes includes everything from metal to rap. And when it comes to rap, the second release by Run the Jewels was my go-to album for those times I needed a fix these past few months. What I love about Run the Jewels is that rappers El-P and Killer Mike play off of each other so damn well. Apart they're good... but put them in the same room and let them build off each other, and they elevate each other to new heights. The first album was packed with those deep throbbing beats that keeps me coming back to rap... this follow-up is even stronger.

Indie Cindy by Pixies
Consistently labeled as one of the most influential bands in music history, the Pixies never consumed me like they did so many of my friends during their formation in the late 80's. Then, just as I was appreciating the band for their inventive stylings that pulled me back to my punk rock days, they disbanded in 1993. Game over. Except... not so much. They got back together for a tour in 2004, and new material followed nine years later in the form of three EPs. This album collects all three into a single work that feels much larger than the sum of its parts. While I'm still not the Pixies' biggest fan, Indie Cindy is a terrific album that has me finding a new appreciation for the band.

Crush by 2NE1
I first became aware of South Korean girl-band 2NE1 with their release of 2nd Mini Album, featuring the amazing track Hate You (seriously, you've gotta watch this insane music video). Three years later they released Crush, their second full-length album and it's everything I could have hoped for. Bouncy pop tracks tempered with a hint of rebellion that few other bands have been able to pull off so convincingly.

My Everything by Ariana Grande
This album was one of those pleasant surprises that came out of nowhere. There I was minding my own business when I heard Love Me Harder drifting from the speakers of a restaurant, inundating the place with pop magic. I found out who and what it was thanks to Shazam on my iPhone, and was pleased to find that Ariana's album was filled with more of the same.

Mr. Twin Sister by Mr. Twin Sister
Another atmospheric synth album that gets a lot of play while I'm working, Mr. Twin Sister never feels quite as deep as Clark, but it has a delicious moody vibe I love. I play this album a lot while driving, as it stems off the road rage that inevitably grabs hold.

   

And that's my music jams for 2014! Here's looking forward to an even better 2015.

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Thrice Fiction Magazine - March, 2011 - THE END
I'm co-founder of Thrice Fiction magazine. Come check us out!
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by David Simmer II
   
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