Sunday, December 13, 2009

Best of the Decade - Albums

Coming up with favorite albums of the decade turned out to be far easier than songs. Choosing between one song and another often seemed arbitrary, but albums aren't as fleeting, and the following all left quite an impression on me. I was going to go with 25, but apparently I can only upload 20 pictures per post, so 20 entries it will be.

Without further ado, my 20 favorite albums of the last te
n years.

20. Saturdays = Youth


19. Santogold

18. Electric Versio
The New Pornographers

17. The Fame Monster
Lady Gaga

16. Ágaetis Byrju
Sigor Rós

15. The Execution of All Things
Rilo Kiley

14. Speakerboxx/The Love Below


13. Let's Get Out of This Country
Camera Obscura

12. Beirut

The Flyi
ng Club Cup

11. Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weeke

10. Home

Dixie Chicks

9. The Reminder

8. Kala


7. Oracular Spectacular

6. Extraordi
nary Machine
Fiona Apple

5. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Neko Case

4. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

The Flaming Lips

3. Challengers
The New Pornographers

2. Funeral

Arcade Fire

1. Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
PJ Harvey

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Best of the Decade - Songs

Poor planning on my part landed myself right in the middle of a top 100 films project in the midst of any listophiliac's virgin spring - the closing of a decade. That's a once in a blue moon excuse to pound out lists on the best (and the worst, why discriminate?) of everything the last 10 years have served up. So while I'll deliver false promises to you about my diligent work on my Top 100 films, the truth is that I've not been rewatching much of anything lately. Instead, I've been catching up on my cultural blindspots of the aughts (That is what they are, these past 10 years. Or maybe not, but I've gotta stick to something).

And contrary to past history, this blog is about more than just movies. Or at least I founded it on those pretenses. Ostensibly, I listen to a whole lot of music, and television and I are on better terms than we used to be (only on dvd though). Ergo, I have an excuse to post my favorites of the aughts, across all mediums - except books 'cause I read old shit - and you can skim through these boring paragraphs and get right to the rankings, because honestly that's all any of us care about anyway.

Note, however, that only my opinions on movies are infallible. And we'll be starting with music, so feel free to register your disapproval on this one. Positive feedback is acceptable as well, but far more boring to read.

Top 50 Songs of the Decade

50. Island in the Sun - Weezer
49. All The Single Ladies - Beyonce
48. Rockin' the Suburbs - Ben Folds
47. The Fear - Lily Allen
46. Why Do You Let Me Stay Here - She & Him
45. Time to Pretend - MGMT
44. Portions For Foxes - Rilo Kiley
43. Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
42. Feel Good Inc. - Gorillaz
41. All For Swingin' You Around - The New Pornographers

40. Through the Wire - Kanye West
39. Strange Overtones - David Byrne & Brian Eno
38. Love Today - Mika
37. Fidelity - Regina Spektor
36. Jesus Etc. - Wilco
35. O Saya - A R Rahman & M.I.A.
34. I Don't Feel Like Dancin' - Scissor Sisters
33. Let's Get Out of This Country - Camera Obscura
32. If the Brakeman Turns My Way - Bright Eyes
31. Good Fortune - PJ Harvey

30. Disturbia - Rihanna
29. Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes
28. Pavlov's Bell - Aimee Mann
27. My Girls - Animal Collective
26. Las De La Intuicion - Shakira
25. Chicago - Sufjan Stevens
24. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) - Arcade Fire
23. Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
22. Dog Days Are Over - Florence and the Machine
21. Lights Out - Santogold

20. Missed the Boat - Modest Mouse
19. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1 - The Flaming Lips
18. Your Cover's Blown - Belle and Sebastien
17. Come into My World - Kylie Minogue
16. A Better Son/Daughter - Rilo Kiley
15. The Bleeding Heart Show - The New Pornographers
14. 1234 - Feist
13. French Navy - Camera Obscura
12. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
11. Hold On, Hold On - Neko Case

10. Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
Like Gaga herself, a work of abstract art. Baroque, beautiful and utterly infectious.

9. Hounds of Love - The Futureheads
The best cover song of the decade? Not just that, the vocal play going on is nothing short of incredible.

8. Digital Love - Daft Punk
Eerily appropriate for a decade under the influence of digital pursuits.

7. All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem
Somewhere between graduating and growing up in general, this song attained an unexpected level of significance to me.

6. Rebellion (Lies) - Arcade Fire
It's a murky plunge into the band's greatest aural tour-de-force.

5. Travelin' Soldier - Dixie Chicks
Heartfelt, graceful, and absolutely the best American song of the decade. Sorry haters.

4. Electric Feel - MGMT
A sublime and hallucinatory experience. A song fueled by so many drugs that even the most casual listener will be whisked along on the trip.

3. Hey Ya - Outkast
Try as they might, no amount of radio saturation can kill this groove.

2. Myriad Harbor - The New Pornographers
A love letter to New York as great as any of Woody Allen's finest.

1. Paper Planes - M.I.A.
It feels both personal and universal, the beat is damn-near unstoppable, and having so firmly embedded itself into the culture of these last few years, there's no song more deserving of the top honors. I welcome this song anywhere; on an iPod, on the dance floor, or in Slumdog Millionaire. It could hold its own against my favorites from any other decade, so that's a sign that this is the right choice.

I'd have to guess that my choice for #10 will raise the most eyebrows. Anyhow, fire away.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chaos Reigns in the Fantastic Mr. Fox!

Hello my (theoretical) readers,
I've been away for some weeks, finishing up the dreaded graduate school applications, and so progress on my top 100 and posting all together has come to a screeching halt. But it's over now, and I wasn't being entirely productive, because I still managed to squeeze in a bounty of 2009 releases, the quality of which I will update you

Bright Star
Bright Star is the story of John Keats - before death made him poet extraordinare - and the woman who through no particularly remarkable qualities informs and inspires his work up until death. Tenderly made and carried by two evocative performances by Abby Cornish and Ben Whishaw, Jane Campion's latest has one unfortunate blight upon it, and that would be the bombastic Paul Schneider. Of course, I realize that's just how his character was, but he intrudes upon almost every scene of the film and he's just too insufferable for me to find the slightest pleasure in these (many) moments. He is loud and boorish, and never comes to a satisfying end, and the film is much worse for his presence. But...the film does enough else right for this not to be a total drag. Recommended, but with just the one notable reservation.

The Limits of Control
Jim Jarmusch sends Isaac De Bankole on an assassin's odyssey by way of a series of representatives of an enraged art community. At least that's the idea I got from it all, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself right up to the end - when of all things - I think Jarmusch gives us one line too many towards a possible elucidation. But the whole ordeal is pretty fascinating, and though very little happens in the way of plot, every odd rendezvous was interesting enough on its own terms. If I stop short of loving it, it's because for all the intrigue, I'm not convinced there's a whole lot going on here. Still, there's worse things to be than slight, and if you generally like what Jarmusch serves up, you won't be wasting your time here.

An Education
It's an absolute delight through and through. The story comes out of Britain in the early 1960s and centers on a sharp young girl with her sights set on Oxford. The unforeseen obstacle here becomes the nearly 30 year old man she meets and begins seeing, seducing her with the aristocratic tastes and charms she's always dreamed of. Carey Mulligan is magnetic and sophisticated and lovely without being some model for perfection. I do think when my mind's at last made up that she'll have given my favorite performance of the year. The film wouldn't be the joy that it is without her presence. But everyone else does admirably as well. Alfred Molina, Peter Sarsgaard and Rosamund Pike all deserve loads of credit, but the best supporting performance is easily Olivia Williams as the icy, but well-meaning, school teacher. Seeing this during the final throes of my grad school application process was perfect timing, and the whole film is smart, stylish and kind of invigorating. Among the finest I've seen thus far in 2009.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox
And today I got around to my long-anticipated next installment of Wes Anderson's oeuvre. I loved it, not as much as The Royal T's, but loved seems an appropriate word. The voice-work is uniformly excellent with my favorite turns coming from Jason Schwartzman and Michael Gambon. Clooney is great, and not distracting at all, considering you know it's his voice propping up the character. The single best thing the film has going for it though is Anderson's style, which slips right on into the animated world quite effortlessly. From the camera movements to the music, it's the same Wes we know from before, and how great his style looks in stop motion! So The Fantastic Mr. Fox will be the third animated film this year (after Ponyo and Coraline) that I'm rooting for to kick Up's ass in the animated feature category at the Oscars. And unlike the other two, this may actually have a chance at doing just that.