Archive for the ‘Top 10 Lists’ Category

25 Best Albums of 2017

Oh my disclaimer again.  These are MY favorite albums of 2017.  Music is so subjective so it’s hard to even make these types of lists.  I will say this, I believe this year was one of the greatest years of music in a the past decade+.  So here we go….

When the Darkness Comes

25. The Speedbumps – When the Darkness Comes

My Akron native friends have been slowly creating better and better works over the years. Their latest showcases all of that.  It’s a polished strong work that showcases all of the time that they’ve put on the road ironing out all the intricate details.

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24.  Kendrick Lamar – Damn

Not sure what else you can say about Kendrick Lamar.  He, along with Kanye, are the greatest rap (if that’s even what it should be called anymore) artists of this generation.  He continues to pump out perfect album after perfect albums.  He is a voice.

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23. Slowdive – Slowdive

20 plus years from their last release, Slowdive shows that they may have created their best release to date.  I’m a sucker for 90s dreampop, and these guys just know exactly how to push the right buttons.

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22. The Church – Man Woman Life Death Infinity

This is album number 25 or 26 or whatever for the Australian band.  They continue to push on, and continue to create original works of art that are inherently their’s.  They’re one of the few bands that continue to focus on the art of making an album.

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21.  St. Vincent – Masseducation

I used to not understand the hype surrounding St. Vincent, and now I’m sold on her.  Which is funny, because my Bring Tha Noize podcast partner Ngandu said he didn’t get this album.  This is where music gets sticky and tricky and divides, but that’s the point isn’t it?

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20. Elbow – Little Fictions

First off, these guys are unbelievable live.  One of the most polished bands I’ve ever seen.  They constantly come correct with their music and their newest is actually the tightest version of their music that they’ve ever produced.  Airy and balanced.


19.  Toro Y Moi – Boo Boo

I feel like Toro is always on my radar.  He’s been turning out some great albums pretty much every single year for almost a decade.  Boo Boo might be his best.  It’s certainly his most etherial and focused album so far.

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18. Stars – There is No Love in Flourescent Light

I’ve been following this duo for quite some time and their album The Five Ghosts made my top list a few years ago.  They constantly come out with solid work.  Their newest is tight pop gems, bursting on wax.


17. Jessie Ware – Glass House

She’s about as polished as they come.  Normally I don’t like the sheen that comes with an artist like her, but there’s something about her music that contains soul and honesty that makes her so original that she’s can’t miss.

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16. Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder

I’ve always shrugged my shoulders at these guys as almost a novelty act, working to get every artist they can to collaborate with them, but man….what a great album.  This is the point of longevity, and why you should stick with some artists.

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15. Tyler the Creator – Flower Boy

This dude is on something different man.  I have no idea how to categorize him.  He’s way out there, but on his newest he’s able to real it all in and create the most focused version of him to date.  If anything he’s the most original rapper out there today.

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14. The World is a Beautiful Place, and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – Always Foreign

Punk is alive!  I’ve never really liked punk music unless it has some vein of belief in it.  These guys have finally brought everything together and created a truly incredible album with venom and hooks as well.


13. Beck – Colors

I mean it’s Beck.  He’s a true artist.  He’s one of the rare few in the industry that does pretty much everything from start to finish.  He gives us a little more on the production side pushing more towards dance magic, and it works.


12. The Horrors – V

This is an example of a band that I half-heartedly followed throughout the years, and all of sudden was like….wow.  They’re doing an amazing thing on their newest album.  This is the sound ofa band who polishes and polishes.


11. Noel Gallagher – Who Built the Moon?

For all the potato war nonsense that has been going on between Noel and his brother Liam, Noel continues to move forward with his music.  He gets a fresh twist on his newest album with the album of production by David Holmes, mostly known for his soundtrack work.


10. Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Again, I’m late to the love party on Ryan Adams, but since I’ve jumped on board a few years ago I think he’s doing the best work of his career.  If I could have anyone produce an album for me right now it would either Ryan Adams or Butch Walker.  They have the ability to bring their music directly to you.

Pussycat [Explicit]

9. Juliana Hatfield – Pussycat

Talk about a resurrection.  Juliana Hatfield comes from the heart of the late 90’s female alternative scene and creates a heart-wrenching honest album better than she’s ever been.

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8. Spoon – Hot Thoughts

Consistency is what Spoon is known for.  Everything they release is critically acclaimed.  They don’t stop here with once again an amazing collection of songs that create an amazing album.

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7. Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun

I had the chance to see Mogwai a few weeks back.  I wasn’t that impressed.  However, they’re the perfect example of a band who knows exactly what they’re doing in the studio.  They know how to work the board and create something amazing.  That’s evident by all the soundtrack work they do.  And they do it here as well.


6. Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound

Cloud Nothings are a band that continues to take punk into a different direction.  Molding it, redefining it like musical clay.  The true good punk bands such as The Clash where able to go loud quiet loud while still pushing all the hooks throughout their music.  Cloud Nothings do that here.

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5. Lorde – Melodrama

Lorde shows she’s not a one trick pony on her sophomore release.  And she’s smart about it too.  Melodrama is a mostly stripped back collection of songs that takes some serious balls to release after her smash debut.  You can feel how personal these songs are to her.

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4. Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile to Surface

Mad props to my buddy Kyle Cowgill for turning me on to these guys 6-7 years ago.  I wasn’t a fan of their last album, but I feel they come back strong here.  They’re also probably getting the most air play they’ve ever gotten on their new release as well.  I’m a sucker for those loud, quiet, loud structures of songs, and they do it perfect here.

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3. War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

These guys are operating on another level.  I was so upset that I didn’t get to see them live because I was on my death bed.  They sound like a new version of Bob Dylan meets Dire Straits, but they’re album to put their own spin on everything they do.  No one sounds like them especially on their new release.

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2. Charlotte Gainsbourg – Rest

Talk about being late to the party.  I thought Charlotte was just an actress who is amazing in all of Lars Von Triers really fucked up movies.  Of course I knew of her father Seirge, but wow!  She is something amazing on her own.  The most interesting part of her new album is jumping in and out of French and American.  It creates this strange feeling album that makes you feel part of it, yet distant at the same time.


1. Brand New – Science Fiction

I wrestled with this for a while for a number of reasons.  First can we just put the transgressions of front man Jesse Lacy out of the way?  This has nothing to do with his private issues.  That being said, as a piece of music he’s created Brand New’s masterpiece. It’s heavy.  It’s soft.  It’s beautiful.  It’s terrifying, and it fucking rocks from beginning to end.  It’s the perfect album.


The Prestige

Christopher Nolan is easily one of the greatest filmmakers out there today.  That is a fact and is uncontested.  I’m taking a look at how he got there.

The Prestige is a film that I thought was “ok” on first viewing .  10+ years later….I think it’s still “ok”.

The film follows the lives of two magicians played by Christian Bale, and Hugh Jackman.  They are rivals that are trying to cement their names as the greatest magician ever.  They attempt to one up each other with a new and daring trick.  The newest trick they are both trying to perfect is “The Transported Man”  Each magician sets out to disappear through one door, and re-appear immediately through an adjacent door.

The magicians trick is one between slight of hand, tricky, and somewhere between true magic as well.  Christian Bale’s character, Fallon, seems to perfect The Transported Man trick, and Hugh Jackman, The Great Danton, sets out to find out exactly how he is doing it.  It must be a double he thinks, but he, nor his assistant Olivia (Scarlett Johansson) are able to confirm this.

It’s only when The Great Danton comes upon Nikola Tesla (David Bowie), that he realizes real, TRUE magic may actually exist, and he may hold the key to that magic.  The thing is though…if real magic exists, is it actually better than the smoke and mirrors that is presented to the public, and also at what cost.

This is Christopher Nolan, so it’s not like you’re watching an amateur behind the lens, and the acting is obviously top notch.  My only real problem is with the script of the film.  At times it drags on and feels disjointed.  This is Nolan we are talking about as well, so we’re talking about the highest caliber of talent.  The Prestige is entertaining, no doubt, but it doesn’t show the talent that he’s capable of.  It plays to him as Panic Room plays to David Fincher.

Grade: B

Wonder Woman

I’m going to be the first to admit that I thought this film was going to make about $58 bucks at the box office. With the colossal failure that Batman Vs. Superman was I thought Wonder Woman was destined for failure.  DC < Marvel all day long.  However, what you get turns out to be not just a great Comic book film, but also a great WWI film as well.

The film starts with a little bit of mythology as to who Wonder Woman is, and where she comes from.  She comes from a mythical island that has been shrowded in secrecy for centuries.  A land of warrior woman who have been protected by the gods.  One day however someone breaks that veil as his plane crashes into the water surrounding the land.  That man is US Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and he brings a boatload of Germans  with him.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) saves Captain Trevor only for her people to end up fighting a fierce battle vs. the Germans.  Once they defeat the Germans the land of women must decide what to do next.  Wonder Woman decides she must follow Trevor back to the world outside to find the unspeakable terror that is set to destroy the world.

Trevor tries to walk WW through her new world and explain to her all of the changes and dangers that await them.  There is some fun there as WW really has no clue how to interact with this new world, and has no idea that….she’s kind of the sexiest woman anyone has seen.  She also doesn’t understand why these humans fight, and what “war” truly means to them.  This is the major problem that she must face going forward.

Wonder Woman sits nicely in the DC universe, and it’s a breath of fresh air, because really the only thing that has been working has been Christopher Nolan’s Batman films.  It’s well done, and director Patty Jenkins does a fantastic job of bringing this character to life.

In the end Wonder Woman is original enough to be highly entertaining, and it’s shot extremely well.  The one thing about it though is that it still can’t find a way to get away from the finale of “Good Guy vs. Bad Guy” in an epic final battle.  THAT is something we’ve seen all the time.

Grade: B+

House on Haunted Hill

The original House on Haunted Hill is by far my favorite Vincent Price film of all time.  It’s also my favorite concept.  Strangers locked in a house, haunted by ghosts, and they can’t get out.  Everyone is a stranger.  We don’t know who is who, nor the motives of anyone.  We just know they’re pretty much all bad people and deserve to die.

All of these idiots agree to stay the night in an old haunted house, and the winner takes home $1 million bucks, or at least whomever survives takes home the cash.  We’ve seen this story a million times, and isn’t it strange that it’s still an entertaining tale?  Booby traps, only the strong survive, guts, gore and death? Sign me up!

Geoffrey Rush plays Stephen Price.  The rich host of the party, and obviously in a role that is an homage to the late, great Vincent Price.  He has his booby traps in place within the host and he’s set out to scare the entire party in to leaving the house in his sadistic ways.  Unfortunately for him and everyone involved the house is actually haunted, and people are about to die.

House on Haunted Hill was in the middle of the remake throws of the late 90s.  It took its source material and created something that it set out to be…entertaining.  It’s not a film that’s trying to become something original and special, and sometimes that’s much needed from a film….just a good and entertaining view.

Grade: B