Monday, December 31, 2012

Best songs of 2012: 01 - 12

Oops, the end of December waylayed me with virus. Still not firing on all cylinders, but here are my top 10 favorite songs of 2012.

1. Frank Ocean - Bad Religion

The real genius of this song, for me, is that such a personal song became so ubiquitous. For me, Ocean's song sounds exactly like what I felt 10 years ago -- 19, desperately wishing I weren't gay, but desperately wishing my bad news girl interest love me back. I, too, felt like I had three lives balanced on my head like steak knives. I never could make her love me. (See also: this live version)

2. Usher and Diplo - Climax

This is my most-listened to song of 2012 -- addictive, beautiful and pessimistic. The four minutes tell the story of whole months of my 2012. Usher's voice has never sounded better, and Diplo distills dubstep into its greatest pop potential.

3. Kendrick Lamar - Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst

I could happily pick any song from Lamar's album to fill this spot. But "Sing About Me" stands out because of its message (that stories have power, that telling THIS story is his calling), its rhymes (In pajamas and Dun-ta-duns / when thunder comes it rains cats and dogs), its rhythms (that pause after "I'll wait" !) He's saying big things here, but comes out so easy. For me, no one has painted such a perfect ethnography since Nas's "Illmatic."

4. Earl Sweatshirt - Chum
Earl raps more bars with longer, more tongue-twisting lines than any other artist right now. That's apparent in "Oldie." Here, his verses are shorter but no less complex. (Mama often was offering peace offerings / think, wheeze cough, scoffing and he's off again) There are traces of the rambunctious young gun of OFWGKTA that first introduced him to the world, but this is a different Earl. Sensitive, open and earnest.

5. Schoolboy Q f/ Kendrick Lamar - Blessed

I love the way the aggressive, contemplative lines lay over the dream-pop beat. This was the first song of the year that showed me that rap could return to the form I once loved, that rap could still be ABOUT something. Plus, that Kendrick Lamar verse has the craziest cadence.

6. Miguel - The Thrill

His voice sounds so good. I just want to drive around all night listening to this song.

7. Frank Ocean - Summer Remains

The music bloggers can have their "Pyramid" love. For me, the other best Frank Ocean song of the year is the one he made "just f**** around" with his Macbook one night.
This song has some of my favorite lyrics of the year (The tide stole my youth / the creases in my brow ain't tanlines / saltwater swole my eyes / the sun burned me back and blue / too cold this side of June)

8. Stay Calm - Let Me Clear My Throat

I love how the beat charges ahead, how Claudia Meza's voice sounds with Zac Pennington's. And I love the line "Broke both legs but I'll be just fine." I can't stand to listen to it only once.

9. Bat for Lashes - Laura

Her voice is so good, and in this sparse piece, you can really hear the vulnerability it holds.

10. Japandroids - The House That Heaven Built

Like everyone, I feel about 17 and unstoppable when I hear this song.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Best songs: 2012

I've made lists of my favorite songs, books and movies of the year since I first had a geocities blog -- white background, courier new font, zero pictures -- in high school. I like going back to see what moved me in particular years. Sometime I find out later that the real best song of the year was one I never heard (see: entire Avett Brothers album I and Love and You). Anyway, here is all but the top 10. I'll post those later this week with a little write-up on each on why it made my 2012. Links to YouTube on all of them; I asterisked ones that have really good videos.

**11. Kendrick Lamar - Swimming Pools (Drank)
12. First Aid Kit - Emmylou
13. Heartless Bastards - Low, Low, Low
14. Frank Ocean f/ Earl Sweatshirt - Super Rich Kids (love this tongue-twisting rap from Earl)
**15. Solange - Losing You
**16. Perfume Genius - Hood
17. Fiona Apple - Werewolf
18. Purse Candy - Fire Fight (free download)
19. The xx - Angels
20. Miguel - Adorn

21. Hot Chip - Look At Where We Are
**22. Grimes - Oblivion
23. The Walkmen - The Love You Love
24. Kendrick Lamar - Collect Calls
25. The xx - Chained
26. How to Dress Well - Ocean Floor for Everything
27. Chromatics - Back from the Grave
28. Mystikal - Hit Me
29. Alabama Shakes - Hold On
30. Waxahatchee - Be Good

31. Solange - Sleeping in the Park (Twin Shadow remix)
32. Just Friends - Avalanche
33. Azealia Banks - Jumanji
34. Damien Jurado - Museum of Flight
35. The Walkmen - We Can't Be Beat
36. Blood Diamonds f/ Grimes - Phone Sex
37. Miguel - How Many Drinks?
38. Chairlift - I Belong in Your Arms
39. Sky Ferreira - Everything is Embarrassing
40. The Killers - Runaways

**41. Odd Future - Oldie
42. Hodgy Beats - Cookie Coma
43. Kanye West - White Dress
**44. Danny Brown - Grown Up
45. Rihanna - Diamonds
46. Angel Haze - Werkin Girls
47. Summer Camp - Life
48. How to Dress Well - & It Was You
49. THEESatisfaction - QueenS
50. Rhye - The Fall

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

But I'll admit I provided a full moon

Taking stock of a year:

This one will last forever. The nights with you, that is. First huddled over heartbreak and hamburgers in the coldest, worst restaurant we ever visited together. Plenty of spins after that -- me turning in the same wrong direction, again, again -- but every place seemed to settle back at you.

This day last year, it was just a twinkling, a want-to-write-you-back-now-but-why. But this year I know: I hope every whirl around this axis is with you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Your term is not commuted. It lingers without a sound.


Outside the abandoned swimming pool
Delhi, La.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Remember vividly how them victory points had hurt me

Delhi, La.

The boys of Chatham Street: The 9-year-old on the right knows how to dribble. The 10-year-old at the left says he can dunk. The middle is the straight-shooter, never-miss but never-risk. Thirteen years old in a town of 2,900 where half the graduates go to college, but few keep attending past that first semester. But right now, damn it's cold. Pass him the ball.

Delhi, La.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Nothing moved fast, even the daylight was slow to fade

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson

My cousin Chris is working on a score for the documentary. We spent the last week or so at a cabin in Delhi on the Poverty Point Reservoir.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Un de ces quatre, nous tomberons ensemble

On the way to Delhi, La. to work on our documentary, we stopped in Gibsland. Boots Hinton was five months old when his dad shot and killed Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow a few miles away. Hinton's dad was a Dallas sheriff's deputy then. The youngest in the posse of deputies who chased the bank robbers.

Hinton lived his whole life in Texas until he retired seven years ago. Then he relocated to Gibsland, opened the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum and started hunting FBI files. He was playing solitaire in a room full of cigarette smoke when we met him.

Boots Hinton

Boots Hinton