A LETTER FROM MR. JONES TO ADAM DURITZ

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Dear Adam,

Not sure how to begin this. First, I want you to know I miss you. I miss our friendship, I do. And I’m genuinely happy and proud of all the success you’ve had. You deserve it. But, I also want to be honest with you about how these past years have been for me.

“Mr. Jones” turned 20 last year. 20 years! 20 years since you played me the song and I laughed and said, “This’ll never be a hit.” 20 years since you had to stop hanging out with me because of how busy you became after it became a huge fucking hit. 20 years since you became famous and I became a drunk guy going up to women at bars when the song came on, trying to convince them, no, seriously, this song is about me. I’m Mr. Jones. 

Jesus, I still do it. I take out my license and show them. “See? Marty Jones.” They laugh and say Jones is a very common last name and that they’re pretty sure the Mr. Jones in this song is not even a real person. And then I remember, I’m fifty goddamn years old. And then I get really fucking mad that you called it “Mr. Jones” and not “Marty Jones.” Would it have been that hard to use my full name? “Marty” and “Mr.” both start with an M and have two syllables. It wouldn’t have made the song any worse. Then I feel like a big piece of shit for wishing you’d called it “Marty Jones.” Why would I want that? So I could feel famous? For a song I had nothing to do with? A song I wasn’t even invited to play bass on? Fuck you.

God, sorry. Goddammit. I don’t wish you’d called it “Marty Jones.” I wish it had never been written! I’m sorry, but that’s what I wish. Please don’t think I’m just being an asshole here, Adam. But the last thought I have before falling asleep each night in my basement apartment after I finish regretting that second bottle of wine is “what if he’d never written ‘Mr. Jones’?” Counting Crows might have never hit it big. He and I would still be best friends. We would have gotten our band back together. Maybe I’d be famous, too. Me. Not Mr. Jones. Marty Jones. 

You never knew this, or maybe you did, but in ’98 I got my own band together and we played a few gigs. Mostly covers. But one original song. “Mr. Duritz.” That’s right. I wrote a song called “Mr. Duritz.” And no, it’s not a hit. It’s not my fault you have a goofy last name that doesn’t rhyme with anything. Otherwise I’d be a “big star” just like you. It’s a good goddamn song, spoiled by “Duritz,” just like my whole life was spoiled by Duritz.

You said “we’re gonna be big stars.” You were half-right. I’m a bartender. At a bar where “Mr. Jones” comes on the jukebox pretty fucking frequently. And any motivation I felt during the day to make something of myself gets zapped dry at night when that song comes on. That song that makes people cringe and say, “Oh fuck, not THIS SHIT.” Then what happens? They laugh. They sing along. SARCASTICALLY. It’s a big joke. I’m serving alcohol to these assholes that drunkenly sing my name and laugh, not even realizing they’re laughing at me

So yeah. I’m resentful. My therapist and I are working on it. I’m in therapy because of “Mr. Jones.” How many people can say that? Crazy world. She’s really good though. I did not tell her I’m Mr. Jones, but I think she’s figured it out. I mean, of course she has if she has a brain in her goddamn head. She calls me Mr. Jones in her fucking emails for fuck’s sake. And in our first session I mentioned that my depression mainly stems from my friend (who I will often refer to as “that dreadlocked fuck,” sorry Adam) writing a song with my name in it that was a huge hit. If she hasn’t figured it out, I need a smarter therapist. 

Anyway. She says I need to let go, and I think she’s right. But when I think of you in your hot tub drinking champagne and having sex with the entire cast of “Friends” I just want to scream. I told you I wanted to be someone “a little more funky” than Bob Dylan. You never asked who exactly, because you never gave a shit about me, clearly. I was talking about you, Adam. You were the funkiest, coolest guy I knew. I wanted to be you. And now, I just want to be anyone else. Anyone other than Mr. Jones. 

Congratulations on all your success.

Love,

Marty “Mr. Jones” Jones

HOW 2 MAKE FRIENDS

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It’s hard making friends when you get older and start “shutting down as a person,” as Mom says. Meaning, any kid can go up to any kid and say “you’re my friend now” and the other kid goes “okay.” But when an adult goes up to another adult and says “you’re my friend,” the other adult just goes, “No I’m not. I am busy.” 

I thought I could make friends with anyone because of my money. Or, Mom’s money. Whatever. I have money in my pocket, shouldn’t matter how I got it. But people are surprisingly unimpressed with how much money Mom and I have. So, don’t have money just to make friends. Does not work.

Here’s how I made friends. 

Two Christmases ago Mom stuffed my stocking with a boring stocking stuffer: bandages. Not just any bandages. Urban Outfitters™ What Happened? Bandages. I looked over the little tin box (quickly; I had lots more in my stocking and of course there were actual presents to get to) and read the words: 25 BANDAGES TO EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENED? SHARK BITE. NINJA FIGHT. DANCE OFF. JOUSTING. Okay. Funny bandages. Great. I didn’t even say “thanks Mom.” I don’t say “thanks Mom” for stocking stuffers. Most of it’s silly garbage I’ll throw out. And chocolate (and, inexplicably, there’s always a tangerine, which I throw out). I save “thanks Mom” for real gifts; the MacBooks, the telescopes, the gold-plated, Swarovski crystal-encrusted Beats by Dre headphones. Things I spent all year earning with goodness. Goodness that somehow always goes unnoticed by potential friends (but always noticed by Mom). 

The side of the tin box said GREAT WAY TO PICK UP CHICKS OR MAKE FRIENDS. I didn’t think much of that. It was Christmas and I didn’t need friends, I needed a pair of Gucci sunglasses, so I tossed the bandages back into the stocking and started in on my presents. 

Four days later I was packing to head back to New York. I barely had enough room in my bag for my new telescope that I didn’t even WANT by the way. The dumb zipper was stuck. I felt mad at Louis Vuitton. With all my might I pulled it and it closed so fast my finger got zipped up too! Blood spouted onto the Louis Vuitton leather. Horrifying. I looked around for something, anything. I spotted the What Happened? Bandages, pulled one out, put it on, grabbed my bloody luggage and ran out of the house into Mom’s Bentley.

At the airport I sat alone feeling so sad. Sure, it was a great Christmas. Mom knocked it out of the park with those crystal-encrusted headphones. But Mom was my only friend. I was going back to New York where I had no friends. Why did no one want to be friends?

Then I heard someone say, “Did you at least win the dance off?”

I turned my head to the right and saw a guy. “Pardon?” I asked. 

He pointed at my finger. I looked at it. It said DANCE OFF. 

“Oh,” I said. “Ha,” I said. “Ha ha. Um. No.”

“Bummer,” said the guy. 

“Yeah.”

“Ha.”

“Ha ha.” 

The guy said he was named Burt and he asked me if I was going to New York and I said yeah and he said him too and he asked what I did there and I said I dunno I just live there and he said he was an astronomer. I said I have a telescope.

“What kind of telescope?”

“Dunno. It won ‘telescope of the year’ at the Telescope of the Year Awards.”

“The Celestron Nexstar?”

“Yeah.”

“Shut up! I hate you,” he said, but then explained he was just jealous of my telescope. He didn’t hate me. Far from it! In fact, Burt said we should hang out sometime! I had made a friend like the bandage box said I would.

And where was that box? Oh dear. I’d left it in Michigan. I texted mom SEND ME THOSE BANDAGES, I LUV THEM. She texted OK HONEY LUV U and I texted LUV U TOO. Mom doesn’t know how to turn caps lock off on her phone so I always text her in all caps so she won’t feel weird. 

The bandages arrived. I re-read the box: GREAT WAY TO PICK UP CHICKS OR MAKE FRIENDS. Pick up chicks? I’d never done that. Could bandages do that? I had JOUSTING, SHARK BITE and NINJA FIGHT to choose from. I chose JOUSTING. So silly! No one had jousted for hundreds of years in any serious way. Crazy. And yet it was the most mature and gentlemanly of the bandages. I thought a chick would like it.

I went to Central Park and sat on a bench and a chick in rollerblades glided over and sat down and guzzled some water. I just stared straight ahead. I made sure JOUSTING was clearly displayed on my finger. Then…

“Jousting, huh? Ouch.”

I turned my head and said, “You should see the other guy,” just as I’d rehearsed. 

“Ha ha,” she said. “You won?”

“Ha ha yes.” 

Long story short, her name’s Jill and we’re getting married this spring. I told Burt he’s my best man. I told Jill Mom would be her maid of honor if she didn’t have friends, but she did have friends, so I demoted Burt to groomsman and made Mom my best man because I love Mom so much.

So, if you’re having trouble making friends, I cannot recommend Urban Outfitters™ What Happened? Bandages enough. Last week I cut my forehead on my telescope that Burt’s still trying to teach me to use and I applied a SHARK BITE bandage, and even more friends rolled in. “Wow, what a nice tame shark,” they’d say, “That would bite your forehead ever so gently so as to only leave a tiny scrape” and I’d say “Ha ha ha yes I know, what is your name?” 

Honestly, the bandages have made me so popular in New York that I’m now having to turn friends away. Someone says “Ninja fight, huh? How did-” and I have to stop them and say, “Sorry, a little full on friends right now!” 

That’s why I wrote this. So many people need friends and I have so many, and I want you to have some. Please buy yourself some Urban Outfitters™ What Happened? Bandages. If you can’t find any, you can borrow one of mine! And you can borrow some money, sure. And you can definitely borrow one of my friends. Just not Mom, Burt, or Jill.

TODAY’S SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON: IS SATAN SCARY? (YES)

imageLook how scary Satan is. I wouldn’t wanna mess with that guy. Would you?

Welcome, class. What an amazing service that was by Father Mike! I hope this sunday school session serves to further enrich your morning. I want to talk to you about “fear.” You kids always ask me, “Trevor, why are we taught to be God-fearing? God seems pretty chill. Why does He want us to fear Him?” The truth is, God is chill, and we’re supposed to love God as He loves us. But also fear Him a little bit. Look at God the way you look at Father Mike. You love Father Mike, I love Father Mike. But honestly? I feel weird around him. He scares me a teeny bit. And I’ve seen the way you kids clam up when he’s around. It’s natural to feel weird around Father Mike, even if you don’t know about the incident from two years ago. 

But forget about fearing God and Father Mike. Let’s talk about fearing Satan. Show of hands, who fears Satan? Everyone’s hand should be up. Just Bobby? Isn’t that strange? We aren’t really encouraged to fear Satan. We see Satan as some sort of rube who’s being eternally outsmarted by God, and as long as we fear God, we needn’t fear Satan. But I’m here to say, if you fear Satan, you needn’t fear God. You see, God and Satan are…colleagues. God is basically Satan’s boss. If we sin too much, if we look at too many pictures of Matthew McConaughey without a shirt on, for example, God stops loving us and hands our souls over to Satan. And Satan doesn’t forgive. I’m telling you, a healthy fear of Satan is the best way to never meet Satan.

So, who is Satan? The Bible tells us he’s a fairly uncomplicated fellow with few hobbies. He sits on a throne all day in Hell where there’s fire. He loves fire. When a murderer or homosexual goes to Hell, Satan puts him in a room and burns him for eternity. I don’t mean he insults him for eternity, “pwning” him with burn after “sick burn.” I mean he makes the man’s skin catch fire, and it stays on fire. Somehow the bad man never burns to a pile of ash. He stays a burning, screaming man. Nothing scary about that, is there?

I’ve been trying to find the right movie that really shows how scary Satan is. I thought “The Passion of the Christ” would work. But as creepy as Satan is in that film, I personally wasn’t scared, because Satan was played by a woman. I mean, she did great, but Satan is a man. And I’m just not afraid of women. I love women. Everyone knows that. So that’s out. Same goes for “Bedazzled.” Again, excellent performance by Elizabeth Hurley as Satan. Oscar-worthy, perhaps. But scary? Well…there were a couple times where she was dressed a little too revealingly and I had to avert my eyes, but that film was a comedy, meant for fun. I tried “The Devil’s Advocate,” but Al Pacino was so funny in that recent Adam Sandler movie that I just kept picturing that and couldn’t stop smiling. 

Fact is, there aren’t many Satan movies, and there hasn’t been a genuinely scary one. Why? The only explanation I have is that filmmakers don’t believe in Satan. This is because they are what is called “Jewish.” Ironically, they’re the ones who should most fear Satan because they are guaranteed to meet him. 

I did find a movie that effectively made me fear Satan. And you’re gonna have to just go with me on this. The Bible tells us Satan often appears as a serpent, which is a snake, right?. Now, I hate snakes. They are scary animals that definitely belong in Hell. So, this weekend I was re-watching one of the scariest movies ever made, “Anaconda.” And it occurred to me, “Whoa. The anaconda is Satan!” The movie never says the anaconda is Satan, but, I have to believe that’s what they were going for. We’re talking about an enormous snake that doesn’t exist in the natural world. And at one point, and I’m not kidding about this, it’s on fire. Yeah. So, if you’ll accept that the anaconda is indeed Satan, then what we have here is the scariest depiction of Satan in film history. Now, kids, there are a couple times where Jennifer Lopez is dressed a bit too revealingly so I’ll tell you when to cover your eyes. Bobby, will you get the lights?

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO GET A DUI? AN UNDERCOVER JOURNALIST GOES UNDERCOVER TO UNCOVER THE PAINFUL TRUTH

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One day while trying to write something I could submit to a website whose publication of my writing would make people jealous, I realized I didn’t have anything to say. Life hadn’t given me an experience worthy of online publication. I once watched a boy hurl a frozen cake at the window of a moving van before darting off into some woods, but that was about it.

Then I learned about something called “undercover journalism,” a writing technique where you go undercover and purposely have a wild experience just to write about it. There are many examples. In 1872, Julius Chambers had himself committed to an insane asylum just to write about it. In the 60s, Hunter S. Thompson famously ingratiated himself with the Hell’s Angels in the name of journalism. In 2013 I read an essay on a ladies’ website by a girl who ate an unsafe amount of pizza. I wanted to join the ranks of these brave souls who put themselves in precarious situations and wrote about them. I decided I too would go undercover. I would go undercover as a person getting arrested for drunk driving. 

I knew I must not tell my parents the plan. Part of the DUI (“driving under intoxication” or something) experience is your parents being ashamed. I needed my parents to believe I was really a person with a DUI and not an undercover journalist covering a beat. 

My next step was to arrange a “hangout” with friends. I called up Jeff and Jeremy and said, “Hey friends, let’s go to the bar tonight.” They loved it. I again kept secret my primary objective. Jeff and Jeremy would find out the next day, after my parents. I would need the sympathy of my friends as a chaser to my parents being so very ashamed.

We started our hangout at Gus O’Connors in downtown Rochester (the bar has since changed its name to simply “O’Connors,” presumably to distance itself from my DUI). I spent seventy dollars. After a while we decided to relocate to a bar that was further away. Jeremy and Jeff told me to park my car somewhere between Gus and the new bar, and they’d drive me the rest of the way, giving me less distance to drive drunk. I was already so drunk by this point that I almost told them I wanted to go further out, giving me more distance to drive drunk and more chances to catch the attention of police. But I caught myself and said okay.

We were now at a bar in Shelby Township, the name of which escapes me due to how much alcohol I drank there. I remember the bartender was pretty, and that Jeff kept telling me she was looking at me. I’d look up to find her not looking. Then I’d look back at Jeff.

“She just looked again.” 

I’d look back and she again would not be looking. This went on for two hours. I thought either Jeff was playing a joke or this girl was an expert at quickly not looking at something she’d been looking at. Either way, I decided I’d better go to the bathroom and vomit for a half hour. 

Jeff came to visit me in the bathroom to see if I was okay. Jeff was being a “good friend,” which worried me, because what if he was the kind of friend who didn’t let friends drive drunk? I didn’t go to two bars and spend over a hundred dollars just to write a piece on what it’s like to spend quality time with friends and get safely driven home by them. I was here to get a goddamn DUI. I was a journalist.

“I’m fine, I’m good,” I told Jeff and Jeremy in the parking lot. “Don’t worry about it.” 

“I can drive you to your car tomorrow,” said Jeff.

“No!” I shouted at his dumb, friendly face. 

“He’ll be fine,” said Jeremy. “You’ll take the backroads, right?” 

“Of course!” I said, having no intention of taking any road but the one most traveled by police.

“Okay,” Jeff conceded. “Just be careful.”

“I will,” I said. And I would be careful. Careful to attract the attention of police.

The four-block length of road on Main Street in Rochester beginning at First Street and ending at University Drive is what locals commonly refer to as “Downtown Rochester.” Around midnight, however, this area takes on a more sinister identity, and, depending on who you talk to, will either be referred to as “the snake pit” or “the fish bowl.” The former nickname casts cops as snakes, writhing innumerably around in a pit, waiting anxiously for their prey (drunk drivers). In the fish bowl, cops are cats, able to leisurely dip their claws into a bowl and scoop up any one of dozens of fish (drunk drivers). When Jeff and Jeremy told me to take the backroads, all they were saying was, “Avoid the fish bowl. Venture not into the snake pit.” But the reader by now knows that I am a serious journalist and would have to reject their advice in the name of journalism.

As I reduced my speed from 35 to the fishbowl’s limit of 25, I realized I was too afraid to speed. Getting a DUI suddenly seemed like a huge hassle. Maybe I could just drive the speed limit, get home safe, and tomorrow write an essay called “17 Ways to Turn a Nasty Hangover Into a Cool Time” that I’d submit to Buzzfeed. 

My phone vibrated. There was a text from a girl I’d been seeing off and on, but who was “officially” back with her boyfriend. The text was sexy. I forgot about what I was doing and responded to the text in a sexy way. I shortly received an even more sexually charged text. She wanted me to come over. I wanted to go over. I decided I would do that. To hell with the DUI! This was stupid. Tomorrow, I’d write a piece called “13 Fun Things About Being A Drunk Girl’s Drunk Booty Call” that I’d submit to Buzzfeed. My life is interesting enough. This drunk girl finds me interesting enough to invite me over at 2 am. I don’t need to force an experience. I can write about anything I want. I had never felt more excited to go see a girl. I was going to marry this woman, I swore to God. 

Then, blue and red lights began swirling in my mirrors. Then I got a DUI. It wasn’t that interesting. I went to jail and cried. The girl had a baby with her boyfriend and is now living in Traverse City.

divecomedy:

Hello and greetings to you all. Fun Fact: Did you know the “F” in February stands for “F This”? Yeah. We pretty much got snowed in since we saw you last but we are excited to melt those winter blues away with an extra special, extra funny line-up and great music!

We are featuring the genius of…

I’m on this hot show monday in Park Slope! I hope to see you there and shake hands with some fans! 

Don’t know who this lady is who made this but I think it’s cool and fun to look at. NO idea who the artist is.

Don’t know who this lady is who made this but I think it’s cool and fun to look at. NO idea who the artist is.

(Source: celiegruber)

Books I Read, 2013

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Is reading good?

I suppose I will always read, but am I any smarter for it? Am I better than you, for example? Perhaps. Am I learning new words? Is that the point of reading? Should I look up every word I do not know? Because I often don’t do that. Am I learning about people and human nature? I doubt it. I never know what is going on with anyone. Sometimes people are like “blah blah blah” to me and I’m like, “What is your deal? How come you’d say such a thing?” Books don’t help solve these puzzles. I guess the reason I read is because I just plain like it. Stories are fun. 

In his 2000 memoir, On Writing, Stephen King claims to read around eighty books a year. According to King’s bibliography on wikipedia, he has published over eighty books. This means that not even Stephen King could read all of Stephen King’s books in one year. This is the most I’ve read of any year and I’m nowhere close to eighty. But reading is not about being better than Stephen King. It’s about being better than all your friends. Here are the books I read this past year, with very hilarious insightful blurbs. 

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain

Great read. I enjoy oral histories. Lou Reed propositioned a man to allow him to shit on his face and when the man declined, Reed offered to let the gentleman put a plate on his face and shit on that. I bet that, whoever the man was, he wishes he’d let Reed shit on his face, because of how famous he would become. RIP Lou Reed.

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Tags: books

Brad’s Ten Favorite Albums and Tracks of 2013

Man what a dog shit year!

I’m kidding, it was okay I guess. I just felt sort of left out this year. If last year went down in history as The Year Brad Got Really Into Rap Music, then this year will go down as The Year Brad Didn’t Really “Get” Stuff. There was so much critically acclaimed music that I wanted to like but was unable to. I listened to that Deafheaven album three times and I don’t get it. I listened to Yeezus countless times, and while I love “Bound 2” and “Blood on the Leaves,” there’s not another song off that album I need to hear again. I don’t get Vampire Weekend. I’ve explained that. And I think I’ve been pretending to love the National this whole time when I really think they’re just okay. I bet if we all thought hard about it we’d realize we made way too big a deal out of the National. 

So, without any of the heavy guitar rock albums I normally gravitate toward (Queens of the Stone Age released a solid one that doesn’t make this list but deserves a mention), I made a conscious effort to enjoy other types of music. So this year was not only The Year Brad Didn’t Really “Get” Stuff but also The Year Brad Got Really Into Electronic Music. All in all I think I liked this year and I like this list and I hope you do too. You can find my top ten tracks below the albums. Thanks for reading. 

10) Local Natives - Hummingbird

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Man, I gotta say I’m really surprised to see this one on here. It’s like, yeah, I guess that album was alright, but top ten? For real? Are you tripping on pots, bro? To be honest, the first time I heard this album I was tripping on some pots, and I will tell you, this is not a great album to listen to high. It’s emotional and sappy, and just not high-friendly. I mean if you’re high you want something really out there like some Can or some Weird Al (that guy’s nuts!). You don’t want to be assailed with so much emotion, or think about your mom dying. “Every night I ask myself, am I giving enough?” sings Kelcey Ayer in tribute to his departed mother on one of the best songs of the year, “Colombia.” Who asks himself if he’s giving or loving enough at night? I, for one, am too busy asking myself if my girlfriend can hear me masturbating. Hummingbird is not fun, but it’s a beautiful, sad, sobering album for sober adults. Or adults who are drunk and alone. 

9) Pusha T - My Name is My Name 

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One of the best and most disappointing albums of the year. It starts off so strong, with the one-two punch of “King Push” and “Numbers on the Boards.” These tracks are gritty, sharp, and make me feel like a pretty rad, bad dude when I walk around listening to them. What makes them work is they don’t aim for hooks. Kanye West’s production is flamboyant to a degree, but he lets Pusha do the heavy lifting. When the album does strive for hooks, we get unnecessary bullshit from Chris Brown or Kelly Rowland. The hooks slow things down, but anytime Pusha is rapping, I’m engaged. And he’s never better than on “Nosetalgia,” where he and Kendrick Lamar trade tales of the cocaine trade. Push is at the top of his game and Kendrick’s verse makes me wonder why people went so nuts for “Control.” What’s more badass than shouting at your father, “Yo son dope, n**ga!” I’ve been texting my Dad that every day since hearing this. I have yet to hear back.

8) Manic Street Preachers - Rewind the Film

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Manic Street Preachers are, for better or worse, my favorite band. I love them, and the rules of love state that if you love something truly, you need to love it even when it puts out some shitty albums. On almost every Manics album, there’s a song or two I wish wasn’t on there, and Rewind the Film is no exception. “30-Year War” was a bad choice to close this otherwise thematically sound, beautiful album. But what’s good here is really good. “Show Me The Wonder” has to be the catchiest pop song of the year. Few people will agree with that since few heard it. Being a huge Manics fan is so lonely. If you’re the only person you know who listens to Deafheaven, you’re hip, but if you’re the only person you know who listens to the Manics, you’re just old. 

7) My Bloody Valentine - m b v 

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It’s no small feat for an album to be ranked seventh on a year-end list and also be something of a disappointment. But how could a new My Bloody Valentine album not disappoint on some level? It would have to magically transport all of us back to the early 90s to feel fully satisfying. I listened to m b v (most annoying album title of the year somehow) for the first time long after the hype had died. It didn’t blow my mind out the back of my skull like I’d hoped. Some of it still hasn’t resonated. The middle third drags and “nothing is” truly is nothing. But the only thing really wrong with this album is that it isn’t 1991 right now. And also that Bilinda Butcher sings too many of the songs. I don’t care how good she looks with her new mom-cut. I want more Shields!

6) Palms - Palms

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Palms is a collaboration between Chino Moreno of Deftones and three members of post-metal band Isis. I don’t listen to Isis because all descriptions of Isis contain the word “metal” and I don’t care for the metal at this point in my life. But I do care for Palms, which is a very un-metal band. Even the loud moments here feel quiet, because they spend so much time building to their peaks that you hardly notice. I’m not about to give Isis a try yet, but I’m looking forward to another Palms release as much as I am to a new Deftones album.

5) Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus

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Electronic music is something I’ve just begun to admit to myself that I’m into. I never took a stance against it, the way I once did against rap music, but I never gave it a chance either. It just felt unapproachable and I assumed every song was too long and repetitive. So it was with some reluctance that I listened to a Fuck Buttons album for the first time this year.  I was also reluctant because they are called Fuck Buttons and I wasn’t sure my mom would let me buy their CD. That’s when a friend turned me on to the concept of “downloading music illegally.” So that is what I did. With the click of just one link, I deceived my mother and committed theft, all in the name of the F-word Buttons. How far I have fallen. Luckily, it was all worth it because this music is relentlessly powerful  stuff that I can really space out to and forget what a depraved menace to society I have become. Please don’t tell my mom or the cops.

4) Sigur Ros - Kveikur

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Before hearing Kveikur, I assumed Sigur Ros had just settled into a groove of releasing albums I didn’t want to hear. After Takk… failed to match the majesty of Agaetis Byrjun or ( ), and after I failed to listen to the next two, I figured that’d be it for Sigur Ros and me. And, after founding member Kjartin Sveinsson left the group last year, that could have been it for Sigur Ros and Sigur Ros. But nei (that’s Icelandic for “no,” pretty cool!). The keyboardist amputation might just be what saved the band’s life. Kveikur is the most haunting, aggressive and dark work Sigur Ros has done. Each song offers something spooky, whether its the queasy string arrangements, the band’s newfound fondness for feedback, or the ever-present tumultuous percussion. The latter quality is never more interesting than on “Hrafntinna,” where a snare drum is jettisoned in favor of a violent cacophony of bells. Then the entire song gets swallowed up by feedback, which gives way to a beautiful horn outro. It’s heavenly stuff. Here they are playing it in a cave.

3) Darkside - Psychic

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For anyone who normally steers clear of electronic music, this strikes me as a great entry point. Darkside is a collaboration between Nicolas Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington. Jaar is a producer who is twenty-goddamn-three years old and Harrington is his “longtime collaborator” (how long can a time be when you’re twenty-goddamn-three?). The beats here are slow and spooky, with lots of other random shit happening that you pick up on with repeated listens, and Harrington’s ever-returning guitar makes it hard to believe this is an album you’d find in the “Electronica” section. The first couple of songs aren’t as immediate as the rest, so if you want to see if you like Darkside, listen to “Paper Trails,” probably my favorite song of this year. 

2) The Knife - Shaking the Habitual

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Why would this be at number two when I can only actually enjoy two thirds of it. The copy I purchased at Best Buy somehow doesn’t even include the nineteen-minute noise experiment “Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized.” So I guess you could say I haven’t listened to this entire album. Without that song, there are still four songs that comprise about twenty minutes of noise that I generally skip over. But the songs that sound like songs are the best Knife songs you could want in 2013. They’ll never do another “Heartbeats,” and I can’t blame them. They’re too busy trying to be as scary as possible. Sometimes that Karin Dreijer Andersson sounds like a real spooky witch! And on “Stay Out Here” she is joined by Shannon Funchess and Emily Roysdon and they both sing scary too so now you have three scary women singing scarily. The line “You have the most original way of putting one foot in front of the other” reads like the sort of vague half-insult that Stephen Malkmus would sing, but coming from these ladies it made me question my whole life. But scariness and possible witchcraft aside, the Knife are still able to provide a good time. “A Tooth For An Eye” really gets this weird-ass party started, and whatever that noise is that starts at the 2:40 mark of “Raging Lung” is a funny goddamn noise. I appreciate that they sing about such serious issues but aren’t above throwing a bunch of alien fart sounds at you. Swedish nut jobs. I love ‘em.

1) Kurt Vile - Wakin On a Pretty Daze

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I was almost going to put this one at number three or something. I hadn’t heard it in a while and just assumed it couldn’t be as good as I’d previously thought. Then I listened again and I can’t imagine giving this highly coveted number one spot to anyone else. To listen to Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze is to be transported to heaven. That’s right. I’m talking about the 1990s. Kurt Vile wasn’t even putting out music in the 90s and the songs here don’t actually resemble any of the actual music that was popular in the actual 90s. I’m referring more to the 90s that exists in our minds. The ones that didn’t happen but seem like they did. The 90s where everyone had an awesome band that was going to make it big and everyone had awesome hair and a coffee shop and a record store. I’ll never be able to go to the real 90s and find out if Seattle really was that cool. But 2013 has Kurt Vile and the 90s don’t. So it’s cool to be here too.

TOP TRACKS

10. Eminem - “Rap God”

9. Action Bronson - “Rolling Thunder”

8. Pusha T - “Numbers on the Boards”

7. Kurt Vile - “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day”

6. Queens of the Stone Age - “My God is the Sun”

5. Manic Street Preachers - “Show Me the Wonder”

4. Local Natives - “Colombia”

3. Kanye West - “Bound 2”

2. The Knife - “Without You My Life Would Be Boring”

1. Darkside - “Paper Trails”

The Worst Team-Ups of 2013

Sometimes entertainers will team up with each other to make a piece of entertainment. This happened a lot in 2013. Teaming up can be a really dumb mistake, as exemplified by the idiots in this list. 

Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake

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You know, I really liked “Suit and Tie” for the most part. It’s a nice little song. I love the “lemme show you a few things” part, and it made me forget I was listening to a song by a man I just don’t like. I just don’t get along with Timberlake’s face. Bothers me a lot. And the lyrics on this song are gross. But the hook is sweet. It’s a great song. Until Hov gets out his seat. Who the fuck invited this old, tired dipshit? Did we really need rapping on this song to make it a “hip” “jam”? These idiots teamed up again later in the summer for “Holy Grail,” the lead-off track from Jay’s exhausted, Samsung-sponsored turd of an album. The two of them teaming up to sing some of Kurt Cobain’s most famous lyrics wins the prize for the worst thing that two entertainers teamed up to do all year.

Kanye West and Justin Vernon

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Even though Kanye West has surpassed Jay-Z in terms of popularity and artistic cred, he still has that little brother syndrome that makes him feel like he has to do some version of everything Jay-Z has done. Jay-Z settles down with Beyonce, Kanye grabs the nearest physical approximation of Beyonce he can find. Jay-Z has a daughter. Guess what? Kanye has a daughter. Sure, that sort of thing can’t be controlled. Not by non-celebrities, that is. You really think the technology to turn a male fetus into a female one doesn’t exist? Wake up. These people are rich. So yeah. Solid argument I just made. Justin Vernon (the Bon Iver guy who most people call “Bon Iver”) is Kanye West’s version of Justin Timberlake. They are the cool, arty alt version of Jay-Z and J.T. But it’s not working any better. I’m in the minority being a non-Yeezus fan. I respect the album as a powerful statement, but it sure isn’t much fun to listen to. And the songs with Vernon’s grating, needlessly high-pitched croon are the least fun for me. West needs a new white singing friend. I personally think he should give Ed Kowalczyk a shot. 

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Kim Kardashian and Riccardo Tisci

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Riccardo Tisci, creative director of Givenchy, is Kim Kardashian’s go-to designer. This is a team-up made under the council of none other than Kanye West (West and Kardashian are dating), who hired Tisci to design the pretty cool cover of Watch the Throne. Tisci is clearly talented, and Kardashian is clearly beautiful. The two of them should have been able to knock this one out of the park. But no. Something went very wrong here. This fashion DON’T has its apologists (Kardashian and Tisci, for instance), but the rest of us know that Kardashian did not fill her end of the bargain on this fashion HAZARD. In order for us to let her be on television constantly, she needs to constantly look 100% beautiful. But this? The floral pattern, the sleeve length, the pregnancy? Wasn’t asking Kardashian to get pregnant for this dress going a bit far, Riccardo? Wasn’t it? Riccardo Tisci, you are out. You may leave the runway. Auf wiedersehen, Riccardo. 

Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling

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This was sad to see, as Refn and Gosling gave us one of the best team-ups of 2011. Drive was the shit. So who wasn’t excited for Only God Forgives, with it’s Drive-ish trailer? You had a scary Asian crime lord gently singing karaoke over scenes of brutal violence. You had Gosling going up to said crime lord and saying “You wanna fight?” as if he was asking him if he wants to get a sandwich. Man, what a letdown. Gosling seems drugged throughout this whole thing, as if Refn needed to slip him a mickey to get him to do it. Try to watch this movie. It’s on Netflix and it’s only 90 minutes. That’s an Adam Sandler movie. But it somehow feels longer than every post-Waterboy Sandler movie combined. Might as well have put Sandler in this role. Any idiot could have fisted his dead mom’s stomach wound or whatever happened in that scene. What the hell was that about? Jesus. What filth. 

Robert DeNiro and Diane Keaton 

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Diane Keaton and Robert Deniro are screen legends. We’re talking about a member of the First Wives’ Club and the man who got analyzed in Analyze This AND That! How did these two gems of cinema ruin a potentially classic film like The Big Wedding? How? You had a nice, low-stakes Meet the Parents vibe, you had the same house from Something’s Gotta Give, and you just couldn’t bring it home. So what the FUCK went wrong? I’ll tell you what. They just didn’t care. They somehow felt this material was beneath them. Real professional, guys. This is what happens when a championship team plays a team they think they can beat in their sleep. THEY FALL ASLEEP. And they lose. Deniro and Keaton were like, “Who-pher Grace? Katherine Who'gl? What are we doing here? We're stars! Robin Williams who? Let's take a nap for this whole movie.” Nice work, idiots. Ya blew it. Coulda had an Oscar. Fuck you.

Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds

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I’ll tell you something. Jeff Bridges was game for his role in R.I.P.D. He really got into it. Reynolds might have too, but who can tell with that guy? He’s always the same boring good-enough-looking shit head. Bridges deserved better than the bridge to nowhere that is Ryan Reynolds’s acting. Bridges could have had an Oscar nomination if he’d had a chance to have real chemistry with someone. Why not put Jeremy Renner in a role like that? Or DiCaprio. What about Denzel Washington? Where was Daniel Day-Lewis? You’re telling me you called Ryan Reynolds before you called Day-Lewis? Fuck you and fuck Ryan Reynolds. 

Will Smith and Jaden Smith and M. Night Shyamalan

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Pair up any two of these three guys and you have a disaster on your hands. But all three of them at once? That’s an apocalypse. Hence, After Earth. Will Smith used to seem so rad. What happened? He was funny and stuff. I wanted to hang out with him. Now he just seems weird and I want to punch his son. I want to grab M. Night Shyamalan by his stupid hair and smash his dumb head into Jaden Smith’s face while Will Smith watches while someone whips him in the face with his daughter’s hair, since she whips her hair so well or whatever. Seriously, what a shitty couple of kids. Jada Pinkett Smith sucks too. Woo was a piece of shit. Fuck this family. 

Well thanks for reading! Great year! Love to all of you! 

ALBUM RECOMMENDATION 4 U

HI. I WROTE THIS A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO AND DIDN’T POST IT BECAUSE IT SEEMED KIND OF LIKE WHO WOULD WANT TO BOTHER READING THIS? BUT I JUST RE-READ IT AND I THINK IT’S GOOD ENOUGH TO SHARE WITH THIS WORLD. I HAVEN’T POSTED ANYTHING IN A WHILE BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW. TAKES A LOT OF TIME TO WRITE STUFF AND I’M LAZYYYYYYYY. SO PLEASE SAVOR THIS. MAYBE READ ONE PARAGRAPH A WEEK AND BY THE TIME YOU’RE DONE I’LL HAVE A NEW ONE READY.  

I’m about to recommend an album to you, but first I need you to know I don’t have good taste.

My friend Jeff who is maybe ten years older than me once told me I’d reach an age where I don’t give a shit about staying current with music. He told me I’d find myself unable to relate to new bands and repeatedly disappointed by old ones. It happened a lot sooner that I would have guessed. But here I am, anticipating the new Pearl Jam and Manic Street Preachers albums as if those bands are still relevant. And I really want them to be great albums. I believe it’s actually possible. I’m constantly praying to the God of Bands Getting Older and Starting to Suck, “Please. Let them each put out a great album. Please justify my love. Let the world know I was right to love them.” 

I guess I’m on a bit of a nostalgia trip. My girlfriend moved in this past weekend and you know it’s just a waiting game until she makes me get rid of my electronic drum set because it “takes up space” and “is lame.” Forgive me for taking solace in thoughts of a simpler time.

It was the year 2000, a year that still sounds cartoonishly futuristic. But it happened. And it was boring. I was working at a record store. Music was never more important to me, and it has never been shittier. 

A year with a name as big and important sounding as “2000” deserved a bigger, more important music year. But for the most part, everything was just chugging along on the sad course carved out by 1999. Britney Spears did it again, and could barely even muster an “Oops” as an apology. Eminem released the Marshall Mathers LP and that pretty much sealed his reputation as one of the greats, no matter how shitty he is now. (Looking back, Eminem was and is inextricably linked to Britney. Both had impressive debuts in 1999, and both followed up those releases with even more popular albums in 2000. As far as sales, Eminem and Britney came in second and third place in 2000, respectively, behind N*SYNC. They each maintained a holding pattern for album number three. For both, album number four was a disappointment. Britney was bested by Beyonce and Christina Aguilera while Eminem’s drug habit was eroding his talents. They each took a three-to-four year break, returning with an even more disappointing fifth album. Then they both quickly rebounded with a good-not-great sixth album. My God, they’re so alike and they don’t even know. I hope they get married.) 

What else? Pearl Jam put an album out, and the world gave about as much of a shit as it gives about the Pearl Jam album coming out this fall. Prestige indie acts like Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo also shrugged and released some music. But none of those bands had a clue what rock fans wanted in 2000. Not even Queens of the Stone Age could placate rock fans with the great Rated R. It was bands like 3 Doors Down and Creed that fucking ruled. 

The coolest thing that happened in music that year was Radiohead’s Kid A. Everyone loved it. It blew my mind wide open. An album like that coming from a band with regular radio play was a huge deal. I don’t know that I’ve seen anything like that since. 

Somewhere in the year, a band from Ireland called JJ72 released their self-titled debut. They sounded like they hadn’t heard anything by Radiohead newer than The Bends. I heard about them from working at the record store. One long night, I turned to my boss Bill and said, “Seems like you’ve shown me all the music there is. I will go now. It was nice working with you.” He said, “No. I have more.” He mentioned some bands. He mentioned JJ72. Their album cover was black with “JJ72” printed on it. It looked like a placeholder album cover. I thought Bill was showing me some bullshit promotional copy. But no. That was the cover. 

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On first listen, the voice of Mark Greaney is hard to take. I could not believe he was a man. I could not believe a man would want to share a voice like that with the world. Just imagine the guy from Wheatus singing earnest Brit-pop. When the album came out, Greaney was 19 or 20. I was 15, an age when it was still okay to idolize people who were 19 or 20. I never idolized Mark Greaney but you had to respect the balls. He was letting that mouse voice of his be heard, and it was singing some stuff that he might be embarrassed about today. 

I don’t know who will like this album. I’ve been afraid to show it to people all this time. I was afraid I’d be thought a sissy. But today, as I watch my girlfriend stare at my electronic drumset, I long for being 15. I really envy those people who never look back and always look forward, or, even better, live in the moment. I’ll never be like them. I can’t relate to the present or future. Now, the past. That’s something I can relate to. And after all these years, I can still relate to Mark Greaney when he sings, “I don’t need anyone” on “October Swimmer.” Not that I don’t need anyone. I need lots of people. I just mean I get why you’d want to sing that. Anyway, I highly recommend you check out this album. It’s best songs are “October Swimmer,” “Undercover Angel,” and “Algeria.” Have a good day.