Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Favorite Summer Songs

If there's one thing that January in Chicago makes me appreciate, it's summer in Chicago. While the summers here are indeed quite humid, I'll take 80 with humidity over 10 with wind any day. Call me a wuss, but once the holiday season is over, I'm ready for some warmth.

And the one way I can get that warmth--that feeling of summer--without taking a vacation or visiting a tanning salon is by constantly reminding my brain and my body what summer feels like. How better to do that than by listening to songs about the season?

So here's a list of my 30 favorite "summer" songs a.k.a. ones with "summer" in the title. While not all of these songs musically capture the feelings of late June, their titles do. So there.

30. Justin Timberlake--Summer Love
29. Mum--Random Summer
28. Bob Dylan--Summer Days
27. Unwound--Summer Freeze
26. Husky Rescue--Summertime Cowboy
25. Yo La Tengo--The Summer
24. Brightblack Morning Light--Summer Hoof
23. Mogwai--Summer
22. Chad & Jeremy--A Summer Song
21. Pisces--In The Summer The Grape Grows

20. Frank Sinatra--Something Wonderful Happens In The Summer
19. YACHT--Summer Song
18. The Undertones--Here Comes The Summer
17. Neon Indian--Deadbeat Summer
16. The Lovin' Spoonful--Summer In The City
15. The Jimi Hendrix Experience--Long Hot Summer Night
14. The Avalanches--Summer Crane
13. Husker Du--Celebrated Summer
12. Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood--Summer Wine
11. Don Henley--The Boys Of Summer

10. Animal Collective--Summertime Clothes
9. Mungo Jerry--In The Summertime
8. Love--Bummer In The Summer
7. Fennesz--Endless Summer
6. Blue Cheer--Summertime Blues
5. Sly & The Family Stone--Hot Fun In The Summertime
4. Pavement--Summer Babe (Winter Version)
3. Eddie Cochran--Summertime Blues
2. Beat Happening--Indian Summer
1. George Gershwin--Summertime
No song with "summer" in the title is better than the Porgy & Bess standout. In fact, few songs period are better than this one, which has one of the most definitive and ubiquitous American songs ever, with countless amazing covers by everyone from Miles Davis to John Fahey. (This list could be filled solely with covers of "Summertime", but I chose to just put the song as a whole at #1.) The living is easy indeed.

That's what I think. Hey, only four and a half months 'til summer.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Ramones' Desires

I know I haven't posted anything in a while; I've been busy (bowling, watching television, writing segments of songs, going to school) and uncreative. Well, I'm less busy tonight, but still feeling uncreative. So I'm displaying a list I found that concerns, according to song titles, what the Ramones wanted to do, didn't want to do, cared about, etc. I think this is pretty funny. While The Ramones' lyrics may sound semi-idiotic, they're actually pretty amazing. They're emotional, clever, and excessive in all the right ways. So enjoy. (P.S. I saw this originally on Phil Freeman's Running The Voodoo Down, but he apparently cribbed it from here. I'm not including the whole list, so check that if you want to see the rest.)

Things The Ramones Wanted To Do
Be your boyfriend, sniff some glue, dance, be a good boy, Carbona, be well, have something to do, have some fun, have some kicks, get some chicks, be sedated, live

Things They Didn't Want To Do
Walk around with you, be learned, be tamed, go down to the basement, be a pinhead no more, be taught to be no fool, live this life anymore, be buried in a pet cemetery, fight tonight (on Christmas), grow up

Things They Could Not, Would Not, Or Did Not Do
Be, care, give you anything, make it on time, care about history, know why she wrote that letter, go surfing 'cause it's twenty below, let it happen, seem to make you theirs, control themselves

Things They Did Do
Make a living by pickin' a banana, serve as green berets in Vietnam, go out west where they belonged, swallow their pride, know your name, know your game, remember you, want you around, go mental, be affected, live on Chinese rock, hate the teachers and the principal, watch Get Smart on TV, want the airwaves, want everything, sit in their room (humming a sickening tune), think of you (every time they ate vegetables), believe in miracles, love you

There you have it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Poll Results: Your Favorite (?) Album of '10

Now that the year and decade are both over, we have to wait forever (11ish months) before we can start making end of the year lists again. So I quickened the wait by asking you what your favorite album of 2010 will be. Obviously, this is impossible to answer because, well, probably not one of you has even heard the album that will eventually be your favorite of the year. But I asked it nonetheless. (And sometimes folks have good foresight. Just one year ago, people were calling MPP album of the year, and many people stuck with that claim.)

Anyways, I gave choices of albums that are coming out in early '10 that are by respected artists and have (or will have) lots of hype. These albums were Beach House's Teen Dream (comes out 1/26), Vampire Weekend's Contra (1/12), and Liars' Sisterworld (3/8). (I might be a little more pumped for that last one than most, but I have a feeling it'll get a bunch of hype come February or so.) Those albums got 20%, 0%, and 20% of the votes, respectively. No love for Vampire Weekend, huh? I'm totally okay with that. Another 20% of the vote went to write-in Romance Is Boring by Los Campesinos! (2/1). The other 40% understandably went to the "This is a ridiculous question" option, because this was a ridiculous question. So there. The evidence was quite inconsequential.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Somethin' New

This isn't something I usually do, but, in this post, I'm going to introduce you all to a new artist. I know, I know. This is very atypical for Il Buono. I make lists of music that's somewhere between relatively new and quite old; I don't give news or talk about stuff as it comes out. But this is different.

Anyways, the artist is Caio Bosco, a singer/songwriter/producer-y type guy from Brazil. (Who doesn't love Brazil?) He and I have e-mailed (we share similar musical tastebuds and blogging habits--he has a blog, too: it's here), and he seems like a totally cool and nice guy. Besides that, he makes really good music.

Bosco plays several instruments and draws on several styles to make trip-hop-y, psych-y, experimental-y, electronic-y rock music that sounds (in a good way) like it's from Brazil. And he plays the theremin just like I try to do. So anyways, download his Diamante EP below, check his MySpace, etc. He's good. Trust me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Favorite Movies of the 2000s

I know I don't ever talk about movies, but I got too caught up in decade-list-mania that I had to make a list of my favorite films. Granted, I'm not quite as well versed in film as I am in music, but I like to think that I know what I'm talking about when it comes to movies. (This blog is partly named after a movie, after all.) Yes, I might pick a feel-good children's movie over an arty foreign film now and again, but that shouldn't discredit my taste. Right? Maybe not.

Anyways, here is a list of the 60 movies I liked best from 2000 to 2009. Sometimes I like a movie because it's well directed (No Country For Old Men), sometimes I like one that's funny (Royal Tennenbaums), sometimes I like one with a great script (Kill Bill), sometimes I like one that makes me think (Mulholland Drive), sometimes I have no idea why I like something, but I did (Big Fish). Knowing the people that will read this, though, you're probably the same way and will like most of these films. This decade, I laughed, I cried (not really--I don't cry), I made a list. Enjoy. (Note: I bolded the ones that came out in 2009, so as to insert my "favorite movies of '09" list in there.) (Note #2: I know there are many good movies not on this list. This could be because I've seen them and was not crazy about them (The Departed, Lord Of The Rings 3, The Dark Knight, etc.) or, more likely, because I haven't seen them (Grizzly Man, Amelie, Requiem For A Dream, Rescue Dawn, Eternal Sunshine (I fell asleep half way in), etc.).) (You like that triple parenthesis? I thought so.) (Note #3: I'm pretty behind on 2009 movies, so I'll probably have to publish a revision in a few months. But like I said, I'm behind on all movies. So a revision will be most necessary.) Without further parentheticals, here's the list.

60. Ratatouille
59. Coraline
58. 3:10 To Yuma
57. Triplets of Belleville
56. Crazy Heart
55. Frost/Nixon
54. Babel
53. Thank You For Smoking
52. Zodiac
51. Fahrenheit 9/11

50. Moon
49. A Mighty Wind
48. The Host
47. Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
46. The Darjeeling Limited
45. Monsters, Inc.
44. Ghost World
43. Grindhouse: Planet Terror
42. Bowling For Columbine
41. Batman Begins

40. In Bruges
39. 24 Hour Party People
38. Into The Wild
37. Antichrist
36. Memento
35. The Hurt Locker
34. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
33. The Machinist
32. Lost In Translation
31. Wall-E

30. Big Fish
29. Gomorrah
28. Man On Wire
27. Sin City
26. Finding Nemo
25. American Splendor
24. Napoleon Dynamite
23. Waltz With Bashir
22. Elf
21. Fantastic Mr. Fox

20. Layer Cake
19. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
18. Snatch
17. School Of Rock
16. Up
15. Children Of Men
14. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
13. A Serious Man
12. Hunger
11. There Will Be Blood

10. The Lives Of Others
9. Inglourious Basterds
8. The Royal Tennenbaums
7. Mulholland Drive
6. The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
5. Spirited Away

Now, I know this is very unlike me, but the top 4 is a 4-way tie between:

I know, I know. But I just couldn't pick one. I had City Of God at the top for a while, but then I decided Pan's Labyrinth was #1. Then I was like, "Nah, it's No Country." But then I looked back and realized that I had seen Kill Bill the most out of the four. But then I was like, "But I think I like City Of God better," and so on and so forth. Bottom line is, I couldn't pick. But these four movies are all amazing, and you should watch them (even if you've already seen them).

That's what I think. And that's it for decade list mania. Check back in a bit. I'm probably gonna take a short break from posting because, you know, I have school now, and I can't sit in my basement and blog all day. (Not that that was what I was doing.) (Yes, it was.) (No, it wasn't.) (It kinda was.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Favorite Record Labels of the 2000s

This is the final best of the decade music list here at Il Buono, and boy is it a good one. Actually, it's not any better than anything else. Regardless, this list celebrates my favorite record labels of the past decade. A great label is one that has a purpose, an aesthetic, a interesting lineup of artists, and a consistently great music output, whether it's abundant or not. (And good CD packaging doesn't hurt either.) All these labels, in my opinion, are great labels.

1. DFA
Key release: Sound Of Silver by LCD Soundsystem
2. Warp
Haha Sound by Broadcast
3. Domino
Bitte Orca by Dirty Projectors
4. Fat Cat
Sung Tongs by Animal Collective
5. Hyperdub
Untrue by Burial
6. Kranky
Microcastle by Deerhunter
7. Rough Trade
Blueberry Boat by Fiery Furnaces
8. Carpark
Bromst by Dan Deacon
9. Matador
Boy In Da Corner by Dizzee Rascal
10. Stones Throw
Madvillainy by Madvillain
11. Southern Lord
Pink by Boris
12. Italians Do It Better
After Dark by Various

That's what I think. Next, I'll talk to you a little bit about movies.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My Favorite Artists of the 2000s

This list, like the vast majority of mine, is pretty self explanatory. These are the artists that I liked best this decade. I chose artists that I listen to the most, that influence me, that have put out great music, are great live, and have been consistently great throughout the decade. Enjoy.

1. Animal Collective/Panda Bear
2. LCD Soundsystem/DFA
3. The White Stripes
4. Dirty Projectors
5. Outkast
6. Modest Mouse
7. TV On The Radio
8. Liars
9. Fiery Furnaces
10. No Age
11. Antony & The Johnsons
12. Devendra Banhart
13. The Streets
14. Dan Deacon
15. Burial
16. Fennesz
17. Deerhunter/Atlas Sound
18. The Knife

That's what I think. Why did I bold the artist names? I don't know. Record labels list is next, and then, sadly, we're done (with best of the decade music lists).

Top Albums of the Decade Stats

Happy 2010 everyone. To celebrate, I'm giving you all some statistics.

I'm a little (read: very) nerdy when it comes to numbers and stuff. So I naturally made a spreadsheet of my 150 favorite albums, on which I tracked the year of release, record label, country of origin, and general genre of each album. (Yes, it took a while, and, yes, this is why I might not have done so well on those exams.) So anyways, here's the information I gathered. I think it's interesting...

First, I looked at what years the albums on the list came out in. I also took the average placing on the list for each year, which is semi-irrelevant but interesting nonetheless.

Year: # of albums from year (average placement on list)
2000: 15 (44.9)
2001: 12 (71.1)
2002: 14 (70.9)
2003: 19 (83.2)
2004: 14 (69.3)
2005: 12 (92.3)
2006: 13 (72.6)
2007: 16 (79.5)
2008: 16 (82.6)
2009: 19 (81.2)

We see here that 2009 and 2003 were the best represented on my list with 19 albums each, but 2009 actually takes the cake with the better average placement. But I'm gonna give best year of music to 2000 due to that crazy-low average. Also, five albums from 2000 cracked my top 20, including three in the top 10. The worst year: 2005 by a landslide.

Next, I looked at the record label that each album was released on. This stat was interesting and factored into my choices for My Favorite Labels of The Decade list. There were a ton of different labels represented, but I'll only list the ones with at least three albums on my list.

Label name: # of albums on list
Warp: 7
Domino: 7
DFA: 5
Fat Cat: 4
Kranky: 4
Carpark: 4

The following labels all had 3:
Rough Trade, Interscope, Matador, Merge, Parlophone, Mute, Sub Pop, Tomlab, Kill Rock Stars, Drag City, Hyperdub, Southern Lord

This data makes pretty good sense. I went into this knowing I liked DFA, Warp, Domino, and Fat Cat, and, well, this data proves that.

Next, I looked at country of origin. Granted, I knew that most of the albums were American and the largest minority would be those from England. But I thought it'd be interesting to crunch the numbers nonetheless.

Country: # of albums on list (percentage of total)
USA: 89 (59.3%)
England: 29 (19.3%)
Canada: 11 (7.3%)

The rest of the albums (129 or 14%) came from the following countries:
France, Finland, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Iceland, Whales, Japan, Scotland, Austria, Sweden, Australia

No real surprises here. Most of the music I'm exposed to is from America. It probably has something to do with my being from America.

Next, I looked at the genres of each album. I understand that genre is frequently impossible to define, so I made very very general bubbles in which to put the albums. Those bubbles were: Rock/Pop/Folk, which is basically anything semi-conventional that uses guitars and stuff; Electronic/Dance/Pop, which is basically anything semi-conventional that uses synthesizers and computers and stuff; Urban, which is anything hip-hop, funk, or R&B (I hate to lump these together, but I just don't have too much of this stuff, and I wanted to be very general); and Experimental, which is anything that doesn't fit into any of the other categories and isn't too conventional. So here it is.

Genre: # of albums (percent)
Rock/Pop/Folk: 61 (40.7%)
Electronic: 39 (26%)
Experimental: 34 (22.7%)
Urban: 16 (10.7%)

Not a big surprise. I've loved rock and rock-oriented music most throughout this whole decade, but I've recently been loving electronic and experimental more and more. I really like hip-hop and soul, but I'm not exposed to it as much, so I don't buy many albums.

As far as artists go, I just counted which artists have the most albums on the list.

Artist name: # of albums on list
Animal Collective: 5
Dirty Projectors: 4
The White Stripes: 3
TV On The Radio: 3
Liars: 3
The Books: 3

No other band got three, and there are too many with two for me to list them. (I just used three different spellings of the same word in one sentence. Neat.) Seeing Animal Collective at the top is no surprise, and seeing those other groups following AC isn't much of a surprise either.

Well. I'm not sure that was worth making a whole spreadsheet, but I think it's pretty darn interesting, and I hope you do, too.