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I know you were waiting all year for this. Now, I can’t nominate either of the albums Former Fat Boys released this year, but you should consider adding them to the top spots on your list. You can listen to them on Spotify for free. Click THE LEGEND OF HARD COREY or WANNA BUY BEATS VOL. 2 and decide for yourself.

Setting aside my ego here are the best albums of 2012:

1)The Front Bottoms – Self Titled

This here band called The Front Bottoms reminds me of a band called Troubled Hubble that hailed from Chicago and disbanded some years ago. They were a great little rock band that sang songs about fun, regular adventures. They wrote great hooks and just seemed to be having a lot of fun. This band seems to me to be the natural heir to their crown and in a rare feat, I like almost every song on this album. Some of the lyrics in the song “The Beers” are my favorite in years:

“I will remember that summer as the summer I was taking steroids, cuz you like a man with muscles. And I like you.”

“It’s the cops are coming in kind of sobering up.”

Standout track: The Beers, Rhode Island, Flashlight, Maps, Swimming Pool, Father

2) Wordburglar – 3RDBURGLAR

I really wanted to give this one the top spot. Sean Jordan aka Wordburglar is a comic obsessed rapper with an impeccable flow and an incredible flair for inventive rhymes. He’s probably the best writer of traditional indie hip-hop that is operating in “nerdcore”. I think he’s probably better than the scene deserves. I feel phenomenally lucky to have had him guest on the our last album. The only other “nerdcore” rapper I’d consider on his level flow-wise is YTCracker and I think this year Wordburglar’s output topped YT’s. Frankly, he’s got one of the best flows in hip-hop period and easily had the best hip-hop album this year.

Standout track: Croque Monsieur

3) The Classic Crime – Phoenix

I found this album on Spotify’s New Releases tab one week and thought it was the new Phoenix album. Turns out that with a little bit of what I like to call “reading correctly” the band is called The Classic Crime. Whoops. I listened to the entire thing and recommended it to several people before I realized that it wasn’t what I thought it was. I guess it kind of reminds me a bit of more recent Jimmy Eats World. Kinda.

Standout track: Let Me Die

4) Eve 6 – Speak In Code

This is my favorite band of all time. They broke up after their label blew it releasing their 3rd album. That album was a better album, but to come back after almost a decade and record something this good is rare for any band. It picks up right where they left off.

Standout track: Victoria, Pick Up The Pieces, Curtain

5) All American Rejects – Kids In The Street

I like that these guys grew up a little bit and wrote some tracks that were still heavy on hooks, but not as obviously aimed at the Hot Topic-lite kids. Some cool music videos too.

Standout track: Someday’s Gone, Beekeeper’s Daughter

6) Mackelmore and Lewis – The Heist

Thrift Shop is undeniably incredible, but Macklemore’s smart flow and intelligent lyrics are such a stark contrast to the moronic hood grabage being put out by the likes of Chief Keef and 2 Chainz. This guy is poet and, I think, the best is yet to come. There were only about three songs I added to my iPod, but the whole album is a good listen.

Standout track: Thrift Shop, 10,000 Hours

7) Inspector Owl – Self Titled

Yes, IO frontman Corey Wills makes most of the beats for Former Fat Boys, but his main project is really great indie rock. Even if Corey weren’t one of my best friends and collaborators I think this record would still be on my list. Give Mousey a listen and make sure you make it to the explosive ending and tell me you aren’t sold. Do it.

Standout track: Mousey, We Are An Ocean

8) Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss

Yeah, I dunno. It’s catchy, it’s fun. It’s here based on the number of songs I starred as I went through it. I’m not very excited about it, but it’s got some joyful tunes on it. I think the real problem with it is that it feels like a bunch of producers made a record that was very disparate in styles. Ke$ha is Ke$sha. You know what you’re going to get. This feels like they haven’t decided what Carly is going to be.

Standout track: Tonight I’m Getting Over You

8) Stepdad – Wildlife Pop

It’s so-freaking-catchy-you’ll-just-die synth pop made by a fat beard man that takes being a fat beard man very seriously. One of the rare bands that’s actually amusing to follow on Facebook. This might deserve to be lower on the list or higher, but the problem is that every time I listen to it I get a musical tummy ache. It’s basically pure sugar. After awhile you crave some substance.

Standout track: My Leather, My Fur, My Nails

9) K’naan – Country, God Or The Girl

His last album was better, but this album was pretty damn fun. K’naan is another great rapper who actually has something to say. I listened to this again recently to wash the taste of the giant turd of a second album that Wiz Khalifah released this year out of my mouth. K’Naan accomplished some incredible feats here and managed to make Nas and Bono interesting again for a second. Also, made Nelly Furtado worth remembering.

Standout track: Gold In Timbuktu, The Sound of My Breaking Heart,

10) DMX – Undisputed

DMX was arrested, went to jail, and did so much crack in the last few years I can hardly believe this is possible, but he’s back bark and all. I went in with super low expectations, but was reasonably surprised. DMX always had a good nose for hooks and infused his deeper tracks with gospel in a non-tacky way. That’s all on display here.

Standout track: I Don’t Dance featuring Machine Gun Kelly

Honorable Mentions:

YTCracker and Hairetsu – Who Live Like This EP (Standout: Sexting)

The Rocket Summer – Life Will Write The Words (Standout: 200,000)

Punch Brothers – Ahoy! (Moonshiner, Another New World)

Absolute Best Songs of 2012

And finally, this is the Spotify Playlist with my favorite individual tracks of the year. I compiled it by listening to nearly every album featured on Spotify’s New Releases feature each week of the last year picking my favorite tracks.

So….what did I miss? What do you recommend? What were your favorites?

Boyzone-the-90s-boy-bands-2565721-1024-768

Boy bands: They’re like any fashion trend. Every few years they come back into style and just as quickly make their exit. Usually propelled by the undying loyalty of teen girls, these over-processed and hyper-marketed groups of adorably stereotyped guys singing falsetto and marveling at each others’ biceps is a formula as old as The Beatles. Yeah, we said it: The Beatles were the first boy band. And though they did not make this list, there’s a little bit of John, Paul, George and Ringo in each one of these videos.

This list brings home some of the worst examples of what can happen when the boy band formula gets a little out of control. Here are the 10 most horrendous boy band videos of all time.

Update: When this was first posted on TheSmokingJacket.com it lit up the internet. Years later it’s still the most commented on story on TheSmokingJacket.com. I received death threats and hundreds of emails and angry fan notes on Twitter from the fans of the awful Korean boy band JYJ. Good times.

B4-4 – Get Down

B4-4. Get it? What’s before 4? Three! Three guys with tans out of a Gene Wilder film. This is the crown jewel. You find a better boy-band music video and…well, you can’t. We’ve searched. There isn’t one. Even their other amazing video for the song “Go Go” can’t compete. How did this video come to be? According to Wikipedia:

After spontaneously walking into Sony Records’s Toronto office, the group performed for the CEO of Sony USA, Howard Stringer. The trio was then signed to the label, and the album B4-4 was produced.

From the opening shots of a young boy wandering onto the creepiest beach in history to the Oompa Loompa tans on the singers, this is a visual treat. Add the chorus lyrics “If you get down on me, I’ll get down on you,” and it isn’t hard see why Howard Stringer signed them on the spot and was later promoted to CEO of the entire Sony Corporation.

E-Male “We Are E-Male”

“We are E-Male, we just, can’t fail,” so the lyrics go–with the play on words with e-mail and the fact that these guys are, we’re led to believe, male. It’s so ridiculously clever, they must have had a hard time swallowing each other’s disappointment when this song did, in fact, fail. Bonus points for the roller skates.

O-Town – Liquid Dreams

Generated from a reality TV show produced by the man who brought the Backstreet Boys and ‘NSync to life–and is now doing life in prison, though, not for creating these bands, surprisingly enough–”Liquid Dreams” is a song about explosive emotion. They couldn’t sell a song to teens called “Wet Dreams” and were forced to get clever and call the song “Liquid Dreams.” The video features the guys in a “liquid” world. Yikes. A song about ejaculation and a futuristic video with guys essentially inside the wet dream itself? Did we already say “Yikes”?

New Edition – Cool It Now

If only Bobby Brown had heeded his own advice and cooled it sooner when it came to…oh…alleged domestic violence and alleged illicit drug use.

Dream Street – It Happens Everytime

This was the start of Jesse McCartney. It wasn’t promising.

LFO – Girl On TV

It’s a song about being in love with an actress, a video of three guys basically just sitting on a couch and you get the idea that they’re all somehow involved with her. Is this at the same time? Do they each take a day? How does it all work out? And here’s a fun fact: the girl on TV in question is Jennifer Love Hewitt, who actually dated the lead singer of this train wreck at one point.

5ive – “If Ya Gettin Down”

It’s typical boy-band fare–guys in military clothes dancing in a warehouse. Singing to each other about getting down. Fire blasting behind them. Try this: Imagine that each fireball is actually one of the guys’ farts being ignited.

Blue – Too Close

I don’t know who did it first, but watching Blue’s “Too Close” after watching Next’s “Too Close” is like chewing the rusted bumper of an ’87 Oldsmobile after a long winter of eating chocolate cake. It’s horrendous. Enjoy.

Boyzone – No Matter What

White suits like the Backstreet Boys? Check. Uncle Remus-looking guy in a hot air balloon? Check. Girls? Who needs ‘em? We already have everything we need for a love song music video.

JYJ – Ayy Girl

According to Guinness this is the biggest boy band (by fan base) in the world. Ever. They’re from Korea, and this is their attempt at an English crossover. The worst part? Not the white suits, but the Kanye West guest spot. What the fuck.