Tag Archives: music

The best songs of the 2010s


Back when blogs still existed — including this blog — my friend Asher wrote about a musical contradiction: “If dance music should make you want to dance, it doesn’t make much sense that the best dance album of the year makes you want to do anything but move.” 

This was 2012. The album was Gossamer, Passion Pit’s second record. In 2008, Passion Pit had rocketed from dorm room novices to indie darlings because of the single “Sleepyhead.” The track is about a breakup, but that’s apparent only if you can understand the hard-to-decipher words sung in lead singer Michael Angelakos’s falsetto voice. “Sleepyhead” was part of a Manners album that, because of its emphasis on the beats and choruses, was a relatively light-hearted affair. 

Although Gossamer had a similar bounce, it was far more introspective and its lyrics far clearer. Angelakos wrote and sang about drugs, mental illness and anorexia. After a performance in spring 2012 that included songs featured on Gossamer, he told Pitchfork, “We tried as hard as we could to pretend that we were having a good time, but we were miserable.” A week before the album’s release that summer Passion Pit announced the postponement of the rest of its tour because Angelakos was seeking treatment for depression and bipolar disorder. The personal journey he undertook to create Gossamer had contributed to his illness. 

Could we dance to that music? Should we? Continue reading

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Top Songs of 2018/Sincerity is Amazing


Wikimedia Commons

Most of the rave reviews of the 1975’s album A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships are missing something. It’s true A Brief Enquiry represents “15 songs that are about possibilities over conclusions”, “a reflection of the times we live in,” and, maybe,  the “millennial answer to ‘OK Computer.’”  

But I think A Brief Enquiry is one of the best albums in several years for another reason (a reason aside from me being a biased, unrepentant The 1975 fanboy): Matty Healy and The 1975 have made sincerity cool again. The 1975 has made sincerity possible again.  Continue reading

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The top 25 songs of 2016


One reason I know this was a good year for music: My Spotify playlists. I saved dozens of new albums and made several mixes, probably at least twice as many as I have the last two years (and I make A LOT of mixes). There was so much diversity, too: As good of indie-pop as I can remember since 2013, insanely catchy rap songs by young, green artists, star power courtesy especially of Beyonce and Rihanna and, sorry not sorry to the numerous critics who hate the Chainsmokers, the Chainsmokers.

So here they are, the top 25 songs. Spotify playlist here and embedded at the bottom. Continue reading

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My Dark, Twisted, Beautiful Work Mix

A long time ago in yuppie years, I sat in a coffee shop in Dallas, uninspired on a Friday afternoon to complete something or anything that could be considered productive. In moments like this, I reach. I try to read something to pump me up, maybe an example of really good writing or something that just makes me laugh. Or I turn to music, which Brew House colleague Rustin Dodd once-termed a performance enhancing drug for getting work done.

So on this day I set out to create an HGH-Winstrol infused cocktail of music on YouTube, and I termed it “Work Mix.” I remember jamming out to this particular batch of about 20 songs off and on and then I kind of forgot about it. Until today. For some reason I was on my YouTube account and came across the prestigious “Work Mix.”

And holy shit, I wonder what kind of drugs I was on, performance-enhancing or otherwise, that day. This mix is the worst/best collection of songs ever compiled. And I’m now in the second go-round of listening to them thing from beginning to end. And now I am going to share it. The greatest/most eclectic/this guy is huge weirdo/is there seriously a Miranda Cosgrove song on here?/ performance-enhancing work mix ever concocted. Continue reading

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The Apocalypse by Hip-Hop

So the world might end later this week. If civilization does go all Cormac McCarthy on us, I think I owe a beer to Nas, a spliff to Busta Rhymes and whatever the thinking-man’s drug is to Chuck D. Now, I won’t actually be able to make good on this promise on December 21. I mean, I’ll be dead, probably roasted by nuclear lasers, and I don’t personally know any of these musicians. It just feels like I do. Their apocalyptic thoughts and predictions have been swirling around my head for way too damn long.

Yes, it’s true. Hip-hop musicians actually do have something in common with Glenn Beck: They preach apocalyptic messages all the freaking time. Continue reading

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Unsolicited Endorsements IXX

Album: Big Boi — “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors”

I’ve always been an Andre 3000 guy. When Outkast kinda-sorta split up to create Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003), you had to choose a favorite. At the time, I was partial to Andre’s mix of soul, rock and hip-hop.
Since Outkast’s last project dropped in 2006, Andre has lent his vocals and production skills to a collection of strong singles and become the immaculately groomed face of Gillette razors. Big Boi has used that six-year stretch to author two solo albums: 2010’s very good Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty and this week’s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. Continue reading
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No Way It’s Been That Long

Fifteen years ago, a mogul who’d lost his best friend to murder and had his name implicated in the murder of an enemy changed the world of rap music despite the fact that he could barely rap. Remember? Maybe the glare from this glimmering jumpsuit will refresh your memory.

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Unsolicited Endorsements IXXX

Because sometimes you just want friends to tell you about cool things… the Brew House team offers up its weekly mix of author-supported goodness.

Song: Nas – “Life’s A Bitch”

Growing up as a guitarist and a huge fan of rock and metal, I would routinely listen to songs just to get to that one epic guitar solo, riff or breakdown that immediately triggered the air guitar instinct. In fact, I’d usually rewind to the start of the particularly epic* passage a few times out of sheer reverence. “Life’s A Bitch” is one of the songs that – as a 25-year-old fan of wordplay and hip-hop – I always have to stop to rewind. Continue reading

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Unsolicited Endorsements: XIV

Because sometimes you just want friends to tell you about cool things… the Brew House team offers up its weekly mix of author-supported goodness.

Live music performances: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

I must admit: I rarely watch late-night television. I can’t remember the last time I watched Leno or Letterman, and my samplings of Jimmy Fallon have mostly been limited to some viral highlights — like the time he went full Neil Young and performed “Whip My Hair” with Bruce Springsteen. Thing is, I don’t think this is changing, either. And, yet, I’m still an all-time sucker for a solid live-music performance. And on Thursday, someone pointed out that Fallon’s NBC website archives all the performances into an easy playlist.*

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Music and 2011

About three months ago, on a clear and cool night in early September, I made the short trip to Midtown to watch Bon Iver play at the Uptown Theatre. (That makes sense if you live in KC.)

On most nights, this would seem like a pretty simple plan.

Drive to said show. Sip a beer and act sufficiently curious during the opening act. Experience the concert. And then head back out into the Kansas City night, content, inspired, ready for more music.

The circumstances of this night, however, were something different. After planning for a couple weeks to go with two friends, life interfered in the days leading up to the show, and I was left with two extra tickets.

The Uptown was sold out that night, and I knew this. So I knew it wouldn’t be a problem to unload the extra tickets at the last minute, but I also felt a little hesitant about going to the show by myself.

Do people do this? I thought.

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