Kevin’s Favorite Albums of 2014

I can’t believe the last time I did this was in 2011, but it’s time to do it again! 2014 was a great year for music! Again! My 2014 Favorites has 256 songs on it. Last year’s has almost 350, but I think that’s more about me being more selective about what goes on it than the quality of the year.

I decided to break up the list into three sections, because I don’t think it’s fair to compare albums by bands I’ve loved for years with new stuff that jumped out enough to be considered. I’m getting older and though I’m trying really hard not to let my musical taste calcify, well, I think it’s inevitable. Also, the “throwbacks” fit a theme for me. They’re all committed to a sound from the past and pull it off expertly. All four albums will have you grinning from ear to ear just to hear great new songs in styles you thought were dead.

Repeat Offenders

Throwbacks

The New Kids

And there you have it… my favorite albums of 2014. Enjoy!

My Most Played Songs

I can’t remember when I did it, but a few years ago I reset all the play counts in iTunes. That was years ago at this point, and since switching to Rdio for most of my music listening, I only use iTunes for things I can’t get on Rdio, live shows from nyctaper or podcasts. I was looking for something new to choose for This is My Jam, and decided I’d just pick the song I’ve played the most in iTunes. And then I decided I might as well share my “historical” top ten songs as shown by what I actually listened to. So, here they are, followed by the number of times I’ve listened to them according to iTunes. Excuse the profanity, that is really the name of the band (and they’re awesome):

  1. Lovely Allen by Holy Fuck – 153
  2. Pullin Punches by Arkells – 150
  3. Fresh Blood by Eels – 137
  4. Working Full-Time by The Constantines – 122
  5. Happy by The Wrens – 113
  6. Your Hand in Mine by Explosions in the Sky – 111
  7. Dance Like a Monkey by New York Dolls – 106 (this one’s skewed because I accidentally left it on repeat one day where I had a lot of meetings and I forgot to pause it – still, it’s a great song. The video is killer.)
  8. I Play My Kazoo by Grand Analog – 102
  9. Soon Enough by The Constantines – 101
  10. Violet Light by Raised by Swans – 101

I also went ahead and created a playlist in Rdio with Trnsmit with my top 100 songs (Rdio doesn’t have all of them, so it’ll be less than 100, but whatever).

It’s funny that the bands I consider my all-time favorites don’t show up until farther down the list (*Massive Attack* shows up at number 13 with Paradise Circus and Morphine doesn’t show up until number 26 with Come Along). The Constantines show up a ton in the top 50, but that’s mostly because my “Best of the Constantines” playlist was a constant companion for almost a year when I had to crank out code on a deadline.

Oh well, there you go, my top 10 songs played in iTunes. I wish I could do the same in Rdio. I have a feeling it would be dominated by Library Voices.

And yes, this post is instead of writing one about my time at SxSW this year or my new job at Rails Machine that I start in a few weeks. I might write those blog posts later.

My Annual SxSW Prep: Listening to Tons of Music!

This is odd because I’ve never stayed for the Music portion of SxSW, but every year for the past five or six, I’ve downloaded the massive torrent of free songs from the artists playing SxSW and tried to listen and rate all of them. To give you some idea of the scale, the 2011 torrent had over 1000 songs in it, released in two parts. That’s a lot of music to listen to, and I usually forget to post my top-rated stuff here, but I think I’ve actually listened to everything for at least the last three years (even when I haven’t gone to SxSW).

I’ve figured out a workflow for getting through and rating everything using iTunes’ Smart Playlists that I figure might help you if you want to do the same thing:

  1. Download the torrent and then put all the songs in a single regular playlist.
  2. Create a new Smart Playlist for the songs you haven’t listened to and haven’t skipped. It took a little while to get this set up correctly, but it should be something like this (and then sorted by artist):
    • Playlist – is – Your SxSW Torrent playlist (mine’s called SxSW 2012)
    • Plays – is less than – 1
    • Skips – is less than – 1
    • Rating – is not – 1 star
    • Rating – is not – 2 stars
  3. Create another Smart Playlist for things you’ve listened to but haven’t rated:
    • Playlist – is – SxSW 2012
    • Rating – is – no stars
    • Plays – is greater than – 0 (this removes any that you skipped, which you can assume you want to leave 0 stars)
  4. I also created one like the unrated, but where the Rating is greater than 3 to find my favorites.

What’s great about the unlistened Smart Playlist is that if I give something a rating of 1 or 2 stars, it automatically skips it and goes on to the next song.

Hopefully this helps you better manage your SxSW torrent listening experience! I’ll try to remember to come back and share my favorites. I’m halfway through the B’s as I write this. Only 686 songs to go (and this is just the “Part 1″ torrent)!

Oh, and if you don’t want to bother with any of that, I made an Rdio playlist with the songs Rdio has out of the list (about 380 out of the 771 songs in Part 1).

Kevin’s Favorite Albums of 2011

Hi, my name is Kevin, and I’m a music addict. I used to have a 2-3 album a week buying habit. But that’s all changed, thanks to Rdio. I go through the new releases every Tuesday and try to listen to all the interesting new stuff I can find. The good stuff gets added to my collection and the best stuff gets added to my phone. I now usually only buy one album a month, and that’s only because it’s not available on Rdio or is just that good. You might be saying to yourself, “But Kevin, you work on a music product. Why are you using Rdio?” Why? Because they do two different things. Rdio is good if you know exactly what you want to listen to (same with the other on-demand services like Spotify or Rhapsody). If you don’t, or want to discover new stuff, then radio services like SonicSeeds are what you want to use. I see us as complimentary to the on-demand services, not really completing with them (other than for ear time).

The problem with Rdio is that it’s not easy to find the things you’ve added to your collection that were released in the past year, so this list isn’t complete yet. But, if you’re really eager to get the complete list, check back.

And here it is, selections from my favorite albums of 2011. It was a great year for music, and I had a hard time choosing. I think there are about 20 albums represented here, all of them worth picking up or adding to your collection! Enjoy!

May 10 – The New Music That Makes Me Squee

There’s a bumper crop of stuff I can’t wait to listen to today! Hooray! But, before I get into today’s music, it’s time to talk about work for just a sec. For the past several months, we’ve been working on a new product, and I’m really proud of it. It’s a new way to do web radio and it’s coming out later this summer. If you’re interested, and you should be, you can sign up for a beta invite and be one of the first people to experience it. I can’t wait to show it to you!

Now, on to the music! And just like last week, I haven’t actually listened to these yet. I’ll try to come back and update things, but I’m pretty confident in today’s list.

  • The Burning HellFlux Capacitor – These guys are goofy and create some silly music, but it’s so damned good, I can’t help but dance along.
  • The AntlersBurst Apart – Their first album, Hospice was heartbreaking and beautiful. I don’t know what to expect from this one, but I can’t wait to find out.
  • SloanThe Double Cross – These guys are giants of Canadian indie rock and for good reason. They consistently produce tight killer rock songs.
  • Pearl and the BeardPearl and the Beard – I first heard them on nyctaper and quickly went and hunted down everything I could. I have high hopes for this one.
  • Black Moth Super RainbowExtra Flavor – I have a feeling this is mostly outtakes from their last album, but their last album was good enough that these should be pretty darn good.
  • CornershopSupercomputed – And you thought they only did Brimful of Asha. Their recent albums have been solid, and I didn’t even know this one was coming out. Happy surprise!

There you go. If I find anything else, I’ll add it to the list. What are you listening to this week?

May 3 – New Music Tuesday

I haven’t listened to any of these yet, but here’s the list of albums I gleaned from today’s new releases on Rdio. I’ll try to come back and update them once I’ve actually listened to them, but I’m a busy guy, so I’ll probably forget. Here’s the queue as it stands right now:

There are some other things in the queue, but I have to go hop in the shower and get to work. I’ll try to hop back in and add other new stuff I find worth listening to and update the guesses with the results. Happy new music tuesday!

What else should I be listening to?

New Music Tuesday!

Tuesdays are new music day (when all the new releases come out), and for the past several months, I’ve religiously gone through the 20+ pages of new releases looking for the little gems that slip through the cracks or the albums that make my week. I usually post a couple to twitter, but hey, I have a blog, why not keep them for posterity?

So, for 4/12/2011, here are my new release finds:

  • Hit After Hit by Sonny & The Sunsets – Moody surf rock with a touch of Brian Jonestown Massacre (without the self-indulgent drug-fueled stuff – although I can’t guarantee that drugs weren’t involved in the making of the album).
  • Two Against One / Black by Danger Mouse – It’s just two songs, but the maestro is working with Jack White and Norah Jones. These two tracks are great and would be at home on either the next Broken Bells album or a Zero 7 album. Great trippy stuff.
  • Nine Types of Light by TV On The Radio – I’ve always wanted to like this band but they’ve always been more art than rock. But from the first song on this album, the pretense has been replaced by kicked asses and soul. It all comes together in that first song: horns, guitars, and vocals.
  • And it’s not really a new release, but nyctaper released a fantastic show from Explosions in the Sky yesterday that contains a sneak peek at their new album (plus all your favorites). Totally worth downloading and cherishing forever.
  • This one isn’t “new” but it’s new to me (after hearing them a couple times on one of the CBC Radio 3 podcasts), but Hooded Fang are awesome!

I’ll try to update this post as I find more, but these should keep you busy for a while!

PS – Don’t forget, we’re still hiring!

My Favorite Albums of 2010

I’ve done a bunch of “best of” music lists over the years, but this was one of the hardest. I gave up on limiting it to ten almost right away and went right to 18. There was a ton of great music this year across a bunch of genres (as you can see by the list). I don’t have time to describe them all now, but you owe it to yourself to check them all out.

Again this year, there’s an appearance by some spectacular mashup work. Girl Talk gets all the press, but The Kleptones released the best album of the year with their double album. Uptime/Downtime is amazing, and while Uptime will keep you dancing, Downtime is the more impressive to me. It sounds like a complete album and you don’t feel like you’re listening to mashups. They’re just great songs. With most mashups, you’re totally aware that you’re listening to a bunch of stuff that wasn’t meant to go together. In the best ones, they’re all made to work and sometimes build an even better song out of the component parts. In the Kleptones’ case, even way back to A Night at the Hip-Hopera, they build great songs out of the pieces they find lying around to the point where you forget that these songs even existed in another form.

  1. Uptime/Downtime by The Kleptones
  2. Heligoland by Massive Attack
  3. Broken Bells by Broken Bells
  4. The Lady Killer by Cee Lo
  5. New Inheritors by Wintersleep
  6. Permalight by Rogue Wave
  7. Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons
  8. The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
  9. Together by New Pornographers
  10. Fields by Junip
  11. This is Good by Hannah Georgas
  12. We Kill Computers by The Pack A.D.
  13. Wake Up! by John Legend and The Roots
  14. Mt. Chimera by Brasstronaut (not available on Amazon, you have to get it from Zunior, but trust me, it’s worth it!)
  15. Of the Color of Blue Sky by Ok Go
  16. All Day by Girl Talk
  17. The Five Ghosts by Stars
  18. Latin by Holy F^ck

And I can’t leave without an honorable mention for new discovery: Lungs by Florence + The Machine – I think I’ve listened to this album more in the past few months than almost anything else in the top 20.

Thanks, Kidzbop!

This is one of the sexiest things I have ever seen. You should see it too, and it’s safe for work!!! (The good stuff starts at 1:40):

For several weeks, I’ve had the phrase, “What do you want from me?” running around in my head and spontaneously coming out of my mouth, in song form. One day I actually paid attention while watching Nickelodeon with the kids and saw that it was from a song on Kidzbop 18.
I decided if I heard the real version, maybe it would finally get out of my head. Google led me to this performance on The View by Adam Lambert, which I immediately LOVED. I had heard of Adam Lambert before, but since I don’t watch American Idol, he was basically unknown to me. Apparently he was also one of Barbara Walter’s Top 10 Fascinating People of last year, who knew? Oh, I also had a vague recollection of some controversy about it being ok for girls to kiss on stage but not guys. But for the most part, I didn’t know anything about him or his music.

One Youtube clip always yields another, yes? I ended up listening to a bunch of his stuff. Check out: Fever, If I Had You, Soaked, and Mad World. Soaked and Mad World completely blew me away. And if you don’t like them, keep that to yourself. Don’tcha like how helpful I am :) but you should just go youtube the hell out of him yourself, especially the American Idol performances. And his new stuff. And some of his older stuff.

Though I am late to the party, I’m glad I am finally here! These songs are going on my “Music to dance to while doing chores so I don’t stab myself in the eye with a spork” playlist, which can never be large enough if you ask me. As famous as this guy is, he doesn’t need me pimping for him. But for those of you living in cave like me, you should definitely check him out.