I don’t want to waste any time. For those that played hooky yesterday, go read Part One here. As for the rest of the class, let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?
I’m not a country or pop fan, so be warned that my music list is biased. I really don’t care about Taylor Swift or any of the 10-year-old phenoms that get 15 minutes of fame on Ellen, and then perform at award shows and win the hearts of housewives across the land. I want something that I can blast and can’t help but move my head or fist to.
The Walkmen – Lisbon
Overlooked and underappreciated for years, The Walkmen continue to put out amazing album after amazing album. If I had to pick an album of the year, this might be it.
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
After years of only listening to a couple of songs of each album, I finally admit defeat. I’m officially on the bandwagon. This album rules.
Ghostface Killah – Apollo Kids
Note to young up-and-coming rappers: gritty beats that sound like they’re from the 70’s are infinitely cooler than something that is lost between a drum machine and a techno beat. Ghostface absolutely destroys on this album. I only wish Doom showed up on it, as they are an amazing team.
Black Keys – Brothers
Put this album in, set your iPod or whatever to repeat and put it down. That’s all you need to do. I could have this album play on repeat all day, every day and feel completely satisfied.
The Rest: Bonobo – Black Sands (Bonobo can do no wrong and this is his best album yet), Broken Bells (I called it last year and I was right), Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer (if Fuck You doesn’t get stuck in your head whenever you hear it, go listen to country – and yes it’s “Fuck You” not “Forget You”), Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Kanye finally woke up and realized that autotune sucks, better late than never), Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards (Jack White can do no wrong), Spoon – Transference (again, one of my favourite bands releasing one of their strongest albums), Get Busy Committee – Uzi Does It, Ratatat – LP4 (watch the music videos for Drugs and Neckbrace and enjoy), Scott Pilgrim vs The World – Soundtrack (it was a kick-ass soundtrack before I knew that Beck did covers on it -then it became incredible), Social Network – Soundtrack (Hell yeah Trent and Atticus – as good as the movie was, this soundtrack made it better), Wick-It The Instigator – The Brothers of Chico Dusty (I admit that I never got around to listening to Big Boi’s album, but after hearing it mashed up with The Black Keys, I don’t know if I’ll ever bother listening to the original. This one is too good).
Special Award For Outstanding Achievement And Organization: Misfits – Soundtrack. So, you already know that I love the show Misfits. Did you also know that every episode is chock full of songs that you either forgot about or never heard of, but instantly want to run out and put on a playlist? Save yourself the trouble of Shazam-ing or Soundhound-ing every scene by checking out the link that precedes this paragraph. The glorious people at the BBC know what’s going on and have provided an official website that lists every single song in the order it was aired in an episode, complete with a brief scene description to remind you of what song it was. Seriously!? Why doesn’t every TV show do this? It makes an already incredible show that much better.
Normally I read like a madman, but this year I found myself reading less than I’d like. For that reason, this list isn’t really fair to the industry, but there is one series that I really need to champion.
Joe R. Lansdale’s Hap & Leonard Series – This year saw the release of a new book, Vanilla Ride, and the re-release of the entire Hap & Leonard series. Lansdale’s action/adventure/mystery/bad-ass novels about two friends in Southern Texas are the most gripping, visceral, tough-as-nails tales you could ever read. Start from the beginning and read fast, because this coming March another chapter is coming and it’s sure to be as intense as the others. Be warned: once you read one of them, you’ll curse the heavens and ask yourself why no one has thought to make any of them into a movie, or better yet, an HBO series. They are full of everything a red-blooded male wants: tough-ass dudes, murder, suspense, martial arts, guns, rednecks, double-crossing, midgets and sex. There’s nothing better.
Honorable Mention For Best Gift I Gave To A Friend: 3DD: A 3D Celebration of Breasts. The name pretty much says it all. Tastefully photographed breasts presented in a coffee table book complete with it’s own pair of 3D glasses. It may not sound appealing, but I have yet to see someone not totally enthralled by it.
I wouldn’t be stepping on every R2AK contributor’s toes without dabbling in a little game wrap-up as well. So here are my few highlights of the gaming world.
The Kinect (Xbox 360) – If you thought the Wii was a great party system, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Technical reviews aside, The Kinect is some serious fun. The technology is a little creepy, but using your entire body as a controller is pretty freakin’ crazy and allows for some seriously hilarious times when you’re playing with a bunch of friends. Warning: playing for more than 10 minutes will induce sweating. This is perfectly normal and is a direct result of physical exertion. Most hardcore gamers will object to this, but most girls I know are more inclined to jump around and dance like a fool, than sit and quietly listen to you telling them how powerful your Level 32 Mage is.
The Rest: For the iPad – Osmos (seriously cool puzzle game) and World of Goo (loved it on my computer, love it even more now). For the Xbox 360 – Red Dead Redemption (probably the best game of the year, if only because you can ride around in the old west on a unicorn while shooting zombies) and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood (next best thing to actually going to Rome). For the PS3 – Mafia 2 (worth it for the incredible 40’s and 50’s soundtrack), Gran Turismo 5 (realistic cars + horrible music = prettiest game that I never play), DJ Hero 2 (“2 turntables and a microphone” option. Nuff said).
I’m sure I missed a hundred things that should have been mentioned, but despite appearances, I actually tried to have a life in between watching, playing, listening and reading all of the above titles. I’m looking forward to taking a breather for a week and then starting all over in preparing for another year of indulgence with 2011, though.