From the creator of The Octophant. His Laika is nice too (previously).
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2010 music wrap-up, and mixtape 097

In only approximate order of favoriteness, here is my year-end wrap-up. As usual, a few of the entries on the following list were released earlier than 2010, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing some slack. Though most were actually released in 2010.

This year I acquired slightly less new music than I did last year, but with a higher ratio of new stuff: roughly 140 new releases but only 12 that were more than 3 years old. Though I note with interest that this list is roughly half the length of last year's. So while I acquired roughly the same amount, this year I loved less of it. Hmmmm.

Number of these bands that I saw perform this year: 30.
Number of these bands that performed at DNA Lounge this year: 0.
Go Team.

Here is your shopping list:

  • The Limousines - "Get Sharp"

    Something about this album really hooked me. It's a little poppier than I usually go for, but this was one of those rare cases where I found myself listening to the album on repeat for three days. They also put on a very good live show.

  • Amanda Blank - "I Love You"

    The stand-out gimmick on this album is her amazing cover of "Might Like You Better", which took the raunchiness to another level. You might think the original was dirty, but that was just 80s dirty. However, the rest of the album is fantastic too, and pretty varied, especially the Adult-ish "Make-Up". (Which I have just learned is actually a Vanity 6 cover! Huh.)

  • Dirty Epics - "Straight In No Kissing"

    Possibly the best band I saw at SXSW this year. The joke we kept making was that if this album was the soundtrack for your evening, that would be the kind of evening where you woke up in jail or missing a kidney.

  • Blood Red Shoes - "Fire Like This"

    So, this is the part in the year-end music wrap-up where I realize that, though I loved this album a whole lot, I just don't have much to say about it. Do I try and describe the music to you? Well that's kind of pointless, shouldn't you just click the link and listen and then know exactly what it sounds like instead of me trying to translate it to words? Or I could tell you some anecdote about how I saw them live (I did) and they were fantastic (they were) but really, who cares? Also, I could tell that same story for 3/4ths of this list -- that's why they're on the list!

    So that's my disclaimer. Just because there's not a review doesn't mean you should pay less heed to an album's inclusion on this list. I know you will anyway, and I feel bad about that, but not bad enough to try and think of something to say for every one of these bands. That's hard, and it's a long list!

  • Stripmall Architecture - "Feathersongs for Factory Girls"

    Technically it's half of an album, but it's still great.

  • Scott Pilgrim Soundtrack

    I admit, I may be including this album because I loved the movie so much, but the Sex Bob-omb (Beck) and Clash at Demonhead (Metric) tracks are fantastic. This movie made me enjoy Beck songs! Unbelievable.

  • Warpaint - "Exquisite Corpse"

    See "Blood Red Shoes" disclaimer, above...

  • How to Destroy Angels - "How to Destroy Angels"

    The new NIN thing, and probably a lot of you have some knee-jerk hate for it on that basis alone, but I think it's fantastic. It's basically "Ghosts" with the female singer that had, in retrospect, been missing all along.

  • Los Campesinos! - "Romance is Boring"

  • You Say Party! We Say Die! - "XXXX"

  • iamamiwhoami - "iamamiwhoami", "To Whom it May Concern"

    I wrote about this project on ye olde blogge.

  • Hell Beach - "Welcome to Hell Beach"

    There isn't a whole lot of range on this album, but I really love the noisiness of it.

  • Aluminum Babe - "17"

  • Crystal Castles - "Crystal Castles II"

  • Intimate Stranger - "Under"

  • Kasms - "Spayed"

  • The Hundred in the Hands - "This Desert", "The Hundred in the Hands"

  • The Prids - "Chronosynclastic"

  • Minuit - "Find Me Before I Die a Lonely Death.com"

  • Hesta Prynn - "Can We Go Wrong"

  • Cold Cave - "Love Comes Close"

  • Panic Girl - "Burn and Rise"

  • Sleigh Bells - "Treats"

    I like this album a lot, but the live show was horrid. Almost all of the music was all pre-recorded, including half of the vocals, and despite that they still managed to sound like ass. I left early.

  • Norma Bates - "Hey You! Get Down!"

  • Salem - "King Night"

    After reading the Village Voice review of this album, in which they named "Trap Door" as the sixth worst song of 2010, and after having seen some live videos of Salem's halfassed performances, I considered pulling this album off my list, because the band really do sound like a bunch of talentless douchebags. But then I listened to it again, and hey, I actually do like the album, so it stays. It will at least serve as a placeholder for the current batch of "Witch House" bands, which is a micro-genre that was invented about six minutes ago that seems to be comprised of an odd mix of late-80s goth, shoegaze and trip-hop, as if Love is Colder Than Death were covering Jesus and Mary Chain while the singer from Rosetta Stone tried to rap.

    I'm also fascinated by the fact that one of the primary indicators of a band being a part of this micro-genre is that you can't really say the band name out loud, like "oOoOO" and "†‡†" and (less difficult, but still odd) "LAKE R▲DIO" and "GuMMy†Be▲R!". (They like them some triangles and crosses, yo.) It's something that probably wouldn't have been possible just a few years ago, because it assumes that people discover music by clicking links, not by talking about it, or (the very idea!) walking into a store.

    (Incidentally, if Death Guild was actually a goth club, not a "90s synthpop nostalgia club", this is what they'd be playing, because it's just about the only thing that remotely qualifies as "goth" that has come out in the last ten years. I figure they'll have discovered it and added a token entry to the stock set-list some time after 2021.)

    See also Zola Jesus, Esben and the Witch. I'd lump them in with the rest of these folks, even though they're more on the Diamanda Galás side of things than the shoegazery side.

And finally, here's mixtape 097, which includes one track by each of the above artists (at least until the various dinosaur record labels pull them off of Youtube or retroactively prohibit embedding or something, as they do constantly.).

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People Who Touch Your Junk Venn

Update: In the "overthinking a plate of beans" department, there's this rebuttal.

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Grim Meathook Haitian Cholera Voodoo Lynchings.

What the.

At least 45 people, most of them voodoo priests, have been lynched in Haiti since the beginning of the cholera epidemic by angry mobs blaming them for the spread of the disease, officials said.

"People who practice voodoo have nothing to do with the cholera epidemic," said Max Beauvoir, the head of a voodoo organization in the Caribbean country.

Some of the victims were killed with machetes, others were burned alive by mobs that added tires and gasoline to stoke the fires. The cholera outbreak started in October.

The victims have been targeted because of "misinformation" that had been circulating in the community that voodoo practitioners were spreading cholera by using witchcraft, according to communications Minister Marie-Laurence Lassegue.


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DNA Lounge: Wherein Fiona Ma gets Footloose.

Here we go again...
Ma seeks to ban raves in latest War on Fun offensive

Someone needs to tell Assembly member Fiona Ma that the '90s -- with its myopic War on Drugs mentality, ascendant rave scene, and chest-beating "tough on crime" political one-upsmanship -- are over, even though we're still paying that era's bills. Because Ma just introduced AB 74, which seeks to bans raves in California.

Why now? Well, her website says this "historic legislation" was written "on the heels of recent drug-related tragedies in Los Angeles and the Bay Area," referring to three drug-related deaths at two events last May and June. And even though the same statement claims "attendance at raves can range from 16,000 to 185,000 people," Ma somehow thinks that a few overdoses justifies a broad ban on dance parties (although she pointedly exempts live concerts, for reasons she doesn't explain, even though the exact same argument can be made about concerts).

As a representative from the vibrant city of San Francisco, Ma (who did not return our calls for comment) is an embarrassment, taking the already-regressive War on Fun efforts by so-called "moderate" politicians to a new low. But unfortunately, the effort to ban public dance parties has already gained traction at the federal level with provisions of the long-controversial RAVE Act -- promoted by top Democrats as well as Republicans -- finally sneaking their way onto the books last year.

The bill is here, and is very short: AB-74. Apparently she defines a "rave" as any event at night, not in a bar or stadium, that is more than 3 1/2 hours long and includes any pre-recorded music.

I'm sure there will be no Constitutional problems with that, at all.

Back in 1994, when the UK tried to put a stop to those young whippersnappers and that boom-boom-boom noise they call music, they included the awesome phrasing,

"music" includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.

This resulted in Autechre releasing an EP with the warning,

Warning. 'Lost' and 'Djarum' contain repetitive beats. We advise you not to play these tracks if the Criminal Justice Bill becomes law. 'Flutter' has been programmed in such a way that no bars contain identical beats and can therefore be played under the proposed new law. However, we advise DJs to have a lawyer and a musicologist present at all times to confirm the non repetitive nature of the music in the event of police harassment.

Remember when we had a War on Drugs and now there are no more drugs? And then we had that War on Terror and now there's no more terror? I sure am glad we got rid of all of those repetitive beats.


20 Worst Songs of 2010

The snark in these reviews is nuclear!

From Smash Mouth, Train picked up an earworm that burrowed into society's asshole, laid 4.7 million iTunes eggs, and gave birth to a grey cloud of banality that covers the Earth. [...] (For those of you who arrived late, Smash Mouth was a band from the late '90s that was formed when a soul patch met cake frosting. Their wikki-wikki scratching and dorkpie hats did to music what blood-soaked clowns do to the dreams of sleeping children.)

I feel lucky to report that with the exception of the Salem track, I haven't heard any of these songs!

And I'm going to keep it that way.


A Very Zombie Holiday

"An instructional video for ensuring a happy home during this zombie-infested holiday season."

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reset USB bus on MacOS?

Dear Lazyweb, how do you reset a Mac USB bus?

I have a Mac Mini (Core Duo 1,1, 10.5.8) with a pair of external USB drives attached. Sometimes when I reboot it, one or both of the drives doesn't come up. Power-cycling the drive enclosure itself sometimes works; sometimes power-cycling (not just rebooting) the Mac itself is required.

But I'm not in the same building as the machine, so both of these require the hardship of putting on pants.

Is there some software-based way to smack the living shit out of a Mac's USB bus to make it reset and re-probe all attached hardware?

(FWIW, the System Profiler is only seeing one of the two drives right now. Both enclosures are the same model and report as "Sunplus Technology USB to SATA bridge ST31000528 9VP5JYCH").

I think I've asked this before and the answer was "you can't", but I figured I'd try again.

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The Deers of Perception

What could be more festive than spending a night locked in an art gallery with a dozen reindeer and a fridge full of psychedelic drugs?

The urine is collected by handlers and stored in fridges by the walls, which also hold both dried and fresh fly agaric mushrooms. By day they're locked, but at night the fridges are opened, allowing people staying over to sample the contents. However, because only half the reindeer are fed the mushrooms, it's impossible to know which bottles, if any, contain hallucinogenic urine.


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Wow do I hate 3D.

The only time I even notice the 3D is when it's blurry -- which is most of the time. E.g. any time I move my head from being perfectly vertical and motionless.

I'm never making that mistake again.


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