Albums of the Week

December 30, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Albums of the Week is a recurring feature at Pomp Culture where we will select three albums for our readers to check out. To listen to any of the Albums of the Week just click on the links provided in the sidebar. Live streams of each album can be played in iTunes, Winamp, or Windows Media Player. There is also a link to purchase music by the artists on Amazon, which I strongly encourage if you find something you like.

After taking a week off, we're back with three albums for your listening pleasure.

Something Old - "On Avery Island" by Neutral Milk Hotel
Released: 1996
Label: Merge
Genre: Indie Rock

Submitted by: Brant Brown

On Avery Island was Neutral Milk Hotel's first full-length album, released in early 1996. It is a record that will always be overshadowed by its much more successful and accessible counterpart, 1998's In an Aeroplane Over the Sea. Though the latter is a superior compilation, the former has a smattering of excellent songs that warrant a re-visit. Kicking off the album is the driving fuzzy bass on "Song Against Sex", a staple of the NMH sound. That bluster and exuberance is later surpassed by "Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone", a composition that deserves to be yelled only at the top of the lungs, preferably while shaking ones fists. A tolerance of horns and the accordion is recommended in order to appreciate the talents of the various NMH players, the most notable of which is their elusive mastermind, Jeff Mangum. Though the group would only release two albums under the Neutral Milk Hotel monicker, they were able to breed enough of a dedicated fanbase to assure that these songs will not quickly be forgotten.

Tracks to stay tuned in for: Naomi, Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone, Song Against Sex.

Something New - "Volume One" by She & Him
Released: 2008
Label: Merge
Genre: Indie Pop

Submitted by: Brant Brown

This debut album from actress Zooey Deschanel and musician Matt Ward may seem like some cheap novelty at face value. These songs, and her voice, are absolutely legitimate. The minimalist instrumental stylings bring Deschanel's harmonies to the forefront. The reception to this album has been strong, so we should be receiving more from the duo on the near future.

Tracks to stay tuned in for: Why Do You Let Me Stay Here, This is Not a Test, Sweet Darlin'.

Something Different - "The Midnight Organ Fight" by Frightened Rabbit
Released: 2008
Label: Fat Cat
Genre: Indie Pop

Submitted by: Dave Thomas

This album flips back and forth between an indie-pop experiment and sort of a folky foundation. The band is a trio from Glasgow and their catchy opening number "The Modern Leper" sounds like a rough version of something you might hear from O.A.R.. The lyrics are all fairly dark but not so much as to turn someone away the first time through.

Tracks to stay tuned in for: The Modern Leper, I Feel Better, Keep Yourself Warm.

Like what you hear? Please feel free to leave a comment or drop us a line at

Overrated: The Dark Knight

December 30, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

Before you read the title of this post and jump to conclusions, hear me out first. Put those batarangs away, fanboys.

Let me start off by saying that I really liked The Dark Knight. Hell, I would go so far as to say that I loved it. It was easily the best Batman movie of all time and the new standard by which all future comic book movies will be judged. The story was entertaining and I thought all the actors involved did wonderful jobs. I had a fantastic time seeing the movie in IMAX and I plan on purchasing the movie on DVD when I can nab it for a few dollars off.

But let's not get too ahead of ourselves.

Was The Dark Knight one of the best movies of all time? I don't think so. I wouldn't even say it was the best movie of 2008.

And don't doubt for a second that I am the target market for this movie. I'm a male, age 18-30. I've been reading comic books since I was 8 years old and have always been a huge Batman fan. I read Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns more times than I care to admit. I cheered when the annoying Jason Todd was crowbarred to death. Hell, I even pushed my way through Grant Morrison's trippy, confusing and oft-delayed (though never dull) Batman RIP story this year. So if anyone had a reason to label The Dark Knight as one of the greatest movies ever, it's someone like me.

But I don't. Though it was a great movie, it's far from a masterpiece.

At this time last year, TDK had more hype behind it than any movie I can remember in years. Fueled by the success of the first movie, the addition of one of the most classic villains in comic book history and the tragic death of Heath Ledger, it seemed like there was no way for TDK to live up to the hype.

But it did. In my lifetime, I don't think I've seen any movie meet the impossibly high expectations that TDK had. And this is part of the problem. Just because the expectations were high and the movie was somehow able to meet them, I think people thought that it was one of the all time greatest movies just based on that. And I'm not saying that breaking the all time one-day and first-weekend box office records is a small feat, but I think it too probably influenced people. When a movie starts doing that kind of business, I think people sort of feel like it has to be one of the best films they've ever seen.

If you look at the IMDB Top 250 movies of all time, you'll see movies listed that are not only considered some of the greatest stories to grace the big screen, but some of the best pieces of art ever produced, regardless of medium. Take a look at the following list:

Schindler's List
Star Wars
Dr. Strangelove
Citizen Kane
It's A Wonderful Life
Taxi Driver

Some of the greatest movies of all time, right? That's not the only thing they have in common. They're also all ranked below TDK on the list. Right now, TDK sits at #4 all time, below The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather Parts I and II (NOTE: When trying to make an all-time great movie, make sure to put 'The' in the title).

Obviously, the people have spoken, as these ranks are voted on by the users of IMDB. It's true that there was some speculation that many of those votes were from people signing up countless IMDB profiles in an attempt to inflate TDK's score, but I consider that a wash since just as many people who hate TDK did the same thing to artificially lower its score.

That being said, I don't think TDK is a solid enough movie to stack up against the all time greats when all is said and done. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The Story Gets Slippery At Times: No one has to remind me about the willing suspension of disbelief. I'm not going to say TDK's story was weak in some places because there's no way a guy in a bat suit would go around beating people up in real life. Even inside the world of a superhero vigilante, there are some parts of the movie that border on ridiculous. For instance, are we to believe that just one day after an attempt on the mayor's life, the Joker (sans makeup, but still with terribly noticeable scars) was able to get close enough to him to make an attempt on his life? Wouldn't there be some increased security?

And what about when Jim Gordon fakes his death in order to go undercover and bust the Joker? What kind of a man would not only lie to his own wife, but his child as well by faking his own death to go undercover? Especially when being undercover really didn't do that much to help in the first place. I know the police eventually got the Joker, but are you telling me that if Gordon was replaced with a highly-trained military officer during that prison transport that the job wouldn't have been done just as well? It may seem like these points are a bit moot in a movie where a guy hangs out in a rubber suit, but if TDK wants to be thought of as less of a 'comic movie' and more of a 'real movie' then it should be prepared to face the questions I'd ask of any movie, flying rodent or not.

2. The Third Act Was Almost A Tank Job: The part of the movie with the two boats wired with explosives had its moments, but for the most part, the last 30 minutes or so of the movie were much worse than what came before it. The movie should have ended after Joker blew up the buildings with Rachel and Harvey Dent inside of them. Batman stands on a pile of rubble with Dent's coin in his hand after losing the woman he's loved for years. The Joker escapes in a stolen police car. Bruce Wayne slouches in a chair, exhausted from living his double life and wondering if it's worth everything he has to risk and will most likely lose in the long run. Are you telling me that wouldn't have been a fantastic place for the movie to end? If you're trying to make a gritty, dark movie, ending it at the point where things look the most bleak and where the most questions remain seems like the best thing to do.

But TDK kept going. They wanted to fit in more of a resolution with Joker and cram in Two Face by the end of the flick, which I think is the biggest mistake TDK made. As much as this movie was about Batman and his quest to not be needed anymore, I think it was equally Harvey Dent's story as well. He was the savior. He was the white knight that would lead Gotham back to being a safe place to live. For him to turn from the embodiment of everything that could be right with Gotham into the exact opposite should have been entirely fleshed out in the eventual third movie.

Instead, Dent's transformation into Two Face happened in a 5 minute hospital room scene with Joker. While I thought it was a killer scene (no pun intended), I think the downfall of Dent deserved much more attention. I feel like the last act of TDK tried to get everything sewn up in a nice little package waaaaay too quickly. And the entire sonar scene made me all kinds of dizzy.

3. Heath Ledger Was Good, But Not Golden: With all respect to Heath Ledger, I don't think his portrayal of the Joker was worthy of a little golden statue. I will agree that the Joker was probably one of the best parts of TDK and I found myself riveted every time he was onscreen. While I think Ledger did an admirable job, I believe that a lot more of the credit than most people are giving should go to Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer for the story and script. Part of the reason Heath Ledger was so fantastic was because he was given a knockout part to play in the movies and some of the best lines in any movie this year. And while I don't want to take away from Heath's performance too much, I can't help but feel like there are others who could have played the part just as well. While I wouldn't be mad if Ledger got nominated for an Oscar (He's already been nominated for a Golden Globe), I don't think he should win. Like I said, because of the wide open and ambiguous character of the Joker, I think the role could have been performed by just about anyone with a decent amount of talent and been just as good. I think Golden Globes and Oscars should go to people that pull off a role so perfectly, no one else could have done the same job.

Take Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder for example. Like the Joker, he had fantastic writing and some great makeup to help the performance. But there was just something more that Downey Jr. brought to the role that I thought was missing from Ledger's performance. Sure, any actor can be made up to look black like Downey Jr. was, but in my opinion, no one on the planet could have pulled off the role of Kirk Lazarus but him. The Joker was scary as hell, but the second time I watched TDK, it just seemed like he was just smacking his lips and making odd faces at people. Ledger's performance in Brokeback Mountain (again, no pun intended) blows the Joker out of the water every day of the week.

(And if you really want to see the best supporting acting of the year, don't miss Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road. Pulling off the near-impossible task of holding his own onscreen with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Shannon turns in a performance that steals the entire movie in about 8 total minutes of screen time.)

4. The 'Myth' Of Batman No Longer Existed: One of the things that bothered me the most about TDK was the fact that Batman would just wander around and not really care who saw him. To me, Batman is much more effective and terrifying to bad guys as a myth, a legend that may or may not be true. The unknown is what strikes fear into the heart of most criminals. In the original Batman movie, it was debated the entire time whether Batman even existed, let alone if he was a good guy or some kind of monster. In TDK, the police have no problem not only letting Batman into the police station, but allowing him to go into an interrogation room with the Joker and try to get information out of him. Where's the mystery? Commissioner Gordon is supposed to be the only one on the police force that has any contact with the Caped Crusader! What's next? Batman hitting the bars after hours with the off-duty mall cops? Batman at Starbucks?

Honestly, if TDK scores a Best Picture Oscar nomination, I think it'll be just to boost the ratings for the show. I mean, is this really one of the best movies ever made? Are my kids going to go as nuts for it as people did this summer? I say no, and that's really going to be the biggest test. I think that removed from all the hype and the tragic passing of Heath Ledger and away from the broken box office records, 20 years from now, TDK may not seem as phenomenal as it does today. It'll hold up and still be good in the future, but years from now, I think we'll be able to see that it just isn't on par with the greatest films from years past.

I don't mean to be nit-picky about this movie. I just wanted to make the point that, while it's still an excellent film, The Dark Knight is by no means a flawless film as some may want to believe. As a comic book movie, it's absolutely moved the bar up for what people should expect in the future. As a regular old movie, it was suspenseful and fun and everything that going to a summer blockbuster should be.

But is it one of the greatest movies of all time? I don't think so.

War Criminal: New Years Eve

December 30, 2008 | Comments (0) | by ,

I look forward to January 1st every year. A new year means a clean slate...A time to start over...And a time to accomplish all of the things you said you'd accomplish on January 1st of last year. I can thank my New Years resolutions for clean lungs (I quit smoking a couple of years ago), and a more well-rounded mind (one year, I decided I would start reading more non-fiction books). This year, I have resolved to learn Spanish, and to cut back on my swearing (notice how I said "cut back" - there's no way in hell I'd be able to stop swearing completely). However, in order to get to January 1st, you have to get through New Years Eve...And I fucking hate New Years Eve...

I know what you might be thinking "But E-Claire! New Years Eve is great! You get to drink a lot, wear silly hats, and run down the street screaming when midnight rolls around!" First of all, around my household, the event I just described is also known as "Wednesday." And secondly, the reason I hate New Years Eve is because in my experience, drinking and merriment almost never occur on December 31st. Something always goes wrong. Allow me to explain...

When you're a kid, New Years is fine. You ring in the New Year with your parents and a juice box, and go to sleep happy because you got to stay up way past your bed time. But the minute you reach an age where it is now appropriate to make "New Years plans," shit hits the fan. I think my first bad New Years experience dates back to about 6 years ago. One of my family members - who shall remain nameless - convinced me to come with them to a bar to ring in whatever the hell year it was going to be. However, this family member then decided to ditch me (I'm kind of uncool), and I spent the greater part of the evening trying to find them. Once I did find them, they said they'd meet me by the bar "later," and I spent the rest of the evening sitting in a chair off to the side of the bar waiting for them. I tried to make conversation with the people around me, but they were drunk and kept asking me what I did to deserve a time out. It was pretty brutal.

Then there was New Years Eve 2 years ago. My friends from college were in town, and we decided we'd meet up with Daft Funk and some other people and have a "low key" New Years Eve. However, about 3 hours before we were supposed to meet everyone, I decided I'd eat a spinach wrap. Big mistake. I guess something in the wrap wasn't cooked right, because I started to feel lousy, and after about 2 drinks, I threw up all over the bathroom, and Daft Funk had to carry me home because I was so ill. And ever since then, I've had to live with stories of how E-Claire got falling down drunk on New Years Eve 2 years ago. It was food poisoning you jackasses!

Last year's New Years Eve celebration wasn't much better. Our friends invited us to go to some kind of organized event featuring bands and food (I was assured there would be no spinach wraps). However, it was like 75 bucks to get in, and Daft Funk and I couldn't afford it. So we stayed home with a 12-pack of PBR and fell asleep at 12:01am. Oh well, at least I kept my dinner down...

So after a string of bad New Years Eve experiences, I decided that 2008 was the year I take charge. I decided that I was going to throw a party at my house and do things on my terms. I would not be dragged out to bars by family members...I would not get sick...And I would not pay ridiculous amounts of money to watch some one-hit wonder band play while I sipped a watered-down vodka cranberry. Dammit, this year was going to be different! It was going to be drama-free! Well, I was fucking wrong. Even when you throw a party at your own damn house, things go sour. For example, I had initially invited a small handful of people to my gathering (we have a pretty small place), but some of those people took it upon themselves to invite 10 of their closest friends without asking me, and I'm now trying to figure out how to fit 30 people into my living room. Also, people have been asking me "What are we gonna DO at your party?" What? Are we 10 years old again? Do I have to set up party games? I thought that at adult gatherings, you just kind of stood around, drank beer, and talked. Why is this not good enough for my party-goers? Do whatever the hell you want at the party! I'll be drinking whiskey straight from the bottle swearing about how I'm never having another New Years party EVER!

So what is my point in all of this (besides sharing my lame New Years Eve stories)? My point is that I hate New Years Eve because something always seems to go wrong. Somebody gets sick... Somebody gets lost...Somebody complains that you didn't make enough crab dip...Somebody ends up in jail. And if you want to take the hassle out of New Years Eve, sure, you can go to an organized event, but you have to bankrupt yourself in order to do it. So this year, in addition to the Spanish and the swearing, I am resolving to give up making New Years Eve plans. I will stay at home with my Golden Girls DVDs and pretend it's just like any other night. New Years Eve, I'm done with you!!!!!*

*technically, I'll be "done with" New Years Eve next year, because I still have to have my party this year. I'm too lazy to call people and tell them the party's off...

NFL Playoff Picks: Round 1

December 29, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

The regular NFL season is over. Playoffs, bitches! Tom Brady? Sitting at home. Although he didn't play this year, so he'd probably be sitting at home either way. Then again, if he wasn't hurt, maybe the Patriots would not be sitting at home. My head hurts. Beer please?

Anywho, we've got Sad Tom Brady to come and do some predictions for us. Leave your picks in the comments and see how you do stacked up against an authentic NFL Superstar! Whoever picks the most games correctly wins a free copy of Step Up 2 The Streets!

Atlanta at Arizona

I really don't know either of these teams. From what my people tell me, Arizona is full of old people. Atlanta is full of rappers, hot young women and Ted Turner. Now that I'm engaged, I need to tone down the booty-lovin' some. Since Gisele might be reading this, I'm going to go with the Cardinals over the Falcons.

Indianapolis at San Diego

You know who I can't stand? Phillip Rivers! What a punk! If he was my kid, I'd...ignore him, like I do with my current son. I have a kid? Could've fooled you, right? Anyway, I'll take Indy over the Chargers.

Baltimore at Miami

If I don't pick the Ravens, Ray Lewis may find me and kill me. If I don't pick Miami, Joey Porter will feed me to his dogs! What's a super-awesome, handsome, suave, pimptastic dude like me supposed to do? I'll take the Ravens to win. Ray Lewis has actually killed a man and gotten away with it.

Philadelphia at Minnesota

Who would ever take a team with one of the Jackson 5 at quarterback? That guy has to be in his 40's by now! What? Of course I know what I'm talking about! It's Michael, Tito, Jermaine, Tavaris and Samuel L. I'm taking Philly over the Vikes.

NFL Picks Week 17

December 26, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Governor X

The NFL regular season is mercifully coming to a close. Thank god. I'm pretty tired of dealing with these celebrities. Dickweeds. All of them. Except Jesus, he seemed OK. The worst was Sarah Palin though. She took us for $40,000 worth of Hickory Farms gift baskets and tried to rename the official Pomp Culture dog "Lock Pepper". The dog's actual name is Bob. Kanye West is picking games this week, but has deemed our blog too small to offer up any commentary. I can assure you though, Peyton Manning is still a douche and George Bush doesn't care about black people.

St. Louis at Atlanta
Carolina at New Orleans
New England at Buffalo
Kansas City at Cincinnati
Cleveland at Pittsburgh
Detroit at Green Bay
Oakland at Tampa Bay
Chicago at Houston
Tennessee at Indianapolis
NY Giants at Minnesota
Jacksonville at Baltimore
Miami at NY Jets
Dallas at Philadelphia
Seattle at Arizona
Washington at San Francisco
Denver at San Diego

Christmas Eve 2008

December 24, 2008 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

So, word on the street is that Santa was stuck in O'Hare last night, got piss drunk, stole a security guards gun, and accidentally shot himself in the neck inside the Chili's in Terminal 2. Bummer. Would have made a hell of a wild card pick in the Death League.

Tonight, and tomorrow, remember that Santa Claus died for your sins. Then you can quickly forget about him by buying yourself something nice during the post-Christmas sales. Take advantage of companies like Circuit City that won't make it through the first quarter of 2009.

If you have a steady income, be thankful. If you've lost your job, maybe it's time to go back to school or work on that invention that you always talk about. Either way, try to avoid panhandling.

If nothing else, remember that alcohol is your friend, and it's good to take advantage of your friends. Merry Xmas.

Happy Festivus to All!

December 22, 2008 | Comments (0) | by White Chili

It's that time of year again. A time where we can all disregard the commercialization of highly decorated Christmas trees and raise an aluminum pole without the fear of distracting tinsel. An alternative. A Festivus for the rest of us. The Bears gave me my first Festivus miracle last night with an exciting game that left me exhausted both physically and sexua......emotionally.

It's time now for the airing of grievances.

  • Winter: 4 degrees yesterday. 4. It's supposed to be a little warmer today when the ice and 8 inches of snow arrive. Thank the good Lord.
  • The McDouble: I was in the middle of a bar crawl last week when my compatriots and I stopped by McDonalds for a break. I wanted a double cheeseburger but noticed that it wasn't on the dollar menu anymore. It had been replaced by something called the "McDouble". I asked the kindly teller what that was and she told me that it was a double cheeseburger but with only one slice of cheese instead of two. "..." You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you all to hell!
  • Tony Kornheiser: You have one bullet left...what DO you DO?

  • Yellow Starbursts: No one likes you. People only eat you to get to the real candy. Just stop already.
  • Commercials: Thank you Tivo. Thank you for allowing me to bypass the $5 footlongs, saved by zeroes, and 9/11 commemorative plates. I'd like Sarah McLachlan and her dying dogs to grab the vomiting stock baby and play in traffic long enough so that it distracts me from people strumming guitars trying to sell me dick medicine while a college dropout sings about poor credit on the way to his dead-end job at Red Lobster.

I'm done with my meat loaf. Festivus isn't over until someone pins me. Now get over here and fight your father...

Pomp Culture's Best of 2008: Music Edition

December 22, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

If there is one thing we here at Pomp Culture like more than alcohol, its movies. Unfortunately its not time for the Best Movies of 2008 yet, so you have to deal with the Best Albums of 2008.

Last year on Thunder Matt's Saloon, each writer listed they're favorite albums of 2007. The list was eclectic, bloated and disorganized. Some people wrote blurbs, some didn't, some made up awards, some only listed 5 albums, some listed 10. Overall it made for one big jumbled mess, and it was glorious.

This year is no exception. All 11 members of the Pomp Culture Collective have offered up their highs (and lows) for music in 2008. From pretentious indie hipsters, to metal fans, to jazz aficionados, to cock rockers, we've got just about everything covered here. So here we go, the most skeet-tastic albums of the year:

Chip Wesley - warning, may be too pretentious for some readers.
I posted my top 30-11 last week, you can read that here.

1. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely - Really, nothing else came close for me. This album doesn't just knock your dick in the dirt, it rips it off, takes it offshore and does deep sea drilling with it. Check out: The whole album, I can't narrow it down.

2. White Denim - Exposion - A fantastic album mixing elements of garage rock, blues and psychedelia. This album is only available on vinyl and digital format as the band has stated, "CDs seem pretty worthless to us". Check out: IEIEI, Shake Shake Shake, Migration Wind.

3. A Night in the Box - Write a Letter - A chance listen on XM radio led to me discovering A Night in the Box. A quick search and download from eMusic later and I had one of the best albums I've heard all year. The best description I've heard for them is "dirty roadhouse folk" music. Check out: Let Me Know, Broken Down Radiator Blues, Rich Man's Table.

4. TV on the Radio - Dear Science - Definitely an album that takes multiple listens before truly appreciating, but it's rewarding once you do. Expect this album to show up on more than just my list. Check out: Halfway Home, Red Dress, Love Dog

5. Secret Machines - Secret Machines - There's alway room for dark, moody, prog rock and Secret Machines fills that nicely. Listening to this album full of 6 minute-plus space rock anthems makes me want to dust off my Pink Floyd albums. Check out: Now You're Gone, Underneath the Concrete, The Walls Are Starting to Crack.

6. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins - Coming off the same recording session as last year's release "The Stage Names", Okkervil River offers a nice continuation of that album with "The Stand Ins". Check out: Singer Songwriter, Lost Coastlines, Pop Lie.

7. The Black Keys - Attack & Release - The biggest complaint I keep hearing about this album is that it sounds too polished and that it's missing raw fuzzed out sound from their previous work. Look, I love the Keys and their rough fuzzed out guitar recordings in the basement are great, but they've done that for four albums now. I for one welcome the change. Danger Mouse does a great job mixing up a bit without losing that unique Black Keys sound. Check out: Strange Times, Psychotic Girl, Oceans and Streams.

8. Delta Spirit - Ode to Sunshine - Band out of San Diego that blends Americana with a little bit of soul. Fans of Blitzen Trapper would probably dig this album too. Check out: Trashcan, People C'mon, Streetwalker.

9. Shugo Tokumaru - Exit - I was in my car listening to XM, when I first heard "Parachute", the opening track on Shugo Tokumaru's latest album, 'Exit'. I tried my best to remember the artist's name until I could get home and look him up. After some quick and dirty Google searching and some spelling corrections I was fortunate to find this album. Shugo's amazing ability to layer instruments and experiment with melodies makes 'Exit' a beautiful little nugget of indie pop weirdness. Check out: Parachute, La La Radio, Wedding.

10. What Made Milwaukee Famous - What Doesn't Kill Us - I thought Schlitz was what made Milwaukee famous. Actually the name comes from a Jerry Lee Lewis song and the band is from Texas, not Wisconsin. In fact WMMF is the fourth band on this top ten from Texas and the third from Austin in particular. Really it's just an odd coincidence. Check out: Blood, Sweat and Fears, Sultan, Resistance Street.

Biggest Disappointment - Kings of Leon - Only by the Night - I had low expectations for last year's Because of the Times and wound up pleasantly surprised. I guess then I should've known that I would be let down by this one. I was optimistic when the single "Crawl" was released online. Sadly that is the only real decent song, the rest is insipid alt rock tailor-made for FM radio and large arenas.

Interpol Award - Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes - This award goes to the album that critics and indie snobs drool over and yet I just don't get all the adulation. It's ok I guess but after 3 or 4 songs it just wears on me. Previous winners of this award include The National, Bloc Party, and of course Interpol.

The Hundley - only a top five, but what a diverse five they are!

1. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely - Usually I'm not one to make brash statements, but this album is far and away the best thing I've heard this year. It's not even close. It might even be one of the best albums of the last five years. I really dig the arrangements, which are pretty complex for straight ahead rockers like these guys. The whole album has an Americana feel to it with country-esque fiddle, bluesy guitars, and folk-tinged organ. And in a band with such high profile members, no one seems to shine brighter than anyone else.

Tight Cuts: Old Enough, Rich Kid Blues, Carolina Drama

2. Black Crowes - Warpaint - Songwriting is not dead! The Crowes came back in a big way with this album and remind all of us how talented of a band they are. The new addition is Luther Dickinson from The North Mississippi All-Stars on lead guitar, who shines bright on this album with his interplay with founding member and primary songwriter, Rich Robinson. Most of the album was recorded live and without overdubs. Their energy and creativity is back and provides a nice difference from their last album almost 7 years ago. The album's music lend itself to be easily performed live, which, let's face it, is where the Black Crowes have always made their hay. This album was definitely a nice surprise.

Tight Cuts: Wounded Bird, Goodbye Daughters of The Revolution, Movin' on Down The Line

3. A Night in the Box - Write a Letter - I have to thank Chip Wesley for turning me on to these guys. Kind of a bluegrass, folk, blues odyssey that's rich in dynamics. The lead singer has a wailing and powerful voice which is complimented nicely by some slow, and many times eerie violin work. Listening to the album from start to finish is definitely a journey - it's powerful and dangerous at one moment, while joyous and playful the next. Actually, it's a lot like my performances in the sack in that regard.

Tight Cuts: Let Me Know, Broken-Down Radiator Romance Blues

4. The Black Keys - Attack and Release - Oh Black Keys, why did you deviate? What in the hell does some cat named Danger Mouse have to do with your sound? They tried something different - they went away from their raw, extremely lo-fi recording practices in favor of some of DM's production and subsequent layering of vocals and guitars. I'm not sure if it was an improvement, but it still works nonetheless. The bottom line is that their raw and gritty energy still shines through, making it an album that will produce a fair share of head bangs and air guitar chops.

Tight Cuts: Strange Times, I Got Mine, Remember When

5. North Mississippi Allstars - Boulderado (Live) - If there's one criticism you could make about this band, it's that their studio albums seem distant, which is true of most any jam band (re: Grateful Dead, Phish, Robert Randolph). Naturally with this being a live album, you get the essence and true feel of the band. Nearly three hours of music on this double disc set, chocked full of extended jams and the singing guitar of Luther Dickinson. Pretty amazing sound for a three-piece. A great album for those who love them some blues/rock jamming.

Tight Cuts: Someday Baby, Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, Mean Ol' Wind Died Down

Biggest Disappointment - Guns 'N Roses - Chinese Diplomacy - Have I listened to it? No. Does this deserve to be called Guns 'N Roses? No. Am I wearing pants right now? (Pleads the 5th Amendment)

Guilty Pleasure - This Warm December - A Brushfire Holiday - Hey, it's a slow year. I'll admit, I listen to this album all the time. The album is composed of some artists from Brushfire Records, about half of which are new songs, while the other half are fresh takes on traditional Christmas songs. The artist list includes Jack Johnson, Mason Jennings, Matt Costa and more. Particularly intruiging is the song by Zee Avi, whom Johnson found on YouTube of all places!

Arcturus - may actually think it's 1960.

1. Hank Mobley Quintet-Hank Mobley
This is a remastered session from March of 1957. Mobley is my favorite tenor saxophonist and he's got an all-star lineup here with Art Blakey on drums, Art Farmer on trumpet, Horace Silver on piano, and Doug Watkins on bass. Check out: "Funk in Deep Freeze" and "Base on Balls".

2. Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants
Trumpeter and jazz legend Davis is accompanied by Milt Jackson on vibes, Thelonius Monk on piano, Percy Heath on bass, and Kenny Clarke on drums for the majority of this haunting album. There's also one track featuring Miles's first classic quintet of John Coltrane on tenor sax, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. Check out: "The Man I Love" and "Bemsha Swing", as well as "'Round Midnight" for an early Coltrane fix. The Modern Jazz tunes are from '54 and the "classic quintet" from a session in '56.

3. Settin' The Pace-John Coltrane
The soon to be sax legend recorded several albums for Prestiege as he began to experiment with his sound. These albums may not be as adventerous as what came later, but they're among my favorite jazz albums. This album features Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Art Taylor on drums. Check out: "I See Your Face Before Me" and "Little Melonae" to see Coltrane's beautiful and fiery sides respectively.

4. How to Walk Away-Juliana Hatfield
While her last album "Made in China" was an angry blast of indy rock anger, How to Walk Away captures the pop sensibilities of one of our most undersung songstresses. Check out: "This Lonely Love" and "My Baby . . ."

5. Rockferry-Duffy
I heard Rockferry in a Borders and had no idea what I was listening to. I honestly thought it was a neo soul album sung by a lady of the African-American persuasion. I didn't ask the staff what they were playing and forgot about it until I heard the song "Mercy" on a TV commercial. I'd also seen oodles of the CD out on display at stores everywhere and never made the connection between the two as the CD cover featured a skinny white chick. Imagine my surprise when I looked up the song on Amazon and discovered they were one and the same. This is a surprisngly good album with arrangements that remind me of old Stax records. Apparently, there was a lot of hype surrounding Duffy, but I never caught wind of any of it, proving once again how abysmally out of it I really am. No matter, as this Welsh gal delivers the goods. Check out: "Stepping Stone" and "Hanging On Too Long" as well as the title cut.

E-Claire - can incorporate Billy Joel into any top ten list.

1. The Raconteurs – Consolers Of The Lonely. Apart from the fact that I enjoyed the album musically, I like how Jack White and Co. mix it up on a lot of the tracks. For example, songs like "Old Enough" and "Top Yourself" have a twang to them, while "Salute Your Solution" and "Consoler of the Lonely" have more of a rock vibe. This was definitely my favorite album of 2008.

2. What Made Milwaukee Famous – What Doesn't Kill Us. Damn! This whole time, I thought what made Milwaukee Famous was brats. Apparently, it was this band. If you like that garage-rock sound – like the White Stripes and The Strokes – this album might be for you.

3. The Whigs – Mission Control. The Whigs were a political party who opposed the policies of Andrew Jackson. However, they dissolved in 1856, and then decided to form a kick-ass rock band. What? That's not how it happened? Whatever. This album is good.

4. Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak. I think the reason I liked this album so much is because of its simplicity. For example, the beat for "Heartless" is basically a base line and one of those train whistles you hear in the Sleep Train mattress commercials…And the song "Say You Will" is pretty much Kanye's voice, a couple of drums, and some kind of noise that sounds like it came from the game "Pong." There aren't many artists that can do so much with so little. I was impressed..

5. Eagles of Death Metal – Heart On. Hah! Heart On! I just got that! Anyway…This album pretty much sounds like their other albums, but I still like the band's musical stylings…It's not super-processed, and that "WannaBe in L.A." song is damn catchy.

6. Weezer – The Red Album. I am a pretty big Weezer fan, and I was kind of disappointed with this album. It starts out fine enough, but then it kind of tails off at the end. It's almost like they worked really hard on the first half of the album, and then said "Shit! We've gotta crank out 5 more songs!" Still, there are some good tracks on The Red Album – including "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived," which seems like it's their attempt at a "Jesus of Suburbia"-type song. Also, on the deluxe version of the album, there's a really good song called "King" – sung by drummer Pat Wilson.

7. Billy Joel – The Stranger: 30th Anniversary (Legacy Edition). This album came out in 1977, but it was re-released this year as a 2-disc set featuring a re-mastered version of "The Stranger" and "Live At Carnegie Hall" – which was previously unreleased. When I tell people I'm a huge Billy Joel fan, they usually tell me to go play croquet with the other 50-year-olds...But he's such a good artist. He's a phenomenal piano player and a talented song writer who's been able to stay relevant for over 30 years. The Stranger is my favorite album of his, so if you're bored at work with nothing to do, give it a listen and see what you think.

8. The Black Crowes – Warpaint. I like The Black Crowes, and this pretty much sounds like all the other Black Crowes albums…So therefore, I liked this album.

9. John Legend – Evolver. This album makes me feel groovy, and I've always liked Legend's voice. One thing I noticed while listening to this album: Legend is either singing about wanting to get with girls, or wanting to get back together with a girl he misses. Johnny…Perhaps if you stopped trying to get with girls, the girl you like wouldn't leave you. Just a suggestion…

10. Electric Light Orchestra – All Over The World: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra. Ok, fine. This album didn't come out in 2008…But I bought it in 2008 and I needed something to round out my top 10. I like this album, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. It's fun…It's upbeat (with the exception of "Telephone Line" – that song's kind of a downer)…And it keeps me awake on long drives. So it makes the list.

Biggest Disappointment: Panic At The Disco - Pretty.Odd. They dropped the exclamation point from their name, and apparently, they also dropped the fun from their music. I take a lot of crap for it, but I liked "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out." It was an upbeat album that was fun to listen to. But in the band's sophomore effort, it seems like they're trying too hard to shake the image of their first album. You can tell they're trying to be more artsy, but I just don't think they pull it off. I didn't mind the change of pace, but I wish they'd kept some of their old vibe on this album, too.

Album That Everyone Seems To Like But Me: TV On The Radio - Dear Science. I wish I could give you some genius explanation for not liking this album, but I just didn't. Apart from that Newspaper Man song, I just didn't like any of the songs on the album. Sorry.

Daft Funk - can incorporate Electric Six into any top ten list.

1. The Raconteurs - Consolers Of The Lonely: Easily my favorite album of the year. Without the strain of having to carry an entire band, Jack White is given the freedom to indulge in the sound of all of his influences, from Zeppelin to bluegrass to straight-up garage rock. The first time I heard the album's closing track 'Carolina Drama', I thought it was the best song I'd heard all year. I still think that today.

1A. The Answer - Rise: Why is this #1A? because it came out in 2007, but I didn't hear it till 2008. If I would have had it last year, it definitely would have made the top spot on my list, so I'm giving it some love now. Copies are pretty hard to come by (Amazon's cheapest copy is $50), so find someone else who has it and make a copy. If you like to rock and roll, it's worth tracking it down. Just listen to the first 30 seconds of the first track and then call me. I'll help you find the top of your head since it's just been blown off. Anyone that is opening for AC/DC on tour is automatically given 3 thumbs up by me.

2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!: This one's a bit out there, but it's catchy and extremely interesting. Take the Biblical character Lazarus, wake him up in modern times and stick him in New York/Los Angeles. Then write a concept album about his journey through fame, fortune...and drug problems.

3. Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst: Was the rest of Bright Eyes busy this year? Because even though this is a Conor Oberst solo album, it sounds exactly like a Bright Eyes album so I have no idea what the difference is. Either way, Oberst tears through 12 songs doing his best impressions of everyone from Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan. In lesser hands it would come off as a cheap attempt to copycat the greats, but Oberst pulls it off well.

4. Metallica - Death Magnetic: I'm actually happy that 2003's St. Anger sucked so hard. If not for that overblown piece of crap, I don't think that Death Magnetic would have been as great. The key difference between the two albums is that on St. Anger, Metallica tried too hard to force out a similar sound to their early albums. On Death Magnetic, they stop pushing so hard and bring a more modern sound to their epic 7 minute tracks from the olden days. An entire album's worth of retro thrash metal with dark and apocalyptic themes? Yes please!

5. The Foxboro Hot Tubs - Stop Drop and Roll: As I chew my own foot off in anticipation of the new Green Day album, the Foxboro Hot Tubs have tided me over a bit. I was a bit surprised that this album was so well put together and catchy for being a side project. Green Day is talented enough so that when you think this album was finished in a matter of days, it could be true.

6. What Made Milwaukee Famous - What Doesn't Kill Us: 1. Cheese, 2. Fireworks, 3. Randall Simon's Sausage Race Attack. These were the things that I thought made Milwaukee famous. It turns out it was just some old-school garage rock.

7. Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It: If you split Marvin Gaye into 2 parts, one would most likely be John Legend. The other would be Raphael Saadiq. While Legend is definitely more pop-influenced (especially his superb 2008 album Evolver), Saadiq has more of the R&B/soul sound, which I prefer. TRIVIA: Remember that group Tony! Toni! Tone! from the 1990's? Raphael Saadiq was one of them! I'm pretty sure he was 'Toni!'

8. Electric Six - Flashy: Much like my pants, it takes a lot for someone to get into my Top 10 for 2 years in a row. But that's exactly what the Electric Six have done. Not only have they released albums in consecutive years, but they're both excellent. Remember that novelty song by them a few years ago called 'Gay Bar'? Would you believe they wrote a sequel? Would you also believe that they simply called it 'Gay Bar Part 2'? God, this band kicks so much ass.

9. The Pretenders - Break Up The Concrete: A little country-ish. A little rockabilly too. I dig it.

10. Duffy - Rockferry: If you like Amy Winehouse but you want her a little younger, less crazy and not looking like a zombie, Duffy's your lady. Don't be scared off by her hit radio smash 'Mercy'. That's actually one of the worst songs on the album. The rest are solid.

Honorable Mention: David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything Good That Happens Will Happen Today, Kings of Leon - Only By The Night, Jackson Browne - Time the Conquerer, Rise Against - Appeal To Reason, 3 Doors Down - 3 Doors Down

Most Disappointing: This is a 3 way tie between Day and Age by The Killers, The Odd Couple by Gnarls Barkley and Pretty. Odd by Panic at the Disco. Pretty. Odd and The Odd Couple were decent, but big steps backward from their band's respective debuts (Note To Self: Don't use the word 'Odd' in album title). The Killers? That album falls off the face of the Earth about 4 songs in.

The "Still Doing The Same Thing" Award: Continuing to find success in putting out basically the same albums over and over, we have AC/DC's Black Ice, B.B. King's One Kind Favor and Warpaint by The Black Crowes. King's album was all kinds of excellent, Warpaint was steady but a bit bland, and as much as it pains me to say so, Black Ice was just plain boring.

Lingering Bursitis - coming from a bunker stocked with canned goods and vinyl albums.

What passes for "new music" these days is an incoherent, unlistenable mess, so my list is empty this year. The schizophrenic twittering and buzzing of electronic music could give the listener a sudden burst of Parkinson's, while every male singer-songwriter comes across like a neutered puppy with their whining and pining for loves lost and heartbreak found. Heck, with their fondness for saccharine observations and sappy perspective on the world, is it any wonder they're lonely?

Thus, I shun new music.

Simply put: if it wasn't made more than 25 years ago, it's garbage.

If you like James Blunt (and I cannot imagine anyone does), put down the CD and grab something by one of the REAL soul singers, the guys who did it back when there were actually things to complain about beyond mixing up of one's lunch order at the deli.

For example, Howard Tate would be a good place to start. Grab the reissue Get It While You Can: The Complete Legendary Verve Sessions and hear just what that genre is supposed to sound like. He was buried amid the slew of singers that took the 70s by storm (Hathaway, Withers, Green, etc.), but deserves his due.

That's my only recommendation for this year. You can thank me later.

Jordi Scrubbings - these songs make good pro wrestling intros.

1) Heltah Skeltah - Da Incredible Rhyme Team: Old-school, grimy hip-hop. Very New York and very lyrics based. Best line of the CD: "I know you're gay, you might be/catching big balls to your head like David Tyree".

2) Drive-By Truckers - Brighter than Creation's Dark: About as close to country as I get. Very southern vibe. A lot of introspective ballads. Best song: "Lisa's Birthday", about a guy whose roommate/ girlfriend is always going out and getting too drunk so he has to pick her up every night.

3) BB King - One Kind Favor: Another classic from the blues master. I've seen BB in concert so many times I almost take him for granted. But when I listen to songs like "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" I get a little sad that we might not have BB around for another 5-10-or 20 years. No filler, this is just great blues.

4) GZA - Pro Tools: The best lyricist of the Wu-Tang Clan in his latest solo release. GZA has some of the best storytelling rhymes in the business. Thick imagery and classic tales from the street go along with typical above-average Wu-Tang beats.

5) JJ Grey and Mofro - Orange Blossoms: Another mellow CD. Far less country than Drive By Truckers. JJ Grey and Mofro continue to put out great soul, R&B, funky songs that harken to the days of Sam Cooke, Booker T & The MGs, and Sly and the Family Stone, all with a very southern vibe.

6) Tantric - The End Begins: I know "Down and Out" was overplayed. I even got sick of it. But this was one good album. Solid from top to bottom, with a very unique sound thanks to the fiddle. I have been really surprised "Love Letter" wasn't or hasn't been a single. Not as good as their first, but still pretty catchy.

7) Immortal Technique - The 3rd World: Underground radical MC with a global perspective. A lot of rhymes about immigrants and the downtrodden throughout the world. Definitely against the Bush administration and US capitalism. A rapper for people who think Rage Against the Machine is too easy on The Man.

8) Sevendust - Hope and Sorrow: Another year and another CD from Sevendust, who may be hard rock's most busiest band. Thirteen years ago I bought their first album, and this year I bought their 7th, I think. Not one for too many guest appearances, this album has Miles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti from AlterBridge and Daughtry in supporting cameos. Another solid release.

9) Black Stone Cherry - Folklore and Superstition: My third "southern" pick. While not as good as their first album, Black Stone Cherry continues to be one of my favorite new rock bands. They are slightly heavy with mostly good lyrics and a good grove. Hopefully their third release will have fewer ballads and more heavy jams.

10) Del Tha Funkee Homosapien - Eleventh Hour: Another one of my favorite lyricists. This album would have been a lot higher had I not recently bought Del's 2000 release "Deltron 3030" which is far better in concept and performance. While Eleventh Hour isn't a bad album, it only whets the appetite for what Del can do on a song. For an MC who has been around since the early 90s, that is not good enough.

Honorable mention: Paris - Acid Reflux

CD I know I should have listened to more: Black Crowes - Warpaint

Acquistion too recent for me to put it on this list: Buddy Guy - Skin Deep

Governor X - stuff you probably hated but the Gov doesn't care what you think.

1. R.E.M. – Accelerate
After years of wandering through an electronic post-Bill Barry malaise, R.E.M. reminds the world that when they want to be, they can be a knock your dick in the dirt rock band. The punk inspired Accelerate is their best CD since New Adventures in Hi-Fi and spawned one of their best live sets ever.

Download – Horse to Water

2. Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy
If it is even possible for a CD to live up to 17 years of hype, Chinese Democracy comes about as close as you can get. Every time you think this CD can’t get any bigger and more epic, Axl turns it up a notch by bringing in a string section, sampling a Martin Luther King speech, or stripping it down to nothing more than him and a piano pining for lost love.

Download – Better

3. The Offspring – Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace
When I graduated high school, I figured I had left The Offspring behind. Sure they had a good song or two on their last few CDs, but they were pretty much dead to me. Well, Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace brought the Offspring back with a vengeance. It could be their finest work ever.

Download – Half-Truism

4. Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak
Long live auto-tune! Actually, the material on West’s 4th CD is so solid and gripping, the metallic auto-tune almost becomes an after thought. Its kind of a love it or leave it type of disc, but you can file me under “love it”.

Download – Paranoid

5. The Killers – Day & Age
The Killers’ homage to disco and alien spacecraft may take awhile to grow on you, but if you let it slip into your life you’ll soon find yourself wishing you knew how to quit it. After numerous listens, the only real issue with the disc is its frustratingly short 40 minute runtime.

Download – Spaceman

6. Keane – Perfect Symmetry
My love of the pudgy English trio would be more appropriate on the beaches of Brighton than the beaches of California, but I can’t help myself. Keane is really the only band today that carries on the banner of the great unsung mid-90s Britpop era.

Download – Perfect Symmetry

7. Daddy Yankee – Talento de Barrio
Much to the dismay of family and friends, 2008 was the year I discovered reggaeton music. I have Daddy Yankee’s Pose to thank for opening my eyes and ears to this growing musical phenomenon.

Download – Pose

8. T. I. – Paper Trail
With the musical tragedies of Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and T-Pain dominating the airwaves in recent years, I was ready to proclaim hip-hop dead. Then, out of nowhere, T.I. comes back with the best rap CD since Dr. Dre’s 2001 and renews my faith in the genre.

Download – Live Your Life

9. Travis – Ode to J Smith
Comebacks seem to be a recurring theme on my list - some literally like GNR, and others quality wise like R.E.M., The Offspring, and T.I. Travis falls into the 2nd group, putting out one of their most complete and less depressing works in years.

Download – Before You Were Young

10. Tokio Hotel – Scream
Apparently I’m a 13 year old European girl because this emo glam-rock by a group of effeminate weirdo teenagers from Germany totally caught on with me. We all have our crosses to bear.

Download – Forgotten Children

Honorable Mention – Live Discs
With so many quality new CDs out this year, I felt there was no need to include live discs in my top 10. Two concert CDs this year are worth an honorable mention though. My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade is Dead CD/DVD features the band playing their 2006 CD The Black Parade from beginning to end allegedly for the last time ever. Muse’s HAARP is the British band’s first live performance available in the US. The music is predictably solid, but unfortunately the CD does not contain two of their best songs, Plug in Baby and Apocalypse Please, which appear on the DVD.

Biggest Disappointment of 2008 - Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul
Oasis is one of my favorite bands, but Dig Out Your Soul simply can’t be swept under the rug. I really wanted to like this, but it starts out so-so, builds slightly and then slams right into a brick wall with the unbearable 6th track (Get Off Your) High Horse Lady. The disc never recovers after that and will go down not only as 2008’s biggest disappointment, but Oasis’ worst CD ever.

Brant Brown - a little bearded lad from New Zealand tickled his fancy.

1. Liam Finn: I'll Be Lightning
Technically this album was released in 2007, but not until 2008 stateside. The studio recordings do not quite capture the amazing breadth of Finn's talents and energy that he displays in his live shows, but it does make for an excellent first step in what is sure to be a very successful solo career.
Check out: Energy Spent, Better to Be, Lead Balloon

2. TV on the Radio: Dear Science
To me, Dear Science is composed of a tighter, cleaner batch of songs than Return to Cookie Mountain. What stand out to me are some of the slower, more melodic tunes. Very catchy and difficult to get out of your head at times, which is fine as long as the songs are of this high quality.
Check out: Love Dog, Family Tree, Crying

3. Sigur Ros: Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
Another outstanding set from these auteurs of sorrow. In this album, however, the group took great strides in delivering a more upbeat and hopeful cadence during the first half of the album. Then they predictably (and beautifully) transition back to the deep emotional introspection that fans are accustomed to, and in the effort, come out with some of their best material ever.
Check out: Festival, Inní mér syngur vitleysingur, Ára bátur

4. She & Him: Volume One
This debut album from actress Zooey Deschanel and musician Matt Ward may seem like some cheap novelty at face value. These songs, and her voice, are absolutely legitimate. The minimalist instrumental stylings bring Deschanel's harmonies to the forefront. The reception to this album has been strong, so we should be receiving more from the duo on the near future.

5. Okkervil River: The Stand Ins
I would imagine it's difficult to release two full length albums of high quality in successive years, but Okkervil River nailed it, delivering this set after The Stage Names in 2007. The Stand Ins feels a little softer, maybe a little less distinct, but from start to finish this is a top notch effort.

The rest of the Top 10
6. Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
7. Secret Machines: Secret Machines
8. Black Keys: Attack & Release
9. Richard Swift: Richard Swift as Onasis
10. Blitzen Trapper: Furr

Biggest Disappointment: This award goes to Oasis' Dig Out Your Soul on so many levels. What a complete mess.

Album I Despised the Most: Chinese Democracy. My expectations were at rock bottom for this album, and Axl met me there.

Chaim Witz - best listened whilst donning an ascot and/or monocle.

1. TV On the Radio - "Dear Science" - Like if Prince had sex with Radiohead, which when you think about it, is actually plausible.
Best Song: Golden Age

2. The Raconteurs - "Consolers of the Lonely" - The side project officially surpasses the original.
Best Song: Salute Your Solution

3. Butch Walker - "Sycamore Meadows" - Butch Walker's opus. Not that anyone knows who that is.
Best Song: Here Comes the Heartache

4. Guns n Roses - "Chinese Democracy" - Sometimes brilliant, sometimes aggravating, always interesting.
Best Song: Better

5. Tapes N Tapes - "Walk It Off" - The first good thing to come out of Minneapolis since ever.
Best Song: Lines

6. Motley Crue - "Saints of Los Angeles" - A solid comeback album of sorts from LA's STD poster boys.
Best Song: Saints of Los Angeles

7. Eagles of Death Metal - "Heart On" - Not a danceable as their debut, but really, white people shouldn't be dancing anyway.
Best Song: Prissy Prancin'

8. The Black Keys - "Attack and Release" - This one is a bit of a downer, but I suppose that's the point really.
Best Song: Strange Times

9. MGMT - "Oracular Spectacular" - Glimpses of brilliance, they're sometimes too hip for their own good.
Best Song: Kids

10. Snow Patrol - "A Hundred Million Suns" - Lots of heart wrenching, samey ballads, but sometimes you need a good cry.
Best Song: Set Down Your Glass

Honorable Mention: Brian Vander Ark - Self Titled, What Made Milwaukee Famous - What Doesn't Kill Us, The Kills - Midnight Boom

Biggest Disappointments
The Killers - "Day and Age" - This is a gay disco album without the sense of fun. If you're gonna go gay, go all the way.
Kings of Leon - "Only By the Night" - Southern fried Coldplay.
Cold War Kids - "Loyalty to Loyalty" - Missing one key ingredient: Melody.
Buckcherry - "Black Butterfly" - Gritty heir to the Crue's throne put out an album of store brand rock.

Dave Thomas - best music while surfing for awful links.

1. Fleet Foxes (Fleet Foxes) - There was an awful lot of hype about this album going into my purchase and I was skeptical, to say the least. But when Pitchfork rants and raves it begs attention. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the sound the first time through. Now I think the lyrics and harmonies are, for the lack of a better term, absolutely pure. You should own this.

2. Feed the Animals (Girl Talk) - This album completely blew my mind the first time I listened to it. I was excited the entire time to see what was going to pop up next. Top notch Mr. Gillis. Top notch indeed.

3. Consolers of the Lonely (The Raconteurs) - This was an early favorite for my favorite album of the year. They put on a hell of a show at Lollapalooza too. The best rock album of the year for me. If you liked this, you might also like: The White Stripes, The Cure, Led Zeppelin, welding.

4. Vampire Weekend (Vampire Weekend) - This album is pretty catchy and I found myself listening to it over and over on my walk to work but it had to give it a rest before I burned out. It’ll take the Mario theme to get Oxford Comma and A-Punk out of your head.

5. Low vs. Diamond (Low vs. Diamond) - This is my sleeper pick of the draft. They’re a smaller group from LA getting a bunch of popular reviews. A friend turned me on to them, albeit too late to hear them play a show in my neighborhood. You can bet I’ll be keeping an eye out for any future shows.

6. For Emma, Forever Ago (Bon Iver) - An excellent album from beginning to end. No complaints.

7. Dear Science (TV on The Radio) - This is probably my favorite album of theirs but it’s a very unique sound and I can see how some people would have a difficult time affording the patience to let it grow on them. Eclectic.

8. 808s and Heartbreak (Kanye West) - One could say that this “feel sorry” story is actually just one song. If you can get over the voice modulation that he uses in EVERY song I think the stories are interesting and while Kanye isn’t the most talented musician out there, he keeps reinventing himself and that keeps my attention.

9. Attack and Release (The Black Keys) - I Got Mine and Strange Times were the high points for me.

10. What Doesn’t Kill Us (What Made Milwaukee Famous) - A smaller group finding their legs. Listen to Cheap Wine.

Link Bulimia: Snowstorm of Death Edition

December 19, 2008 | Comments (0) | by White Chili

I live in Chicago. People in Chicago are know for their "character" for dealing with all kinds of weather. Today was one of those days. I started receiving severe winter storm warnings TWO DAYS AGO. I usually bike to work but that wasn't happening today. I stumbled through about two blocks of sidewalks before a snow plow pulled up next to me. Now, I wear a backpack to work. It's nice. I keep a Powerbar in it. This plow driver asked me if I was walking to school. I hope he gets his parole officer something really nice for the holidays.

View from my bedroom window.

After that I stepped in no fewer than two Groundhog Day-size wells of slush. It's a good thing I'm wearing comfy wool socks today. With any luck, trench-foot should set in before noon. BING!

To everyone that loves snow and prays for a blanket of fluffy white powder so they can pile in a minivan and slalom down a man-made hill in the midwest: you can go fist yourselves.

If you happen to find something particularly jarring to where you'll never be able to "un-see" it, please pass it right along to Enjoy and make sure to wash your hands afterward.

Well, the thing about your kid is that he has a foot growing in his brain. (The Denver Channel)

Give me your badge, and your gun! (five tokens to anyone that can identify the Dennis Hopper movie) (Holy Taco)

Christmas shopping: Done (Etsy)

What in God's name is wrong with Drew Carey? My shirt would have been over my head as I ran around the stage high-fiving everyone. (Best Week Ever)

I'd like to follow that up with the absolute dumbest bid ever on the Price is Right. (YouTube)

We here at Pomp Culture are serious about training our new writers. Since I have the most training experience, I've produced a tape so that our quality standards never falter. I can't emphasize how important the four-corner press is. (YouTube)

To: Adolf Hitler Campbell, From: Santa. Yeah, doesn't sound right. (Lehigh Valley Live)

I fancy myself a Godfather fan and I had no idea about this until a few days ago. Who could possibly pull this off today? Nicholson? He'd have to churn out something better than Mars Attacks! if he wants onstage. (Does anyone else find it hilarious that he undermines his entire message by sending her up onstage like that?) (YouTube)

"Oakland Co. stops trips to medical examiner's office after kids see exam of girl from their district." That's about all that needs to be said. (Detroit News)

Haha! Look at you! Oh, and someone call an ambulance. (Break)

You want to know how to throw a party? Just call Admiral Edward Russell. Bartenders paddling around a fountain filled with 400 gallons of brandy in little canoes filling peoples cups for a week? I want to party with you Admiral! (Tasty Booze)

NFL Picks Week 16

December 18, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Governor X

Well gang, I really thought I had lined up a treat for you this week. Legendary on screen duo Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon were to bring you NFL picks, but as it turns out, they're both dead. Unfortunately, corpses are unable to provide commentary, but thanks to a ouija board and unhealthy amounts of peyote, I have been able to channel their picks. Yes, this is being posted after Indy beat the Jags, but seriously, who thought Jacksonville was going to win that game? The winners are in bold:

Indianapolis at Jacksonville
Baltimore at Dallas
Cincinnati at Cleveland
New Orleans at Detroit
Miami at Kansas City
Arizona at New England
San Francisco at St. Louis
Pittsburgh at Tennessee
San Diego at Tampa Bay
Buffalo at Denver
Houston at Oakland
NY Jets at Seattle
Atlanta at Minnesota
Philadelphia at Washington
Carolina at NY Giants
Green Bay at Chicago

Holiday Drinks

December 18, 2008 | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

The holiday season is a fun time, quite possibly the best time of year. People don't really expect much out of you at work, Christmas is piggybacked by New Year's, so that's two straight short work weeks, and generally, everyone seems to be in good spirits. And it's spirits that I'm here to talk about.

No, not the kind of spirits that Charles Dickens wrote of, I'm talking drinks. Libations. Or if you're from Brant Brown and Chaim Witz's part of America - "hooch". Like I said, it's a great time of year, but honestly, doesn't Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, all of them pass by just a little bit more smoothly with some alcohol? I thought so.

What better way to ramp things up this holiday than to bring something exotic to the party. Don't be the guy who brings a six pack of Miller Lite bottles with a bow on it. A regular bottle of wine? Please! It's unimaginative, uninspiring and lame. Why don't you listen to what the 'ol Hundley has to say? And if you're the type to question my qualifications on such matters, know that I honed my bartending skills in college - at none other than The American Legion. For those who don't know what those are, it's a lot like the bar in the movie Cocktail, only with way less excitement, far fewer customers, a helluva lot smokier, and instead of flipping bottles of liquor about, I opened cans of Old Style and Pabst.

Here, in alphabetical order, are The Hundley's Top 10 Holiday Drinks:

1. Beer Yes, I did just insult beer a few sentences ago, but that was your run-of-the-mill weasel piss. Bringing some assorted six packs of specialty beer is a great way to celebrate the holidays. Particularly if you can find some Winter or Christmas Ales. Sierra Nevada makes a great Celebration Ale, Anchor Steam has a lovely Christmas Ale, and Sam Adams makes a really good Winter Ale - just to name a few.

Recipe - uh, go to the store and buy it, or delve into homebrewing.

2. Candy Cane I have to credit the patrons of the American Legion for this one. Although there was some discrepancy on the name (Christmas Berry?) of the drink, there is no debating about it's tastiness. Critics would say it errs to the "dandy" side of drinks. I say it tastes great. A good drink to offset the mass of hot holiday drinks.

Recipe: Ice, shot of apple schnapps, shot of peach schnapps, 1/2 shot of peppermint schnapps, cranberry juice to taste or about 1/2 of a glass. Shake, strain into highball glass.

3. Hot Buttered Rum Categorize this one under Anything That's Bad For You Also Tastes Good. This is a pretty classic holiday drink, and one that will get you good and sauced because the alcohol is tough to taste. Who says you can't put butter in a drink?

Recipe: slice of butter, spoonful of brown sugar, vanilla extract, 2 shots of rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, hot water.

4. Irish Coffee Next to a bump of cocaine, is there anything better than a cup of coffee after a big meal? How about you make it even better by adding some alcohol? The true Traditionalists will say that this drink should only include black coffee and Irish whiskey. Sucks to your narrow mindedness, I say! Any whiskey will work, and what's wrong with some Bailey's Irish Cream if you don't like black coffee? Answer: nothing.

Recipe: Duh. Can also substitute Sanka.

5. Meade Ah, here we are. The high falootin' choice for the specialty beer drinker that likes to put on airs. Look for this at the local brew pub, usually being kept hot in one of those old coffee thermoses that has the pump on the top. I don't know how they make it, but the main components are honey and hops. Most places make this with an emphasis on the "oomph" of the drink, so expect some high alcohol content.

Recipe: go to a brewery or pick up a homebrew/distilling kit.

6. Mulled Wine (Glögg) I'll freely admit that I've never had traditional mulled wine. I have, however, had the Scandinavian version, called Glögg. It's served warm, and contains red wine, cinnamon, lingon berries, cloves, blackberries, oranges, apples, raisins, and Everclear. Usually it's slowly cooked over an entire day, causing the liquid to thicken somewhat, and achieving a dark color. Now that I think of it, it kind of looks like used motor oil. We drink it out of shot glasses. Stuff will fuck you up. You can find commercially made bottles if you look hard enough.

Recipe: see above, don't let it boil or it will lose alcohol content. Can also substitute Everclear with vodka or brandy. Varies by family recipe.

7. Punch Not entirely fun or original, but a cold punch still has it's place. Typically brought to the party by your crazy old aunt, sometimes you have to take one for the team and have a glass. You never know, it could be the only alternative to soda pop or wine. Hopefully going in you knew this was going to be a stuffy, teetotaling party, so you traveled with a "heavy coat". That means you have a flask in tow.

Recipe: Varies by person. Here's one variety

8. Smoothie I have to believe this is a regional shot. That's right, a shot. If you live in Iowa or Illinois, there's a chance that the old man bar will know what you're talking about, though be sure to ask what they put in it. A good one to introduce when you're standing around the bar with just the guys, or maybe guys and a husky gal. Easier to drink down in one gulp than a straight shot of whiskey, it's customary to bellow out "Ooooh! Smooooothy!" after you put it down.

Recipe: shot glass - half whiskey, half peppermint schnapps

9. Tom and Jerry When I think of holiday drinks, I always think of these. That being said, it took me 30 years to have one. Another hot drink, this one is great to have when you first get to the party. It's cold outside, it takes forever to grab all of the presents, which you tried like hell to get in one trip, until you realized it wasn't possible, and you had to make two trips, ultimately ending up entirely frozen. A Tom and Jerry will warm you up, and not just with the temperature, but also with the booze. Many get so serious about this drink that they have actual Tom and Jerry glasses and a bowl to hold the eggnog. Yowza!

Recipe: shot and a half of brandy, shot and a half of dark rum. Put in coffee mug, add eggnog and hot water. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and nutmeg.

10. Wassail I confess, I've never had this, but it has to be included because I've always wanted to have it, and they have a song about it for Christ's sake! From what I gather, it's basically a mulled wine, heavy on the apple flavoring and the use of rum. Bonus points if you do the presentation that's served in a hollowed out apple and garnished with cinnamon sprigs. And you thought the only other use for an apple was what you saw in 40 Year Old Virgin! If you could pull off this drink at a party, you'd be the man, no doubt.

Recipe: here's one variety