December 17, 2014
by melissa
2 Comments

Smart ladies love rad music, Melissa’s favorite records of 2014

Welcome to my annual list of my favorite records of the year. I heard probably .000000001% of what was released this year, so there is nothing scientific about this list–it’s just records I love that I want to share with the world (our eight readers). I did not listen to enough female pop music–Jhene Aiko, Banks, Tinashe, and Jessie Ware will all get some attention in the coming weeks. If there’s something I should hear, by all means, add it in the comments.

1. Lydia Loveless, Somewhere Else

Lydia Loveless

Somewhere Else was of the first great records I heard this year, and I never stopped listening to it. In fact, my obsession with it increased, and I could be seen all year blasting “To Love Somebody” in my car while singing along poorly or telling a friend about the cunnilingus anthem “Head.”

2. Nude Beach, 77

Nude Beach

You probably missed it, but Nude Beach has released the best power pop record of the past decade. Sometimes it sounds like the most classic Tom Petty tunes of the 80s and other times it makes me want to rock out like Cheap Trick. It takes a very special record without any female involvement to make it into my top 10 and this is definitely it.

3. Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire for No Witness

Angel Olsen

I’m thrilled that BYFFNW is getting placed on prestigious end-of-year lists above buzzy juggernauts like War on Drugs and Run the Jewels (though I LOVE both those LPs too). Angel spends most of the album encouraging us to wallow in her sadness but it ends with “Windows,” where she coos to us to open up the windows and let the light in. YES, PLEASE.

4. Perfect Pussy, Say Yes to Love

Perfect Pussy

Unquestionably, Perfect Pussy released the most important record of 2014, as it introduced the new voice of Meredith Graves. Her lyrics are confessional but also about bigger ideas, which is exactly how she presents herself in countless interviews and essays.

5. Frankie Cosmos, Zentropy

Frankie Cosmos

I wrote this off a little when I first heard it–juvenile, silly, forgettable. But Zentropy stuck with me all year, and I put it on again and again when the craving for cute pop songs struck me.

6. The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers

New Pornographers

After I finished grad school, I decided to cut back on the booze and exercise more. This record was the soundtrack to my long, meandering walks through my neighborhood and into the large city park nearby. It is a buoyant album that will probably endure as my favorite of all the NP’s output.

7. Radiator Hospital, Torch Song

Radiator Hospital

Sam Cook-Parrott is a totally underrated songwriter. He continuously releases tons of super catchy, lo-fi songs on his bandcamp page, so fast I can barely keep up. But like last year’s Something Wild, Torch Song was recorded professionally (ie not in his kitchen), where his songs are given more life with his bandmates and guest vocalists (Allison Crutchfield, who put out her own awesome lo-fi music this year with Sam).

8. Ex Hex, Rips

Ex HEx

Mary Timony is the fucking coolest. I met her this year when Ex Hex played Richmond when I bought a tee shirt and was kind of an asshole to her, but that’s because she makes me so nervous. Rips is ALSO the fucking coolest, the LP we all want at our late night dance parties to go along with our cheap beer and tight jeans.

9. The Unwound box set reissues on Numero; Rat Conspiracy and No Energy

Unwound 2

Unwound 1

Sure, it is cheating to put a reissue on this list, but these are just so good. Both box sets included two of the bands’ full length LPs, one rarities collection and a stunning book of pictures and well written accounts of what it was like to be unsung rock and roll heroes.

10. Mitski, Bury Me at Makeout Creek

Mitski

I worry so much about records that have a song I love as much as Mitski’s “Townie.” I hate when everything else that doesn’t sound like that one song feels like a failure. Luckily, Mitski avoids this trap by writing a mixture of songs that are folky, poppy, and experimental.

11. Weyes Blood, The Innocents

Weyes Blood

Weyes Blood AKA Natalie Mering, writes music that doesn’t deserve to be pigeonholed.  I think as I listen to this literary, lush record even more I will love it even more deeply.

12. Shamir, Northtown EP

Shamir

I have a thing for new voices this year: like Meredith Graves, Shamir is something original, combining so many genres into a record where he throws his heart into every song. Recently signed to XL, he is the future. Don’t miss this one, please.

13. LVL UP, Hookwink’d

LVL UP

I hope I am not trying to relive my college years by listening to so much that reminds me of the 90s. This time, however, the pop punk is smarter and less whiny. I did not expect to fall in love with Hoodwink’d so fast but the songwriting it just so good. This is the third record on my list from Double Double Whammy (Frankie Cosmos & Mitski are the others), a label you should start following.

14. Tacocat, NVM

Tacocat

NVM features a song about menstruation (“Crimson Wave”), one about being harassed on the street (“Hey Girl”), and eleven other songs that make me so happy that this band exists. They also did this, which is genius and wonderful.

15. One Direction, Four

One_Direction_-_Four

I had been planning to do this post where I rank all the songs on 1D’s fourth record. Trust me, it was going to be hilarious. But when I expanded my list to 15 records (ok, just this morning I decided to change), I knew I wanted to include Four, which includes several songs (“Girl Almighty,” “No Control,” and “Fireproof”), that if they were by different artists, would be huge indie hits. And hey, Lindsey Zoladz agrees with me.

Other things I loved: Grouper, Hamilton Leithauser, Run the Jewels, Literature, Gold-Bears, Sylvan Esso, Tiny Ruins, Curtis Harding, and lots of records that did not come out in 2014.

Songs from all of these records and more can be found on my Spotify playlist:

December 16, 2014
by melissa
0 comments

Smart ladies love dumb TV, X Factor UK recap, FINALE!!

X Factor UK finale 01

In the end, this year’s X Factor UK came down between two of Simon’s overs and the cute boy won. I think no one is surprised, especially not the producers who have seen the results every week. Fleur consistently smashed it (I am so British now!), and actually has potential to be a contemporary artist, and Ben will likely end up in the James Arthur  graveyard. Here’s a short list of the people who didn’t win X Factor and where they are now: Ella Henderson (“Ghost” is a massive hit), One Direction (duh), JLS, Olly Murs (both JLS and Olly have sold over 10 million records worldwide), Jedward (represented Ireland twice at Eurovision). There are also countless people that have released good music, including Aiden Grimshaw, Cher Lloyd, and Mischa B. Fleur will be fine.

X Factor UK finale 09

Besides the “big mega X Factor smash up,” most of the performers had connections to the show: three acts discovered on this very show, two people who often perform on this show, one former X Factor UK judge and one former X Factor US judge (to Simon: “I don’t miss you”).

Favorite guest performances, ranked

1. Olly Murs and Demi Lovato

I am actually going to listen to this song. Demi was appropriately wearing Westwood.

2. One Direction and Ronnie Wood

They all looked like they were having fun for the first time in years.

3. Ed Sheeran

Britain’s favorite red headed muppet/songwriter!

4. Ella Henderson

Her jumpsuit, however, was less memorable.

5. Sam Smith

His voice is so pretty.

6. Take That

Bonus: Gary’s gritted teeth and constant smirks.

7. Labrinth

I appreciated that he asked Fleur to do “Beneath Your Beautiful” with him.

GAP OF TALENT

8. Meghan Trainor

Clearly more of a video star than an actual performer.

HUGE GAP OF TALENT

9. X Factor’s Greatest Hits

I don’t even know anymore.

No, really, this thing was the worst

X Factor UK finale 12

Stevi flew on stage in a spaceship.

Wagner was there, OF COURSE.

Wagner was there, OF COURSE.

This dude was in a hot tub.

This dude was in a hot tub.

X factor finale 25

During her season, I really didn’t think Katie was so bad.

I'll bet Chloe thinks this is bullshit but she is contractually obligated to do it AND she loves attention. This was the longest dance remix I have ever heard.

I’ll bet Chloe thinks this is bullshit but she is contractually obligated to do it AND she loves attention.
This was the longest and most painful dance remix I have ever heard.

Strange beginnings

Tulisa filled in for Mel B. Louis was happy to have another lady on his arm. However, Cheryl was thirty steps behind them. It was so weird.

Tulisa filled in for Mel B. Louis was happy to have another lady on his arm. However, Cheryl was thirty steps behind them. It was so weird.

But maybe she was so far behind because of her dress.

But maybe she was so far behind because of her damn dress.

And they were both shocked to be in the final.

And they were both shocked to be in the final.

Party bus tours, ranked by fun

X factor finale 14

1. Andrea’s, because of the desserts

Is that you, Jack???

Is that you, Jack???

2. Fleur, there was lots of dancing and I think maybe Jack Walton

X factor finale 10

3. Ben had beer? But no desserts or dancing. Booo.

Weird things I noticed during One Direction & Ronnie Wood

Harry's kind of phoning it in, while wearing an ugly shirt covered in flamingos.

Harry’s kind of phoning it in, while wearing an ugly Marc Jacobs shirt covered in flamingos.

Zayn has the prettiest eyes.

Zayn has the prettiest eyes.

Nial is so fucking exciting to be playing with Ronnie Wood.

Niall is so fucking exciting to be playing with Ronnie Wood.

Seriously, SO EXCITED, he's showing us his "o"-face.

Seriously, SO EXCITED, he’s showing us his “o”-face.

But then Harry came alive!

But then Harry came alive!

It's the closest he will ever get to being Mick Jagger.

It’s the closest he will ever get to being Mick Jagger.

X factor finale 35

On the floooooorrrrrr!!!

On the floooooorrrrrr!!!

ROCK FACE!

ROCK FACE!

Shakin' that ass.

Shakin’ that ass.

Why the pictures on the facebook page are from dress rehearsal

Hand first!

Hands first!

 

Live, Ben definitely just kicked it.

Live, Ben definitely just kicked it.

Maybe an exaggeration

X Factor UK finale 08

Ben called Ed Sheeran “the most incredible man in the world.”

Best fwends forevah

I want eye makeup like this now.

I want eye makeup like this now.

Both via.

Both via.

Cutest family

Fleur's grandad (R) came from Ghana! Also that man on the left is wearing an amazing fur.

Fleur’s grandad (R) came from Ghana! Also that man on the left is wearing an amazing fur.

Worst fan name

The picture they used on the bus is so corny.

The picture they used on the bus is so corny.

“The Haeniacs.”

Highlights from home bus tours

The hall where Fleur performed, especially since it appeared to be mostly full of school children in uniforms. ;)

The hall where Fleur performed, especially since it appeared to be mostly full of school children in uniforms. ;)

Ben fell down in this CD store, probably because he realized he was in a CD store (LPs forever, baby!)

Ben fell down in this CD store, probably because he realized he was in a CD store (LPs forever, baby!)

Andrea's precious family.

Andrea’s precious family.

Fleur and her dance crew!!

Fleur and her dance crew!!

Ben picking up his adorable mom from the Salsbury's where she worked.

Ben picking up his adorable mom from the Sainsbury’s where she worked.

360 degrees of Ben's fans.

360 degrees of Ben’s fans.

Andrea performing with this orchestra.

Andrea performing with an orchestra.

What does Ronnie Wood look like?

It’s my new favorite game!!!

Ronnie Wood One Direction

I’m thinking the old woman in this:

Young_Lady_Old_Woman_Illusion

Favorite performance


Of the non-duets, Fleur’s “Can’t Hold Us” was by far my favorite. Ben did an Imagine Dragons song (yuck) and I don’t even remember what Andrea sang and I just watched this yesterday.

I didn’t cover last week’s episode, partially because I was sad about James Graham’s Stereo Kicks’ elimination and partially because I forgot.

For those of you who are just fans of reality singing competition shows: our coverage of American Idol will begin in the new year. VIVA LA LOPEZ!!!

All screencaps by me or via the X Factor facebook page.

December 15, 2014
by katie
0 comments

Smart ladies love movies, this week in trailers, December 15, 2014

Movie Trailer Monday

Each week I review movie trailers that came out the previous week or for movies that are about to premiere. Some of these movies I am excited about, some I am mildly curious about, and the rest I make fun of!

Notable movies coming out this weekend

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

The Hobbit is finally coming to a close and so we will all have to find other ways to stare at Richard Armitage, may I suggest North & South on Netflix. [Martin Freeman was so charming on SNL this weekend. The Office/Hobbit skit KILLED. -M]

The Captive, is out onDemand and for Rent

This movie looks moody but sad and since I have been watching The Missing which is also about an abducted child I’m not sure this is for me. It does have Scott Speedman as a cop in his native Canada (BEN 4EVA!). [Ryan Reynolds with that beard? I AM ALL IN. This also looks less scary than other abducted child things. -M]

Movies I can’t wait to see in an ACTUAL theater

San Andreas, May 29, 2015

Disaster movie + The Rock = means I will be there opening weekend with BELLS ON! BONUS Paul Giamatti! [This song is going to give me fucking nightmares. -M]

Inside Out, June 19, 2015

So I’m not loving the gender shit going on with the parents but Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling are in this and they are super smart so I’m just going to be excited for the NEW Pixar movie. [Ugh, you’re right Katie, that scene really bothers me. Pixar is usually pretty good about that stuff, so I hope the rest of the movie is less sexist. -M]

I won’t go to an ACTUAL theater but will pay for it on Amazon

The Divergent Series: Insurgent, March 20, 2015

I watched the first movie in this series and I don’t really remember what happened. This movie looks more action packed than the first and has added Naomi Watts to the cast (she and Liev, I guess, needed money so they could make more indie movies). [I just saw Liev in Goon on Netflix with Seann William Scott, which is actually worth watching if you’re looking for something dumb and fluffy. I will probably watch these movies but they’re not really my thing. -M]

Mad Max: Fury Road, May 15, 2015

This movie is starting to look more interesting OR the trailers for it feature more Tom Hardy –YOWZA! [I do not “get” Tom Hardy either as an actor or a sex symbol. He’s like the male Marion Cotillard. I will never ever see this, not even on cable. The people in masks look horrifying. I would rather watch the Mel Gibson ones 100 more times than see this. -M]

You would have to PAY me to see it in an ACTUAL theater

The Gunman, March 20, 2015

Sean Penn has now added himself to the list of actors who think they are as cools as Liam Neeson –NO ONE IS AS COOL AS LIAM NEESON! [Javier Bardem looks really sexy here! RAWR. Admit it, you will totally watch this with me on demand during one of my visits. We will drink a ton of wine and wonder why Tom Cruise isn’t in this. -M]