blog.asurroca.com my personal blog

January 26, 2011

Every (Hipster) Music Critic’s Year-End Top 10 List Explained

Filed under: humor,music,reviews — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:46 am

Upon reading this article on the predictability of year-end top 10 lists, I decided to make my own. Because someone called-out Pitchfork (and me) for being as predictable as the year-end top 10 lists referred to in that article.

10. Any self-respecting egoitst music critic is going to pick his/her personal favorite as #1. Also, Mumford & Suns is a hipster Dave Matthews Band, and fuck them. There I said it.

9. If the author didn’t understand Four Tet’s latest record, then there is little hope for him as a music critic, because it’s not dense. He’s dense.

8. This is America, and it’s OK to hate on other countries (ironically, of course). So, fuck foreign records. Exception: British bands. Because we speak their language.

7. What an amateur. Any self-respecting hipster music critic will not include any breakout successes. Rather, they will deride the bands’ rise to the top and declare them to be uncool sell-outs. “Arcade Fire? Yeah, they used to be cool, back when they were unknown and in that one Apple commercial.”

6. Obama is president. Hipsters don’t have to go on pretending to like hip-hop anymore. It’s a post-racial world.

5. The old-timer records belong further down the list because they’re only even on the list for irony’s sake. Everybody knows a good hipster has no sense of history. What’s history? Huh? Fuck history, that’s what.

4. Yes, Kanye West does deserve his own spot, despite hip-hop having no place on a modern hipster music critic’s top 10 list. Because Kanye transcends hip-hop. His beautiful dark twisted fantasy is our beautiful dark twisted fantasy. He speaks to us. He understands us.

3. This is the slot for the obvious sub-mainstream hit, actually, the one that almost made it, but didn’t. Because bands who almost sell-out but have to lick their wounds and come crawling back to college radio are the best. Oh, MGMT, it’s nice to have you back.

2. This is the spot for whichever album everyone else chose as #1, obviously. Let’s call this spot “Your Favorite Record is Only my #2 Pick”.

1. And finally, a good hipster music critic is going to put his/her personal favorite here. This is for the album that he/she either a) lost his/her virginity to, b) listened to the most while being high, c) listened to while sitting on the hood of a car looking at the night sky and musing or just pretending to be in a John Hughes movie or something. For example: 2008–M83, 2009–Animal Collective, and 2010–Beach House.

July 22, 2008

Albums Best Heard Together: Drums Not Dead and Deceit

Filed under: music,reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 10:45 am

Liars has become a darling of the indie world, especially after their 2006 record, Drums Not Dead—look no further than Pitchfork Media’s glowing review for confirmation. Their drum-based, drone-filled sound doesn’t make for an easy listen, and sounds nothing like the hacks that fill the indie landscape lately. Drums Not Dead is almost perfect, but it’s also been done before.

Album art for This Heat-Deceit (1981)Album cover for Liars-Drums Not Dead (2006)

See, while you’ve probably already heard of Liars (the band opened for Radiohead during their 2008 North American tour), it’s much less likely that you’ve ever heard of This Heat. And Liars’ entire sound is essentially the application of a fresh coat of paint on a 1981 masterpiece by the name of Deceit.

Rather than accuse Liars of ripping off the forgotten 70s-era post-punk band This Heat, I choose to believe that Liars is paying homage to This Heat unless I find out otherwise. If you’ve heard Deceit, you’ll find Drums Not Dead definitely comes from the same place. Both records open with un-threatening, almost peaceful tracks, then pull the rug out and launch into tracks filled with menacing drum lines, screaming, and a caustic, off-balance feel that continues through the remainder of each.

That’s not to say that either record is a chore to listen to. On Deceit: “Cenotaph”, with its Joy Division-esque sound, would have made a fine single in 1981 (less so today; maybe on satellite radio), “Makeshift Swahili” is the most punk-like track on the record, and “A New Kind of Water” morphs from a beautiful, droning anthem into a proper rock song. And on Drums Not Dead, “Let’s Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack” is likely to be a signature Liars song for a while—when I saw them open for Radiohead in West Palm Beach, it was their set opener. “Drums Gets a Glimpse” is a slower, pretty track that wouldn’t be out of place on a Broken Social Scene record.

It’s interesting that where I heard a little of This Heat’s contemporaries such as Can and Joy Division (and on one track, perhaps Dead Can Dance) in their record, I heard a little of Liars’ own contemporaries such as (in addition to Broken Social Scene) The Microphones, and Radiohead. The only track I’m not sure about is Drums Not Dead‘s closer, “To Hold You, Drum”, which comes off embarrassingly like a carbon copy of Deceit‘s sound. While the rest of the record stays far enough away from This Heat’s sound for Liars to come off as merely on the same wavelength as This Heat, this track implies that the band merely listened to Deceit on repeat while they were dreaming up ideas for new tracks.

As I’ve said, I choose to believe otherwise. Give both a listen. But be warned: Deceit has been out of print for a while, so it’s basically impossible to find at retail stores and difficult to find at download sites.

July 11, 2008

Must-have app: Dashwire

Dashwire logoIf you have a Windows Mobile phone and an unlimited data plan, you have to get Dashwire like, yesterday. If you’re using anything else and/or don’t have an unlimited data plan, then I’m sorry.

Dashwire, recently out of private beta, lives as an app on your WinMo 5 or 6 phone (Symbian and BlackBerry support on the way) and dutifully sends out almost everything to the other half of this equation, a web app that lets you manage your phone from your computer. The data gets synced over the air automatically, so you know that nearly everything on your phone is also available on the web.

Backup to the Dashwire Cloud

Dashwire will pick up and sync your photos, your text messages, your contacts, your ringtones, even your call history and voicemail (via Callwave). And it syncs almost frighteningly fast: I had the web app open, and received a phone call; by the time I hung up perhaps a minute later, the call was already displayed in my call history on the Dashwire web app.

Dashwire screenshot

Web2.0 for your Phone

Dashwire doesn’t stop there, even though as an online backup for your phone alone, it would already kick ass. No, Dashwire gives you the whole web2.0 social networking aspect, like any good web app would. When you set your status on your phone through the Dashwire app, it sends the status update to your Facebook and Twitter status (and I’m sure more services are in the pipeline). Your phone gets its own little profile page, with a stream of all the photos and video you’ve shot posted up as a tumblelog. And you can view your text messages like an instant messaging conversation, a la iChat/iPhone. You can also send text messages or Skype any of your contacts from the Dashwire web app, as well as share anything with your contacts.

Verdict: Awesome Squared

So far, I’m in love. Dashwire has that feeling of something that does everything just right. The last time I was so smitten with a service was Google’s GrandCentral, which I still use constantly. Hell, it’s replaced my phone number. Did I forget to mention that Dashwire, like GrandCentral is completely free? It basically does 90% of Apple’s MobileMe service, except it costs nothing. Read: Killer app.

One final note: Apparently, Microsoft is already on the list of investors. And the start-up behind Dashwire just happens to be in Seattle. With Danger (the folks behind the Sidekick) in their company, I immediately thought that adding Dashwire to the Sidekick would be nothing short of perfect. If Dashwire can get their “cloud” to sync back to Outlook over the air, then, I’ll be in mobile heaven.

April 11, 2008

Wii: No Gamers Allowed

Filed under: rants,reviews,technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 11:53 am

I have a confession: I’ve never beaten a Wii game. Despite lining up at midnight and purchasing the Wii on launch night, I have never played through to the end of a single of my Wii games. I blame Nintendo for ignoring the rules of crafting a solid entertainment experience; namely, you need to retain the player’s interest throughout the entire plot, not just the first hour of game play.

(more…)

April 3, 2008

To the Fives: WP2.5 and FF3b5

Filed under: reviews,technology — Tags: , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:09 am

I just finished upgrading my WordPress install to version 2.5, and it’s as fresh as the name of its new theme (hint: It’s called “Fresh”). Everything about it feels right. Installing or upgrading WordPress used to be something like getting Ubuntu to play nice with Broadcom Wi-Fi cards on a laptop (read: pain in the ass). Not today. No, today, upgrading from WP 2.1 to 2.5 consisted of me:

  • Exporting all of my posts
  • Copying over my plug-in and upload folders
  • Replacing the WordPress directory with the new ones I downloaded
  • Running the included upgrade.php script

Easy as pie for nerds.

(more…)

September 8, 2006

Two Stu.dicio.us Weeks

Filed under: reviews,technology — Tags: , , , , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 11:08 am

I have a hard time paying attention. It might just be a geek ailment caused by too much stimulation, or I might have A.D.D. Either way, I’m an awful note-taker, and computers have only made my notes worse. When I heard about stu.dicio.us and saw its minimalist interface, I signed up right away. Now, I’ve been using stu.dico.us for two weeks for all my lecture notes and here’s what I think of it so far.

(more…)

June 11, 2006

Location, Location, Location

Filed under: reviews,technology — Alfonso Surroca @ 8:35 pm

If you’ve ever found yourself in an unfamiliar locale wandering around looking for a gas station, a good place to eat, or something to do, then the notion of location-based services is great. Unfortunately, it’s an idea whose time hasn’t quite come. Or has it? (more…)

March 3, 2006

Un-pimp my Ride (Volkswagen’s GTI Ads)

Filed under: advertising,reviews — Alfonso Surroca @ 2:01 am

If you've spent any time around Volkswagen or auto forums (or even digg!), you might have noticed some buzz around the new ads for the MkV GTI. While the lion's share of talk has gone to the "Project Fast" ads and its creepy little rabbit mascot (including its propensity to fetch absurd bounties on eBay), Volkswagen has recently launched an arguably better branch of their GTI advertising with the "Un-pimp My Ride" series of television commercials. (more…)

January 26, 2006

Thumb Thing Book Holder

Filed under: reviews — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:39 am

bh007.jpg

In one word: Brilliant. This is quite possibly the best little piece of plastic since the guitar pick.

technorati tags: lifehack, product, reading

Powered by WordPress