Geoff Edwards’ Ecclectic Top 10 List

Geoff Edwards runs a tumblr blog dedicated to beautiful maps.  I’ve featured his stuff a few times, but he deserves far more re-blogs in this space.  Consider it a new year’s resolution.  On to the list.

Deerhunter, “He Would Have Laughed” (from Halcyon Digest). The transition to the last melodic section of this song—beginning at about the 5:20 mark—is my favorite musical moment of 2010.

Killer Mike & T.I.P, “(Grandhustle) Ready Set Go.” The best hip-hop production of 2010.

Nicki Minaj’s verse on Kanye’s “Monster.” The album itself is good but in no way essential or classic. “Power” may be the most boring song ever to generate so much hype. But Minaj nails everything on this verse: lyrics, timing, intonation, and—most importantly—menace.

Catfish. Don’t read anything about it, just find a way to watch it. (Guilty pleasure: Kick-Ass. Chloe Moretz kills it as Hit Girl.)

“The Rejected” (Mad Men season 4, episode 4). My favorite episode of last season is the first time we see 1960s counterculture begin to bubble-up through the slick, modernist facade. (“The Suitcase” is also very good.)

An Ask Metafilter thread from May — http://bit.ly/eRgvpk . One user of the service sought the help of his fellow MeFites in convincing two Russian friends not to fall victim to a human trafficking scam here in the United States. The massive outpouring of advice, support, and donations eventually resulted in a happy ending and at least one poignant interview on a Newsweek blog (here: http://bit.ly/hKDext ). 

2 Years in Prison—A Man’s Storyhttp://bit.ly/ekFbGL . You may think your impression of prison has been sufficiently ridded of naiveté. Prepare to have that impression reupholstered.

Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale. West Coast pale ales are my favorite genre of drink. This is tops.

[image via Brewed for Thought]

Jason Heyward’s first at-bat. My sports highlight of the year, ranking just above the Olympic hockey final and the group-winning US goal in the World Cup.

The ash cloud. The sub- and superterranean tangled in April when Eyjafjallajokull led to the biggest disruption of European air traffic since World War II. It also spawned some neat visualizations and Stranded, a MagCloud issue produced by a bunch of stuck travelers.

[image via the Big Picture @ the Boston Globe]
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December 24, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. Leave a comment.

John Parsell’s Top Twelve (12) Albums of 2010

John:

Greetings!  From where I’m standing, this was a pretty great year for music.  So much so, that I felt inclined to make a list of my favorite albums that came out this year.  At first I resigned myself to a top 10 list, but I have created a top 12 because they are all such strong records.  I included ‘honorable mention’ to cover albums that I’ve just recently heard or that came very close, but didn’t quite win my heart this year.   One quick note about the album that occupies the number one spot – it is rare that I find an album that I feel compelled to play in so many different contexts…it’s so good, I definitely recommend it!

2010 Top 12

12. The Black Keys – Brothers

11. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

10. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

9.  Superchunk – Majesty Shredding

8.  Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me

7.  The Roots – How I Got Over

6.  Girl Talk – All Day

(Check out Mashup Breakdown found via GOOD)

5.  Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid

4.  Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son of Chico Dusty

3.  Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

2.  LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

1.  Beach House – Teen Dream

Honorable Mentions:

  • Hot Chip – One Life Stand
  • Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
  • Kings Go Forth – The Outsiders Are Back
  • Robyn – Body Talk Pt.1 & Pt. 2 (I still haven’t heard the Body Talk full length)
  • Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
  • Sleigh Bells – Treats

December 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. Leave a comment.

Who Cares About Kanye West?

[image via the Bygone Bereau]

Passion of the Weiss is my favorite rap blog.  Last month their host of contributors held a roundtable discussion on Kanye West’s new album.  The idol worship you’ll find at Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and PopMatters is absent here.  Let’s get into it.

Floodwatch:

Kanye West and his music perfectly encapsulate everything that is fundamentally wrong with pop music and pop culture right now. It’s the reason why I occasionally gnash my teeth in my sleep, why I refuse to watch television anymore, and why my gaze never strays from my shopping cart when I’m standing in the checkout line at the market. It’s unwarranted and self-made celebrity; it’s endless, narcissistic self-isolation on a Facebook page. Its bloated, glitzy splendor is the equivalent of a gated subdivision full of vacant McMansions. It’s everything I’m trying to eliminate from my life in 2010: unnecessary noise and excess.

Jeff Weiss

For my wooden nickel, the best rap music is usually menacing and minimal. This has neither, but it succeeds because Kanye is the only person with enough vision to pull it off. As much as I enjoy this record, I’m loathe to consider the impact it will have on the next generation. […]

If this is the album that American culture deserves, it’s not what we should aspire to– no matter how tongue-in-cheek or self-aware our jokes are.

Aaron Matthews

The album is simultaneously layered and shallow. […]

But Kanye excels at excess. He makes the sprawling personal and compulsively listenable. He’s pulled the strange trick of becoming more relatable as he’s gotten more infamous. […]

Yeezy reupholstered my brain.

Doc Zeus

I’m pushing my entire stack of chips onto black at the roulette table and going to call this the finest album of his career. I’m going all in. No joke. I love this record.

Cleaning up the floor after spitting my most venomous bile on it (you happy now, Jeff?), I still find the record to be uniformly excellent.

Disco Vietnam

Kanye West is a space cadet. I can’t relate to him. It’s unfortunate because my ability to relate to him was the very reason I’d first supported him. I found his passion endearing. I admired his self-assuredness; he seemed to know how to balance it with a sense of humor. […]

To hail it as perfection is beyond foolish, reckless. When the stakes are this high the critical community has a responsibility to be more judicious with its praise. Yes, this album is important; it’s also indulgent, exhausting, ponderous, all the things we tear less fashionable albums to shreds for being. […]

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy believes itself to be perfect; it’s shallow at best and at worst contrived. […]

This album is a triumph in every conceivable way but the one that matters most: is it an effective piece of art?

Sach O

So it’s officially Kanyemania out there today. Pitchfork gave the album a 10.0, Slate’s got it as album of the year and the mainstream press seems officially content to anoint Kanye as the superstar demigod he wants to be perceived as […]

I’d been avoiding getting caught up in the hype surrounding this thing in the goal to listen to it as a whole and to see how I feel about it as a complete album. Since dude thinks he’s a world-class artist making some genius shit, I figured I’d rate him to his desired standards: harshly and mercilessly based on the full record as he conceived it.

To be honest, I was ready to tear into My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but despite it’s masturbatory song-lengths, overcooked sense of self-importance and the fact that it’s made by a man who’s evolved into one of the most annoying celebrities of all time (of all time!)…This is a great album.

Douglas Martin

It’s almost like on this album, Kanye actually has enough money to cater to every impulse, and it’s not always pretty.

Though it ranks in the lower-half of Kanye’s catalog, one thing I can say about this record is that it’s the complete opposite of formulaic, which is downright heroic for a pop star. Although I agree that ambitious failures should not be placed higher in value than modest successes, I think both are commendable.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, even in its flaws, shows that Kanye really cares. Every note– all two-billion of them– seem carefully considered, and you can almost hear Kanye in the background of one of those choir breakdowns saying, “This would sound DOPE if I put a didgeridoo right here!” Pop music is supposed to be formulaic, disposable. Pop stars aren’t supposed to put this music thought, this much effort, into a pop album. Or maybe it’s not and they are, and it takes a record as ambitious as this one to show everyone what pop music could be like if everybody just tried harder.

Abe Beam

This album will age.

December 7, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. Leave a comment.

Ten Most Important Fonts

Kanye West gets emotional over fonts.

He’s not the only one.  Paul Shaw:

If Akkurat is so special (and it seems to me to just be one of several worthy attempts to find an alternative to Akzidenz Grotesk and Helvetica) then I would love it if you give your rationale as a post. Tell us why it will have a massive impact.

I am not sure why you think these are typefaces most relevant to Americans? Other than Yale, Clearview and Retina they are available to everyone and I am sure are used elsewhere besides the USA. (And I think James Montalbano and Don Meeker would love to get Clearview used in a European or Chinese highway system.) […]

For those who are championing Gotham, please give a rationale. Is it because it is popular? or because it is an alternative to Futura (with a more legible lowercase a)? or because it was used for the cornerstone of the beleaguered Freedom Tower? or because y’all just love the Port Authority Terminal?

That was Paul defending his list of what he considers to be the 10 most important typefaces of the past decade.  The list is beautiful, but the real joy is found when reading the ensuing discussion.  Designers argue like fencers.

Bonus: Care to get emotional over Calango’s motional font, Moshun?

My favorite is the P.

[Paul Shaw’s font dissertation @ imprint via Kottke]

September 13, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Art. Leave a comment.

Really Kanye?

I guess I can understand comic sans serif. That font got to go.

[Kanye West via Rats Off!]

August 20, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Funny. 1 comment.