MoSS? Monthly Mixtape: June 2014

june 14

Side A: Chris’ Picks

Side B: Todd’s Picks

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MoSS? Presents…The Top Albums of 2012, #20-11

MoSS Albums 2012

Todd’s 20-11

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

#20. Heems, Nehru Jackets/ Wild Water Kingdom

#19. Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror

#18. The Men, Open Your Heart

#17. La Sera, Sees The Light

#16. Nude Beach, II

#15. Echo Lake, Wild Peace

#14. Hospitality, Hospitality

#13. Michael Kiwanuka, Home Again

#12. Beach House, Bloom

#11. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange

Chris’ 20-11

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

#20. Black Moth Super Rainbow, Cobra Juicy

#19. Lone, Galaxy Garden

#18. School of Seven Bells, Ghostory

#17. The Men, Open Your Heart

#16. Colleen Green, Milo Goes to Compton

#15. Japandroids, Celebration Rock

#14. Wild Nothing, Nocturne

#13. El Perro del Mar, Pale Fire

#12. Frankie Rose, Interstellar

#11. Burial, Kindred

Previous installments:

Best Songs of 2012

MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #30-21

Yep, we’re making a list. Two separate lists, actually, so the above graphic is a bit misleading. Accounting for the limited overlap in Todd’s and Chris’ lists, it’s more like the top 174 or something like that.

Anyway, after months of scientific analysis, hours of listening and re-listening to albums from years gone by, we have arrived at a definitive list of the top albums ever recorded. Our research is not open to interpretation, but you’re more than welcome to complain about the fact that your favorite albums aren’t on this list; we’ll simply respond by telling you that your favorite records aren’t really all that good.

Here are some spoilers: you’re not going to find the typical hipster stuff like Neutral Milk Hotel or Slint or even stuff one/both of us actually likes such as DJ Shadow or Pavement. This isn’t Rolling Stone so you’re not going to find Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pet Sounds at the top. Wham’s Make It Big was snubbed.

We’re not going to roll it all out at once; no sense rushing through all this quality music! But Music or Space Shuttle? is gonna be pretty busy over the next two months.

That’s enough of an intro. Let’s get on with it…

Chris’ #30-21

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

30. Interpol, Antics

29. School of Seven Bells, Alpinisms

28. Vampire Weekend, Contra

27. Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain

26. The White Stripes, Elephant

25. The Cure, The Head on the Door

24. Nirvana, In Utero

23. The Radio Dept., Pet Grief

22. Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles (a.k.a. II)

21. Pink Floyd, The Wall

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

#27: Prince & the Revolution, Purple Rain

cover for Purple RainCan you recite the opening lines of “Let’s Go Crazy”?

Of course you can. My co-worker Tom (the one who writes) prides himself on it. Every now and then we’ll talk about music and somehow, either through my prompt or his way of steering the conversation, he’ll rattle them off (often double-timing it just to show how awesome he is):

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today to get through this thing called “life”
Electric word, life; that means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell ya, there’s something else:
The afterworld
A world of neverending happiness
You can always see the sun
Day
Or night
So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one
Dr. Everything’ll Be All Right
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby
Cause in this life, things are much harder than the afterworld
This life…you’re on your own

(I realized after I typed that up that I didn’t use the letter “U” every time the word “you” is used. Or the numeral 2 instead of the word “to.” An oversight for which I have no apology.)

If John Lennon had been alive in 1984 and heard this opening track, he would have turned to Yoko and said, “Did you hear the way that guy in purple started off his new album? Much cooler than ‘I dig a pygmy by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf-Aids! Phase one, in which Doris gets her oats,’ innit?”

“Let’s Go Crazy” is one of the three 45RPM records I have from Purple Rain; I didn’t even own the album in its entirety for probably two years after its release. I had a third of it already, along with the sweet b-sides like “Erotic City” (they say “fuck” on that one, Tipper!). I also had “When Doves Cry,” the song that occasionally prompts a re-enactment of the video in my office to the chagrin of my officemate. (I’ve got that crawling-across-the-floor move down.) And he might refute it now, but I clearly remember my dad coming downstairs while I was listening to my records and asking, “What Prince songs do you have?” I showed him Doves and Crazy, he frowned, then said, “So you don’t have the ‘Purple Rain’ song?” After my next trip to Pamida, I did. “Purple Rain”: kid tested, dad approved.

I really had no interest in getting the album as a whole until I heard about “Darling Nikki” and all its lyrical glory. Not from my friends or the older kids in the neighborhood or at school; no, I read a big article in the Des Moines Register about the PMRC and Tipper Gore and the attempts to keep the smut out of the hands of kids. All because Tipper heard the “masturbating with a magazine” line in “Nikki” and lost her shit. Before long, Washington wives were making a list of the “Filthy Fifteen” (which included “She Bop” by Cyndi Lauper*) and dudes like Dee Snider and Frank Zappa were testifying before Congress. But it was John Denver who put it best in his testimony: “That which is denied becomes that which is most desired, and that which is hidden becomes that which is most interesting. Consequently, a great deal of time and energy is spent trying to get at what is being kept from you.” Yep, as soon as I read about all of this nonsense, I couldn’t wait to get the whole album.

And it was a good thing, as I discovered a treasure trove of later singles that I hadn’t bought on 45 like “Take Me With U” and great album cuts like “Baby I’m A Star.” And much to Tipper’s disappointment, I never became a depraved sex fiend after hearing “Darling Nikki” and I didn’t join the occult after listening to Slayer and I didn’t kill myself after listening to Suicide and I didn’t kill any cops after listening to Body Count or Ice-T or N.W.A.

But I loved this Prince album. Still do.

(* – “She Bop” was flagged for masturbation references. Masturbation was the furthest thing from my mind whenever I heard/saw Cyndi Lauper.)

#22: Crystal Castles, II

album cover for Crystal Castles IITwo years ago, I came down with some strain of flu (avian, swine, whatever) and found myself lying listless for about a week straight. I was too tired to read, too woozy to get out and about…I couldn’t even play video games, which was a red flag that something was definitely wrong.

So how did I spend all that recovery time? Listening to an album with songs called “Fainting Spells,” “Suffocation,” “Violent Dreams,” and “Pap Smear.” And finding my favorite album of 2010 in the process.

The band that had the coolest 8-bit sound around, quite evident on the eponymous debut that came out two years previous, suddenly decided to take the tunes in a shoegaze direction (with an electronic twinge, of course). And it was beautiful. Songs like “Celestica” and “Suffocation” (despite the gloomy title) soared thanks to Alice Glass’ actual singing (!!!) and the keyboard chords created by Ethan Kath. No longer were these two relying solely on piercing, mutated screams and Donkey Kong samples to create art. (Although that was cool too.)

Whether it was the thumping beat and impassioned howls of “Baptism” or the shrewd use of a Sigur Ros sample in “Year of Silence” or the whirling whiplash of “Pap Smear” (I know, these aren’t the most appetizing titles, but the songs themselves aren’t 1/1000th as nauseating as songs bearing benign titles like “Moves Like Jagger” or whatever geeks like One Direction call their songs) or the brilliant use of Robert Smith vocals on “Not in Love.” For people yearning for the chaos of the first album, there are cuts like “Doe Deer” and “Fainting Spells.” “Intimate” provides the dance-floor crowd something to devour, and, um, weirdos everywhere could rally around the generally spaced-out “I Am Made of Chalk.”

There’s something sinister about each of these songs; sometimes it’s evident, sometimes not. Even the gorgeous “Celestica” has a dark side: the song was inspired by an incident at a Celestica plant (it’s a plastics company in Canada, apparently) where an employee fell into a boiling vat and died.

On that note, I hope you all catch swine flu and spend a week listening to this masterpiece.

Todd’s #30-21

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

30. Jane’s Addiction, Nothing’s Shocking

29. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

28. Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti

27. Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

26. Prince and the Revolution, Parade

25. Beastie Boys, Check Your Head

24. Pixies, Trompe le Monde

23. The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow

22. The Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin

21. Depeche Mode, Violator

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

#26. Prince and the Revolution, Parade

This was the first Prince album that I ever got. Not to say it was the first I’d ever listened to. I had dubbed copies of other Prince albums from my older brother who was a big fan. Parade was the first one that I actually went to the store and picked out. My parents let my brother and me each pick out something from the music section at the local Target store. This was a rare occasion so I took a rather long time deliberating over many options. I believe at one point I had three tapes picked out and had the plastic security doohickeys around my wrist.

Remember those things? So many times I remember perusing the music bins of Musicland or Disc Jockey spinning one of those around my wrist as I looked. I sort of miss going to record stores. It made the album selection process more important. If you were going to leave the house, find a record store and then plop down the majority of your hard earned cash on an album, you wanted it to be good. Not just one or two songs good and the rest crap. Believe me, I bought a ton of those over the years.

I’m pretty sure my brother picked his tape right off. He chose INXS, Listen Like Thieves. (In itself a great album that I briefly considered putting on this list. Unfortunately, it did not meet all the strict requirements to make the final cut) Based upon his aggravated looks and comments, I’m sure my brother was getting pretty annoyed with me because I couldn’t make up my mind. Around my wrist I had:

Peter Gabriel, So. (Great album that made this list at #37)

Pet Shop Boys, Please (Good album but never considered for this list)

Prince and the Revolution, Parade (So incredibly good that it should be on everyone’s list)

Apparently, I was shopping exclusively in the P’s section of the store. After flip flopping on my decision for twenty minutes or so, my brother made the decision easy. He looked at my selections and said “It’s not that hard. That’s dumb (Peter Gabriel), that’s stupid (Pet Shop Boys), and that’s Prince. Put that other shit back and let’s go.” So that’s what I did. I just needed a little push in any direction. If he would have said Peter Gabriel was the better choice I probably would have taken that one home.

Prince turned out to be the right choice as I learned later. I ended up getting both of those other tapes at subsequent visits to the store. Parade got way more plays on my boombox. Is there a lesson here? Yes. Two lessons.

Lesson 1: Listen to your older siblings. They may seem like they’re being jerks sometimes but they are actually secretly looking out for you.

Lesson 2: “That’s dumb, that’s stupid, that’s Prince.” Words to live by.

#24. Pixies, Trompe le Monde

Back when I was in high school, I would spend my Sunday nights not going to bed early and preparing for a new week at school, but instead staying up late listening to a radio station broadcasting from the middle of a corn field near Muscatine, Iowa. Specifically, a show called “Off the Beaten Track.” They played all kinds of early alternative and college rock. I heard many of my all time favorite bands for the first time listening to that show. The DJs were Mary of the Heartland and some dude named Roberto. (Roberto will come into play in some of the upcoming album blurbs.) I used to put a fresh cassette tape in my radio/tape player/CD player and listen as long as I could until I fell asleep. The next day I would rewind the tape and listen to what I missed.

After the show, they would premiere a newly released record in its entirety. I could catch most of that on the same tape if I stayed up late enough to flip it over. It was a great way to get a new album for free if you had the time and a crap ton of blank tapes. On one of those nights, they played The Pixies, Trompe le Monde. It was the first Pixies album that I’d ever heard. From the start of the title track I was confused and blown away at the same time. Was it punk? Was it surfer rock? The next song “Planet of Sound” played more like a metal song with Black Francis’ screaming vocals. The next song, “Alec Eiffel”, went back to surfer-punk, well kind of, because they sneak in a keyboard part at the end. Then, they really confused me by throwing in a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain song “Head On.”  They were all over the map and I loved it. And I didn’t even have to buy it!

I still have a weird reaction when I listen to the last song “The Navajo Know.”  My tape cut off right in the middle.

Upon construction
there is the Mohawk
his way of walking
quite high above the ground
fearless of looking down
skywalk
some people say that
[click]…

Years later, I bought Trompe le Monde on CD. For quite awhile, I would still expect the song to end at that point. It took me a long time not to anticipate the abrupt ending. At least I finally got to hear the last of the lyrics and learn “what some people say.”

some people say that…

the Navajo know
a way of walking
quite high above the ground
fearless of looking down
oh no.

Previous installments:

#100-91

#90-81

#80-71

#70-61

#60-51

#50-41

#40-31

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Some content on this page was disabled on May 7, 2016 as a result of a DMCA takedown notice from PRS for Music. You can learn more about the DMCA here:

https://en.support.wordpress.com/copyright-and-the-dmca/

Best. February. Ever.

Frankie RoseThe shortest month of the year is often one of the quietest in terms of musical awesomeness. There’s usually little love for the ear canals within two weeks on either side of Valentine’s Day.

2012, though…I don’t know if it’s the Mayans’ prognostication or just some happy accidents, but music blew up in February.

Van Halen returns with Diamond Dave. This is how things should be. (Not that the album is anything to write home about, but DLR belongs in Van Halen.)

Burial puts out a half-hour EP of beats that retain classic Burial traits AND manage to sound as fresh as ever.

Frankie Rose (seen at right in that sexy shot) puts out Interstellar, an album that would have dominated its release date if not for…

Reign of TerrorSLEIGH BELLS! REIGN OF TERROR! THE ALBUM CONTAINING “COMEBACK KID” AND “BORN TO LOSE” AND “CRUSH” AND “DEMONS” AND “D.O.A.” AND EVERY OTHER INCREDIBLE TUNE WITHIN THIS COLLECTION OF DOMINANCE (except “Road to Hell,” which is the closest thing to a clunker they’ve ever made).

Sleigh Bells also hit SNL on Feb. 18 and, most importantly to yours truly, announced on Feb. 28 that they’ll play a show in Iowa City this spring. #FUCKYEAH

The Sleigh Bells/Iowa City news hit the same day School of Seven Bells completed its trifecta of incredible albums by releasing Ghostory, while Memoryhouse put out a full-length album just two days before a scheduled show at The Mill (a.k.a. a night out for the Music or Space Shuttle? lads).

If this month is indeed a 10 (or, in Spinal Tap terms, 11), how do previous Februarys stack up in terms of music?

Naturally, I’ve made a chart.

a line chart that maps out how awesome the past 31 Februarys have been in music

How did this line take its shape? The primary data is listed below.

1982

  • Ozzy Osbourne is arrested after urinating on The Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas

1983

  • “Menudomania” comes to New York as 3,500 screaming girls crowd Kennedy Airport to catch a glimpse of Puerto Rican boy band Menudo, who are playing six sold-out shows at the Felt Forum
  • Michael Jackson’s Thriller album hits #1 on the US charts, the first of 37 (non-consecutive) weeks it would spend there on its way to becoming the greatest-selling album of all time
  • Sonic Youth releases Confusion Is Sex; U2 wages War (but Styx did release Kilroy Was Here and Kenny G deployed G Force)

1984

  • Elton John marries studio engineer Renate Blauel (lulz)
  • Recovering from the scalp burns sustained a month earlier, Michael Jackson wins eight Grammy Awards out of twelve nominations, breaking the record for the most Grammys won in a single year
  • The Smiths release The Smiths; I receive my first cassette (the Footloose soundtrack) for winning the St. Pat’s Grade School spelling bee

1985

  • Well, we got the following albums: The Smiths, Meat Is Murder; Tears for Fears, Songs from the Big Chair; Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston (I just poured some out)

1986

  • Absolutely nothing of worth happened, although March 1986 saw Master of Puppets, Black Celebration, 5150, Please, and the single “Live to Tell”

1987

  • The first five Beatles albums are released on CD
  • Again, no good new albums, although March shone once more with The Joshua Tree, Among the Living, and Sign o’ the Times

1988

  • Jacko buys Neverland
  • Leonard Cohen releases I’m Your Man

1989

  • Um…well…David Coverdale weds Tawny Kitaen

1990

  • Billy Idol badly hurt in motorcycle accident, sees role in The Doors minimized
  • Shake Your Money Maker (sweet); Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em (ayyyiiiii)

1991

  • James Brown released from jail after high-speed, two-state car chase
  • Dinosaur Jr. releases Green Mind

Courtney, Dave, and Kurt1992

  • Vince Neil becomes a race car driver
  • Kurt Cobain marries what’sherface
  • Tori Amos releases Little Earthquakes; Pantera unleashes Vulgar Display of Power; “Bohemian Rhapsody” gets new life via Wayne’s World soundtrack

1993

  • Oprah interviews Jacko, we learn about his whitening disorder
  • 2Pac dares white people to buy his second album (Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.)
  • Radiohead puts out the album they’d probably rather forget
  • 311 releases Music
  • Duran Duran comes back with the VH1 crowd via “The Wedding Album”
  • Joey Lawrence puts out an album (whoa!)

1994

  • Shannon Hoon gets thrown out of the American Music Awards
  • Green Day drops Dookie; Pavement puts out Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

1995

  • Tommy Lee marries Pamela Anderson
  • Jewel launches her pre-poetry career by releasing an album

1996 (possibly the most eclectic data in this collection)

  • Former Milli Vanilli band member Rob Pilatus is hospitalized when a man hits him over the head with a baseball bat in Hollywood, while Pilatus is attempting to steal the man’s car
  • Take That split up!
  • Prince marries Mayte Garcia
  • Snoop beats a murder rap
  • 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me receives a middling review from some nerd in the Iowa State Daily

1997

  • Phish Food is born; Jacko’s first son is born;  the Spice Girls’ chart-topping career is born
  • Blur releases the album with the “Whoo-hoo!” song
  • Anal Cunt releases I Like It When You Die (sounds charming)

1998

  • Elton John knighted
  • Neutral Milk Hotel puts out that seriously overrated In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (it’s good, but c’mon…)

1999

  • Gov. Jesse Ventura declares “Rolling Stones Day” in Minnesota
  • Eminem drops Slim Shady LP; Roots go with Things Fall Apart

2000

  • Santana wins 8 Grammys
  • The Cure releases their last good album to date (Bloodflowers)
  • Smashing Pumpkins release that MACHINA piece of crap

2001

  • Manic Street Preachers play Cuba
  • Jack Johnson releases Brushfire Fairytales
  • Los Embarasados allegedly release Tem Graca por Nome on Feb. 30 (according to Wikipedia)

2002

  • U2 performs at the Super Bowl
  • Britney Spears puts out the Crossroads soundtrack; Norah Jones releases the inexplicably popular Come Away with Me

2003

  • Lana Clarkson found dead at Phil Spector’s pad; he’s eventually found guilty of second-degree murder. His wall of sound will have bars on the windows for 19 years
  • A fire at a Great White show kills 100, including one of the guitarists
  • 50 Cent talks about gettin’ rich or dyin’ tryin’

Janet's wardrobe malfunction2004

  • The wardrobe malfunction seen by millions
  • Billy Corgan blogs his feelings about D’Arcy (“mean-spirited drug addict”) and James Iha (Pumpkins’ breakup was his fault)
  • Kanye is a college dropout, according to his debut album’s title

2005

  • Blink-182 goes on hiatus; Korn guitarist quits after finding God
  • Bloc Party releases the excellent Silent Alarm

2006

  • One for the history books: White Lion bassist James Lorenzo joins Megadeth
  • Belle and Sebastian release another lame album (The Life Pursuit)

2007

  • Chris Cornell tells Audioslave he needs to be emancipated because of musical differences
  • Bloc Party spends A Weekend in the City; Explosions in the Sky release All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

2008

  • Beach House releases Devotion

2009

  • Bone Thugs n Harmony crashes MySpace by posting a new song
  • Pains of Being Pure at Heart release stellar debut; the brothers from the National curate Dark Was the Night; the Black Keys singer had enough time to put out a solo album

2010

  • “We Are the World” is remade for Haiti benefit
  • Joanna Newsom spends three discs enjoying the hell out of people (Have One on Me)

2011

  • Yuck drops Yuck; lots of disappointments (Bright Eyes, Radiohead, PJ Harvey)

As you can see, February 2012 is clearly the best February ever. It’s science. AND SLEIGH BELLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MoSS? Monthly Mixtape: January

Frankie Rose “Know Me”

Tanlines “Brothers”

Body Language “Social Studies”

Elite Gymnastics “Omamori”

Islands “This is Not a Song”

School of Seven Bells “LaFaye”

Chairlift “Sidewalk Safari”

Cloud Nothings “Stay Useless”

Sharon Van Etten “Serpents

First Aid Kit “EmmyLou”