Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Favorite Songs of 2010

40. Fang Island The Illinois

39. Girls Carolina

38. Avey Tare 3 Umbrellas

37. Abe Vigoda Crush

36. Wavves Green Eyes

35. The Morning Benders Promises

34. Pantha du Prince Sick to My Side

33. Panda Bear Last Night at the Jetty

32. Women Eyesore

31. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti Round and Round

30. Avey Tare Oliver Twist

29. Tame Impala Alter Ego

28. Women Locust Valley

27. Arcade Fire Sprawl II (Mountains Upon Mountains)

26. Robyn We Dance To The Beat

25. Delorean Come Wander

24. Panda Bear Alsatian Darn

23. Of Montreal Hydra Fancies

22. Dom Jesus

21. Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith Not in Love

20. Gold Panda Snow & Taxis

19. Spoon Is Love Forever?

18. Tame Impala It’s Not Meant To Be

17. Hot Chip Take It In

16. Kendal Johansson Blue Moon

15. Sleigh Bells Riot Rhythm

14. Panda Bear Slow Motion

13. Caribou Found Out

12. ceo White Magic

11. LCD Soundsystem One Touch

10. Active Child Voice of an old friend

9. The Morning Benders Excuses

8. MGMT Song For Dan Treacy

7. Beach House 10 Mile Stereo

6. Broken Social Scene Sweetest Kill

5. Local Natives Wide Eyes

4. Arcade Fire Ready to Start

3. Wavves Super Soaker

2. Cut Copy Where I’m Going

1. Gauntlet Hair I was thinking…

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Favorite Albums of 2010

1. Beach House - Teen Dream

Instant calm, peace, and relaxation. Oh and, as Gorilla vs. Bear mentioned in their list, “it has the best songs.”

2. Arcade FireThe Suburbs

I loved so many different songs on this album. First “Ready To Start,” then “Sprawl II,” these two are predictable. The more I listened though, the more I loved songs like “The Suburbs,” “Empty Room,” “Rococo,” etc. But as a whole, it’s not the same listening experience as Teen Dream. The Suburbs may have better singles, but the sum of Teen Dream’s parts is greater as far as my ears are concerned.

3. Tame ImpalaInnerspeaker

This is just a fun album. Psych-rock rooted in an instantly recognizable throwback style, however, they put their own unique spin on this familiar, classic rock sound. Similar to Beach House, the album flows incredibly well, each song an integral part of the mix.

4. WavvesKing of the Beach

Finally an alternative rock album that I can actually rock the F out to, it’s been a while.

5. RobynBody Talk

I really am surprised to be putting this album up here, but honestly it could have been even higher. There isn’t a better collection of 15 songs that came out this year, but since it’s more of a greatest hits collection for the year, it doesn’t feel like an album. In the end, that really doesn’t matter.

6. The Morning BendersBig Echo

A beautifully laid back, grand album that can’t help but have greatly benefited by Chris Taylor’s (of Grizzly Bear) production. Just like GB, every little note, voice or prick of an instrument seems expertly aimed at creating a different mood for each song, an attention to detail that is rare to hear.

7. Broken Social SceneForgiveness Rock Record

Speaking of “grand” albums, this one may take the cake. But it’s BSS and they can basically do no wrong. Any number of songs on this album may be considered favorites among fans, for me I always enjoy “All to All,” but tracks like “Highway Slipper Jam,” “Ungrateful Little Father,” and especially “Sweetest Kill” really stand out.

8. Caribou - Swim

This album was self-described as “Underwater Dance” music, and is a completely new direction for Daniel Snaith (who is Carbiou), yet somehow he makes it seem like he’s an old pro at creating electronic dance music. Undoubtedly, this still feels like a Caribou album, and its the allure of the mystical north that he somehow intertwines in his music that keeps me coming back for more.

9. Avey TareDown There

Another album described as “underwater,” Down There is a much darker journey than Swim. On “Heather In The Hospital,” the bass begins by mimicking your own heart beating, but soon takes a chase-scene pace, propelling your heart rate forward with it, "It brings me down / machines of modern magic keeping folks above the ground / a nurse's scribbling pad, shadow, shape / a mother going mad."

Really not fun stuff to be singing about, but this mood pervades the entire album. While you may think that would just be depressing, it only strengthens the cohesiveness of some of the most interesting (and enjoyable) songs to be released this year.

10. Crystal CastlesS/T

Tracks like “Doe Deer” and “Birds” make this album for me. There are standouts like “Celestica” that most people can get down with, but if you enjoy the songs that string the singles together, these dirt-covered gems that chug by, chewing glass along the way, then you really will rock out to this album.

11. LCD SoundsystemThis is Happening

12. Delorean - Subiza

13. Of MontrealFalse Priest

14. SpoonTransference

15. The Radio Dept – Clinging To A Scheme

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cubs surprisingly impressive 2010 starting rotation

Fielder Independant Pitching is a stat that measures the events a pitcher can control: strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed. For all other balls in play it is up to the fielders to decide whether an at bat becomes a hit or an out. Reading a write up on the newest Cub, Carlos Pena at Fan Graphs, I came across this note that was a little staggering:

"Each of the team’s five presumptive starters — Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny,Randy Wells, and Ryan Dempster, had a FIP under 4.00 in 2010. These combined could lead the Cubs back into the picture for a relatively weak NL Central."

To have all five starters performing at the level of a #2 or #3 is a testament to the seemingly unappreciated season this rotation collectively put together.

This is more evidence to support the notion that it is misguided for the Cubs to be pursuing a starter right now, in a time when they claim to be under cost constraints. $10 million to Carlos Pena was a little expensive, but has a chance to be a strong value with Pena's combination of on-base ability, power and solid defense. The Cubs are also pursuing Brandon Webb while shopping Tom Gorzelanny. This is a swap that I would welcome with open arms, but the question is where do the Cubs get the money to sign Webb? (edit: Pena's contract is structured to allow for this)

The may lie in their ability to trade Kosuke Fukudome, a move that would save about $6 million, assuming they would have to eat half of his contract.

Lost in the shuffle is Kerry Wood, a player every Cubs fan would love to see pitch again in the Friendly Confines. However, Wood is coming off of a $10 million salary and may now be priced outside of the Cubs range. A hopeless optimist may wonder if Kid K would come back on a hometown discount. One can dream.

Friday, December 3, 2010

'This Old Cub' Ron Santo dies at 70

With Ron Santo, a man with such optimistic conviction, one would have thought there would be justice of some kind before he died. While the Hall of Fame dream has been dying a long, agonizing death for Santo and all those rooting for his induction, I feel that even beyond this piece of recognition that Santo was owed more before his time was up on this earth. A Cubs World Series obviously would have been the ultimate gift for him to receive. Many have come before him, though and have never seen the Chicago National League Ball Club even reach a World Series, much less win one, but in some strange way I had really thought that he would be alive when it finally happens.

I’ll never forget the play calls. Whether calls of ignorance, forgetfulness or shear bliss, no one could bring out the emotions of fellow die hard Cubs fans like Ron Santo could. Sure, to the casual baseball fan or listener on the radio, he was not the best color coordinator in the business. In fact, he may have been the worst. But to the those whose emotions imitated Santo’s, the audience that truly cared, there is no one those fans would have rather listen to on the color commentary than Ron.

Santo was loved, and will forever be loved by Cubs fans and baseball fans as long as this great game continues to be played. When the Cubs retired his number 10 in 2003, he said to the fans, “This is my hall of fame.” While it’s likely that he did not mean that entirely, the #10 will fly above Wrigley Field for as long as it stands and Ron Santo will always be remembered. As for the Hall of Fame, there is still a chance he can be inducted in 2012. What a shame it will be if he is finally inducted and is not there to accept the award. For that reason I almost hope he is not inducted, but if there is any justice left for this man, he deserves this final recognition. A 9-time All Star selection with 5 straight Gold Gloves from 1964 to 1968, a .277 career batting average and 342 home runs at the hot corner, his resume stand up to many at the position who have already been inducted.

I will miss you Ron, it will never be the same listening to a Cubs game without you.