The OFFICIAL Total Tropes Top 5 Albums of 2013! By Ryan Pangilinan
Usually around this time of the year, I’ll slide over my top 5 records of the year to my friends at Redefine, but with immediacy buzzing in my head, I thought that I would break you guys off with MY favorite five records of the year! One of them is pretty obvious as it stands to be one of the surprising well received powerpop/pop-punk records of the year (hint: Saves the Day), but, please, read my opinions and agree with me because I have a blog and, therefore, my voice (words) must be heard (read)!
Mike Birbiglia “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” (New Wave Dynamics)
It’s not a secret that I’m a longtime fan of Mike Birbiglia’s work. His last recording, “Sleepwalk with Me,” was probably the last new CD that I purchased, which is saying a lot since I get most of my jams via Amazon’s mp3 store. But for Birbigs, I’ll make the effort. Through programs such as The Moth and This American Life, the anecdotes on “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” aren’t anything new – and this is particularly true if you happened to catch his live show over the last couple years – but it’s nice to have them on a singular recording.
“My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” is a great companion to “Sleepwalk with Me,” (as well as the book of same name) and is probably the best output that Birbiglia has had in his transition from standup comic to American storyteller, which is very apparent on his tangent bit, “The Scrambler.”
If you’ve seen Birbiglia’s special (now streaming on Netflix), then you know that he bookends the evening when talking about marriage and his internal struggles with it. I think for anyone who’s been slighted in relationships, yet holds out for just a little bit of hope, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” is easily one of the most relatable stories that you’ll ever hear.
Aziz Ansari v. Human Decency: Burying ‘Buried Alive’
by Ryan Pangilinan
I’ve long been a fan of Aziz Ansari’s work, whether it was his contribution to the insane sketch show, “Human Giant,” or as the top brown person on NBC’s “Parks and Rec.” Ansari’s first standup album, “Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening” was proof that the time for Asian comics in the mainstream had arrived. For his second special, “Dangerously Delicious,” Ansari made the special available for a $5 download, which was more than a fair price for a professionally shot sophomore release. While it lacked a lot of the punch and hunger of “Intimate Moments,” it was still relatively enjoyable.
I wish I could say the same for his latest endeavor “Buried Alive.” But it’s bad, real fucking bad.
Five people face the consequences when they underestimate the power (and alcohol tolerance) of the supernatural, and each other.
Alex from At Our Heels is doing this awesome looking short film via Kickstarter. I don’t normally post stuff like this, but if you’ve seen his entry for the ABCs of Death, then you know that he has some serious directing chops. Check out the teaser at the link and donate!
I feel like the Gravediggaz live in some strange cult vacuum where only the nerdiest of RZA and Prince Paul stans would remember this supergroup. I certainly remember MTV News taking an interest in what they dubbed “horrorcore” (alongside the even more lesser known Flatliners [featuring Uncle Rush’s nephew]) and doing a two-minute story on this genre that went nowhere.
Still, their first record, “6 Feet Deep,” came out during the Wu-Tang’s ascent into mainstream notoriety and shortly after Prince Paul laced De La with arguably their best record (“Buhloone Mindstate” if you need a reminder), so this is a neat little time capsule to remember those crazy hazy days of 1994.
I’ve been a longtime stan for the sweet surf-y sounds of Best Coast. For all the criticisms that Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno receive for their anti-thematic, shallow lyrics, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that Best Coast can write a damn great pop song.
While their last record, “The Only Place,” put a little bit more tangible emotion and helped elevate Cosentino’s lyrical prowess, overall, the album wasn’t as bright as its self-titled predecessor. On the EP, “Fade Away,” Cosentino and Bruno take the best of everything that they’ve done and compacted them into one recording.
Cosentino’s smoky vocals help lift power-pop gems such as “This Lonely Morning” and “Who Have I Become.” The production on this album is a step up, as well. They’re a long way from the fuzzy homemade recordings, but Best Coast really shines when they clean up a bit. Don’t get me wrong: the distorted guitars are still there, as are the catchy melodies, but with a little sheen, the band is primed for their continued takeover of the world.
I’m usually pretty weary of bands that get compared to Jawbreaker. As much as I would love to relive the halcyon days of pop-punk, it’s a hard time to recapture. For New York’s Chumped, I’m willing to say that while they are not Jawbreaker, they are far from the worst band ever, which is to say, they’re pretty fucking good.
Their self-titled EP on Anchorless rips through at a pretty breakneck rate, combining sing-a-long hooks and meticulously catchy guitar lines. I would venture to say that Chumped has more in common with Equal Vision-era Saves the Day than Jawbreaker, but I digress.
While the EP starts off with a bang (opening tracks “Union Square” and “Someday” are a one-two punch), the band closes with mid-tempo tracks, “Let Him Lie” and “Dear Emily Dickinson” which showcases the band’s ability to write beyond two-minute, three-chord jams (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
More than anything, I’m impressed with how short record like this shows so much diversity (re: potential). I’m particularly fond of the sound that the band is going for, which is pretty raw as far as pop-punk goes. This EP definitely makes me want to break out my skateboard, so bravo, Chumped, bravo.