If I’m sewn into submission, I can still come home to this

Discounting my annual top albums of the year posts, I’ve actually forgotten how to craft a blog entry. More importantly, I’ve forgotten how it feels like to post stuff online for the world to see.

I remember a decade and a half ago, it was a tool to keep up with your friends’ (and strangers’) lives. Bloggers never posted OOTDs; instead, they posted stories. About their weekends, their travel bloopers and their closet bosses and everyone had a laugh afterwards. Sometimes, people posted their fears; about not getting along with mom, a health scare, or growing old and unfulfilled. People commented on posts to say hey, and it was an easy way to know people cared.

15 years ago, I blogged about pop culture and whatever happened at work. Sometimes, I blogged about feelings and the pressures of quarter life. To which friends were there to pat you on the back and recommend music to power you through.

I think I stopped blogging regularly in ’09 and I couldn’t have imagined things the way they are today. I’ve traveled to places and experienced cool stuff. I’ve got a job that’s tough but rewarding, and married to a wife with a kid that I both love dearly.  In general, I think I turned out on the better side of okay.

I do hope my friends turned out okay too. I yearn for the days when friends still blogged, and I wish I had the time to read their posts. I’m terrible at talking about feelings with friends, and I wish I still have a way to keep tab with people I genuinely care about. I long for a way to know what they’ve been up to just by typing in a URL, and chat them up if things turn out like shit.

For now, my fervent desire is that my friends’ life paths are paved, their core unshaken, and their spirits are well. I hope their joints are not aching and that a good night’s rest await them at the end of their everyday.

So there. Just wanna let people know that I may not post much, but I’m just here.

2017 in records

Sort of felt like 2007 (my favorite year in music of all time) all over again with the artists that gave us releases this year. Anyway, here are my ten favorite.

10) Aromanticism by Moses Sumney – Magical, powerful, sultry and heartbreaking. A definite grower.

9) ken by Destroyer – Dan Bejar is like the individual version of Spoon, an artist who churns out consistently good records, that it probably ends up hurting them in the end.

8) Melodrama by Lorde – Very spacious and a well-balanced record, Melodrama is a great pop album front to back. Lorde reminds me of a fellow Australian artist who I love, Missy Higgins.

7) american dream by LCD Soundsystem – Honestly, I didn’t want to LCD Soundsystem to reform. Thank God they did.

6) Humanz by Gorllaz – A little less Damon Albarn and a little more guest features actually did this album wonders. I admit, as a whole, this album sometimes feel incoherent, but I just love so many tracks from this to make it a satisfying experience.

5) MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent – Experimental without being overbearing, this album is inventive, colorful and fun with great production value. Do yourselves a favor and listen to the song New York, probably the most soul-baring song of 2017.

4) Sleep Well Beast by The National – A slow burner that reaps the listener with great reward, The National adds another great album to their already illustrious career.

3) DAMN by Kendrick Lamar – Listen to this album front to back, or back to front, it really doesn’t matter. DAMN is fantastic and an album where Kendrick pushes boundaries on what records should be once again.

2) Ctrl by SZA – SZA simply has a voice that commands your undivided attention. Soulful, laid back and genuine. Ctrl is the best debut LP of the year, and one that elevates SZA along with the best of them.

1) Life Will See You Now by Jens Lekman – Like most of his records, this one manages to capture my heart with catchy hooks and clever lyrics. My most spun record this year, it’s a surprise to me how this one flew under most people’s radars. Jens Lekman is a master storyteller, a funny comedian, a virtuoso artist and a genius. It’s almost impossible not to smile while listening to his music.

Favorite podcasts

The past two years or so, I’ve found myself moving away from listening to music at every possible time to consuming podcasts instead. Don’t get me wrong, I still love music, but I just feel that podcasts give the brain something more to chew on.

Here is a list of some of my favorites.

  1. Celebration Rock – Steven Hyden, music columnist and critic at Uproxx talks about modern rock and indie music, as well as frequently diving back into the classics. His knowledge on the topics is comprehensive, and the show makes you understand and appreciate music all the more.
  2. Desert Island Discs – From the BBC, this podcast asks guests to list down eight songs, a book and a luxury item that they’ll take with them on a desert island. A nice look at how the great and influential minds think and arrive at their choices, and also an even greater reminder for me to go and seek the music they chose and love.
  3. Dissect – Probably my favorite podcast of all time. The show’s host, Cole Cuchna, spends an entire season dissecting every nook and cranny of an album (Season 1 was Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Season 2 is Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) and he spends one episode to study one song. It features thorough and in depth analysis from symbolism to actual events, and music theory as well. I just wish this was the sort of class that I had to take during college.
  4. Heavyweight – From Gimlet, this podcast by Jonathan Goldstein is a journey to the moment where everything changed. Guests are usually taken back to deal with a person, a moment or a feeling that have been giving them intense ordeal for several years. It’s laugh out loud funny one minute, then has you bawling in tears the next. Awesome stuff.
  5. Modern Love – The podcast of the popular New York Times column, this is a great look at the workings and intricacies of love and relationships. What’s best about this show is that I get a peek at how different types of love work, the type of love that I wouldn’t necessarily encounter in my everyday.
  6. Reply All – Another one from Gimlet, this is, as it’s tag line says, a show about the internet. I thought I was internet savvy, but this show tells me that the internet is a bigger and scarier (but funner) place. Please, do yourselves a favor and listen to Long Distance (Part 1 and 2)
  7. Staying Major – PBA great Eric Menk mostly talks about local hoops and being one of the best Philippine players of all time, his insights do have a lot of significance for me. Guests of the show have been stellar too and it’s a lot of fun to eavesdrop on their conversation. My initial criticism is that the early episodes of the podcast were a bit poorly researched, but Menk has certainly grown and steadily improved to make this show a must listen for me.

2016 in records

All in all, it’s been a pretty good year in music. Here are my favorite ten records.

10. A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead

9. 22, A Million by Bon Iver

8. Telefone by Noname

7. Lemonade by Beyoncé

6. Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest

5. Wildflower by The Avalanches

4. For All We Know by NAO

3. case/lang/veirs self-titled LP

2. The Life of Pablo by Kanye West

1. Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper

you don’t want no problems, want no problem with me

In most years, I do a post on good to great albums that were released for the first half of the year. Well, it’s almost October(!), but what the hey.

Here (in alphabetical order) are the albums for the year so far been that I think were fire.

  • Anderson Paak – Malibu
  • The Avalanches – Wildflower
  • The Beatles – Live at the Hollywood Bowl (Remaster)
  • Carly Rae Jepsen – EMOTION SIDE B
  • case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs
  • Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
  • Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
  • Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
  • NAO – For All We Know
  • POLICA – United Crushers
  • Wilco – Schmilco

but that’s when the hornet stung me and I had a serious dream

It’s hard to follow The Tragically Hip living outside Canada, so I don’t really know much of their body of work, except for the brief time that I lived in Vancouver. But from what I know of the band and their music, I hugely admire and respect what they’ve done and what they are to Canadians.

Having read a few weeks ago that singer Gord has terminal brain cancer made me sad. Today, I caught a few moments of the live stream of their last ever show, and it was crazy as expected.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in attendance for their final show, and said great things about the band. I was one of few who thought they’d make it big internationally and sad that they didn’t, but Trudeau said it best when ‘he’s so glad they’re all ours.’

Goodbye The Tragically Hip!

2015 in records

I skipped doing this list last year, partly because I was swamped with work and life, but mostly because I didn’t want to admit that Taylor Swift’s 1989 is my favorite album of 2014. (There’s no shame in admitting that now though.)

Still am swamped this 2015, but I figure, what the hell.

Here are my top ten records for the year that was.

10. I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty

9. Simple Songs by Jim O’Rourke

8. b’lieve i’m goin down by Kurt Vile

7. Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens

6. 1989 by Ryan Adams

5. Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett

4. Return to the Moon by EL VY

3. E•MO•TION by Carly Rae Jepsen

2. Natalie Prass by Natalie Prass

1. To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar

Hi hi howdy howdy hi hi

It’s almost the midway point of the year and I must admit that I haven’t listened to a ton of music lately. (I’ve been favoring podcasts now.) Still, here are some releases for this year that piqued my interest.

  • Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful
  • BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah – SOUR SOUL
  • Kamasi Washington – The Epic
  • Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
  • Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass
  • Shamir – Ratchet

(Except for Natalie Prass, pucha puro rap or jazz. Or both!)

So sad I couldn’t even come up with ten releases. But it’s worth mentioning that there are lots of albums that I’m sure are great but I just hadn’t had time to listen to. Like Sufjan’s Carrie & Lowell, Viet Cong’s self-titled, Jim O’Rourke’s Simple Songs and My Morning Jacket’s The Waterfall.

Now if only I can find that time.

Here Comes Your (Old) Man

Hi son,

You’re probably not conscious of it yet, but on most Sunday mornings, I play a sampling of random tunes for your enjoyment. The range is quite varied; Beatles, Robbie Williams, Boy Krazy, Miles Davis, Fleet Foxes, etc. Mainly, I do this just to see what reaction I’d elicit from you. Sometimes, I’d see you jump up and down, while more often than not, I’d see you just wearing a blank and unamused stare.

Anyway, I’ve decided to come up with a playlist of what I think are representative of the greatest artists / albums / songs of all time. These are the songs that in one way or another, soundtrack my moments of love, pain, triumph and heartache. I want to share these with you in hope that one day, you’d get a chance to ask me why these songs are a part of my life. And hopefully, you can make some of these songs a part of your life as well.

For best results, just click shuffle play.

Love,
Dad

P.S. Now is not the time for hip hop, son. Maybe in the future.

I don’t want you monkey mouth, motherfucker sitting on my throne again

More quick thoughts on the new Kendrick Lamar album over lunch..

I’ve literally not listened to anything else since this album dropped a week and a half ago. Not even when news of the new Sufjan Stevens, Death Cab for Cutie, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor albums came out. I’m sure I’ll get to those some records at some point in the near future. But for now, it’s all about Kendrick.

In my last post, I ended with a question on whether or not I’d grow to love this record. And the answer, is a resounding YES! Like most great and classic albums, this one is a grower. There are things that I didn’t quite enjoy at first, but after a couple of listens, I was blown away.

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At first, I was bothered by the poem Kendrick recites over and over throughout the album (I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence..), but when I absorbed what the album really was about, I found it to be a stroke of genius. He was reciting the poem to Tupac, and asking him about opinions about race, fame and power. He then ends the album asking Tupac about his thoughts on his caterpillar / butterfly analogy, one that ties the album beautifully together. And when Tupac doesn’t answer back, Kendrick awakes from his dream. I think how this album ended is the best ending to any album in recent memory.

I have more thoughts on this album, but I’m quite hungry so off to lunch I go. (Which also happens to be the reason about this post’s incoherence.) But before I leave, I’d like to say that I think I’m at a place where I can proclaim that To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar is the best album released by anyone since 2012.