I Actually Waited until the End of the Year

Music recommendation is a dangerous business. There aren't many more awkward situations than the one that follows you telling someone to listen to an awesome song, and then standing around for four minutes watching them listen to it - all the while questioning yourself if it really was that good to begin with. And wondering if it would help if you danced around a little.

I find that falling in love with music is never straightforward. A song might exist in the trivia of your periphery the first few times you hear it – at a house party, the last verse and chorus as you skim radio stations while driving, in the blur of The Hype Machine's Popular playlist for a certain day, as the soundtrack to an emphatic TV moment. But then one morning you somehow wake up with it in your head and realise you don't have it in mp3, you download it and play it several times like you're cramming for an exam on it. And all of a sudden you're in love, trying to find out if there's an album or when it's being released, reading the band's Wikipedia page, loving it on Last.fm. Other times a song you just know can become a song that you love when a third party is involved, like hearing it at some balanced moment during terrific times with friends or someone special, or at the peak of a bottle of whiskey.

I'm not sure how other people in the internet feel when someone recommends them a song. When someone tells me about a song they think I'd like, I instinctively want to reject whatever it is without even listening to it. Especially when they say something like:
'Hey Brad, you like The Shins and Big Country, right? I bet you'd dig Frightened Rabbit. Listen to The Modern Leper, you'll love it!'
I want to reply 'No! I'm not that simple! My musical tastes are inimitable, inspired by nothing but serendipity and insight. Don't treat my ears like some Prolog subroutine. I'm a unique snowflake motherfucker! Get out of my brain!'

With that said, I've made a list of songs from 2010 which I think are good. And I've posted them online, arranged from "best" to "best and listened to the most", pretty much. I haven't bothered with streaming links or anything because I figure most people are smart enough to know how to search on Grooveshark and YouTube and The Hype Machine if the vague sentence describing each song piques any curiosity.

I have also uploaded all the songs posted tonight into a zip file that you can download here, in case you feel the urge to immerse yourself in my recommendations for an hour or so.

The list is as follows...Continue Reading Best Songs of 2010...


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Top 10 Singles of 2010

The final 10 tracks of my best of 2010 list. You know how to Google if you want to listen. A zip containing all ten is here.

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10. Mark Ronson And The Business Intl feat. Simon Le Bon and Wiley
Record Collection

Mark Ronson proved on his covers album a few years ago that he could reproduce genre melting pop like a pro. In 2010 he kept his address book, but composed his own melodies and proved they could be just as infectious.

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9. Sia
Stop Trying

Adelaide born Sia, since moving overseas has made contacts with many talented people including Greg Kurstin - producer for Lily Allen and Kylie among others. Together they made Stop Trying, a brief but super catchy indie-pop single, cramming energy and grooves into a compact 160 seconds.

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8. Sleigh Bells
Infinity Guitars

The first time you hear this song will be one of the best times you hear this song. Just make sure the speakers are turned up loud.

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7. Rick Ross feat. Gucci Mane
MC Hammer

I was actually happy to find out Rick Ross lied about his criminal past and invented most of the stuff in his raps. It makes it easier to enjoy the testosterone and feather plumping without worrying that I'm advocating criminal activity.

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6. Skrillex with Bare Noize & Foreign Beggars
Scatta

Scatta is pretty much the perfect blend of dubstep, aurally pleasing MCs and apocalyptical beats. It sounds a little cheesy from a distance, but if you crank it up and close your eyes you can truly believe you're piloting a MechWarrior through hordes of zombies or Zerglings.

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5. Matt & Kim
Good For Great

Matt & Kim sound like an optimistic punk band with a keyboard instead of guitars - energetic melodies; rapid percussion and simple, bouncy grooves. Lately they've tried to mature into larger, more complex orchestrations (still with only the two instruments). When they pull it off it makes for some of the most catchy, fun songs of the year.

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4. iSquare
Hey Sexy Lady (Skrillex Remix)

As mentioned above, electro inclined Skrillex doesn't mind dabbling in some dark beats. His work on iSquare's Hey Sexy Lady was something else though, converting a RnB piece of dancefloor fluff into a Jack Torrance-esque moment of psychopathy. The blending of saccharine vocals and the blindsiding, hulking electro beat is phenomenal.


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3. The Tallest Man On Earth
The Dreamer

The Tallest Man on Earth gets featured twice this year because he put out two outstanding releases in the one year. After several albums of masterful acoustic folk he picks up an electric guitar for the first time ever on The Dreamer, and the result is predictably beautiful.

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2. Hot Chip
I Feel Better

Hot Chip seem to have no problems coming up with killer singles. The loop of dramatic synth-strings, digitally enhanced vocals and steady percussion at just the right BPM make I Feel Better into an electropop time bomb. Its serious sounding chords and goofy lyrics are disarming enough to keep the listener baited until the final crescendo of synths, steel drum and endorphins.

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1. Far East Movement feat. Dev and The Cataracs
Like a G6

Pop music has been obsessed with fidelity for the last few years, carving out micro-genres based on how much rhyming cloaks a group's songs. With their bedroom recording roots, Far East Movement have floated along this competition with grace, a threesome of producers skilled at conscripting the sonic demons hiding in the margins of amateur recording. But there's also beauty to be found in the places where unfiltered sunlight finds gaps in the clouds, and the embrace of that contrast gave Far East Movement a valuable new weapon on the haunting Like a G6.

LOLZ, Not Really..

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1. Yeasayer
Madder Red

Half beautiful and half sad, this single from New York's Yeasayer blends a healthy batch of the digital '80s into their existing indie rock sound. Madder Red has a simple, haunting loop of keys and crooning, coupled with finely performed guitar work and - when you pay attention to it - some very suberb bass guitar. Smoother than smooth, this is a piece of pop bliss.

The Deal

I have learnt much about moving the last few days. Most of all my things are I think somewhere on a train in a shipping container. Movers came on Thursday and we will see them again next Friday. I am working from home tomorrow until our final inspection and then leaving Adelaide for a good while, up Prospect road. This weeks nights will be spent in Freeling, Wagga, Blue Mountains and then Sydney respectively.
I will resume working from Sydney on probably Friday. Vanessa stars work early February. Homer Simpson jokes are kind of funny but meltdown jokes are not funny.

an economic plan to survive this summers environmental crisis.

Buy shares in whatever companies sell kayaks.

Today's weather is from: Hay, NSW.


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If you met yourself from the future, what would you ask your future self?
What if they wont tell you anything?

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Unplain Plains

The drive to Sydney was quite eventful. Day 2 was the longest leg, from Freeling, north of Adelaide to Wagga Wagga. A total of 959 kilometres. I'd planned to be on the road at 6am, but a flat tyre discovered just before bed the night before meant we had to wait for the local garage to open and to be safe I decided to replace all four tyres with brand new ones. We were on the road by 9am.

After about an hour I heard a helicopter hovering over the car, and after a quick glimpse upward I realised that I had another deflated tyre and I pulled over to the shoulder of the Sturt Highway. After unloading my swollen boot of possessions I changed the tyre like the burgeoning professional I was becoming, put the limper on and drove at half the speed limit to Waikerie. There we found a tyre shop and a bored mechanic who helped us put the spare back in the boot for good.

About five hours behind schedule, we resumed our trip through the riverland and into NSW - the land of many many clouds. To the North, Brisbane was receiving flood warnings. I had the easier task of driving through brief but exciting downpours. Luckily, I had new tyres.

By dusk we had only just reached the Hay Plain, a sprawling, boring mass of land only made interesting by the 360 degree horizon with its variety of eccentric, contrasting cloud systems. It was quite beautiful, and I wished I could both drive and take photos. In the end I took a few during a break for a crappy pizza that we ate for dinner.

Night and steady rain fell around the same time, with me about 200km West of Wagga Wagga. Much of the rest of the trip was spent on half repaired roads that were washed out in last months floods. Eventually we reached the motel and I was able to take off my pants, open a beer and wash the grease from my fingers. I felt like a man, and after 14 hours of driving smelt even more like a man.

East of Euston

East of Euston



Highway

Highway



Hay Plain

Hay Plain



Wentworth Falls Lake, Blue Mountains

Wentworth Falls Lake, Blue Mountains

Differences between Adelaide and Sydney

I came up with these in Kamikaze Mode on WriteorDie.com, to try and simulate the lack of second thought that these first impressions have had.

It's greener.
Many more spiders.
Channel 10 Weather Guy sounds like the Cunningham's Warehouse guy who yells the temperatures at you at rapid pace.
No Cunningham's Warehouse.
No Monkeys in the morning.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
The rugby player physique seems popular.
Lots more clouds, and breezes.
The two lane highway starts about 400kms from the CBD, instead of one hundred.
There are different birds.
Cicadas, although I have found only one shell so far.
Extreme lack of Woolworths Plus petrol stations!
Didn't see any Coopers on sale at the bottle shop, but wasn't exactly looking for them either.
Whenever something is mentioned as being AEST I don't have to mentally subtract half an hour.
No aeroplanes flying over my house for the first time in three years.
I'm pretty sure everyone is secretly judging me for being from Adelaide, although that could be the schizophrenia slowly developing.
Amount of people carrying DSLRs around in town is quite large.
No Broadband.
Physio's cost more.
I saw a sign saying "Early Bird Parking, in before 9:30am - $35"
Don't feel as guilty when I watch Adelaide 36ers playing at home on One HD.
Way more roundabouts, although that could just be my suburb.
The Princes Highway is very busy, which obviously doesn't exist in Adelaide.
I can catch a train home from town at 1am. But not much later than that.
Nuclear Power.
Much easier to avoid AFL.
The gap in One Day Cricket innings is now filled with News, rather than being filled with Antiques Roadshow and the first 30 minutes of the second innings being replaced with news.
I think I recognise a lot of the News/Current Affair Presenters as up and coming stars of Australian Television who disappeared from Adelaide televisions some time ago.
Also there is some new channel called TVS.
Reception is very bad although that's probably because the aerial is split.
When there's a story about dodgy humans in the news you don't have to guess if it was North or South, you just assume it was in the West.
Everytime you search for directions on Google Maps you then have to re-search with "Avoid Tolls" clicked.

Much Needed Win

This morning I had my first shower for about a week. I'd tried hard to avoid having such a gap; this isn't a PSA about the dangers of working exclusively from home. It's just that seeing our shower only has two temperatures - cold and scalding - most of the bathing I've done since moving here has been standing clear of the shower head, dipping one body part at a time under a cascade of freezing water.
A week is a long time to tolerate such a fault, but it seems a lot of things haven't been working lately and the shower found itself on a long list of things that don't work, next to internet, beds, shoulders, dishwashers, aerials, removalists, tyres and an HDMI cable I ordered from eBay.

Much of my manliness is staked on my ability to maintain a smooth, trouble-free environment, and I've found it quite frustrating to not be able rectify a lot of these problems on my own. After breakfast today I turned to Google to see if there were any plumbing forums that would help identify the cause of plumbing problems in the same way that programming forums help me with programming errors. And there were a lot! And I, The Plumber Detective of Sunday deduced almost by myself that the most common cause of a mixer tap problem was two water sources of different pressures. And even though I had no idea where our hot and cold water come from, and though it was never recommended anywhere on the Internet, I decided to experiment with running the bathroom sink at full blast on hot at the same time as the shower was running to see if that fixed it. And it worked! The shower's water didn't go cold but it's temperature dropped considerably. I was ecstatic. Vanessa was less impressed, as she was in the shower at the time.

After a lovely shower I felt a little bit better about myself and my ability to solve problems, and when we went to the hardware store later to pick up a few things I was able to look the floor staff in the eye without issues. Then this afternoon we had a power outage and our safety switch went up and I traced that down to a faulty stove and fixed that problem pretty quick too. So things are on a roll now!

Customer Service


I went to the post office to collect a parcel, because the courier took it to the downstairs door instead of upstairs, then left the pickup slip in my letterbox.

After waiting in line at the post office I showed them the pickup notice and my Adelaide driver's license - as the slip said to bring Photo ID. The receptionist told me I couldn't receive the package because the address on my license did not match the parcel's delivery address. She said I needed a letter with my address on it.

I told her that even though the address was wrong, a plan to drive all the way to NSW in the hopes someone with my name would receive a package that I could intercept when they weren't home to receive it was farfetched, but she insisted. Luckily, I had received just yesterday a letter from my power company when I cancelled our Adelaide account that they sent to my NSW address. I went home, came back, waited in line again and then showed my SA License plus my NSW Addressed power bill.

The same receptionist looked at it, then wandered in the back and brought me my parcel. Once I had it safely in my arms I said to her "When I only had the slip you assumed I'd broken into the letterbox of my namesake to steal it. How do you know I didn't just go back to his house and take another piece of mail to complete my ID?"

After she spent 20 seconds trying to think of answer, I turned and left.

Ratatat!

I've just been to see Ratatat live. Sometimes right after I buy a ticket to a band - even one I've listened to almost 1,500 times (not including in the car, at the gym, behind work's scrobble-blocking firewall and, now, at Ratatat concerts) - I'm not sure if I'm going for the experience, or because I wouldn't be able to live with myself knowing that while they played only a few kilometres away I'd been sitting at home, browsing the internet, changing lightbulbs and watching the Friday night movie.

Fortunately, Ratatat were awesome and reminded me of why I like them so much. Playing live, their show is guitar heavy with the all the amps maxed out and the guitars taking centre stage, riffing and wailing parts of their songs I didn't even know you could play on guitar. Away from the studio they sounded like freed prisoners, unshackled to be as crunchy and loud as they wanted. Lead guitarist Mike Stroud's instrument takes on the characteristics of a spoilt, only child - drums and synthesizers obey all his demands and he never had an older brother named vocals to tell him to be quiet and keep to himself.

Beyond the actual music the show was a little weird. I had to kill two hours waiting for it to start, and after deleting all the crap that had appeared in my phone's SMS dictionary and ordering a scotch and coke, that started to drag on a little. For the first time since landing in Sydney I actually felt out of fashion; Manning Bar had many hipsters, with their trendy stubble, ironic clothing combinations and retro shoes. I also saw more young people smoking tonight than I have in the whole two weeks I've been here. I didn't see a single rugby player physique either. Then again, perhaps things will seem a little diverse when you come up from the Sutherland Shire - perhaps the whitest place in Australia. When we got here I assumed all the Australian flags on the cars were in readiness for Australia Day but it's almost February and they're still flying. Even the local curry shop is only just barely by foreigners (they're English). The only legitimate multicultural experience I've had here was with my doctor.

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