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the best books i haven’t mentioned yet, part two. [2013 edition]

Part one is here.

And, we’re off!

7. Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell


Rainbow Rowell is Emily’s favorite author of the year. For that matter, she could be mine as well. In Eleanor & Park, Rowell somehow delivers a work that manages to be delightful and heartbreaking, joyful and devastating, funny and tear-jerking, often all on the same page, if not in the same paragraph.

I can’t recall any other book I’ve read that gets high school right, or being a teenager in love right, or nails the rage and depression of being the helpless young victim of abuse the way Eleanor & Park does.

This is a book to satisfy both folks who love YA romance, and people like me, who detest the vast majority of it. This isn’t just a love story, it is also an ode to music and rebellion and freedom and transcendence and self-discovery and the need we all have to somehow find ways of letting people see and accept those places in ourselves that we keep secret.

Rowell released two books in 2013, with one on the way this year. If that is any indication of how prolific this talented young writer is going to be, we all have reason to be excited.


8. All the Pretty Horses – Cormac McCarthy


Cormac McCarthy writes amazing novels, that’s just what he does. His work gets under a reader’s skin, clean and no-nonsense prose that is at once tough and elegant. He never feels to me like he is droning on, and yet he is still remarkably descriptive. One never merely reads about the post-apocalyptic wastelands, the savage border territories, or the Mexican horse ranches McCarthy writes about, we inhabit those places while we are reading and for some time afterward.

All the Pretty Horses is a beautiful novel about passion, and desire, and the limitations we all face in a fucked up world like ours. It is proof that McCarthy doesn’t need to rely on savage violence to move a reader, that violence being something many of his novels are known for, and rightly so. This novel, while it still has a moment or two of more muted violence than you’ll find in, say, Blood Meridian, would be a great place to start for someone curious about McCarthy’s work but uninterested in cannibals, psychotic nihilists, or large gangs of monstrous outlaws murdering and pillaging their way across the North American West.


9. Embassytown – China Miéville


Everything Miéville writes is fascinating. His work is weird, and he is proud of it, and that is just one of the things that makes his work so satisfying and original. He is supremely talented, with prose that is visceral and complex. He never does the same thing twice, and has even claimed he wants to write a book in every genre eventually. Yet, with every genre he writes, he puts his own beautifully mad twist on it, making him the sort of author you should read in a given genre even if you think you don’t like said genre.

Embassytown is science fiction, set in a future where humans have colonized the stars, on a planet where a small city of people live amidst a mysterious alien race they call the Hosts. STAY WITH ME. Embassytown is, among other things, a way for Miéville to play with ideas of language and metaphor and meaning, and I can’t really say much more without spoiling stuff.

As always, it is evident that Miéville is a brilliant human being. I am running out of books by this wild, crazy, socialist genius that I haven’t read, so hopefully he will continue to pump out books at a steady clip.


10. Hyperion – Dan Simmons


Ugh, depressingly terrible cover. As is often the case with genre books it seems to imply that the artist never actually read the book, but instead was just told about a particular scene or concept and went at it.

Anyway, Hyperion first came to my attention because of a genre class Emily took with Nancy Pearl, the world’s most famous librarian. When Nancy Pearl recommends something, you should pay attention to it. I did, and got the book from Powell’s in exchange for some other books I didn’t want. Then former RtM writer W saw the book in a photo and gushed about it for a while, and it moved to the top of my personal reading queue. Aren’t you glad you know that story now?

Hyperion is everything W and Nancy said it would be. Told as a frame story, where much of the action actually takes place as a series of characters tell stories about why they are returning to the mysterious world of Hyperion (named for the Keats poem) where they will likely meet their doom. Each chapter thus shifts into an entirely new genre, with a new voice. It’s a joy to read as Simmons somehow brings all that together into a single narrative, revealing a little at a time to introduce this terrible planet.

The book engages deep territory, and I can’t wait to get through some more books on my ‘To Read’ shelf so I can grab the second book in the Hyperion Cantos. 


11.  Attachments – Rainbow Rowell


More Rainbow Rowell. Her first novel, while not as good as Eleanor & Park, is still more than worth your time.

The story follows a guy trying to figure his life out who takes a job doing electronic security at a newspaper, or in other words, he reads flagged emails to make sure no one is doing anything inappropriate. He comes across emails between two best friends at the paper, and quickly becomes enamored with their banter and conversations. As the back cover of the book says: “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you.”

Immensely likable characters written in Rowell’s playful but stirring voice makes Attachments another winner.


12. Smoke and Mirrors – Neil Gaiman


And, more Gaiman. I know a lot of people don’t like short stories, but I love them more all the time. This is especially true with writers like Gaiman, with a voice I love and a wide swath of tones, themes, interests, etc. It makes it so that each new story goes to a wildly different place, and that can be a whole lot of fun in the right hands. Obviously, I think Gaiman is a prime example of “the right hands.”

A dark, 100 word story about Santa Claus; a man who unwittingly invites the end of the world because his fiancé cheated on him; a werewolf detective; an old lady who finds the Holy Grail at a thrift shop… Smoke and Mirrors has a little bit of everything.

Long live the king.



The end

the best books i haven’t mentioned yet, part one. [2013 edition]

As much as I love making lists, I hate to make straightforward top ten lists and whatnot. That’s why most years I won’t do a Ten Best Movies of the Year list, but instead will do a list of my favorite heroes, then a list of my favorite villains, along with a bunch of other superlatives. It is why most years Brian and I make a bunch of music lists in different categories instead of simply picking our five or ten favorite albums. Part of the reason for this is because it’s more fun, but it is also because I hate leavings things I love off of the list as I whittle it down. It also results in the comparison of apples and oranges.

Alas, sometimes that’s all a guy can do when he wants to share his favorite stuff with people. The only thing that separates this from a straightforward top ten list is that there are twelve books included, and that i avoided redundancy by leaving off books I’ve already written about. This is the best of the rest, as it were. The books I haven’t written about yet came down to time and energy, and wasn’t because the books I neglected were inferior to the books I raved about. I don’t love the books on this list more or less than the books I’ve already mentioned.

As is always the case with books, these are NOT necessarily books released this year, but instead are books I read this year for the first time. Some are brand new, some are decades old.

The books I’ve already written about are:
This is How You Lose Her – Junot Diaz
The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater
Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo
The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman

Here are six more I loved, out of the twelve I will inevitably get to, in the order I read them:


1. Dodger – Terry Pratchett


Set in a slightly alternate version of Victorian London, a teenaged tosher (a street urchin who makes his living collecting valuables that have washed into the sewer) named Dodger saves a young woman trying to escape from would-be kidnappers. The result is an adventure that brings him into contact with historical figures like Dickens and Benjamin Disraeli, and fictional characters like Sweeney Todd.

It’s a light, fun read, but not without some satisfying engagement with questions of coming of age, finding our place, and decisions about what it means to live well in a morally ambiguous and complicated world.

The eponymous main character is easy to root for. Personally, I’ve always been a bit predisposed to love sneaky, clever characters who are moral in the big areas but grey in the smaller ones. Those underdog characters using wits and street smarts to consistently get one over on the cruel and powerful have always been a favorite of mine, and Dodger is a top notch example.


2. The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin

left hand of darkness

Another installment on my quest to read every novel that has won both the Hugo and the Nebula, and yet another reason to be in awe of Le Guin’s body of work. Le Guin’s science fiction/fantasy functions at a higher level than most. Often, science fiction that wrestles with ideas like this sacrifices prose, but hers is always beautifully written, never a missing or wasted word.

The Left Hand of Darkness finds a human character sent alone to a planet of sexually androgynous humanoids to be a representative for the Ekumen, a galactic coalition or empire. Never wanting a new planet to join the coalition due to fear or intimidation, and never wanting unnecessary bloodshed, the Ekumen always sends a single envoy to reveal the existence of other intelligent live in the universe, and establish first contact and an invitation to join the Ekumen.

One of the most celebrated SF novels of all time, the territory explored is complex and rich, but the writing is always simple and straightforward. The metaphors of the book play with sexuality, gender, political intrigue, language, religion, and faith.

When folks make claims about liking Battlestar Galactica because “it isn’t like other science fiction, it is about people and ideas and politics,” they are ignorant of the fact this isn’t what separates Battlestar Galactica from science fiction, it is what separates Battlestar Galactica from the shitty, lazy sort of science fiction. Among many other things, all fiction uses metaphors in the telling of a story to say things that can’t be said well enough in mere propositions and arguments, science fiction and fantasy just uses a particular palette of themes in doing that. Sure, there are garbage science fiction books that appeal to people who will read anything with spaceships in it, but writing off all science fiction because of that is like writing off Jane Austen as a hack because Harlequin Romance novels exist.

The Left Hand of Darkness is proof positive that a book should never, ever be judged by its genre, and if you write off an entire style of writing without curiosity you’re lazy, and you’re the one missing out.

Rant ended.


3. Forever Peace – Joe Haldeman

Joe Haldeman_1997_Forever Peace

And immediately, another installment in my quest to read every book that has ever won both the Hugo and the Nebula. Although the author is the same, and the title sounds like the title of a sequel, this novel is actually entirely separate in narrative from Haldeman’s earlier novel The Forever War. Forever Peace engages war, but in a very different way, and from an entirely different angle. Actually, I think it is far more brilliant and interesting than The Forever War (which I loved, by the way).

Forever Peace is set in a not very distant future where American military personnel jack their brains into computers and remotely control units called “soldierboys” to fight around the world. That premise could easily set up a straightforward action story, where narrative loosely connects action scenes. Instead, this is a novel that is constantly surprising and engaging, and like The Forever War, pushes the reader to understand the inevitable costs of war on individuals, societies, and beyond. This one spins way out beyond that, too, with all sorts of twists and turns, without ever losing its core of intelligent ideas.

In connection with the argument made in regards to the previous book, I actually think this book is more accessible to the science fiction virgin. Even if you think you don’t like SF, you should still give this book a try.


4. Ironweed – William Kennedy


Ironweed is the Pulitzer winning novel about Francis Phelan, a homeless drunk, once a talented baseball player, who is so haunted by his that he is crippled by it. To a lesser degree, it is also about his lover, who is equally trapped in her life as a drunk.

Francis man wanders around his hometown of Albany, returning after years away, as he comes to terms with whether or not he will finally face his (literal) ghosts and try to live again.

As the Pulitzer suggests, this book is beautifully written, wonderful prose that adds to the wrestling heartbreak and hope on Ironweed’s pages. The characters are never lionized or demonized, Francis feels like a real person, unable to forgive himself for his past mistakes, unable to reconcile his current state to the giant he once believed himself to be. Yet, as he is forgiven by others, the reader hopes he might come to see himself in a new light, neither giant nor monster, but simply a man.

I look forward to eventually reading the rest of Kennedy’s novels, some about other members of the Phelan clan, and almost all part of his Albany Cycle. 


5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

ocean at the end of the lane

Such a surprise that the newest book by my favorite author would show up on this list (it’s also not the last time he shows up either).

As said in this review of the book, those of us who love Gaiman love his voice just as much as we love whatever he says with it. I love the things Gaiman writes about, but I also genuinely love the way he writes about them.

My masters thesis was about fiction and its ability to (quoting my own abstract) “create a liminal space which can be a site of growth and transition, in which we can enter into ambiguity and reemerge as changed people, with increased capacity for wonder, mourning, relationship, creativity, and life.” It is no coincidence that it is Gaiman’s work that I used as a central way of discussing fiction’s power to do this. Gaiman is the storyteller who, in my mind, best illustrates the power of fiction (starting with myth as far back as history stretches) to do what I argued it is capable of doing.

In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Gaiman writes a story of a man who returns to the neighborhood of his childhood, and there re-enters a story from his youth he thought imaginary. In his narrative, we are confronted with the reality that as we “grow into ourselves” as adults, we often leave ourselves behind in truth. Part of the reason I love Gaiman’s work so much is because it is often an invitation to risk and life, and his stories lead me down into the dark and terrifying terrain that is my own heart, reminding me always to do the scary work of listening to my desire instead of constantly hiding it from myself.


6. Motherless Brooklyn – Jonathan Letham

motherless brooklyn

Lionel Essrog is muscle for a sleazy detective agency, he also suffers from the frequently comorbid conditions of Tourette Syndrome and OCD. When his boss is killed, Essrog is compelled to unravel the who and the why.

In this wonderfully written private detective novel, Letham explores the difficulty of unraveling the mystery of ourselves. And in that sense, instead of truly offering answers, what Letham actually does is better reveal the mystery and the questions.

Motherless Brooklyn offers the excitement, enjoyably dark characters, and pacing of a detective novel, but with brilliant prose,  and a far more profound and engaging story.



The end

my favorite albums of the year – vampire weekend.


I’ve always liked Vampire Weekend, but to be honest, before this album I’d gotten a bit tired of them. They’d lost my attention. I thought it was just me, and wouldn’t have been able to put my finger on why I wasn’t into them anymore. That is, until I heard Modern Vampires of the City. Then it all came together.

I remember a time in grad school, learning about how mystery stories, specifically detective stories, work. We get a big narrative of mystery, and then at the end the detective delivers a second narrative that casts new light onto the entire story we thought we knew. Important details become irrelevant, throwaway moments become linchpins, and the whole thing suddenly makes sense we felt but didn’t really see earlier. For me, Modern Vampires of the City functions as a second narrative in my experience of Vampire Weekend. 

With this album, Vampire Weekend delivers on their potential. That’s what it took to get me to realize that they hadn’t done that before. It’s possible I never saw that potential to begin with. Vampire Weekend was fun and light, and somehow simultaneously melancholy and playful. If done well that can be enough. At least for a while. Yet, there wasn’t enough substance to hold me for the long haul (If I never hear A-Punk again I’ll be ok with that).

With MVotC, they added a depth and complexity to their music. It wasn’t that they changed entirely, this isn’t The Edge saying that Achtung Baby was the sound of four men chopping down the Joshua Tree. Vampire Weekend’s subject matter did get a little weightier, more questioning and skeptical (or did I just miss that before?). Yet, that weight doesn’t take away their inherent optimism. They’re still fun, still light and bubbly, but somehow by going deeper into that playful melancholy… or melancholy playfulness, they found depth I wouldn’t have expected possible for them stylistically. However, once I heard it, it became clear it was there all along.

Vampire Weekend was already popular. They were talented and made people dance, which helped them find success in the indie and commercial market. But it is this album that moves them into a different level artistically, and if they continue with this kind of growth then they (or some version of them after they break up) will be a part of the music landscape for a long time.

The end

my year in movies, 2013.

2013 was a really low year for me in movie watching, which fits with the trend of the year. I will return in 2014!!

The key is mostly the same as always:
(#) Movie I saw in the theater.
[#] Movie I saw for the first time.
E# Movies I watched with Emily.
Favorites (These underlined films cannot be movies I saw this year for the first time, or movies I have only seen once, they have to be movies that have been able to stand up viewing after viewing, and still keep me coming back for more.)
*Best movies I’d never seen before. (It doesn’t matter when these movies came out, I saw them for the first time this year, and they were awesome. I was probably too liberal with my asterisks, I just couldn’t help myself.)
Halloween Movie Fest.

*1. Les Misérables [1] (1) E1
2. Trouble with the Curve [2] E2
3. The Avengers
4. The Dark Knight Rises – E3
5. Jeff, Who Lives At Home [3]
*6. Django Unchained [4] (2)
django-unchained-jamie-foxx7. Life of Pi
8. Dredd [6]
9. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
10. I Love You, Man
*11. Pitch Perfect [7] E4
*12. Your Sister’s Sister [8] E5
13. The Pirates! Band of Misfits [9] E6
14. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story [10]
15. El ángel exterminador [11]
*16. Safety Not Guaranteed [12] E7
17. Chicago [13]
18. Thor
19. F for Fake [14]
20. Death Wish [15]
21. The Virgin Suicides [16]
*22. Argo [17] E8
*23. Silver Linings Playbook [18] E9


24. To Have and Have Not [19]
25. Premium Rush [20]
26. Lincoln [21] E10
27. Crash
*28. The Interrupters [22] E11
29. The Guns of Navarone [23]
30. Cabaret [24]
31. Last of the Mohicans [25]
32. CQ [26]
33. Moonrise Kingdom – E12
*34. Zero Dark Thirty [27] E13
35. Before Sunrise – E14
36. Killer Joe [28]
*37. Before Sunset [29] E15

before-sunset_138. Amour [30] E16
39. Paper Moon [31]
40. The Dark Knight Returns: Part II [32]
41. Les amours imaginaires [33]
42. Phantom of the Opera (1925) [34]
*43. The Perks of Being a Wallflower [35] E17
*44. Persona [36]
45. The Master [37]
46. The Man Who Knew Too Much [38]
47. Bronson [39]
*48. Gaslight [40]
49. Deliverance [41]
50. Metropolitan [42]
*51. Blue Velvet [43]

large_blue_velvet_blu-ray_4 52. Get Carter (1971) [44]
53. Barry Lyndon [45]
54. Robot & Frank [46] E18
*55. Body Heat [47]
*56. Warrior [48]
57. The Thing From Another World [49]
*58. Suspicion [50]
*59. La grande illusion [51]
60. The Warriors [52]
61. The Man with the Iron Fists [53]
*62. The China Syndrome [54] E18
63. Fatal Attraction [55]
*64. Urbanized [56] E19
65. The Poseidon Adventure [57]
*66. Do-Deca-Pentathlon [58]
67. Killing Them Softly [59]
68. Hitchcock [60]
69. Oblivion [61] (4)
*70. Snabba Cash [62]

Snabba Cash II 1 71. This is 40 [63] E20
72. Hit and Run [64]
73. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) [65]
74. Rushmore [Criterion Commentary]
75. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [66]
76. The Rocky Horror Picture Show [67] E21
*77. Thelma & Louise [68]
78. Safe House [69]
*79. Iron Man 3 [70] (5) E22
*80. Pitch Perfect – E23Pitch-Perfect-Anna-Kendrick

81. Pusher [71]
82. The Man Who Fell to Earth [72]
83. Westworld [73]
84. Barbarella [74]
85. Election [75]
86. Jack Reacher [76] E24
*87. What Ever Happened To Baby Jane [77]
*88. Star Trek Into Darkness [78] (6) E25
89. Broken City [79]
90. To the Wonder [80]
91. Romance with a Double Bass [81]
92. Hard Boiled [82]
*93. Django Unchained
94. Coffee and Cigarettes
95. Casa de mi Padre [83]
96. Beasts of the Southern Wild
97. Warm Bodies [84] E26
98. Frankie Go Boom [85]
99. The Omen [86]
100. A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III [87]
*101. 24-Hour Party People [88]24-hour-party-people-02-20-g 102. Inception – E27
103. Man of Steel [89] (7)
104. Pacific Rim [90] (8) E28
*105. The Gruffalo [91] E29
106. Ironweed [92]
107. This is the End [93] (9)
108. You Instead [94]
109. The Bourne Legacy [95] E30
110. Knuckleball! [96]
*111. The 400 Blows [97]
112. Cold Comfort Farm [98]
*113. Flight [99] E31

flight-picture01 114. Hellboy: Blood and Iron [100]
*115. Shoot the Piano Player [101]
116. Despicable Me 2 [102] (10) E32
117, The Sapphires [103] E33
*118. No [104]no-gael-garcia-bernal

119. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World [105]
120. Rise of the Guardians [106] E34
121. 42 [107] E35
122. Spring Breakers [108]
123. Welcome to the Punch [109]
*124. The Central Park Five [110] E36
125. Cape Fear (1962) [111]
126. Trance [112]
127. Somebody Up There Likes Me [113]
128. Croupier [114]
*129. Mud [115]
*130. Kings of Summer [116]the-kings-of-summer01

131. Frankenweenie [117] E37
132. The Descent [118]
133. Re-Animator [119]
134. American Football [120] (11) E38
135. Les diaboliques [120]
*136. Peeping Tom [121]
*137. Braindead (Dead Alive) [122]
138. Citadel [123]
139. The Awakening [124]
140. Mama [125]
141. Pontypool
*142. Shotgun Stories [126]
*143. Gravity [127] (12)
*144. Thor: The Dark World [128] (13) E39
*145. Monsters University [129] E40
*146. The Grey [130]
*147. Much Ado About Nothing (2012) [131] E40Screenshot_08_large 148. Ender’s Game [132] E41 (14)
149. Intermission [133]
*150. The Day of the Doctor [134] E42
*151. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [135] (15) E43
152. The Look of Love [136]
153. Idiots and Angels [137]
154. The Great Gatsby [138] E44
155. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans [139]
156. Pain & Gain [140]
*157. Frozen [141] (16) E45
*158. The Way Way Back [142] E46THE WAY, WAY BACK
*159. Withnail & I [143]
160. World War Z [144]
161. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues [145] (17) E47
162. Die Hard
163. Elysium [146]
*164. American Hustle [147] (18) E48
*165. Prince Avalanche [148]Prince_Avalanche_1_PUBS

166. The To-Do List [149] E49
167. 2 Guns [150] E50

The end

my favorite albums of the year – pusha t.


This year has seen a remarkable saturation of amazing hip hop albums. Some are genre busting, experimental powerhouses like Yeezus (more on that another day), but there are also a large number of straightforward hip hop albums that push the genre forward, but in a way that’s more accessible than Mr. West’s most recent outing. Case in point: My Name is My Name by Pusha T.

I’d been looking forward to this album for a while. The 36 year old rapper, who makes up half of Clipse, has been active for some time (over two decades), but since I’m not the hip hop head I wish I was, he didn’t come to my attention until he started showing up on Kanye tracks a few years ago.

While I was anticipating Pusha’s first solo studio LP, this album is far, far better than I could have hoped. It’s amazing from end to end. The production is fantastic, and delivery-wise he has the street cred, awareness, and subject matter of a young Jay-Z, but with hunger, energy, and intensity that Jay-Z never had even at the peak of his lyrical abilities, which is saying something since Pusha is nearing his 40’s, not exactly prime time for most emcees.

Pusha T’s flow is dynamic, sharp, aggressive, and engaging. In a lot of ways I feel like he is an East Coast companion to Kendrick Lamar, who fittingly shows up on this album with a great verse of his own.

As much as I love this year’s outings by Run the Jewels, Chance the Rapper, Ye, Gambino and others, I think if I was only allowed to keep one hip hop album from 2013, this would be it. 

The one downside I have to mention is that Chris Brown appears on the album, who I think is the worst person in music.

I totally understand how unlikely it is that folks buy music anymore, but I’ll be including Amazon links to the albums I mention. If you feel so inclined, support the band AND Roused to Mediocrity in one amazing swoop! If you’re interested, click the album cover below to buy this album for 3.99.

The end

my favorite albums of the year – daft punk.

Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is perhaps the prime example of why I am really glad I don’t listen to the radio. My resistance to radio stations isn’t because I think I am above pop music by any means. Well crafted pop music can be beautiful, significant, and lasting. Michael Jackson wasn’t amazing because he was somehow popular without making actual pop music, the crowned King of Pop was amazing because he made perfect pop music that put on full display everything that pop was and is capable of. So, when I say I don’t listen to the radio (outside of KEXP), I don’t mean it in the “Kill Your Television” sense, I just hate how terrible radio stations are, what with their necessary enslavement to the record companies. If I listened to the radio, I would hate songs that I initially loved, just because they play the same six songs OVER and OVER and OVER.

Thus, I would hate the pop masterpiece “Get Lucky” if I’d allowed the radio to creep into my life. I shared the video clip of the song here on Roused after they shared a teaser clip at Coachella this year, and I never fell out of love with the song.

Whew, thank goodness I didn’t let the radio tarnish that! I’m glad that Daft Punk achieved their first massively played hit that wasn’t a Kanye West sample, and I am equally glad that the song wasn’t ruined for me as a result.

Random Access Memories is, in my opinion, an amazing album. It is a meticulously crafted love letter to music. It is a celebration of all the things that music can do, the way it helps us dance, party, grieve, love, and feel, the way music touches us and changes us. It is also a love letter to the craft of making music, of production and innovation, of looking backward and forward artistically. RAM varies quite a bit, from straightforward dance grooves to an interview with a man in his 70’s that somehow doesn’t get old for me with each listen, it goes from electric sex to songs that sound like they belong on a darkly epic broadway musical. The album shifts from vapid to profound, deep to shallow, but somehow never sacrifices its place as a technically tight and perfectly produced whole.

I love these masked musical hooligans.

daft-punk-630 This post comes with not one, but TWO Daft Punk music videos!

I totally understand how unlikely it is that folks buy music anymore, but I’ll be including Amazon links to the albums I mention. If you feel so inclined, support the band AND Roused to Mediocrity in one amazing swoop! If you’re interested, click the album cover below to buy this album.

The end

my favorite albums of the year – chvrches.

Normally, this is the time of year when Brian and I would do awesome music posts to share our very favorite albums. That’s not going to happen in 2013, hopefully it will return in 2014.

Still, I want to do something to share some of my favorite albums of the year, even if it is in less grandiose fashion than normal. I’ll just mention one a day, a few times a week, and share a music video for your enjoyment, in case you’re unfamiliar with the band.

It should come as no surprise that Chvrches makes it on the list, because even in a down year in activity here on Roused they’ve still gotten quite a bit of exposure starting back in May.

I really love when Electronic Pop or SynthPop is done well, but most of the time it isn’t done well at all. If I skip to a few local radio stations that aren’t KEXP when I am driving it doesn’t take long to hear that EPop and SynthPop are getting pretty popular right now, and that most of the popular iterations are cringeworthy.

That’s why I love Chvrches! They are everything that is right about the genre. They simultaneously lean forward into innovation and backward into a deep well of what has come before them. It isn’t hard to notice the influences of their 80’s and 90’s childhoods, for example, the band brought the house down here in Seattle with their encore cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” and they have also notably covered Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay.” It feels so natural when they perform these songs, because songs and artists like Prince and Whitney (among many others across genres) can be felt at the heart of Chvrches. Not in a way that makes them sound derivative or carbon copied, but instead in a way that feels like the inevitable descendants of the innovators of the past.

**Side note: I’ve heard a lot of people say that Chvrches just sounds like Purity Ring. This is almost understandable, but largely just proves those people aren’t listening very closely. To be honest, Purity Ring’s breakthrough 2012 album Shrines sounds a hell of a lot more like SBKTRKT’s 2011 self-titled album than anything from Chvrches resembles Purity Ring. Both bands are electronic and make you want to dance. Both bands have female lead singers. That seems to be all people need these days to announce something is derivative. I think maybe some folks just want one female led group in each genre to represent all of the female output artistically. Tokenism. Chvrches is much more than just a Purity Ring knockoff!**

The Bones of What You Believe is a celebration of the very best of pop music and electronic music, without being shackled or pinned in by the boundaries of either. They also manage to stay entirely accessible, and if they can get some on screen charisma to match their musical charisma, the world will be theirs for the taking.

P.S. – I think their music videos are pretty boring and uninteresting, but the music is worth checking out. If you haven’t heard Chvrches yet, watch the video just to experience the auditory goodness.

I totally understand how unlikely it is that folks buy music anymore, but I’ll be including Amazon links to the albums I mention. If you feel so inclined, support the band AND Roused to Mediocrity in one amazing swoop! If you’re interested, click the album cover below to buy this album for 3.99.

The end