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‘sunday candy,’ by donnie trumpet & the social experiment.

Recently, two friends of mine were discussing how much they hate end of year lists. As is obvious from this blog most years, when I actually get around to making my own year end lists, I have to respectfully disagree.

My favorite thing about end of year lists is that I inevitably miss a bunch of stuff through the year, now more than ever. When other folks share their favorite stuff from the year, it makes it easy for me to discover great things from the year that would have otherwise slipped through the cracks. I can adjust my must-watch and listen and download lists accordingly. I love it.

Case in point. Last April, Chance the Rapper gave me a really great belated birthday gift. I’d already experienced and loved the album, but the music video for “Sunday Candy” I’d missed entirely.

Then Stereogum’s “50 Best Music Video’s of 2015” remedied that.

This single take music video of a fake high school musical is a delightful companion to the unabashedly joyful song Chance wrote for his grandmother.

Maybe you can make it through watching this video without smiling, but I definitely can’t. After we watched it I made Emily watch it again immediately. I’ve watched it another time since then. I’m going to go watch it again now.


damien rice – my favourite faded fantasy.

damien rice faded review

I know I’ve missed so many great albums this year, but one album I’m glad doesn’t fall into that category was the long-awaited return of everyone’s favorite (or favourite) melancholy Irishman, Damien Rice. My Favourite Faded Fantasy is well worth the eight long years we’ve been waiting.

The years away were apparently quite the growing period for Rice. And from what he’s said in interviews, during that time he was wondering right along with the rest of us whether he would ever release anything again. Before the hiatus, his life crashed and burned, his relationship with Lisa Hannigan publicly fell apart, and he forgot how to write music. It’s the sort of scenario we’ve seen in art for as long as there has been history. So often this is the part of the story that ends in self-destruction, suicide or overdose or at least the napalming of every good thing.

Damien Rice found his way out.

In an unsurprisingly honest interview you should read, he told Irish Independent: “I invited all these different sides of myself to dinner – the arrogant fucker, the really nice guy, the over-polite fella – and we all just sat down and had a lot of dinners together and slowly, when I made friends with all these different crazy personalities that were going on in my head, I started to feel less angry and less frustrated and everything just started to open up and then I started to reach for the guitar again and tinkling at the piano again, and I started spotting all these things that I had done in the past that led to this thing happening, and so my finger-pointing completely changed.”

The resulting album is remarkable. Rick Rubin’s production is beautiful; big strings and sparse vocals in just the right places, always with that autumnal feel Rice does so well. As much as any other singer/songwriter I know of, he exposes the entirety of his soul on the track and in performances. He is so remarkably honest in his music, and so it’s no surprise that he has released an album that overflows with the hard-fought clarity of that time in the darkness. Most often My Favourite Faded Fantasy sounds like a letter to Hannigan all these years later, still full of fondness, regret, and heartbreak.

I’d say I’m sorry for the circumstances while still grateful they led to the creation of this wonderful album, but Rice says he isn’t sorry for anything because of how much he’s learned. So instead, I just hope to apply some of his well earned lessons to my own life, inviting all of the hurting and disparate parts of myself to come together for coffee so we can figure out how to make amends and create something beautiful together.


four albums you should listen to, in case you haven’t yet.

I’m behind on most music at the moment, but there are still a few new releases of late I’m into. Do yourself a favor, and get your hands on all of these recent album releases.


1. Broken Bells – After the Disco



2. St. Vincent – St. Vincent



3. Beck – Morning Phase



4. Phantogram – Voices





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.


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.


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.


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.


coachella got lucky.

Apparently, everyone who as at Coachella last night at the main stage got to see an unannounced “trailer” from the upcoming Daft Punk album. The trailer reveals the rest of the collaborators on the album (until now, most had been kept a secret, with only a few having been revealed recently).

Random Access Memories comes out at the end of May. The clip, featuring Nile Rodgers and Pharrell, is from the song “Get Lucky.”

I want to go to there.