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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.

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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.

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musical joyism.

My love affair with CDZA is the stuff of legend. They simply make the world a more joyful and beautiful place to live, and I say that with no exaggeration intended.

In this instance, we see the joy created when a super gay guy croons for random ladies, one dog (and if you stick around until the very end of the video, one famous cowboy) on the streets of NYC.

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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.

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try, fail, try again.

This was a really weird year. So much transition, so many things to distract me and keep me over-occupied, and way too much procrastinating and whatnot on my part.

I need to be writing again.

I am finally no longer working 7 days a week (at least for the moment) and I need to be writing every single day again. Something’s been holding me back, but it is time to get my shit together and get back after it. I like writing in lots of different ways, and while I am always at war with myself over Roused to Mediocrity (because let’s be honest, no one reads it) but I miss Roused. I miss sharing things I love, writing my way down random cultural rabbit holes, and raving about things that seem unappreciated… just in case anyone stops by to see it. I can’t do the full “Lists of 2013” because I simply missed too much this year culturally, but I am going to do a few installments of abbreviated lists in some form.

We’ll see how it goes.


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