Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Joey Bada$$ and Samy Elbanna - two teenagers who will restore your faith in music

Lost Society's Samy Elbanna and Pro Era's Joey Bada$$

I was sitting at a poker table the other day when the conversation turned to music. The guy in the 7-seat was talking about a recent debate he'd had regarding the best 10-year stretch in music history. He was pretty convinced that it was 1965-1974, and nobody was putting up much of an argument. After all, it's hard to argue with an era that includes the prime output of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, CCR and Janis Joplin, just to name a few.

After mulling it over for a bit, I acknowledged that his decade was damn near impossible to top, but that for me, it would probably be 1986-1995. It's a span that saw thrash metal -- and, for better or worse, hair metal -- reach its creative zenith. It also includes the rise and abrupt fall of grunge and the entire "golden era" of hip-hop. Maybe names like Nirvana, Metallica, Guns N' Roses, Slayer, the Pixies, Jane's Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, Public Enemy, N.W.A and the Beastie Boys don't quite stack up to the names above, but they're pretty goddamn close.

Not coincidentally, that also happens to be the era when music mattered the most to me. In my teens and early 20s, discovering great new music was pretty much my number one priority, and at the time, there seemed to be an abundance of it. Unfortunately, by acknowledging as much, I'm basically outing myself as one of those annoying old people who always complain about how much better music was "back in the day." I never wanted to become that guy, but what can I say? Everyone gets old eventually, and full-time jobs, mortgage payments, credit card debt and student loans -- and, if I'm being completely honest, poker and video games -- tend to take priority over seeking out cool new bands.

That said, I do still try to make a concerted effort to find awesome new music as time and life allow (and even write about it on occasion). It's probably no surprise, then, that two of my favorite new artists sound like bookends of that glorious '86-'95 era. What is surprising is that neither of them is even old enough to buy a drink.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Top 10 albums of 2012

Well, I've run out of excuses for the absence of my "best albums of 2012" list. It's been 2013 for damn-near two weeks now, so I can't exactly say that I'm waiting for a last-second release to blow my mind. In truth, I've just been lazy in 2012: lazy about writing and lazy about seeking out new music. That's what happens when you're your own editor and you don't give yourself any deadlines or pay yourself jack shit. Suddenly, there are a lot of things more appealing than cranking out another blog post that might get read by 100 people (10 who came here willingly and 90 more who inadvertently stumbled their way here Googling cover art for metal bands).

So yeah, I admit it. I've been a lazy journalist this year, to the point that when I got an email from the Village Voice asking for my annual contribution to their Pazz & Jop poll, I worried that I'd even be able to come up with 10 albums worth ranking. Thanks to some 11th-hour cramming on iTunes and Spotify, that turned out not to be the case. After all was said and done, I still had to make some tough choices. Quality albums by the likes of Meshuggah, Brother Ali, The Sword, Fen, Testament, Goatwhore and Japandroids all narrowly missed the cut.

My list is pretty heavy on the heavy again this year. What can I say? I'm a metalhead, damnit. If you were expecting a paean to the brilliant artistry of Frank Ocean, you've stumbled onto the wrong blog. So for better or worse, here are my 10 favorite albums of 2012. If you love my picks or hate them, please leave a comment below. We journalists (professional or otherwise) thrive on internet comments, even those of the "ur writing is teh suck, plz die soon" variety.