A Few of Albert’s Favorite Things
The Weekly’s music editor discusses how he wasted his life this year
I’ve always been skeptical of “best of” lists, especially for something as varied and subjective as music. Who am I to say what’s “best” of anything? I have Fergie’s cover of “Barracuda” on my iPhone. But I do know what I like, at least, and on the off-chance that’s of interest to anyone, here are some of my favorite music-related things of 2008.
FAVORITE OC BANDS I’VE DISCOVERED SINCE MOVING HERE
I’ve only lived here since early October, so there are still plenty of acts I need to check out, natch. But I’ve been impressed by several bands in my short tenure: The Truth About Venus Infers is a lovely record from Huntington Beach’s Venus Infers; the folksy Vast Atlantic were one of the first local bands I saw here, and they’re tops; and Long Beach’s the Fling earn respect for regularly busting out a melodica, an instrument as fun to hear as it is to say.
FAVORITE SITUATIONAL IRONY
It’s probably second nature to locals, but the fact that there’s a live-music venue in Downtown Disney is hilarious (to me, at least). Like the Misfits show at the House of Blues in November—all these tough-looking dudes listening to songs about murder and ghouls and such, scant yards from a Build-a-Bear Workshop. Or the Santogold show in October, with the too-cool-for-school crowd spilling out and walking past the Lego store and the booth where you can put your face into magazine covers. Endless amusement!
FAVORITE MUSICAL COMEDY
A lot of great contenders this year: Tim and Eric (of Adult Swim’s Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! They’ll be at the Glass House on Jan. 16) released Awesome Record, Great Songs!—gifting fans with high-quality versions of such classics as “Poke On” and “Sit On You.” Joss Whedon wrote and directed the Neil Patrick Harris- and Nathan Fillion-starring web exclusive Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (“I hate the homeless . . . ness problem that plagues our city”). But the winner has to be the Saturday Night Live crew of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, which in the past couple of months has given the world “Space Olympics” and “Ras Trent,” before putting a rather explosive exclamation point on the year with “Jizz In My Pants.”
FAVORITE COMMERCIAL USE OF A SONG THAT’S NOT “PAPER PLANES” IN THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS TRAILER
Sorry, the Asteroids Galaxy Tour, Chairlift, Yael Naim and other Apple-anointed artists. The clear winner here is both more famous and more fabulous: “Womanizer” by Britney Spears, in a CW promo for Gossip Girl focused on lovable scamp Chuck Bass.
FAVORITE BAND I SAW BY ACCIDENT
LA’s plush popketeers Army Navy, who opened up for the Shys at Detroit Bar in October. I had no idea who they were at the time, but their self-titled debut album is now one of my favorite releases of the year. Their “Silvery Sleds” was on the soundtrack to Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist—don’t hold that against them!
FAVORITE HIT I HAVEN’T ACTUALLY HEARD
Those not paying attention to rock radio might not realize that OC favorite sons the Offspring had a big hit this year. I don’t, and I didn’t, but it’s called “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” and spent a bewildering 11 weeks on top of the Billboard Modern Rock chart, only recently dethroned by Kings of Leon’s “Sex On Fire.”
FAVORITE iPHONE APP THAT HELPS ME PRETEND TO KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT
As the name implies, Shazam—a free download on iTunes—works like magic, with magical phone fairies listening to a song and telling you what it is with surprisingly reliable accuracy. Helpful for figuring out a song on TV, at a club, or in a taxi when the driver challenges you to name what he’s listening to (which happened to me this year).
FAVORITE VANITY PROJECT
Though Scarlett Johansson certainly deserves some type of credit for the misguided-yet-audacious move of releasing an album full of Tom Waits covers, fellow ingenue Zooey Deschanel gets the prize for She N Him’s Volume One, an “actually good” collaboration with M. Ward; their top-notch show at the House of Blues in November cemented their street cred.
FAVORITE CREEPY ALBUM ART
The cover for Microcastle by Atlanta’s avant-garde Deerhunter features a woman with a skull in place of her eye; you don’t even notice it at first, then it hits you and haunts your dreams forever. Even scarier than the Corinthian from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman (he had teeth for eyes).
FAVORITE SHOPPING-MALL CONCERTS
Definitely the Friday- and Saturday-night shows at the District at Tustin Legacy, booked by OC impresario Tazy Phyllipz and featuring bands such as the Bolts, Sleep for Sleepers and the previously praised Venus Infers. The perfect accompaniment to stimulating our rapidly crumbling economy.
Read even more favorite things on Heard Mentality, OC Weekly’s music blog, at blogs.ocweekly.com/heardmentality.