Back again, bitch. 8 albums for July.
01/Bleachers - Strange Desire
It’s like fun. and the 80s combined, only the 80s suck so this is like if the 80s didn’t suck and combined with fun. It’s just awesome, ok? (In all honesty, the first track made my jaw drop.)
02/Volcano Choir - Repave
Bon Iver, with a different group behind it. It’s still fucking amazing.
03/Ed Sheeran - X
Good old Ed comes back with more. It’s like the bigger brother of his first album. Great stuff throughout.
04/Jason Mraz - Yes!
A lot more subdued but the album has a tonal theme this time. Partnering up with Raining Jane was a cool idea.
05/Mr. Little Jeans - Pocketknife
A weird little album that’s hard to put my finger on…I like it, though. The girl singing has a great, small voice.
06/The Colourist - The Colourist
Fun, loud, energetic. Good for the morning times.
07/The Civil Wars - The Civil Wars
Dark, moody, powerful. The opposite of the previous list entry, but it’s where my head is lately. It’s wonderful music.
08/Panic At The Disco - Pretty. Odd.
Working on an Eight of Panic! songs and I’ve been relistening to this album in full a lot lately. It’s pop euphoria.
Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then. Here are 8 Great Songs By Otherwise Horrible Musicians, in no particular order.
01/Train - I Am
Way back before they grabbed the public’s attention and started dry-humping it into submission, Train released I Am, a song that actually has some weight to it. It’s not just a string of random one-liners that are structured into a rhyme scheme. It actually means something. Those days are gone, unfortunately. Now it’s just a bunch of nonsense.
02/Limp Bizkit feat. Method Man - N 2 Gether Now
Gonna go ahead and confess: there was a little while in high school where I really liked Limp Bizkit (10th and 11th grade, mainly). I remember driving to the mall with my buddies and all four or five of us buying a copy of Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (Side note: there should really be some damn hyphens in that title). And there are some songs I can still listen to, like Rollin’ and Break Stuff. But mostly it’s a wasted exercise. N 2 Gether Now, the band’s collaboration with Method Man, still holds up today (granted, that’s probably because of Method Man, but still).
03/Rihanna - Umbrella
Remember when Rihanna wasn’t completely annoying and fucking EVERYWHERE? Think hard now. That flicker of recognition takes us to Umbrella, when Rihanna really broke out. I kind of thought she’d go away after her first record, but she’s done the opposite. Regardless, Umbrella is pop music gold, and it remains a great track.
04/R. Kelly - Ignition (Remix)
Now usually I don’t do this, but this is a great song from R. Kelly. Nearly everything else he does is shit (or piss(sssssssssss)), but damn this is an awesome song. Also, isn’t he supposed to be giving us previews of the remix? But the whole song is the remix. I dunno. Nothing much more to say except bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce
05/Britney Spears - Toxic
Ah, Britney. I had a huge crush on her in high school (and even owned her first two albums), but really, her stuff is some dumb shit (except that special remix of You Drive Me Crazy, the one from the movie Drive Me Crazy with Melissa Joan Hart that I might have seen in theaters but I’ll never actually admit to shit I’ve gone too far … … … Toxic is a great song! *runs away*
06/Linkin Park - Waiting For The End
Screamy. Whiny. Two words that pretty adequately sum up the Linkin Park catalog. And yet, one day I caught part of a music video and loved it…had no idea who it was. So I waited for the end (ha! get it?!), and there it was: Linkin Park. I couldn’t believe it. The song is awesome because it holds itself back. Plus the harmonies are just so good. And the video is dope as hell!
07/Smash Mouth - Walkin’ On The Sun
As a self-confessed and reformed Smash Mouth fan, this is a weird one for me. It was their first big single, and I loved it. I stayed true for a long time until I did a project where I listened to nothing but their music for a week, and I’ve sworn them off. They’re terrible. This song and All Star (and like 2 others) are still ok. But Walkin’ On The Sun is great.
08/Chris Brown feat. Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne - Look At Me Now
Despite being a fucking jackass, Chris Brown has a career. His music is shit, but he struck gold with this one. Granted, what makes this song great are the verses from Busta and Weezy, but it was on Brown’s album, so it’s Brown’s song. Kind of a weird loophole, but whatever, the song fucking rules.
The Emmy nominations were announced today! Let’s talk about them, in no particular order.
01/I get that they’re TV darlings, but Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory don’t really stand out as comedies anymore. They each have great actors who deserve recognition, but the shows overall have fallen flat lately. My pick in the Outstanding Comedy category? Silicon Valley. Speaking of Silicon Valley, I am so excited that the season finale got a writing nomination. That was one of the funniest episodes of TV I’ve ever seen.
02/Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series? Jesus, what a category. Bryan Cranston, Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Jeff Daniels, Kevin Spacey, and Jon Hamm? There’s only one thing I know for certain here: there is NO. FUCKING. WAY. for Jon Hamm to win this one. Not a chance. My pick is Bryan Cranston, for personal reasons (it’s the last chance!), but I honestly see it going to McConaughey. He was brilliant on True Detective.
03/Fargo. Fargo Fargo Fargo. Billy Bob Thornton should get Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie, and the show itself should get Outstanding Miniseries Or Movie. It’s brilliant. Even moreso than these two getting the awards: Allison Tolman for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie. I love the ladies of American Horror Story: Coven, but they relied on one another for their best bits. Allison Tolman’s was a standalone, jaw-droppingly good performance. She was incredible.
04/The episodes titled “Ozymandias” and “Felina” from the final season of Breaking Bad are nominated for Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series. I’m torn on which one I love more, because they’re both so brilliant. I think I’m leaning more toward the former, though, because of how expertly it was done. Shocking, horrifying, amazing.
05/All that being said, “Who Goes There?” from True Detective needs to win Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series. The tracking shot near the end of the episode will not be matched anytime soon. It truly has to be seen to be believed.
06/Melissa McCarthy deserves the trophy for Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series for her SNL guest host episode. I honestly believe she should be a permanent member of the cast. She’s so fucking funny. And speaking of SNL, how cool is it that Kate McKinnon got a nomination (as well as “Twin Bed” from Jimmy Fallon’s episode (which Kate also wrote))? She’s fantastic.
07/Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series should go to Aaron Paul because of the range he showed as Jesse this season on Breaking Bad. It’ll probably go to Peter Dinklage again, but fuck if he doesn’t deserve it, too. Adam Driver from Girls needs that Emmy for Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series, too. Long shot, but it should be his.
08/And the snubs: The Americans got one…ONE. nomination, and that’s for Margo Martindale in her guest role. She’s really awesome, but that’s it?! Nothing for Matthew Rhys or Keri Russell? Nothing for the show in general? Also, nothing at all for Hannibal? Not even Cinematography? Art Direction? Jesus, Emmy voters, what the fuck?
What the fuck is wrong with you, America? How is this the number one song in the country?
08/"First things first, I’m the realest." You’re a white girl from Australia, yet you rap like you’re from the American streets. Authenticity is not something you should flaunt when you have none.
07/The chorus sounds like a section of the drums got deleted and the producers just said, “fuck it.” There have been artistic reasons for missing tonal elements in songs, but there has to be a point. There is no point here.
06/"From LA to Tokyo." So roughly 5,500 miles, across the fucking Pacific Ocean. Nothing says "fancy" like salt water.
05/Ripping off J-Kwon’s hi-hat riff from “Tipsy” in the first verse? Fuck off.
04/Back to the chorus: This is evidence that Charli XCX is not a good singer, or at least isn’t really attempting to here. Every note is flat and it’s hardly a hook. It’s impossible to actually sing along (and if you wanted to sing along, then get the fuck out of society).
03/"Like I’m bringing ‘88 back." …Iggy Azalea was born in 1990.
02/Jesus, just fucking thinking about this shit makes me incredibly annoyed. Everything about this song is inauthentic, yet they’re presenting it as if it’s real. Fuck this fucking shit.
01/It lowers the bar for pop music. The lyrics are nonsensical and the presentation is inauthentic. There’s a lot going on in pop music that is fake, or contrived, and it’s unfortunate that something of this…horrible level of fake-ness has captured the ear of the country. If the future of music is empty sounds and choruses with no melody whatsoever, we should just turn our radios off permanently.
Finally getting around to this one. Expect production to ramp up now that real life has finally fucking slowed down.
There were a ton of games shown off at E3 this year. Here, I’ll list my 8 Most Anticipated Games, as well as some general reactions to some other games that were shown.
One caveat: I’ll only be listing games that were revealed this year (games like Super Smash Bros., which were announced last year, won’t count…besides, I’m amped as fuck for that one).
Another caveat: This list isn’t ranked. It’s just eight games in general.
01/Legend of Zelda
Officially shown off for the first time. It looks gorgeous, and I can only imagine how they’re going to reinvent the game’s premise. Can’t wait.
It’s dark and the trailer is horrifying. It looks refreshing (and isn’t a fucking shooter). Let’s give it a shot.
03/No Man’s Sky
Super amped for this. Everything’s procedural, so everything is changing, meaning everything is new, all the time. Yuss.
04/Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
It’s another Uncharted game. Of course I’m in.
05/Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
One of my favorite parts of Super Mario 3D World is getting its own full game? I was in before it even existed.
06/Mortal Kombat X
Beautiful, bloody, and brutal. It just looks so badass.
07/Yoshi’s Wooly World
This game just looks fucking adorable. 3D Yoshi models made of yarn? Nintendo, you too nice.
08/The Talos Principle
Looks intriguing enough to get me on board. First-person mystique and puzzles? I’m there.
I fell in love with Jamie Cullum’s music in the fall of 2004, when I was in a really low place. It came along at just the right time. Years have passed and I’m still a fan, so why don’t I tell you my 8 Favorite Original Songs by Jamie Cullum.
08/It’s About Time
A beautiful song about rejuvenation of the heart and soul. It’s also a great rainy day song.
A track about looking back on life and realizing the magic is in the little moments.
06/Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down
A slow, smooth groove throughout, and the lyrics are just great.
05/I Love This
A fun, bouncy ditty that just gets in your head and stays there.
I’m no longer a denizen of the 20s, but I can still relate. This song has gotten me through a lot of frustrating times in life.
03/These Are The Days
A perfect album opener. The feel, tempo, cadence - everything is incredible. And so easy to sing along.
02/When I Get Famous
This one snuck into my brain. The album it’s from isn’t very memorable, but damn this song is awesome. And any track that has the confidence to finish with five straight choruses gets big props from me.
01/All At Sea
The song that saved me from a pretty dark time. I had a bad day (in the middle of a bad week), and turned on my TV, which was on VH1. The music video for this song was what aired in that moment, and it was just what I needed. I immediately drove to the store and bought the album, then came back to my dorm room and listened to it in its entirety while laying on my bed. It did so much good, and still does
So, did I screw up? What’s wrong with my list? Do you agree with it?
Let me know here: http://www.phasetwoblog.com/ask.
[Now back to our regularly-scheduled programming]
How about a variation on the theme?
This month, 8 albums getting regular play.
01/Broken Bells - After The Disco
This would be what Gnarls Barkley sounded like if they started making music today, only with a way better lead vocal (sorry, Cee Lo).
02/Lily Allen - Sheezus
She was gone for quite a while, but it was for good measure. This album is awesome.
03/The Infamous Stringdusters - Let It Go
Bluegrass with soul. Just so, so great.
04/Transmit Now - 1955
We played a show with these guys back in 2009, and they were great then. They’re even better now.
05/06/07/Green Day - Uno!/Dos!/Tre!
I’ve been itching to relisten to the trilogy (and there’s an Eight coming from it, too). It’s good windows-down music for the summer.
08/Eric Hutchinson - Pure Fiction
The guy just keeps getting better. He’s honed his skills and he’s making pop music that stands out.
E3 2014 kicked off yesterday. I’m watching the conferences, and after each big of the three big presentations, I’ll offer 8 Reactions. The third and final presentation comes from Nintendo, and they need something big to stay alive in the market.
01/So up above, I said Nintendo needed something big to stay alive? Yeah, that was their entire presentation. They did a great job with their approach this year. They’re even continuing to reveal games throughout the day, not limiting themselves to one show. So this post is far from complete.
02/The new Legend of Zelda game was just shown as a trailer, but it ran in-engine. And it was beautiful. I yelped with excitement.
03/Nintendo brought a ton of games, and elaborated on previous announcements. I feel like they’ve got a renewed focus on the Wii U, which they seemed to have forgotten about recently.
04/The Amiibo figurines are going to break me. Toys that work with your games, and they’re all Nintendo-based? *whoosh* that’s the sound of my money leaving my wallet.
05/The Smash Bros. announcements were great. Mii Fighters and Palutena as characters, and it looks like a fuckton of features coming to the 3DS version. And about that: the delay from July to October for that version. I’m a little bummed, but if it means the game is better, then make it so.
06/Bayonetta 2 looks awesome, and the inclusion of the original is mind-blowing. I don’t need to finish my copy from PS3 now.
07/Mario Maker is real, but doesn’t really interest me, unless it’s cheap and gives me access to all the levels everyone else makes (which is probably happening).
08/This presentation worked because of the number of games that look like games I want to play. Other consoles may have more support and be more bombastic, but a ton of the games shown off look like a blast to play.
Game count (not including the eShop montage):
0 multiplatform games / 11 exclusives (and more being revealed)
Games reaction megapost coming up later this evening.
E3 2014 kicked off yesterday. This is my second “reactions” post (it would have been online late last night but Time Warner Cable sucks dick). I’m watching the conferences, and after each big of the three big presentations, I’ll offer 8 Reactions. Up next? Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita.
01/The staging was better than Microsoft’s. Everything felt more like it usually does. No wasted space.
02/No Man’s Sky continues to make my jaw drop. I dunno if this is an exclusive or not, but damn, what a good-looking game.
03/I’m annoyed as shit at the dick-measuring that is exclusive DLC. Microsoft and Sony both kept hammering down that each console would get exclusive DLC first, or special add-on content. I also didn’t tune in to see you reveal DLC. Games are important. DLC is optional.
04/They did a good job of making the presenters look professional. No schlubby dress. They wore suits or something close to suits. Better choice.
05/I wish there was a way for them to accurately represent what Project Morpheus will be like. I know the headset is required for the experience, but announcing that it can be played at the kiosks at E3 makes me sad, because I’m not there to try it out.
06/Over 25 “free-to-play” games are coming to the PS4 in the next year. From what I saw, they mean apps. A number of the games shown off are already on phones, so that wasn’t quite as impressive to me.
07/"Because as we all know, it’s all about the games, right?" Yes, yes, go on…tell me more. "Now here’s 15 minutes where we talk about goddamned TV shows on PS4. That’s what you wanted, right? Look, nerds, here’s a show about a comic! That’s what you wanted, right?"
08/The white PS4 looks slick, but with my current lineup (the Wii was my only white console before, and my Wii U replaced that), I’ll just stick with black. And they still didn’t get me to care about PS Vita. Even with PS TV. Just not for me.
5 multiplatform games / 12 exclusives / 4 unclear
Nintendo’s up at noon today. Stay tuned.
Games reaction megapost coming up later this evening.
E3 2014 kicked off today. I’m watching the conferences (like I’ve done for the past…10 years?). After each big of the three big presentations, I’ll offer 8 Reactions. First up? Xbox One.
01/The staging of the presentation was very weird - lots of open space, which works and then doesn’t. The presenters are closer to the audience, but the theatre doesn’t feel used well. I think Sony presents in the same room later, so maybe it’s just a choice overall this year.
02/Lots of games, lots of games. Lots of exclusives, and smartly presented. Good job on that.
03/The Fable series annoys me to no end. It doesn’t know what it wants to be: epic, or cutesy. The dialogue and writing are horrible, but the graphics are OK. Just not interested at all.
04/HALO HALO HALO. I joke a lot about Microsoft milking Halo, but they talked about 3 separate games today! I do think what they’re doing with The Master Chief Collection is cool, but paired with Halo 2 Anniversary, it’s a fall of re-releases. But they’re pushing the content, which is smart.
05/Sunset Overdrive looks fun, but I’m not sure I want to play it. What they showed relied a lot on rail-riding, which is a frustrating mechanic for me personally.
06/They led off the presser with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, which I don’t quite understand. If you have so many exclusives to reveal, lead with that. We know what CoD is - tout something new (even though this CoD looks beautiful, and I hate the series).
07/There’s a fundamental problem when the audience reacts and cheers when you say your game will be played in 1080p. We’re well into the 1080p generation - games should be playing at that level already.
08/I know we want the audience to feel like they can connect to the people making the games they play, but let’s stop standing them up onstage wearing schlubby t-shirts. And Phil Spencer’s Limbo shirt was just pandering. Knock that shit off.
Game count (not including the indie montage):
9 multiplatform games / 13 exclusives (wow!)
Sony’s up next, late tonight. Stay tuned.
I’ll also have a more game-based megapost once the big three have presented.
Breaking Bad has ended. Community got canceled. Fringe has been gone for a while. I haven’t updated my favorite shows list in a while. So without further ado, here are my 8 Current Favorite TV Shows.
We’ll start with three Honorable Mentions:
 Girls (HBO): A great show, but inconsistent. One episode is fantastic, the next might just be OK.
 Silicon Valley (HBO): A freshman show that absolutely deserves its second season. The cast is phenomenal, and the season finale is one of the funniest episodes of television I’ve ever seen.
 True Detective (HBO): The first season was fucking brilliant. Truly remarkable. But it’s an anthology, so I need another season of a different brilliance before it can break the Eight.
And now the top 8:
08/The Bridge (FX)
I needed a show in the desert to take the place of Breaking Bad. It may not take the actual place, but it’s a worthy successor. Mysteries around the Mexican-American border, with Diane Kruger as an autistic detective? Yes please. It’s awesome. (Season 2 starts in July.)
07/The Newsroom (HBO)
A lot of people hate on this show, but the writing is top-notch and the acting is superb. People who hate on it likely don’t the dialogue flow. No worries. More for me. If only working in a real newsroom were like this show. (Season 3 starts this summer.)
06/Sleepy Hollow (FOX)
Possibly the biggest surprise of last season. The show could have been ridiculously stupid, but the right balance was struck. The character dynamics are incredible, and there were some truly scary moments. A high-concept drama on network TV is tough, but Sleepy Hollow pulls it off.
05/True Blood (HBO)
An absolutely bonkers show that’s about to end this summer. It’s covered a ton of cryptozoological ground, and it’s a blast to watch. It’s not necessarily high-brow entertainment, but it’s certainly high-value. Here’s hoping the final season isn’t a letdown (it’s definitely going to be a bloodbath, though.)
04/The Walking Dead (FX)
The country’s favorite show. I’ve loved this show since the first episode 4 years ago, and i still love it. I have no complaints with it, as I’ve enjoyed the character progression a lot. It doesn’t have to be wall-to-wall zombies for me to enjoy it (but wall-to-wall zombies does sound horrifying.)
03/The Americans (FX)
A show that pulls zero punches and knows exactly what it is. Expertly executed, and spectacularly acted. It’s hard to put my finger on what exactly makes it so special, but it’s evident as hell when you watch.
02/Game of Thrones (HBO)
Speaking of pulling zero punches, GoT is fearless. You can never trust that a character will be safe from harm, and that’s just one of the many appeals. It’s complex and it’s varied, and the cast is one of the best (and biggest). I know there’s an end, but I’m not ready for it (and neither is most of the world).
The best show on TV. Scary, darkly comical, and macabre. It moves slowly, but creeps along. It never stands still. There is not an episode that isn’t magnificently done. The visuals are striking, and the acting is unmatched. It’s horrifying but I can’t look away.
So, did I screw up? What’s wrong with my list? Do you agree with it?
Let me know here: http://www.phasetwoblog.com/ask.
There was supposed to be an Eight posted today, but it was a busy first day of vacation. Look for two posts tomorrow to get us back on track.
If anyone is out there reading this at all.