We Have Moved, But This Will Stay Right Here

on Nov 27, 2014
Hello, and Welcome,

We are very glad you have found your way to Dear Jerks. Recently, we decided to move to Tumblr going forward, so please visit us there at http://dearjerks.tumblr.com. We don't have much up on the new site yet, but we're pretty happy with our new We Fixed It series, where we begin with Radiohead's Hail to the Thief. Come check it out.

Because Blogger is free and all, we will be leaving this site up just as it is. We suppose it is now an archive of our last two years of remembrances, joke-y lists, and other music-related jibber jabber.

Happy Thanksgiving, and see you over on the new site,

Kyle and Ian

Wir Machen Sie Content: Top Whatever List of Whatever We're Thinking About Right Now, and Then You Won't Believe Whatever Happens Next (Nothing Happens Whatsoever)

on Aug 4, 2014
This half of Dear Jerks doesn't get a vacation this summer, because this half is eagerly awaiting the impending arrival of a stork which will drop a little bundle of joy down the chimney, or however that whole thing works (this half is still working his way through the childbirth book he should have finished by now...don't tell him how it ends!).

The upshot: more time than usual to stumble across odd news-ish items and/or follow our random thoughts where they take us. And, obviously, more time to sit in front of Netflix...


The Bronze Age of Television:  The Last Episode of the New Season of The Killing

Seattle's other famous crime fighter, Speed Walker
In particular, the last five minutes, though the episode definitely lost us earlier, as soon as Brad Pitt's wife from World War Z pointed her gun at Swedish RoboCop. It's really too bad, because the other five episodes before it were quality. But then came the start of a romance that no one (should have) wanted. Heck, when we took to our outrage machine (Twitter) to unleash our outrage, the damn show itself immediately showed up to 'favorite' us in solidarity, because it knew it had effed up big time. We do appreciate how this final season made more of an effort to show actual external shots of Seattle, instead of Vancouver, B.C., where the show is filmed, but: also in those last five minutes, in a driving montage, Sarah Linden goes from heading southwest on 6th Ave N. past the Seattle Center north of downtown, to driving northbound on 4th Ave S. heading (back?) into the city from south of downtown, and then ends up on what appears to be I-99, heading south again. Though maybe that was the point, that she was completely lost without Holder, like Scully without Mulder...


X-Philes:  A Guy Who Used to Play Drums in Megadeth Saw a UFO

You won't catch Megadeth at a peace sale!
Nick Menza, who was the drummer for Megadeth during what is considered a golden age for the band (Countdown to Extinction and whatnot) by many who enjoy the band's music, got some footage of a UFO on his phone (a Samsung Galaxy 4 he points out, because of sponsorship?) a couple of weeks ago. Menza, who we had to look up on Wikipedia, has a neato background, and also subsequently seems to have had some hard times in and out of Mega-douche Dave Mustaine's heavy shredding zoo. Now, because of his new YouTube clip (which, yeah, we'll agree that it's Real Deal Holyfield, why not?), he will now probably be on the radar of UFO believers everywhere, and will subsequently appear on some of their podcasts. There's probably a "take me to your leader" joke we could make about Mustaine right here... Oh! How about this:

Aliens: "Meep. We come in peace."

Dave Mustaine: "Oh yeah? Peace sells...but who's buying?"

Aliens: "Oh, for fuck's sake...."


Mandatory '90s Nostalgie:  That one band, Ammonia, that had that one song, "Drugs."


OMMFG the '90s! Epic! Underrated/best you've never heard of! Grunge was angry and sad because the Internet was soooo slowwww and didn't have many animal pictures! Like everyone else, we never tire of reflecting on The Greatest Generation X and The Last Decade That Mattered. It was the only era where we were old enough to earn money, but young enough not have to spend it on utility bills. So, yeah, Arcade Fire weren't even a band yet, but Ammonia were totally a band. This song has a mere fifteen words in the lyrics, and it was all over the radio for a few months, much like Dig's "Believe," and Dandelion's "Weird Out," and other songs that had videos of slackers hanging out in or around some random house in the 'burbs. Since we're on the subject...


Nice One, Geezer:  Did the Singer for Dandelion Think He Was in a Britpop Band?

"This clobber is top, mate. Sorted."







Dandelion were from Philly, but, as you can see in these stills from the "Weird Out" video, singer/guitarist Kevin Morpurgo clearly had an affinity for the fashion and haircuts that were all the rage with the lads on the other side of the pond. It's especially noticeable in the video because the rest of the band are all dressed in the least stylish short sleeve shirts they could find, making dude's jacket  -- which we're pretty damn sure is the same one Mark Morris wore when the Bluetones played "Slight Return" on the Jools Holland show -- look all the more forced. Morpurgo apparently later moved to London in 2000 to form a different band. That should be no surprise.


Don't Forget the '80s!:  The Reference to Marillion in the New-ish Alan Partridge Movie

Speaking of the Britpop era, last year Steve Coogan finally reprised his portrayal of BBC presenter Alan Partridge in feature length style with the film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. We somehow missed this when it was released, so it finally just came to our attention via (yes) Netflix. Coogan, if you're reading this: we would not be mad if you made a few more of these films. One of many fine moments comes when an older, scholarly looking DJ (the movie takes place in a radio station) mentions to his colleagues that he was the drummer in the world famous '80s prog rock band Marillion, which comes as a pleasant surprise to everyone. Here's Partridge back in the '90s, grilling Simon Pegg and Noel Gallagher...


In the Area!:  Mancunian Interview Style

If you think Noel Gallagher seemed brief and unforthcoming in the end of that clip, think again! That's just how rock stars from Manchester have always handled their interviews. Witness this classic gabfest with Ian Brown and John Squire of the Stone Roses, done around the time of the height of the band's powers...
You're probably wondering: "Dear Jerks, why is this random ancient interview something you claim to be thinking about right now?" Fair question! It is because the half of us that is writing this has read two books on the Stone Roses in the past couple of months. That's right: the Stone Roses required at least two entire books to tell their tale. This is because one of them spends roughly 3/4's of its time unleashing a tidal wave of superlatives in the pursuit of infinitely repeating that the band were brilliant renaissance men who could make Jesus wish he looked better in flared trousers. Thus, another book was needed to fill in some stray details. Neither book, sadly, reaches the riveting 'highs' of some of the other Madchester memoirs (yes, it's totally a genre) that we've read -- notably (Happy Mondays singer) Shaun Ryder's crack smoking anecdotes, or Tim Burgess of the Charlatans admitting how his band did cocaine together (spoiler alert: butt). Speaking of alerts...


Cute Animal Alert!:  Raccoons in Japan Edition.


"I hear Broken Social Scene is playing tonight!"
Seriously though: Raccoons, alert! They will kill you in Japan!
In the 1970's, a cartoon named Rascal the Raccoon was quite a hit in Japan. At the height of the cartoon's popularity, the country was importing around 1,500 raccoons a year from North America to be sold as pets. At the end of the cartoon series, Rascal was released into the wild, because that's where raccoons prefer to kick it. You can probably guess what happened next to all those pet raccoons with easily impressionable and fickle owners. If you want to read a whole mess of words about how Japan is now crawling with raccoons (which are trapped and killed by the thousands), be our guest. But life is busy, so if you'd rather just see the opening sequence of the Italian version of the Japanese cartoon, with killer Italian lounge music, you're welcome. Also: there's hella raccoons in Toronto, too, and they're evolving so fast there's nothing you can do about it, so you might as well give up all hope now...

ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR SUMMER!




Let Dear Jerks Name Your Kids!: A Look at the Social Security Top Ten Baby Names of 2013

on May 13, 2014
Did you have a son last year and name him Noah? Well, the odds are pretty good that you did, because this past weekend the much-ballyhooed Social Security’s Top Ten Baby Names for 2013 list was released, and ‘Noah’ was numero ein for little dudes. We’re guessing this has something to do with America's super boring paralysis of apocalypse-fixation that has turned so many people into “doomsday preppers” or whatnot. What name would you give the one person in the world you hope survives the big flood? Yeah, we got it.

But, c'mon, ‘Liam’ at number two? Since when is 'Liam’ a name in America?? Compare that to the UK, where ‘Liam’ has a very long history of being a name that someone might actually use. There, last year, it was at fiftieth place. On a side note: in 1995, when I tried to name the new family cat 'Liam' (because I was a huge Oasis fan, obviously), I was shot down, because back then it wasn't even something you would name a cat in the US. How the tables have turned!


Scotland's Eternal Poet Laureate
This alarming trend reminds me of the time when I decided, like all single twenty-year-olds do, what I would name my son if I had one. I was (and still am) a huge fan of the band Arab Strap, and really liked the name of the singer, Aidan Moffat. Flash forward a few years, and somehow Sex and the City absurdly managed to make 'Aidan' one of the most popular names in America, despite not one single person in the US having been given that name before I decided that it was cool (and that’s an indisputable fact). So, naturally, I assumed that stupid television caused this whole ‘Liam’ thing, too, but after some non-intensive online research, the only ‘Liam’ character I can find is on the US version of Shameless, where some character is for reals named 'Liam Gallagher,' because that show is apparently created by an Oasis fan.

Here's your #2 namesake, America!
At what point in time did this generation of American parents all simultaneously decide that Definitely Maybe was their favorite album of all time? And even if so, why would you name your son after the petulant singer who spat a giant loogie on the stage at the MTV Music Awards while performing a song un-ironically titled “Champagne Supernova,” when you could at least name your little pride and joy after the older brother, Noel, who actually wrote all the songs??


Here’s where it gets into “judge not lest ye be judged” territory, though. Let the following be a lesson that sometimes you should hold off on asking a question if you’re not ready to hear the answer…


Here it goes. Somehow, I spent the first twenty-nine years of my life incurious as to why my parents gave me the name they did. Then, one day in 2009, I finally started to wonder, and asked my father why they chose 'Ian.' Now, mind you, I wasn’t expecting to be named after anyone awesome, like Ian Curtis or Ian McCulloch, because neither Joy Division nor Echo and the Bunnymen got much recognition in the US in early 1980 (Ian Curtis’ suicide, on May 18th of that year, happened six weeks after I was born).


Ian Anderson, relaxing at home
What I also wasn’t expecting, though, was that I was indeed named after a very famous rock ’n’ roll front man from the Northwest of England: Blackpool’s beloved son, Ian Anderson. Yep, that’s right: the flute player in Jethro Tull, the arena-packing, costume-loving act whom legendary music journalist Nick Kent basically chose to single out as the lamest band of the ‘70s in his memoir of that decade, Apathy for the Devil. Sometimes your parents are into prog rock...what are you gonna do?


Well, you can start by letting us here at Dear Jerks help name your baby for you! Naming kids is tough work, so before you collapse in exhaustion and just name your precious, precious little man after some random jar you found in the kitchen (‘Mason’: #4 last year!), or find yourself saying “Eff it, let’s just do what Will Smith did” (‘Jayden’: #9!), consider our awesome suggestions, which, if nothing else, will totally prove to everyone how much you like good music.


Instead of ranking eighty-seven possible names in listicle fashion, we’re just going to lay a few ideas out to help get you started. Popularity contests aside (though they totally count for everything), there is no one name that is better on its own merits than all others. And, unless you are planning on having dozens of children, coming up with the title of your wee bairn is not like coming up with the title of a song: it has to be personal, and you have to make it count. Thus, what better way to make it count than by naming your child after a song?! The logic is flawless…


'Jeane': If you are having a daughter, there is perhaps no better name you can pick to show off what a devout fan of the Smiths you are. It’s an early B-side (snob cred!) to their classic breakout single, “This Charming Man” (timeless!). If that wasn't enough, the song also contains perhaps the most vivid eight words Morrissey ever strung together, “there’s ice on the sink where we bathe,” a flash fiction lyric on par with the Hemmingway-attributed “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”


'Seymour': I mean, where do we begin with this obvious top choice? First, there is Seymour Stein the person, the man behind Sire Records. Then there is “Seymour Stein” the song, which Belle & Sebastian wrote about him. Even closer to Dear Jerks’ hearts, there’s the early single by Swell Maps, “Read About Seymour.” Also, Blur were originally named Seymour (possibly inspired by Swell Maps??). Speaking of…


Name Your Kid After One of Blur's 'Character' Songs: Not since the age of the Kinks and early Pink Floyd did a band make so many damn songs that were quirky fictional English caricature sketches. The possibilities here are plentiful: “Colin Zeal,” “Tracy Jacks,” “Ernold Same,” or even Bill Barrett from “Magic America.” Yes, you have to use the full name from the song as a first name, otherwise it doesn't count. "But Dear Jerks, Damon Albarn's new solo album, lovely as it can be, strikes me as a bit, well, 'adult contemporary'..." We agree, but at least 80% of Blur’s catalog is ageless!  


The Kim Gordon and Kim Deal of their era
'Berlin': With ‘Paris’ long played out and ‘Brooklyn’ past its prime, a new hip and artsy city needs to step up and become a name for a human being, and these days cities don’t get much more hip and artsy than Berlin. Plus, it has an impeccable ‘70s rock legacy: Lou Reed named an album after the place, and bosom buddies David Bowie and Iggy Pop made some of their best music there. Sure, the band Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” is an awful song, but no one’s going to assume that’s why you chose the name, unless all of your turtlenecks have shoulder pads.


"When will the Dandy Warhols write a song about you, Kim?"
'Kim': Name your daughter after Kim Deal or Kim Gordon. Or both. Did it ever get cooler than these two? No, it did not. That is why the Dandy Warhols wrote a song called "Cool as Kim Deal," and not "Cooler than Kim Deal," because being any cooler would be technically impossible. They were pretty much the David Bowie and Iggy Pop of their generation, save for, like, one or two minor differences. Seriously though, take back the name 'Kim' from the land of bad Eminem songs and Kardashians, or whatever.



'Malkmus': A fantastic unisex name! History and sales figures be damned, the general consensus among people now who spend way too much time writing about their opinions of other people's art on the Internet (hello!) is that Pavement were the greatest band during the time when Pavement were the greatest band. But it would be hard to show your popular-but-somehow-still-unique love for Pavement by going with any of their first names, which consisted of two Steve’s, Bob, Mark, and Scott. You could also go with ‘Westy,’ or even ‘Ibold,’ but calling your kid ‘Spiral Stairs’ would be taking it too far.


'Biggie Smalls': Obviously...


Take it away, Jethro!








The (un)Official Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII Win Forever Playlist

on Jan 28, 2014
"It's the vision that sets in motion whatever the powers are in the Universe that helps us create what we want"
-Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, quoted in the book Hero by Rhonda Byrne (author of The Secret)

The Universe: friend of football. Why would the Universe want to help one little ol' NFL team? Because the Universe loves to watch athletes perform at the peaks of human ability, it loves the thrill of competition, and it loves to choose sides. The Universe is always choosing sides. It chose Burr over Hamilton, Edison over Tesla, Oasis over Blur (at least at the time). The Super Bowl is, year in and year out, a reliable way to find out whose side the Universe is really on. A look at the teams that have returned to the big game decade after decade reveals, for example, the Universe’s preference for working class toilers (the Steelers, the Packers), capitalist gold hoarders (the 49ers), and, of course, cowboys. (On the Wild West note, it’s also worth considering that the Universe spent some serious time in the 90’s relentlessly taunting Buffalo.) The Universe sure does love it some America, that’s for true.

Who does the Universe love more: the Seahawks or the Broncos? Well, for one, as of this Friday, per the Chinese calendar, 2014 becomes the friggin’ Year of the Horse. But, as the good people at Field Gulls have already pointed out, that might not be the harbinger of Hawk-doom it seems to be. Perhaps the better question is: who should the Universe love more? And really, we’re not just talking about the teams themselves here -- those poor dudes have already been the subject of endless stat-chats and irritating speculation and we can’t be bothered with that any more. (Though we will say this to the Denver defense: don't play crooked like New Orleans, have mercy on Percy!)

The bigger picture here is a tale of two cities. One of them has bestowed upon the world high quality airplanes, computer stuff, and coffee. The other has served up a half-decent omelet and an evil, evil airport. Musically speaking (as we are typically inclined to be speaking), Seattle is the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, Sir Mix-a-Lot, that whole flannel rock thing that happened, and now, in an odd denouement of sorts, Macklemore. Denver, on the other hand, gave us Christie Front Drive. Six of one…

Not that Seattle and Denver aren’t similar in some ways. We’re mostly talking about how psyched the citizens of both towns are to get all potted up on legal weed now, but they are also both, for the most part, cool and open-minded cities surrounded by mountains, New Age weirdos, and gun-hugging white trash. But the one thing that Seattle and its brutal, beautiful blue and green (blue to keep it cool, green to get that money!) Seahawks have that no other city or team in the world has is the Win Forever Pyramid. If you don’t yet know what we are talking about, behold!
Pete Carroll invented this glorious non-food pyramid to harness the powers of the Universe to help the Seahawks win. Forever. If you want to win not just today, not just tomorrow, but until the end of time and beyond, you better remember your ABC’s: Always Be Carroll-ing. In that spirit, we have come up with a corresponding motivational soundtrack to help inspire the Seattle Seahawks to ultimate victory over Peyton the Prize Pony and his Pack of Rocky Mountain Oysters. Behold again!

The Win Forever Playlist

The Mountain Goats – “High Hawk Season”
It’s not “Eye of the Tiger,” but there aren’t a lot of motivational “hawk” songs out there, and sometimes it’s nice to start things off quietly…

Radiohead – “Pyramid Song”
Yeah, we know, another downbeat tune, but we’re getting a theme going, dammit!   

Chicago – “Another Rainy Day in New York City”
Though it may not technically be raining in New York this Sunday, and technically the stadium is across the river in New Jersey, wherever Seattle's heart goes, so goes the rain... 

Bear in Heaven – “Deafening Love”
This one is in honor of our famous 12th Man’s deafening love at home in the CLink…

Clinic – “The Second Line”
And this one is in honor of the Seahawks Secondary, which is (wait for it) second to (wait for it some more) none…

The Verve – “Lucky Man”
No one but Russell Wilson could begin the biggest game of his young career by giving up a fumble-ception (maybe the ball was "fire in [his] hands" and simply too hot to hold) on the very first play and still come away with a ticket to the Super Bowl at the end of it...

The Jesus Lizard – “Mouth Breather”
Don’t get us wrong, Peyton Manning is a nice guy, we like him just fine…but he’s a mouth breather. (And all he can think about is when he can get a Bud Light in that mouth.)

Fugazi – “Turnover”
Because Seattle is gonna make Denver have so many turnovers!

Maserati – “Who Can Find the Beast?”
Who can find the Beast Mode? Not Denver! Suck it. We're not done yet!...

Smog – “I Break Horses”
Some poignant reflection will perhaps be in order after all that potential butt kicking, before triumphantly capping it all of with...

Oasis – “Live Forever”
…the Universe’s aforementioned favorite band. You can’t beat the logic: if you’re going to win forever, first you gotta live forever. And what better guide to help you slide away into eternal life than Noel Gallagher getting his Slash on with that Win Forever Guitar Solo?!


GO SEAHAWKS!

Year of the Black Album Cover: A 2013 Chitchat Addendum

on Jan 5, 2014
In our previous post, Kyle made the excellent point that a number of albums released in 2013 by prominent electronic artists had near-entirely or predominantly black cover art. Then he illustrated that point with a sweet four-square collage. Then we finished the chat. It was good times. Then, after those good times were gone, we started to remember some other album covers we had somehow forgotten about, and we realized the good times weren't quite over yet...dig it:




Then we remembered that there were a number of other examples from recording artists in other genres...








Fine, that last one maybe wasn't released last year. However, this big bunch of bananas doesn't even include albums with quite-black cover art by Night Beds, Jon Hopkins, Danny Brown, DJ Rashad, Midlake, Mazzy Star, Au Revoir Simone, King Krule, and Kidz Bop favorite, Lorde. Amongst surely dozens of others that we are now simply too bored of this exercise to dig up. 

So: what's going to be the big album cover color of 2014? Think pink, y'all. Diarrhea Planet are already ahead of the game...









The Dear Jerks 2013 Retrospective Chitchat

on Dec 31, 2013

Seasonal Greetings, Readers! Thank you for joining us in our peek back at 2013, which is neither Top Stuff Listicle nor Chronological Recapathon, but is a jumble-y assemblage of wistful remembrances of thoughts that happened in our brains or events that happened to our persons that for one reason or another were tied to music. Witness below a written conversation that we hope will keep you entertained for a few minutes, and possibly encourage you to have a spoken or written or other kind of conversation with a loved one, stranger, or pet.
KYLE: So it's the end of the year, which means we're supposed to reflect on... things. Things that happened this year. Where, oh were should we start? It was a strange year for me personally. Getting married took up a bunch of my attention away from other things (like record shopping), but it was a great year for musicians I love putting out new stuff. I mean, Eluvium, My Bloody Valentine(!!), Tim Hecker, Fuck Buttons, Four Tet, Oneohtrix Point Never, Boards of Canada, Mogwai, The National, Deerhunter, and so on and so forth. 

Plus, there was the unexpected but welcome (to me at least) rebirth of emocore, the all consuming release of Random Access Memories, crossover metal catching on in 'mainstream indie' circles, the whole fox thing, and YOU SIR releasing your own fine collection of songs. Personally, and I think this goes for both of us, I'll also remember this as the year that I stopped caring about Arcade Fire. it was a little bittersweet to realize that I'm just not that into them anymore right as they cement their position as the 'biggest indie band in the world'. Is it Death Cab for Cutie all over again?

IAN: You know, I was in DCFC's camp since mail ordering the cassette of You Can Play These Songs with Chords, and then thought they lost it with Transatlanticism, while the general consensus decided it was their best album. (Subsequently, I think there were some great songs on the two albums that followed, though I can't think of one from their last album.) Similarly, this past ten years has not been the decade I expected to have with Arcade Fire. Like pretty much every other one of our peers, Funeral was the sound of the fall and winter of 2004. Given that I was simultaneously catching up with Broken Social Scene's 2002/2003 breakthrough You Forgot it in People (which, of course, you put in my hands) after coming back from spending half of the year in London, it seemed at the time that 2004 was something like The Year Canuck Broke. The timing was such that Arcade Fire also seemed to naturally fill the empty space left by Godspeed You! Black Emperor going on hiatus in 2003: a Montreal band with a lot of members making dramatic-yet-uplifting BIG music with a predilection for occasionally playing shows in churches.    

When Neon Bible came out, the reviews seemed to fault it mostly for sounding too big, or at least for trying to sound too big, which felt like the first schism between what I heard when I listened to Arcade Fire and what most everyone else did. The only song that really sounded "huge" to me was the one they carried over from their debut EP. That said, shouting the "whoa-oh" verse in "Keep the Car Running" along with 25,000 other people at their Randall's Island show later that October (what a line-up that was, eh?: LCD Soundsystem, Les Savy Fav, Blonde Redhead...) was one of the more ecstatic communal experiences I've ever had at a concert -- along with doing an encore of the "whoo-ooh"s from "Headlights Look Like Diamonds" with dozens, if not hundreds, of most-likely-also-drunk people while walking across the bridge back to Harlem after the show.  

When it was finally time for The Suburbs, I was bummed to realize how little I had listened to Arcade Fire in the interim. Where Neon Bible had felt to me a little oddly stunted (I still don't quite get what they were trying to do with "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations"), The Suburbs, like TV on the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain and the Stills' With Feathers, started with two different songs that sounded definitively like "opening" tracks, giving the momentum a feeling of being immediately rebooted. It also had five songs too many. Beyond that, clearly gone was the interest in a sense of intimacy with the listener like the one they had once established with more gentle, intricate songs like "Une annee sans lumiere." Everything was now spacious chords and choruses. It was clear the follow-up to Funeral I had always wanted was not likely to ever materialize. Reflektor is now their second overstuffed album in a row. It seems I'm not hearing the same record as the folks who are giving it rave reviews are. I don't think it's bad, I don't think it's great, I'm just...indifferent, which, thinking back on Funeral, is not a feeling I expected I would ever have about their music.
What is it for you?

KYLE: Indifferent was exactly my reaction to both The Suburbs and (especially) Reflektor. The thing is, I think I always expected my relationship with Arcade Fire to end up that way, given how different (i.e. earnest and emotive) Funeral was from anything I was listening to at the time. Maybe it was a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy, but regardless the end result was that I was much more attached to Funeral than I was to Arcade Fire the recording group, making Neon Bible easier to swallow, and the resulting slow drift apart much easier to accept.

I should note, just to be clear, that I make the 'recording group' clarification because I'm sure they continue to put on an amazing live show, albeit one that I am unlikely to see again on my own dime given my distaste for paying NFL suite prices for rock shows... but that's a whole other conversation.

Speaking of sporting events and segues and things that happened this year, I'm eager to get your full report on the Rangers (hockey version) game you attended a few weeks back. You mentioned that the house music in the arena was... of questionable merit. It's often a bit awkward when sports stadiums and music collide, but from what you mentioned it sounded like the trouble went well beyond simple bad taste?

IAN: Okay, so first off: enter Twitter contests. For reals. We got the tickets to the Rangers vs. Canucks game because our friend won them from some watch company via a Twitter contest, and they were the most amazing seats I've ever had to anything, no joke. They were technically fourth row, right behind one of those corner circles where they do face offs. Because of the way it was set up, there was no one in front of us, barring the people who get to sit in folding chairs right behind the boards below us. I could hear the puck hit the goalie's leg pads, and see the players' facial expressions. They tickets would have been, I think, maybe $300 each, and our friend won four of them. From a freaking watch company, via a freaking Twitter contest. Who freaking knew?

But, yes, here's the thing. From 1992 to 1994, I was a rabid hockey fan and went to dozens of Seattle Thunderbirds games, back in that old no-frills '50s era arena at the Seattle Center, now gone, where I also later saw Oasis and The Verve, and where my high school graduation ceremony took place. (The only thing I remember about that ceremony, by the way, was that my friend Samson Kwong quoted that "hope you had the time of your life" song by Green Day in his valedictorian speech. At length. I probably would have quoted Iggy Pop if I had been invited to speak, but to each his own.) During those years, Metallica's "Enter Sandman" was the Thunderbirds' "take to the ice" music, they played Gary Glitter's "Rock'n'Roll Part 2" every time they scored a goal, and for some reason the sound guy couldn't get enough of blasting that opening low note of Rush' "Tom Sawyer." To this day, when I hear that song, I get visions of minor league hockey players skating around the ice in that arena. 

Granted, that was Seattle in the early '90s, and the Rangers play in the New York of the '10s, but the commercial pop music they kept blaring over the PA at the game we went to was shameful. Does Lady Gaga really get a hockey crowd going in 2013? Mainstream rock has been a garbage dump since Limp Bizkit was allowed to happen, and it wouldn't be any more manly to play some of Imagine Dragons' awful Coldplay-ripping Butt Rock or whatnot...but all the same, I felt embarassed for everyone there who wasn't a child or disinterested wife/girlfriend. In fact, the only two times they played a rock song were when fights broke out. After the first fight, they even played a snatch of "Master of Puppets," which I thought I was hallucinating at first. The game is the same, but the music done changed.

Speaking of dark times, maybe now it is time to explore my favorite album-cover-related hypothesis of 2013? That is: your album-cover-related hypothesis of 2013.

KYLE: You must be referring to the great colorless album cover conspiracy! Well you see, it all started when I picked up Cupid's Head, the latest full length from The Field, and noted that the 'white text on black background' album cover was quite a departure from his usual 'color-y words on off-white background' theme. Departure is a definitely a relative term in this case. For an artist who works exclusively in the '10 minute long microhouse tracks built out of slowly shifting loops' genre, any sudden jump feels bigger than it would otherwise. 

At any rate, around the same time  Tim Hecker's excellent Virgins was released, and right away I thought it was interesting that his music had taken a dark turn from his recent work and the album cover, while it does feature a color photograph predominantly on a black background, reads overall as black to me. 

Not long after that is when I noticed that Fuck Buttons had made it a trifecta* with Slow Focus. I think I joked to you that all the ambient experimental guys must have gotten together and made a black album cover pact. In fact, just looking at album cover, 2013 seems like the year of 'thingy on black background' albums, with bands from Deerhunter to Daft Punk using the technique. 

*I so want to include Oneohtrix Point Never in this group , but R Plus Seven has too many damn colors on it. Still, musically it takes a subtly darker turn.

However, maybe there's more going on here than that? In the experimental world at least, the change in color palate seemed to apply to the music as much as the art. Could there be some external forces at work here pushing things this direction? I'd be inclined to think it was the growing influence of metal if it weren't for the fact that the great crossover metal record of the year, Deafheaven's Sunbather, features a pink cover. Also, it is called Sunbather.

I'll toss the ball back over you you at this point. Do you think we are seeing the product of a long wartime recession, a purely musical trend, complete coincidence, or something I'm not thinking of?

The full four-fecta


IAN: Oh, it is a four-fecta when you add in Baths' Obsidian, and that Darkside record can go in the "electronic album with thing-on-black-background cover" category. Those Burial EP's count, too, yes? You definitely weren't just seeing things, this was an unspoken 2013 visual art trend. As for why the music itself would take a dark turn...probably different reasons? In the case of Baths specifically, it was documented that Will Wiesenfeld was understandably influenced by recent issues with his health. Maybe all of these artists went through trying times, and these are the creative results? Personally, I think it would be fun to speculate that the world of electronic music was also at least partially reacting to whatever is left of populist guitar-based music, which has somehow made a tired cliche out of white people shouting "hey!" en masse in the middle of rousing anthems about hero trials to listen to on Apple products while driving hybrids. Or maybe all of these guys randomly got into the Cure's goth trilogy together last year.  

If they have now got it all out of their system, do you think more artists will be following in Deafheaven's footsteps, releasing brightly colored albums in 2014? Are there there any trends that you suspect are coming, or would like to see? My partial 2014 Music Wish List would be for:

A) Dr. Luke & Co. to retire, so every song they play at my gym would stop sounding 100% exactly the same. That kind of commerce approach to "song" writing is bad for the body and mind, like eating McDonald's every day. 

B) Actually, if I could get "A," that would be more than enough. But a new Lotus Plaza album wouldn't hurt either, if that's even a possibility.  

KYLE: It'd be interesting to see what the most common colors are in album art over time. You could take the average color of each album, group them by year, etc. I'm curious to see if there's much difference, and if there's any sort of trend... but man that'd take FOREVER so perhaps one of our fine readers will take up the challenge?

I'm kicking myself for forgetting about Obsidian by the way... ah well. As far as 2014 trends to go, I think that's something to keep an eye on. Are we in for more blackness, or was 2013 just an anomaly?  

In terms of predictions, I'd say we should be on the look-out for genre zombies. As with emocore this year, in 2014 I'm going to guess that we'll see more of the same, with young bands showing renewed interest in every single remaining '90s sub-genre we loved and/or hated. This trend will accelerate through 2015 and beyond, until all music is a nostalgic nod to the music of the previous month.

As for a wish list, I'd like to see:

A) Some new material from James Murphy. A west coast tour to support it wouldn't be so bad either... probably not in the cards, but a girl can dream.

B) More realistically, can we say goodbye to some of these talent competition shows? I have accepted that reality TV is here to stay, but enough of the competitive singing already. It's bad enough that they're constantly on the 3 times a week I try to watch live television, but these shows are DESIGNED to give gigantic recording contracts to singers who appeal primarily to, I don't know, 12 year old girls? Soon, pre-teens will be curating the very world the rest of us have to live in, at least until the adults revolt resulting in the demographic wars of 2020-2023.

Anyway! I think that's my last rant of 2013 unless the Seahawks manage to lose this weekend, and so with that, I think it's time to say goodbye. Say goodbye Ian. 

IAN: