pumpktoberfest #43 -
treat yoself.

spice up yer nuts.

pumpktoberfest 2010!

#195 - links &
drinks 2011.


#142 - tracks & snacks.

will you look at that! if you're reading this, that means that you've made it through 2009. congrats. i knew you could do it! well, not you, phil. frankly, your immortality is SHOCKING...but everyone else...i knew you could do it! since we're done with the living hell that was 2009 & already a week or so into 2010, i figured it was high time that i got on with putting together my year-end best of lists. at the end of 2008, i recapped my top ten albums, snacks & drinks of the year. this year, i'm going to keep in the same realm & offer up my top ten TRACKS & SNACKS OF 2009!

just like last year, since my main music obsession these days is mostly in the field of indie rock, all ten tracks on the list are by indie rockers. there are a ton of tracks that i could have included here, but we only have room for ten, folks. the first songs to get cut were those from other years, from miles benjamin anthony robinson's "buriedfed" to o.d.b.'s "got your money" to final fantasy's "this lamb sells condos."

from this year, there are a few honorable mentions. there's peaches' "serpentine" & morrissey's "something is squeezing my skull." in the hip hop world, there's the cool kids' "broadcasting live," vinnie scullo's "eyehearthiphop" & kid cudi's "pursuit of happiness" (with MGMT & ratatat). the last track to get cut from the list was animal collective's "my girls," which i listened to extensively for the first two months of the year before i just got plain sick of it & it fell out of favor. regardless, it still makes me happy when i hear it. so yeah...lots of good music this year. grab a snack & a drink, pull up a chair & let's get to my top ten tracks!

"percussion gun," white rabbits - back in july, i declared the white rabbits' it's frightening one of my favorite albums of the year thus far & declared "percussion gun" my favorite opening track thus far. now that the year's over, it's officially my favorite opening track of the year. what i love so much about "percussion gun" is that it has a loose, slightly chaotic feel with hard pounding drums & occasional piano that, as the video so accurately represents, seem to spiral around each other. BEST drums of 2009. one of my goals for 2010...to finally see them live.


"actor out of work," st vincent - this year, other than the dirty projectors angels, annie clark/st vincent got all of my indie rock crush action. her second album, actor, which came out back in may, was one of my top five albums at the year's midpoint & throughout the year, while the whole album didn't get a whole lot of ipod love, "actor out of work" stayed in the rotation. it's got her angelic voice, driving guitars & drums & a bunch of horns and at just over two minutes, it's a nice rockin' shot to the system.


"sheila," atlas sound - historically, my favorite musicians are the extremely prolific ones who put out album after album without coming up for air. bradford cox (the mastermind behind atlas sound) released his second official album (logos) under the atlas sound name in late october. over the last three years, cox, who's also the front man for deerhunter, his "main" band, has released a total of five albums combined under both names. the track that stands out most on logos is "sheila," which appears halfway through the album following a slow, dreamy song & really kicks the pace of the album back up a notch. though it has a poppy sound, it also has lyrics like "we'll die alone together," "no one wants to die alone" & "when we die, we'll bury ourselves." if you ignore the lyrics though, it's so not depressing.


"small deaths," the dodos - one of my favorite songs from 2008 was the dodos' "fools," so when i found out that they had a second album coming out in september, i was pretty psyched. from start to finish, that new album, time to die, is definitely stronger than their first album. it leads off with "small deaths," a track that gives the white rabbits' "percussion gun" a run for its money as the best album opener of the year. i got to see them live back in october & it was an absolute blast. the reason i mention that is because with "small deaths," you get a perfect example of what i saw there on stage that night--three dudes (guitar, drums, vibraphone) who can both play beautiful melodic stuff & rockin stuff in the course of one song. anyway...NOT extinct.


"lisztomania," phoenix - my initial reaction to phoenix was one of utter hate. over time though, their excessive poppiness really started to click with me & at some point soon after their snl appearance back in april, i found myself bouncing down the streets to the sounds of "listzomania," the opening track to this year's wolfgang amadeus phoenix, which is totally up for a grammy for alternative album of the year. unless slightly sugary sweet indie pop makes you want to punch a baby or your heart is surrounded by ice, there's pretty much no way you can listen to the song & not feel happier at the end. it's scientifically improbable.


"you're a target," no age - l.a.'s no age has been one of the main proponents of my constantly growing love for short, rocking indie songs & while they didn't put out an album this year, they did put out a four-song EP that closes with the song "you're a target." the EP itself is pretty damn good, but "you're a target" opens with a few seconds of dreamy guitar before blasting into the most balls-to-the-wall, fuzz-filled three minutes in music this year. if you're into putting on music full blast & bouncing around your apartment like you're a one man mosh pit, this is definitely the song for you, another example of the amazing amount of sound you can create with just a guitar & drums.

"beach demon," wavves - being an indie rock star is hard. just ask wavves' nathan williams. in 2009, after pitchfork began hyping wavvves as the greatest thing since sliced bread, williams became infamous for a performance at barcelona's primavera festival where, after ingesting valium & ecstasy, he had a breakdown on stage. when i went to watch wavves play at the pitchfork festival, he had a cast on from an earlier skateboarding accident & arrived on stage about a half hour after his scheduled start time. regardless, his set was exactly what i expected--loud, fuzzy & rocking. since then, wavvves has been in heavy rotation & "beach demon," the first full song on the album, has become my go-to song when i need to drown out the mexicali music constantly spewing from the apartment below me.
"learned to surf," superchunk - this year, nineteen years after they released their debut album, i discovered superchunk. itwas perfect timing as back in january they put out the leaves in the gutter EP, their first new material since 2001's here's to shutting up. it leads off with the song "learned to surf," which at the moment is my favorite song, but since i only first heard it around the beginning of december, i couldn't in good conscience give it the top slot on my list. it's the same sort of driving, kickass song that superchunk's famous for, all built around the chorus "when I learned to walk, you know humans roamed the earth. i can't hold my breath anymore, i stopped sinking and learned to surf. when i learned to talk, i found words they weren't worth dirt. i can't hold my breath anymore, i stopped swimming and learned to surf." inspirational words to live by, folks.
"useful chamber," dirty projectors - this year, dirty projectors shows acted as bookends to a week of 35th birthday revelry for me, first with a show up in boston on my actual birthday & then another the following saturday down in brooklyn. after the release of this year's bitte orca, everyone & their mother was hailing them as the new indie gods & after listening to the album only a handful of times, i started to agree with the chatter. to this day i still can't describe their sound, but i will say that "useful chamber," a six-plus minute song that's my fave on the album, personifies what i love about them--angelic singing, music that's anything but straightforward & occasional rocking. it may be a too noodly for some folks, but for me, for now, it still lives up to the hype.
"young hearts spark fire," japandroids - from the time that i first heard japandroids' post-nothing earlier this year, i absolutely fell in love with them. they're just two dudes from vancouver (a drummer & a guitarist) who create music that absolutely rocks the face. i got to see them live twice this year (at pianos & at the pitchfork festival) & while seeing them five feet away blowing the walls off a tiny room ruled, seeing them on a stage with a crowd of people at pitchfork was almost just as good. "young hearts spark fire" is the second track in an awesome string of songs that open up the album, but in my book, it's the clear stand out, with a flurry of rock & lines like "we used to dream. now we worry about dying." it'll put some pep in your step any day of the week...guaranteed.


#142 - tracks & snacks.

wow, people. i ate a veritable shitload of snacks last year & through it all, i've actually lost five pounds. take that hollywood diet! it's really been a great year for snacking, from my long-overdue embrace of fruit to the serious influx of new snacks (many of them of the healthy variety), i've been able to create a diet that's filled with more variety than carrot top's box of props. these are just ten of those snacks, the ten that made the biggest impact on my 2009 snacking...let's get to the snacks!:

snack: popchips bbq (NEW)

as a blogger, i've had an interesting relationship with popchips. after mentioning them in a few columns earlier this year, they contacted me & asked if i'd like to try some of their chips. i was all like "free, healthy chips? well, duh!"  they sent me a package, but due to neighbor thievery, it never arrived. then, back in september, pom got in touch with me & sent me some of their drinks. when i reviewed one of them, i mentioned the unfortunate popchips incident. finally, a few weeks ago, i was home alone playing on the interweb when there was a loud knock upon my door. when i opened it, there was a delivery guy with a box for me. oh the surprise! it was a holiday sampler pack from popchips! i say all this because the FTC has decreed that as of 12/1/09, i must declare any gifts i receive from companies, lest i also receive a $11K fine. anyway, i definitely like their chips & the bbq ones are definitely my fave.

snack: cornucopia dill pickle popcorn (#110)

when my bro took a trip down to austin this summer, he came back with a little gift for me--a bag of dill pickle popcorn from austin's own cornucopia popcorn trailer. cornucopia has a few locations around austin & they dispense nothing but various crazily-flavored popcorns, with a wide-range of flavors such as cinnamon toast sopapilla & mexican hot chocolate. the dill pickle flavor was buttery & salty & only slightly dill but flavorful enough & i enjoyed it so much that i'd call it the best popcorn i tried in 2009. too bad you can only get it in austin.

snack: zapp's voodoo chips (#134)

since i'm a big fan of sticking pins into things as a basis for a religion, back in october i decided to try out a bag of zapp's voodoo chips, which are manufactured out of the area that's essentially the u.s. center of voodoo--new orleans. they're made with a flavor that zapp's describe as "everything in the kitchen" & i'd describe as "all over the place but still good." when i ate them, i didn't feel the need to get religious & stick pins into anything to appease the gods, but i did enjoy them quite a bit. zapp's lists them as their "limited edition" chip, so who knows how long they'll be available for, but if you find them, they're worth checking out.

snack: tyrrell's sweet chilli & red pepper chips (#122)

i've always been an ardent supporter of the old-timey, so tyrrell's sweet chilli & red pepper chips, which feature two old-timey guys with old-timey hats in an old-timey car on the front of the bag, quickly became an instant favorite of mine. in addition to the sweet packaging, they have a flavor that's reminiscent of asian fusion, with a nice mix of sweet & spicy flavorings. if you're someone who enjoys kettle chips, these are a step up from those & since they're made by a british company, if you have a bag of them in your home, you'll instantly look 65% more worldly.

snack: primal strips seitan thai peanut jerky (#105)

for a while, i was a little bit pissed about thai peanut primal strips. one of my local grocery stores & the columbus circle whole foods got me hooked on the thai peanut jerky earlier this year & since then, i hadn't been able to find it at either location or anywhere else for that matter. i'm a sucker for jerky & anything flavored with thai peanut, so when i came across a meatless (seitan) version that actually tasted good, i got the bug. luckily today, when i was at my fave local bodega, i noticed a new addition to the register area--a primal strips display! i'm happy to report that as i type this, i'm totally gnawing on a strip of thai peanut jerky. oh happy day!

snack: pumpkin whoopie pie (#133)

back in october, i took a trip back to the parents' abode up in nh & did some driving around with my dad. in our travels, we stopped by a quaint eatery in our little hometown of 10K or so & based on his knowledge that i have this snack blog, he made the decision to get a couple of homemade pumpkin whoopie pies. they were made of pure, sugary goodness, with tasty pumpkin cake flavor, powdered sugar on top & yummy cream in the middle. getting them was quite possibly the smartest thing my dad did all year. jk dad, but for realz...whoopie!

snack: apple (MF #6)

if there's one snack that was most responsible for the slight healthy upswing in my diet this year, it was the apple. after years of neglecting fruit, these days i pretty much eat an apple a day. thus far, it's kept the doctor away, but that's only because i'm lazy & haven't made an appointment in forever. i'm a snob, so i'll only eat sliced-up apples, but doing so makes me feel like i'm not just eating a boring ass apple, so it's all good. in closing, i'm astounded that it took me so long to fall in love with the apple, especially after hearing how well it worked out for adam & eve.

snack: riceworks wasabi brown rice crisps (#88)

when i was home for the holidays, my mother actually had a couple bags of riceworks chips, including the wasabi ones, sitting next to the fridge. they've apparently become popular enough that wal-mart now carries them. the wasabi flavor is just one of a handful of flavors they offer & while i enjoy most of their flavors, i'm a sushi glutton, so i'm naturally drawn to anything containing wasabi. since they're made with brown rice, they're all gluten-free & whatnot, & they also make for a flavorful, crispy, non-greasy chip. even your mom will like em.

snack: vosges mo's dark bacon bar (#118)

since the 2000's could arguably be referred to as "the decade of bacon," i'd be remiss if i didn't mention at least one bacon-related snack in my top ten of 09. luckily, i discovered vosges dark bacon bar out in chicago this summer & it quickly became my favorite chocolate bar. for all the shit that i give bacon for its trendiness, i'm actually a pretty big fan of bacon (specifically the turkey version). fakin' bacon can suck it though. as surprising as it may sound, the saltiness of bacon actually goes really well with the sweetness of chocolate. it's a much better combo than bacon & mayo.

snack: chevre du miel (#116)

i first discovered chevre du miel back in august & ever since that point, i've had some of it in my fridge pretty much non-stop. it's a honey-flavored, creamy goat cheese & i've grown quite fond of slicing off a hunk of it, breaking out crackers & an apple or dates to pair it with & spreading away. at one of my regular snack & drink buying spots, bierkraft, it's pretty much seen as my "usual." because of its amazing, sweet flavor, it's single-handedly made cheese a regular part of my diet. if you're a fan of goat cheese & being addicted to things & you haven't tried chevre du miel yet, you're seriously missing out. please get with it in the 1-0.

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