Saturday, December 17

Link Party - Year End 2004 Edition.

Before we get into the business of recapping the year that was, here's a trip back to the year before the year that was, courtesy of the CDP Wayback Machine and general apathy on my part.

Away we go!

1. Here was my Best & Worst list for 2004. Do I feel the same way now as I did then? I'm not really sure, but it looks like I put a lot of work into it. This is why I asked people to chip in this year. I'm a shiftless, lazy jerk who no longer cares.

2. Here was my Year In Review. In this list, you can look back to the very start of the CDP, and find out every little detail of what transpired last year. Highlights include the Red Sox winning the World Series, spiraling into a horrible unemployed depression, and a wedding or two.

3. Here's a little insight into Christmas 2004 with the CDP family. Nostalgia is fun when it's funny.

There you go. Check that out this weekend, and the CDP will return on Monday with a ton of Christmas and year-end hijinx.

NEXT: TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2005 - #5-#1!

Friday, December 16

Lost Friday - Rerun Edition Rerun.

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(For all of you who don't have the luxury of living in the north, here's what a 'blanket of snow' looks like at CDP Headquarters. 7 inches and counting.)

Another Lost Friday Rerun Edition is upon us. Blee blave bluch bloo bliscuss.

Listen kids, enough of this crap. I've got Christmas shopping to do. As much as I'd like to sit here and talk about hatch-this and Desmond-that, Eko-where and Dharma-what, I really need to get out of the house for a few hours and spend some sweet state employee-earned cash.

It's not like I'm happy about it or anything. I'd love to do nothing more on my Friday off from work but mow down dozens of Oreos and play Madden '06 until the Missus comes home, but the real world is calling, and it wants me to go broke or die trying. (That's the title of my new movie, produced by MTV films.) Drinking a bottle of wine alone in front of the fire is going to have to wait until after I fill my wobbly cart with gift cards, overpriced knick-knacks and CD's by bands that suck.

And don't get me started on this snow. It's bad enough that normally intelligent and well-meaning people turn into savages that can't drive every December. Throwing a blizzard into the mix is nothing short of a soccer mom riot waiting to happen. Normally this would intrigue and excite me, but I have things to do today, so there's no time to dwell on the possibilities.

The simple fact of the matter is that ABC is running Lost reruns until January 11, and unless a cast member spontaneously combusts or gets arrested for drunk driving (say...?), there's not too much to report. Next week, I'll be talking more about unanswered questions and theories and whatnot, but for now, my checkbook finger's getting itchy and Best Buy's callin' my name.

I wouldn't leave you hanging, though. Whet your appetite with a dozen of my previous Lost Fridays:

SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 3
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 9 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 8 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 7 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 6 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 2
SEASON TWO - RERUN EDITION
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 5 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 4 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 3 REVIEW
SEASON TWO - EPISODE 1 REVIEW
SEASON TWO PREVIEW

Oh, and here's a quick glimpse into what I'll be doing today when I'm not standing in line at the mall:

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Sweet.

NEXT: TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2005 - #5-#1.

Thursday, December 15

Top 20 Albums Of 2005 - Part 3 Of 4.

No way! Part three? Sweeet!

We're into the top 10 now. The meat of the order. The pickle in the Big Mac and so forth.

The common link between these five albums is that they all struck me for one reason or another. None of these albums are jaw-dropping from beginning to end, yet they all contain a specific charm that puts them leaps and bounds ahead of any other band doing what they are doing this year. Rock, prog-rock, indie-folk and dance all share the stage here, unique yet strangely united.

Let's go.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #10 - Mando Diao - Hurricane Bar

Beautiful and raw, straight-ahead rock and roll from across the pond. Hurricane Bar was purchased by me on a whim, and stayed in my stereo for weeks as I picked apart and deciphered how a band could write so many catchy songs in a row. The harmonies, the chords, the lyrics and the hooks are almost a little too perfect to be ignored. Mando Diao has been doing this for a few years now, and Hurricane Bar is a testament to the art of the perfect 3 minute rock song.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #9 - My Morning Jacket - Z

A lot of people are comparing My Morning Jacket's Z to Radiohead's Kid A, billing them as an "American Radiohead." I'm not too into Radiohead, so I consider that sort of an insult for MMJ. Z is a huge step forward in the southern prog-rock group's production and songwriting talents. Gateway single "Off The Record" is a perfect welcome mat into the strange and beautiful world of Z. With an album like this, you're always left to wonder where a band can go from here. With My Morning Jacket, it matters not, for Z stands well enough alone.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #8 - Sufjan Stevens - Illinois

Certainly one of the most talked-about albums of the year, Illinois is the second album in Stevens' 50 states project (or so he says). Here we see a young songwriter in full-speed ahead mode, conducting intricate and beautiful tracks, spanning dozens of instruments and multiple harmonies in honor of the great state south of Wisconsin. Illinois lends itself to several listens from start to finish, so indulge yourself one afternoon with one of the most bold and adventurous albums of the year.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #7 - Feist - Let It Die

Read my official review of Let It Die HERE. This album is way out of my wheelhouse, yet it calmed and quieted me enough to really appreciate and enjoy it. The surprise album of the year for me.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #6 - LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem

Read my official review of LCD Soundsystem HERE. James Murphy is my new hero, bringing forth the dance album of the year (or the last few years, really).

Illinois is only number 8? Blasphemy! Sound off in the comments section.

NEXT: LOST FRIDAY!

THEN: THE CDP'S TOP 5 ALBUMS OF THE YEAR!

Wednesday, December 14

Top 20 Albums Of 2005 - Part 2 Of 4.

Hey, look! It's part two! That's wonderful!

Today, we look at #15-#11 on the CDP's list of the Top 20 Albums of 2005. All five of these albums (well, actually six) have severe ups and downs. The thing that sets these albums apart from others that do the same is that their ups are way up, and their downs are merely creative experimentation gone wrong. You don't have to listen to those tracks, but you can respect them.

Let's go.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #15 - Minus The Bear - Menos El Oso

Read my official review of Menos El Oso HERE. I don't get paid to write the same review twice.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #14 - Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary

Wolf Parade has been billed as the indie rock saviors of 2005, second to Arcade Fire in terms of importance. While I don't necessarily buy into all of the hype, Wolf Parade does a lot of things well. Their weaving of atmospheric guitar and synth work into the background of solid songwriting is a serious departure from the non-emotional and apathetic lyrics of the current indie landscape. I saw them open for Arcade Fire this year, and I couldn't think of any other band that would have held their own so well.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.com #13 - Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning/Digital Ash In A Digital Urn

Conor Oberst is the new Dylan. Of course he is. Oberst is a mediocre prodigal songwriter with a voice that sounds like a dental drill. His false-revolutionary lyrics speak to those who don't care to listen, and his production consistently sounds like it was recorded in an underwater aluminum factory. However, Wide Awake and Digital Ash are Bright Eyes' best albums yet, with terrific production, splendid leaps and bounds in songwriting talent and impressive risk-taking. 'First Day of my Life' is easily the prettiest song I've heard all year. Screw Dylan, Oberst is better, but that isn't saying much. I freaking hate Bob Dylan.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #12 - Supersystem - Always Never Again

Always Never Again came absolutely out of nowhere for skinny hipsters the nation over. The new moniker for DC's El Guapo, Supersystem takes Q and Not U's dance-funk-meets Dischord sound and sends it right off the cliff with thumping bass and insane out-and-out dance beats. 'Defcon' is one of the best dance tracks of the year, hands down. Always Never Again would have been the top beat-driven album of the year, had LCD Soundsystem not dropped in and spoiled the fun for everyone.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #11 - Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better...

After the huge success of their self-titled debut, Franz Ferdinand went back into the studio and emerged with an almost carbon copy of their previous work. No complaints here. You Could Have it so Much Better is laden with snarky lyrics and stomping rhythms, proving that too much of a good thing isn't always a shot in the foot. From start to finish, this is a catchy and exciting party album for almost any occasion

Sound off in the comments section.

NEXT: CDP's TOP 20 ALBUMS OF THE YEAR - #10-#6!

Tuesday, December 13

Top 20 Albums Of 2005 - Part 1 Of 4.

Well, here we finally go with the CDP's list of the top 20 albums of 2005. I've broken up the list into four parts that will go up through the end of the week (cleverly interrupted by yet another Lost Friday). You'll like some of these. Others will infuriate you. I can accept that.

2005 was a mixed year for albums, to say the least. For every one good album I purchased, 5 or 6 more were instantly alphabetized and never again returned to car rotation. It was such a bipolar year that a few of the albums on my top 20 list are already collecting dust on the shelf. Here's hoping that 2006 will be better, but at the same time, here's to the truly great albums that shone through the poop like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

Let's go.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #20 - Shout Out Louds - Howl Howl Gaff Gaff

Stockholm, Sweden's very own Shout Out Louds gained minor international exposure with the release of Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, a Strokes-with-emotion rock record that boasted twee lyrics, tinny guitars and love-gone-wrong lyrics (what a sentence!). Thanks in part to their video for "The Comeback," Shout Out Louds broke slightly free from the pack of similar sounding groups to release a decent enough album to hit #20 on the list.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #19 - Hot Hot Heat - Elevator

Most people forget that Canada's Hot Hot Heat were partly responsible for the new-new wave movement of the last few years. Their Sub Pop release of Make Up The Breakdown was a throwback before throwbacks went mainstream. Elevator picks right up where Breakdown left off, with anthemic choruses, Costello-esque guitar work and hiccuping vocals that allow you suspend indie disbelief and enjoy the melody for the time being.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #18 - Public Enemy - Power To The People & The Beats: Greatest Hits

Still the most hardcore and influential hip hop outfit of all time, Public Enemy is still as relavent and important as ever. Chuck D's Marv Albert delivery and Flava Flav's erratic bridges are still causing most modern acts to play catch-up. Add in the masterful DJ work of Terminator X, and you get a compilation of the most groundbreaking and politically-charged rap ever. Power To The People & The Beats is hip hop for people that thought hip hop was dead.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #17 - Beck - Guero

You can't keep a good Beck down. After a few critically-acclaimed but audience-panned releases (what Beck album isn't critically acclaimed?), Beck went back to the formula that made Odelay so brilliant, and set it back in motion for Guero. Blending folk, country, hip hop and non-sensical wordplay, Beck still has it, and we're always waiting to see what he will come up with next.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com #16 - Ben Folds - Songs For Silverman

Ben Folds is growing up. Weather or not this is a good thing as far as his musical talents are concerned has yet to be decided. Songs For Silverman turns Folds into more of a laid-back family man, instead of the foul-mouthed ball of fire we've seen on previous Ben Fold's Five releases. While certainly not the best album Folds has released, Silverman is the sound of maturity and acceptance, and he does a great job with it.

(NOTE: It should be mentioned that as I was typing this review, I mistakenly wrote "Dongs For Silverman." I'd like to have you think I never make a grammatical error, but in this case I really wanted to tell someone.)

Sound off in the comments section.

NEXT: TOP ALBUMS OF 2005 - #15-#11!

Sunday, December 11

Razor Burn.

I was having a discussion with a co-worker about beards the other day (who am I kidding, I was talking to myself over my lunch break). We (I) came to the conclusion that there were really only 10 good reasons for growing facial hair of any kind. I thought I could take a moment to explain these to you, in a segment I'm calling:

Know Your Beards.

You may be wondering to yourself, "Only 10 good reasons for growing a beard and/or moustache? You're sky-high on the meth!" Truth is that I am sky-high (on life), but I'm still right. Let's get started.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Beard #1 - The Winter Beard.

The Winter beard could be considered the most important type of beard, because it actually serves a purpose. In this case, a thick layer of fur is grown in order to survive the bitterly cold elements, traditionally used in the Midwest and Canada. Winter beards serve no fashionable purpose, although these hunters and lumberjacks did receive a lot of unwanted company when grunge was big. (See: Shackleton, Hemmingway, Red Green)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Beard #2 - The Beard Of Shame.

The Beard of Shame usually surfaces on men after a breakup or divorce. This is due in part to the combination of reclaiming one's manhood mixed with the crippling depression of a hardcore dumping. The wearer of the beard thinks that they are making an independent statement with said beard, but appear even more dejected and alone than if they had just shaved in the first place. (See: Any recently-dumped man with enough testosterone to grow facial hair, Ben Affleck)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Beard #3 - The First Beard.

When a young man starts to notice hair growing in places that it previously didn't, he gets scared and excited. This presents the youth with the first of many puberty-related decisions. To shave or not to shave? To start showering more than once a month or risk losing friends? Usually, young men allow their facial hair to grow until a friend makes fun of them, or until they work up the nerve to ask their Fathers to teach them how to shave. (See: Any and every Middle and High School in the nation, women who can't help it if their hormones are messed up)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Beard #4 - The Emo Beard.

The blazer, the scarf, the black-framed glasses and the scruffy beard. This is the emo look for winter, and the man in the picture has it down pat. Emo beards exist as another way for men to impress women, this time to appear even sadder and more world-weary than while smooth-faced. The illusion of the Emo beard is to convince people you do something other than read People magazine and eat Kix all day. (See: 41% of all male college students, that one kid on the High School drama club that turned out to be gay anyways)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Beard #5 - The Molester Beard.

While this is technically a moustache (the moustache of former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren, to be exact), the Molester beard is a tricky one. In this case, the facial hair exists to assume some sort of dominance over whoever it is you would like to intimidate. On the bright side, molesters can be spotted from miles away while they sport these things; it's like a tracking device that they don't even know they're wearing. (See: Domineering fathers, men on trial for sexual harassment, priests and Mormon dads)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Beard #6 - The Funny Beard.

Woo-hoo! It is so awesome to have a beard! The Funny beard is a personal favorite, in that it turns the wearer of the beard into a willing punchline for a social joke. People who sport funny beards do so because they know it's funny, making them funny as well. Funny beards don't normally look good, but that's the point. In doing this, the Funny beard makes fun of those who sport serious beards. (See: My Name Is Earl, Salvador Dali, Benjamin Jenkel, I hope)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Beard #7 - The Youth Minister Beard.

This is funny because it's true. I did a Google Image Search for "Youth Minister" and up popped 15 pages of guys with this goatee. Most youth Ministers are really nice guys who try to spread their message while remaining open and hip with today's youth. I don't know why they think the goatee is a good way to do this, but I guess it's up to them. Other youth Ministers shave their heads to draw more attention to the goatee, making them look like they should be the frontman for a Christian ska band. (See: Your local youth Minister, the O.C. Supertones)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Beard #8 - The Porn Star Beard.

I knew better than to go looking for pictures of porn stars with moustaches, so I'm putting up a picture of this old-timey guy instead. This is a staple of the adult film industry, most notably in the 70's, but even going as far back as when this guy was alive. Come to think of it, he probably is a porn star. I wonder what his stage name was. Mine is "Jasper Sauby." (See: The roped-off section in the back of Family Video)

(Note: If you don't know how to figure out your Porn Star name, take the name of your first pet and combine it with the street that you grew up on. Again, I'm Jasper Sauby.)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Beard #9 - The Spite Beard.

I believe that the spite beard was invented by yours truly. In fact, that's me in the photo, straight rocking the phase one beard (phase two to never follow). A Spite beard is grown for the sole purpose of showing your significant other that you are still in charge of your body, and can do whatever you want. It's like a married version of the Beard of Shame. In my case, the Missus forbid me from growing one, so I unplugged the razor and let it grow for a week. In a radical display of reverse psychology, she took a shining to it, which frightened me and caused the subsequent shaving of it. She won again, mainly because she's smarter than me and knows what's best for my well-being. It was still a cool beard, though. (See: Me)

(Note: It should be noted that I consider my beard to be a combination of every beard on the countdown. It's diverse like that.)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Beard #10 - Alex Trebek.

If you're Alex Trebek, you can do whatever the hell you want, and still rule. 'Nuff said. (See: Alex Trebek)

I hope you learned something today; I know I did. Sound off in the comments section, and tell me what your favorite beard is, along with your porn star name.

NEXT TIME: THE CDP'S TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2005!