Top Albums of 2016

1- Call of the Islands - Ixtahuele

Call of the Islands by Ixtahuele

Call of the Islands by Ixtahuele

An easy call in what was generally a weak year.  Two years ago I rated Ixtahuele’s Mareld EP as number 4 on my top albums list (2014 was a very strong year), saying it might have ranked higher if it wasn’t just an EP. Well, the three tracks from Mareld returned this year as part of Ixtahuele’s second full-length album. Though maybe a step down from their incredible debut Pagan Rights, this is by no means a let down. These are thirteen original exotica tracks that rank up there with the best of the genre (extremely rare for any exotica group to have an album entirely of original compositions) . Such a fine mix of vibes+piano that would make Arthur Lyman and Martin Denny proud.

2- Honoka & Azita EP - Honoka & Azita

Hawaii’s ukulele sensations finally put out music for purchase after a couple years of YouTube videos. Their surf covers of “Miserlou” and “Wipeout” featured additional musicians but their original tune “Drop In” shows promise beyond novelty.

3- The Exotic Sounds of Tikiyaki 5-0 EP - Tikiyaki 5-0

This is the surf-oriented quartet variant of the Tikiyaki Orchestra, and their EP was a lot of fun. Check out the very good surf version of the exotica classic “Taboo.” I was looking for a modern surf group and this EP didn’t disappoint.

4- Super - Pet Shop Boys

Hard to follow 2013’s Electric album, but the template was largely similar with a focus on dance tracks rather than orchestral or acoustic experimentation. Some very strong tracks, including the single “The Pop Kids.”

5- This is what the truth feels like - Gwen Stefani

All the songs sound the same is sort of a plus and a minus. A big comeback for Stefani who’s last album was the largely forgettable Push and Shove with No Doubt. Though not as varied and dance oriented as Stefani’s first two solo albums, this one does have a great sound and some strong tracks such as “Rare” and “Make Me Like You.”

6- Hardwired… to Self Destruct - Metallica

A solid but unspectacular album from Metallica.

7- Strange Little Birds - Garbage

Ranked last, because it was my least favorite this year and among all the albums from Garbage. Which is not to say it’s awful, just “less awesome.”  Overall, this album had fewer outstanding songs than are typical for the average Garbage album, and the tempo was down too (evidence: the album’s best song “Even Though Our Love is Doomed“).

Most Listened Songs 2016

One of our annual posts here at Kevdo.com is my list of most-listened songs. Had some desktop computer issues and so the counts and total played songs are likely somewhat off. I’m transitioning iPhone sync with a new desktop hence this list coming out a bit early. In any case, according to iTunes data I listened to a total of 1852 songs in 2016.

List of top songs include some holdovers from 2015 (including last year’s number one, “Mow That Lawn”). Plus, songs from new albums by Pet Shop Boys and Gwen Stefani. Song of the year was “The Pop Kids” that had the most plays including the various remixes and different versions of the song.

Name Artist Album Plays
Inner Sanctum Pet Shop Boys Super 30
Mow That Lawn Charli XCX Live At Positivus Festival 2015 26
The Pop Kids Pet Shop Boys Super 26
Hand in the Fire (featuring Charli XCX) Mr. Oizo Hand in the Fire EP 23
Dangerous (feat. Joywave) Big Data 2 22
Same Old Love Selena Gomez Revival 20
One-Hit Wonder Pet Shop Boys The Pop Kids - EP 19
Burn Pet Shop Boys Super 19
The Pop Kids (The Full Story) Pet Shop Boys The Pop Kids - EP 18
No Fun Charli XCX Vinyl: The Essentials (Best of Season 1) 15
Cool for the Summer Demi Lovato Cool for the Summer - Single 15
Cake by the Ocean DNCE SWAAY - EP 15
Kill the Lights (with Nile Rodgers) Alex Newell, Jess Glynne & DJ Cassidy Vinyl: The Essentials (Best of Season 1) 14
Make me like you Gwen Stefani This what the truth feels like 14
Where would i be? Gwen Stefani This what the truth feels like 13
In Bits Pet Shop Boys The Pop Kids - EP 13
Truth Gwen Stefani This what the truth feels like 12
Cascades Metric Pagans in Vegas 12
Play For Today The Cure Seventeen Seconds 11
You’re my favorite Gwen Stefani This what the truth feels like 11
Send me a picture Gwen Stefani This what the truth feels like 11
Other Side Metric Pagans in Vegas 11
Office Towers Escalate Metric Pagans in Vegas 11
Woman Like You Nasty Bits Vinyl: The Essentials (Best of Season 1) 11
The Pop Kids (Offer Nissim Drama Mix) Pet Shop Boys The Pop Kids (Remixes) - EP 11
Happiness Pet Shop Boys Super 11
Twenty-Something Pet Shop Boys Super 11
Pazzo! Pet Shop Boys Super 11
Undertow Pet Shop Boys Super 11

Fearless Baseball Predictions 2016

mlbNational League

  • East: Nationals
  • Central: Cubs
  • West: Giants
  • Wild Card: Dodgers / Pirates

American League

  • East: Blue Jays
  • Central: Royals
  • West: Astros
  • Wild Card: Indians / Red Sox

World Series: Giants beat Astros in 5 games

Fearless Oscar Picks 2016

Going out on a limb for The Big Short as Best Picture, and choosing Film Editing due to that pick. Am looking forward to Leonardo DiCaprio finally winning an overdue Oscar this year.

Update with Winners shown in bold. 15/24 is pretty awful, and below my average.

Best Picture
“The Big Short”

Best Director
Alejandro González Iñárritu, “The Revenant”

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

Best Actress
Brie Larson, “Room”

Best Supporting Actor
Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Best Supporting Actress
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”

Best Original Screenplay
“Spotlight”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Big Short”

Best Foreign Film
“Son of Saul”

Best Documentary Feature
“Amy”

Best Animated Feature
“Inside Out”

Best Film Editing
“The Big Short”

Best Song
“The Hunting Ground”

Best Original Score
“The Hateful Eight”

Best Digital Effects
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Cinematography
“The Revenant”

Best Costume Design
“Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Production Design
“Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Sound Editing
“The Revenant”

Best Sound Mixing
“The Revenant”

Best Short Film, Live Action
“Shok”

Best Short Film, Animated
“Sanjay’s Super Team”

Best Documentary Short Subject
“A Girl in the River”

The Super Bowl 50 Logo is a Disaster

With this year’s milestone Super Bowl being held our own Bay Area backyard, it’s been hard to escape the hype. And thanks to good weather, Julie and I did brave the crowds yesterday to visit Super Bowl City in San Francisco (the fact that we could easily flee and find something else to do in The City was also a factor). Though football isn’t really my thing anymore (thank you SF Giants), it certainly was an impressive scene that many people seemed to be really enjoying.

My initial exposure to SB50’s marketing push came not via television or billboards, but with a display in our neighborhood supermarket. They were selling SB50 logo shirts and other items, obviously trying to position themselves as your “big game headquarters.”  But something about the display bothered me. The colors seemed off. I’m used to seeing the NFL’s red/white/blue color scheme but this one seemed muted. What’s with this ugly yellow color?

Oh, it’s supposed to be gold. You know, the “golden anniversary” celebrating the 50th Super Bowl.

I can kind of see it now but I still think the color scheme is all wrong. It’s not a good color, certainly nothing that strikes immediately as gold. The ironic part is that with the game being held in the Bay Area at the SF 49ers home stadium, it isn’t like they don’t have a really good model for what a good gold color should look like on a football logo or jersey. In fact, the Los Angeles Rams’ gold color also matches the 49ers gold.

caf3o3dusaagaye

Gold in them thar hills?

Favorite Albums of 2015

I purchased nine albums/extended plays released in 2015, and here’s my ranking.

Veruca Salt - Ghost Notes

Veruca Salt - Ghost Notes

1. Veruca Salt - Ghost Notes
One of my favorite albums from the 1990’s was the Veruca Salt album Eight Arms to Hold You, which sadly preceeded Nina Gordon’s departure from the group. A decade plus later the full original line-up reunited for an excellent combination of hard riffs, melodies, and harmonies. One of my favorite moments was the line from “Empty Bottle” that went “Banging my head against a wall of sound.” That’s Veruca Salt in a nutshell.

2. Metric - Pagans in Vegas
Canadian alternative vets Metric went into a very synth-y direction on their latest album. I really liked some of this material including some instrumental and experimental songs such as “The Face” and “Office Towers Escalate.” Mainstream songs such as “The Governess” and “The Shade” show that Metric is still one of the best groups at producing catchy alternative rock.

3. Editors - In Dream
Another nice post-punk revivial record from Editors, who’s last record I skipped. They too went into a more synth-heavy direction on this album. I also liked the alternative versions on the extended version of the album.

4. FFS - FFS
The most unexpected release was this collaboration from Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. While some songs felt like “Sparks” songs or “Franz Ferdinand” songs that were brought to the project, the epic “Collaborations Don’t Work” was seamless blending of styles. Some very strong material here, and it’s nice when popular “students” do effective and enjoyable projects with their “masters.”

5. Colin Hay - Next Year People
Another effective album of catchy and reflective material from Hay, who’s live show I caught this year as well. While in concert it’s mostly Hay and a guitar, the record features a full band sound. Hay’s voice is as effective as ever and this is one of his best solo efforts. I pre-ordered and received an autographed copy too.

6. Madona - Rebel Heart
There were lots of tracks I really liked, including the title song available on the extended version of the album. But there was a lot of weird and hip-hoppy material that really isn’t my thing (example: “Bitch I’m Madonna”).

7. David Gilmour - Rattle That Lock
The title track is amazing, but the rest of the album isn’t really that catchy. Kind of ironic that I prefer last year’s mostly instrumental Pink Floyd release to this.

8. Foo Fighters - Saint Cecilia EP
Their last album was nearly the top of my list in 2014, and one of my favorites of the last 10 years. But Saint Cecilia is pretty generic stuff. Which is okay since it was released for free as a bonus to their loyal fans.

9. Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Letters from the Labrynith
This came along with a purchase to their live concert and suffice to say that I’d have never bought it on it’s own.

←Older