1. Frank Ocean feat. OutKast - “Pink Matter (Remix)”

    This is literally the only song that I’ve listened to today. Big Boi and André 3000 reunited and it feels so good. #OutKastReunion2013

     
     

  2. Best reads of 2012

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    I know I use this Tumblr mostly to dump links to my writing, but seeing as the year is almost over, I wanted to throw up a post with links to some of my favourite reads of 2012. As with last year’s roundup, this is a highly incomplete and unscientific list (with the majority of them being music-related stories for obvious reasons), but here are some stories that made me gasp, made me think, and most importantly, made me want to be a better writer. Hopefully there’s something here that makes you feel the same way.  

    Bruce Arthur - “The apology Lance Armstrong will never give” (National Post, Oct. 23, 2012)

    I was talking to a former classmate at the Grey Cup a few weeks ago, and I told him that I rarely (if ever) read sports journalism, with the exception of Bruce Arthur. No one is better than him at going beyond the final score, statistics, etc., and writing about the human emotions experienced by athletes, coaches, fans, their families, etc. I really liked his Olympics coverage (and post-Olympics coverage - see this), but this piece on Lance Armstrong after the cyclist was stripped of his Tour de France titles, was my favourite.  

    Richard Beck - “5.4: Pitchfork, 1995-present” (n+1, January 2012)

    Love them or hate them, Beck’s essay looks at how Pitchfork went from just another music website to a tastemaking force that can knock bands down as easily as they can set them up.

    Josh Eells - “Jack White Is the Coolest, Weirdest, Savviest Rock Star of Our Time” (The New York Times, April 5, 2012)

    Disclaimer: I’m pretty biased when it comes to anything Jack White-related. Still, I thought this profile was illuminating, especially when it came to White’s relationship with his children.

    Sean Flynn - “Madman Across The Water” (GQ, August 2012)

    A heartbreaking piece about the July 2011 shooting that resulted in 77 people dead at a summer camp in Norway. When professors teach students about reconstructive journalism, they should use this story as an example.

    Charles Graeber - “Inside the Mansion—and Mind—of Kim Dotcom, the Most Wanted Man on the Net” (Wired, November 2012)

    There were plenty of stories written about the shutdown of Megaupload and the larger-than-life founder (see above for visual proof) behind the company, but none of them got access to Dotcom like Graeber did.

    Brian Hiatt - “The Many Lives of Adam Yauch” (Rolling Stone, June 7, 2012)

    I can’t remember the last time I was so bummed out over the passing of a celebrity that I’ve never met (I even wrote my five cents on what the Beasties’ music has meant to me), or read a Rolling Stone cover story more than once, but MCA wasn’t your average celebrity. Also recommended: Hua Hsu’s piece on Yauch for Grantland.

    Steve Hyden - “Extraordinary Machines” (Grantland, Sept. 11, 2012)

    It doesn’t matter whether he’s writing about Tay Swift or Titus Andronicus, Steve Hyden is consistently one of my favourite music writers. I’ve yet to see The Master and I was pretty lukewarm about Fiona Apple’s comeback album (save “Every Single Night” and the excellent LOL Boys edit), but after reading this piece, I can completely understand why Paul Thomas Anderson and Apple were once a couple.

    Patrick McGuire - “Cowards Are Blackmailing Young Women to Death on the Internet” (VICE, December 2012)

    Certainly not a pleasant subject to read about, but something that was woefully ignored by many Canadian mainstream media outlets, until McGuire started investigating these pedophiles and their disgusting corner of the internet.

    Alex Molotkow - “Why the Old-School Music Snob Is the Least Cool Kid on Twitter” (The New York Times, April 6, 2012)

    Alex is one of my favourite Toronto writers and I’m not just saying that because she’s let me write for her on several occasions.

    Karen Russell - “The Blind Faith of the One-Eyed Matador” (GQ, October 2012)

    Not recommended if you’re a member of PETA, but an interesting look at Hemmingway’s favourite sport from a Western observer.

    Julianne Escobedo Sheppard - “Frank Ocean Has a Cold” (SPIN, March/April 2012)

    Frank Ocean interviews are more rare than four-leaf clovers, but this one (pre-Channel Orange and before the Tumblr letter read all around the world) was the best.

    Natasha Vargas-Cooper - "Bath Salts: Deep in the Heart of America’s New Drug Nightmare" (SPIN, June 14, 2012)          

    Articles like this one are why losing the print edition of SPIN sucks.

    Amy Wallace - “Amen! (D’Angelo’s Back)” (GQ, June 2012)

    I never listened to D’Angelo’s music before, but after reading Wallace’s profile, I immediately downloaded Voodoo and joined The Roots’ Questlove and the masses hoping for new music from the singer in 2013.

    Other websites that I spent a lot of time on in 2013: Bullett (their magazine and site are both incredibly well-designed), Elite Gymnastics’ Tumblr (especially his post on EDM), The FADER (not new, but it definitely became a regular place for me to find new music in 2012), Hazlitt (I predict more than 50% of the articles that make up this list next year will be from these folks), Live For The Funk (Best New Music Website That I Don’t Write For), Noisey (Best New Music Website That I Do Write For), Shane McCauley’s Tumblr, and many more that I can’t think of right now.

     
  3. Favourite albums of 2012

    Anybody that knows me reasonably well, and what I listen to, shouldn’t be too surprised by this list. While I gave the edge to Japandroids, I have a feeling that I’ll be listening to Celebration Rock and Channel Orange for years to come. Until October, I had Oblivion in the Top 3, but Cat Power made a slightly more cohesive album. Most indie rock and pop bored me to tears this year (albums that will be on many year-end lists that I hated or disliked strongly: The xx, Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear), hence the inclusion of so much R&B, hip-hop, and electronic music. I’m also probably the only music journalist that will put Schoolboy Q ahead of Kendrick Lamar, but I’ve listened to the former significantly more this year. Looking at my picks, I’d say the majority of these albums came out in the first half of 2012, but there’s still some that I completely missed that I’ll be checking out the next few weeks and into 2013 (Cloud Nothings and Swans, I see you). The two most underrated albums in my opinion here are Sorry and Tender Opposites, so definitely check those out if you haven’t. 

    1. Japandroids - Celebration Rock

    Top track: “The House That Heaven Built”

    2. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

    Top track: “Pyramids”

    3. Cat Power - Sun

    Top track: “Cherokee”

    4. Grimes - Visions

    Top track: “Oblivion”

    5. DIIV - Oshin

    Top track: “Sometime”

    6. Chromatics - Kill For Love

    Top track: “Kill For Love”

    7. Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes

    Top track: “Putty Boy Strut”

    8. Schoolboy Q - Habits & Contradictions

    Top track: “Hands On The Wheel” (feat. A$AP Rocky)

     9. White Lung - Sorry

    Top track: “Bag”

    10. TNGHT - TNGHT

    Top track: “Bugg’n”


    Honourable mentions

    Cadence Weapon - Hope In Dirt City

    Evian Christ - Kings And Them

    Frankie Rose - Interstellar

    Godspeed You! Black Emperor - ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

    How To Dress Well - Total Loss

    Jeremih - Late Nights With Jeremih

    Joey Bada$$ - 1999

    Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d. city

    Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music

    Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream

    The Men - Open Your Heart

    METZ - METZ

    Titus Andronicus - Local Business

    TOPS - Tender Opposites

    Ty Segall & White Fence - Hair


    Favourite songs of 2012

    Here’s 15 songs that got serious plays on my iTunes that weren’t on any of the previously listed albums. Probably going to make a mix of my favourite rap and R&B songs of the year at some point, since there were many that just missed the cut (“Beez In The Trap”). For what it’s worth, “Orion’s Belt” was my personal “Call Me Maybe”.

    Angel Haze - “New York”

    Beach House - “Myth”

    Blood Diamonds feat. Grimes - “Phone Sex”

    CFCF - "Exercise 3"

    Dirty Beaches - “Funeral Gods & Neon Strippers”

    Dirty Projectors - "Gun Has No Trigger"

    Fiona Apple - “Every Single Night”

    Jack White - “Freedom At 21”

    Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz - “Mercy (RL Grime & Salva Remix)”

    Le1f - “Wut”

    Mac DeMarco - “Cooking Up Something Good”

    Mykki Blanco - “Wavvy”

    Purity Ring - “Obedear”

    Riff Raff feat. Kitty Pryde - “Orion’s Belt”

    Ryan Hemsworth - "Charly Wingate"

     

    Favourite shows of 2012

    I was pretty spoiled this year to see a lot of shows this year in a bunch of cool places. Coachella was definitely an experience I’ll never forget (R.I.P. WU LYF) and I also managed get to Montreal twice and New York for the first time in six years (#humblebrag). On my festival wish list for 2013: SXSW, Sasquatch!, Primavera Sound, and CMJ.

    1. Jack White - Sony Centre, Toronto

    2. Radiohead - Empire Polo Club, Indio, California (Coachella)

    3. Frank Ocean - Empire Polo Club, Indio, California (Coachella)

    4. WU LYF - Empire Polo Club, Indio, California (Coachella)

    5. Flying Lotus - Danforth Music Hall, Toronto


    Honourable mentions 

    Beck - Randall’s Island, NYC (Governors Ball Music Festival)

    Bleached - Silver Dollar, Toronto (NXNE)

    Grimes - Club Soda, Montreal (Pop Montreal)

    Modest Mouse - Randall’s Island, NYC (Governors Ball Music Festival)

    Riff Raff - Wrongbar, Toronto


    Ten acts to watch in 2013

    I reserve the right to take back saying any of these if they fizzle. 

    Absolutely Free (Toronto)

    Black Atlass (London, ON)

    Cyril Hahn (Vancouver)

    DIANA (Toronto)

    Evy Jane (Vancouver)

    Holograms (Stockholm, Sweden)

    Mikky Ekko (Nashville, Tennessee)

    Savages (London, U.K.)

    Jerome LOL (Los Angeles)

    Zodiac (Toronto)

     
  4. MellowHype feat. Frank Ocean - “Astro”

    Talked to Hodgy Beats for NOW about his rock star aspirations, becoming a new father, and MellowHype’s current tour with Sacramento hardcore punks Trash Talk. It was his 22nd birthday, and he sounded a little worse for wear, but here’s the conversation.

     
     
  5. Frank Ocean at Coachella. You can watch the full performance here.

     

  6. Wrote a few short Coachella reviews for Exclaim! Magazine, including sets by Radiohead, WU LYF, Frank Ocean and The Weeknd. Give them a read if you’d like. I’ll post pictures from the weekend up here later.

     
  7. Frank Ocean - “Whip Appeal”

    This new Frank O tune sounds like summer and I ain’t mad about that. Definitely looking forward to his Coachella set. Hoping to get my hands on this tee beforehand.  

     
     
  8. Jay-Z & Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean - “No Church In The Wild”

    Here’s the unofficial music video for my favourite track off Watch The Throne, the Frank Ocean-assisted “No Church In The Wild”, directed by my new favourite film crew, High5Collective. You can bet you aren’t gonna see this on MuchMusic or MTV, but the dark reversal of slavery and white-on-black violence, fits the song’s ominous beat and lyrics perfectly.