Monthly Archives: December 2010

Top Films of 2010 — 10. Solanin (ソラニン)

It’s time to start listing my favorite films of the year and this is such a great film to kick it off with… here goes.

SOLANIN (ソラニン)

This small Japanese film is both wonderful and heartbreaking and should have you tearing up towards the end. I knew I was in for it from trailer! It really must be seen and I wish that Aoi Miyazaki’s version of the title song was available to buy!!

Meiko (Aoi Miyazaki ) is a recent college grad working as an office lady in a job she hates. Her boyfriend Naruo (Kengo Kora) lives in her apartment, because his part-time job as an animator doesn’t pay enough to pay the rent. Furthermore, Naruo tentatively fronts a rock band that hasn’t got out of the “practice” stage.

One day, Meiko decides she has had enough with her office job and quits. When Naruo hears of her decision, he reacts with trepidation fearing their lack of income may put a crimp on his rock band hopes. Meiko does have enough money saved to live for a year without working and hopes to find herself during this time. Meiko would also like Naruo to become serious with his band. Without knowing what tomorrow will bring, can Meiko find happiness and will Naruo’s band ever become more than a pipe dream?


Top Tracks of 2010 Vol. 2

Here is the second volume of “Top Tracks of 2010.” The same thing applies from the first volume, list them in the order presented here for you self-made playlists and musical devices. Please enjoy and stay tuned for the final 16 tracks that will round out the 50!

TOP TRACKS OF 2010 Vol. 2

1. Toshinobu Kubota – Love Rain
I love Japanese dramas and this was the theme to my favorite one this year, “Tsuki no Koibito.” The song is a bit a throwback to 70’s soft pop hits, but it still has a modern dance beat under it… kind of a guilty pleasure… sorry to spring this one on you right off the bat!

2. Arcade Fire – Ready To Start
This is one of those bands I tend to hate because EVERYONE gushes about them. It is like Radiohead… anyway, this is a good record and has a lot of great standout tracks. I think “Ready to Start” embodies the best of what the album has to offer and is a fitting addition to the top 50!

3. Asian Kung-Fu Generation – Solanin
Not the best band in the world, but they seem to pop up every now and then to punch me in the face musically. This track, taken from one of my favorite movies of the year, is a great sing-a-long anthem, however, it is in Japanese, so just mumble along with it! 🙂

4. The Radio Dept. – Heaven’s On Fire
As I stated in the volume one post, this is one of my favorite records of the year. This track was released as the first single from “Clinging to a Scheme” and should have been way bigger than it was. It has a great pop sensibility and hooks you in from the very beginning!

5. Ed Harcourt – Do As I Say, Not As I Do
This is just an excellent song. It has such a great melody and even makes you clap along at one point. I highly recommend a good drive in the car to listen to this. It can actually make driving through the Sepulveda pass quite delightful!

6. LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change
A welcome trend this year was the retro throwback to early 1980’s synthpop like the Human League and this song embodies that. With its simple instrumentation and truly catchy pop hook, “I Can Change” was a summer classic and propelled this band forward to a whole new level in my mind.

7. Shugo Tokumaru – Straw
My other Shugo entry was a small instrumental track, this is a full-bodied song that shows off his ecclectic musical mastery! On a side note, there are some really great youtube videos of him that should be watched!!

8. Losers – Sirenna (Today We See Colour)
This is a fairly obscure band and they have released yet another synthpop classic for 2010! I think I listened to this more than any other song this fall.

9. The Bluetones – The Notes Between The Notes Between The Notes
Back from the dead and still good!!

10. Hurts – Better Than Love
Manchester is slowly coming back to life musically and Hurts are helping lead the charge. They are a true synthpop band with a tinge of the Germanic like Alphaville and Camouflage, and are a key band to listen for if you like Depeche Mode… like me. This record is packed with great songs — one of the best of the year!

11. Carl Barat – Je Regrette, Je Regrette
The second offering in the top 50 from Carl Barat is simply a great song. You will be singing along to it in no time!!

12. Minks – Ophelia
This band is pretty hard to find info about. They have only released a pair of 7″ singles and are in the midst of recording their debut record. I just stumbled onto them on the itunes music store and had to buy both 7″! Again, they are heavily influenced by the music of the 1980’s… what new band isn’t now?!

13. Groove Armada – History
Again, this is another synthpop throwback track! The melody is very reminiscent of Bronski Beat and it even features a similar, high pitched vocal ala Jimmy Somerville. However, don’t let that throw you off, it is a great song! It is one of those “in the car” songs that should be listened to at maximum volume!

14. Sade – Babyfather
Shut up, I like this song.

15. Belle and Sebastian – I Want The World To Stop
The first single from Belle’s “Write About Love” record, “I Want the World to Stop” is another great, in-form song that evokes the sprit of their earlier records. It comes a close second to “I Didn’t See it Coming” just because of the wonderful use of horns!

16. Tame Impala – Lucidity
It’s kind 60’s inspired and has muddy production, but that is what makes it sound pretty unique in the modern landscape of alternative music. It was actually one of my favorite singles of the fall! I just wish the whole record was as good.

17. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Right Side?
Another band that has come back from the dead. Years of fighting between Andy McClusky and Paul Humphreys, including a rather nasty court case, has finally subsided and the old friends have reuinted to make a very good record. “History of Modern” is the band’s first record since (classic line up) since 1986’s “The Pacific Age.” All I can say is that I am happy that they did. Sure, the record is more like later, “Dreaming” type songs, but it also has some real OMD classics. None of the tracks beats this one, “The Right Side?” It is a song that is straight off something like “Organisation.”

The Top Songs of 2010

Every year I like to compile the 50 best songs of the year and create a three volume CD set. This year, though, things will be a bit different. CD’s aren’t quite as vogue as they used to be (though I still like the length), so this year I will be posting all three volumes to the internet and allowing YOU the reader to either burn them to disc or just put them right into a playlist. Simple, right?

The 50 tracks aren’t in a numerical countdown order, but each volume is in order as a CD would play. I like to think of baseball when I make mixes, like making the best possible batting order. So, I will list each track here, so please try to keep them in the order I provide… I’m crazy like that.

OK, without further ado…

Top Tracks of 2010 Vol. 1

1. Shugo Tokumaru – Platform
This is a small trifle to start the mix with and heralds the beginning of one of the years most original and entertaining records.

2. Hot Chip – Take It In
A brilliant, dark dance track from the English electropop band. It has a wonderfully droning melody that explodes into life with one of the great pop hooks of the year.

3. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
This band keeps on getting better with each release. Matt Beringer’s deep, soulful voice is unique in the world of alternative rock and the band never cease to understand how to craft a good pop song.

4. 2NE1 – You & I
Technically, this a Park Bom’s solo track on the 2NE1 record, but it is still credited to all of them. It’s Korean Pop, so start making fun of me now. If you know me, then you know that the last six months of my life have been glittered with Korean Pop music and dramas (can’t get enough) and 2NE1 have been right at the forefront. You really should watch the video for this one… so good!!

5. RPA and the United Nations of Sound – Born Again
Ashcroft – soul – Awesome!

6. Carl Barat – Run With The Boys
Ex – Libertines member, Carl Barat has shirked off his Dirty Pretty Things and come out with a really great solo record. There are standout tracks all over the record (see later in the list) and this single is the top gear of the bunch. I also think this video is the best video of the year.

7. Foals – This Orient
Another song with an explosive chorus and masterful pop sensibility. The only problem with this English outfit is their wooly hipster appearance…

8. Capsule – Stay With You
STAY WIT CHEW! This was my song of spring and is at its best when turned up full blast. I dare you not to be happy after listening to this track from the Japanese hit makers.

9. Belle and Sebastian – I Didn’t See It Coming
This is quite possibly one of Belle’s best tracks. Not only did it herald a welcome return to form for the band, but it provided us all with the best pop moment in any song released this year. Stuart’s “Make me Dance” crooning near the end of the track sends the track into space and raises the hair on the back of my neck!

10. The Wombats – Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)
This could be dismissed as just another rocker track from the English outfit, but I feel it has so much more. It has what a love, a great hook, great energy and never outstays its welcome.

11. Crocodiles – Hearts of Love
This track is what would happen if the Beach Boys had sex with the Jesus and Mary Chain. The band is from San Diego (totally unlikely) and has one of the strangest videos I have seen in a long, long time. Also, this is REALLY good to listen to LOUD in the car!

12. The Divine Comedy – Have You Ever Been In Love
This track comes from one of the best records of the year and I chose this because of what it meant to me during the summer. It captured an elated feeling that fluttered about in the June / July air and was utterly intoxicating. Sure, it is sappy, but I am a great big SAP.

13. Badly Drawn Boy – Too Many Miracles
A nice melancholy track from BDB and it was just what I needed to hear upon its release.

14. iLL – Eden
Sometimes I feel like I am the only fan of this band in the entire world. iLL are a Japanese experimental rock outfit made up of Nakamura Koji, formerly of the band Supercar. Like that band, iLL feature dream-like melodies and droning guitar splashed over an electronic landscape… SO GOOD! It is my hope that I get to see them perform live one day!

15. The Radio Dept. – The Video Dept.
One of my favorite bands, one of my favorite records of the year, one of the best songs recorded this year… amazing.

16. Broken Social Scene – All to All
Wow, this is unexpected. I had left this band for dead after seeing them perform a terrible live show and never thought they would cross my path again. However, this single melted away those memories with its excellent melody. Note to self, just don’t go see them in concert again…

17. Daft Punk – End of Line
This is a great track from a fairly awesome soundtrack to Tron: Legacy. Sure the movie wasn’t as good as I hoped, but the score was! It has a splash of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York in there, some Tangerine Dream… and definite Daft Punk. I love it, program!

25 Christmas Movies – Blackadder’s Christmas Carol

12/07/10 – Blackadder’s Christmas Carol

Though technically not a movie, this TV special is without a doubt a Christmas classic. With it’s sharp tongued wit, complete arseing of the original source material’s meaning and its who’s who of great British actors, Blackadder’s Christmas Carol should be on every person’s wish list.

There have been so many different versions of A Christmas Carol, it is hard to keep track of which one is which. However, Blackadder’s version sticks out head and shoulders above most. It is right up there with Rich Little… that’s right, I said it…

If anything you need to watch just to hear the classic line, “Baldrick, I want you to go out and buy a turkey so large you’d think it’s mother had been rogered by an omnibus.”

25 Christmas Movies – 해피 에로 크리스마스 (Happy_ero_Christmas)

12/06/10 – 해피 에로 크리스마스 (Happy_ero_Christmas)

This is the first foreign Christmas film of the countdown, but it won’t be the last. This little gem from South Korea is the story of a dopey, innocent police officer, who vows to one-day rid his small resort town of the scourge of gangsters. However, complications arise when the woman of his dreams and recipient of his unrequited love becomes the love target of the local gang boss. It is a quaint, clever movie with a small dose of melancholy… just my kind of film.

25 Christmas Movies – Disney’s A Christmas Carol

12/05/10 – A Christmas Carol

Robert Zemekis has lost his mind. While the story is very faithful and traditional, the animation takes you out of it constantly. It is just so freaky looking! I can’t help but think that if Charles Dickens were alive, he would rather watch Rich Little’s version. Just in case you were wondering, Jim Carrey is atrocious as Scrooge!

25 Christmas Movies – Love Actually

12/04/10 – LOVE ACTUALLY

It’s sad, sappy, schlocky and fun… it is everything that love should be! Actually, all I want for Christmas is YOU!