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THE TOP 61 ALBUMS OF 2011

Holy shit. It's that time already. And here it is, in all it's glory. The annual tradition that I started doing five years before I even heard of blogs. (Or knew how to use the internet, really.) My year-end album countdown spectacular.

This is usually what makes people read this blog for the first time. I get lucky and get a handful of stragglers looking for "Best Of" lists for the year, and they find my site thanks to Google and serendipity. To those of you that fit this description: Hello! I'm not just blowing smoke when I say it's really good to have you here! I write to be read; to share with others what they may or may not have heard of from the year that was.

Let me break down how this works:

For an album to qualify for this list, I had to have had in my possession a copy of at least one song from the entry in question at some point in time. Meaning that from my favorites on down to the one song I got curious about, downloaded for free, thought it suck…

MY FAVORITE SONGS FROM 2011

EMERGENCY TIME WARP, SON! My Picks For Best Music From 1968

Historically, 1968 was an uber-important year. No one in the world who lived through it with any kind of awareness can dispute that. But I wasn't there, so I'm not going to rehash it for those that were and those like me that were born more than a decade (or two, or three) later.

That being said, how can someone who was born just shy of ten months after Lennon was shot properly comment on an era when The Beatles were still the biggest fucking thing of the now, not just looking back or looking at all of history? By some definitions, I can't even with a time machine, and wouldn't want to try. But from my particular perspective, I can give my view of it. Looking at a timeline, I can see 1968 as the demarcation line when music became what I dig, and began to evolve from the primordial ooze of yesteryear. Things solidified, is what I'm saying. And I'm not cutting at music before '68; I have a shit ton of classical music from the 1800's and jazz from before f…

Best Be Scopin (Part Three)

Hey, guess what? Music reviews! (And quite possibly chicken butt.)



Sunbears! "You Will Live Forever"



...in a Hell populated by existentialist hipsters playing at being Radiohead just because they have lyrics slightly deeper than average and infest everything they touch with cosmic-sized reverb (especially when it's least appropriate). I wonder if this is what oxycontin sounds like...



Selena Gomez & The Scene "When The Sun Goes Down"



Some of these songs have the same title as songs in my collection (yet sound nothing alike). They are "Bang Bang Bang" (Mark Ronson), "Hit The Lights" & "Whiplash" (Metallica), and "When The Sun Goes Down" (Level 42). I bring this up, because there's just nothing to be said about this album. It's run-of-the-mill Disney-fied trance music. Trying to describe it is like watching someone trying to describe how paint dries.



Theroyalroyal "Praise Him" (Deluxe Edition) (Single)



Best Be Scopin' (Part Two)

Welcome back. Hope you're rested up and ready for another round of making fun of...I, I mean reviews. Let's do it!



James Durbin "Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster"



Exactly what you'd think American Idol-core would sound (and look) like.




Hollywood Undead "American Tragedy Redux"



How do you make songs that sound like sixteen year olds failing at sounding like Linkin Park rapping about what a fifteen year old suburbanite considers gangsta sound less threatening? Remix them to sound like they belong on mainstream pop radio. I'm not sure which they should go with, really. They're both equally awful and equally likely to get them mainstream attention. If they could figure out a way to split the difference, they could really make some scratch.



Permanent Vacation (Selected Label Works 3) (Compilation) *



Kinda like hipsters attempting disco. Three songs managed to catch my ear, though: "Juices" by Parallel Dance Ensemble, "Love In July" (…

AS AN AMERICAN, YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS.

We interrupt our music reviews for a special session under the learnin' tree. It doesn't matter what party you identify with. If you can watch this and not be mad, or at least baffled at how this came to pass, then you're not paying attention:


Best Be Scopin' (Part One)

Welcome to another edition of the blog formerly known as "30 Seconds With Nick Nutter". Now it's a mere arm of my NutterBlog hydra/snake hybrid. (Wow, neither of those have arms...I need to...what is it...try harder? Nah.)

Scoring system is same as always, 0 to 5 stars, so let's get started:


Rihanna "Talk That Talk"  *



I'll give Rihanna points for switching up her vocal style to sound more like a human being and less like a badly programmed sing-bot. That doesn't mean I like her songs necessarily, but she's trying. And damn she was hot as a red-head. Why'd she hafta switch it up? Oh well.

All that being said, the album is pretty standard cookie cutter 2k11 pop, with the exception of some bizarre, vulgar interludes like "Cockiness (Love It)" (which I can't believe doesn't have the explicit label next to it when the whole thing is a totally unveiled allusion to sucking cock (the phrase "Suck on my Cockiness") where …

A SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN A DIFFERENT WORLD: Notes on the 34th Annual UWM Pow Wow

I knew this assignment was going to be something else when I was sitting in a bathroom stall and I started to hear sleigh bells.

I thought to myself "Oh, they must be starting." Then the sound got louder. A guy walked in wearing full Native American dress, bold red bordering on the arms and legs with dark blue down the center of the body, face paint, a decent-sized grouping of feathers on his head, an even bigger conglomeration on his back, fanning out like a peacock's tail, the bone chest plate for protection against arrows and the sleigh bells around his feet. He blew his nose, washed his hands, then walked out.

Just by going to the bathroom I had already had a "You don't see that every day" moment. That's usually a good sign.

The 34th Annual UW-Milwaukee Autumn Pow Wow was a learning experience to be sure. I even found out what a Pow Wow was. "It's a family reunion Tribal style," said Fred Standingbear of the Ogolala Lakota tribe …

Random Observations, Thanksgiving Weekend

1. SyFy has a James Bond marathon, and BBC America has a Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon side by side. Shouldn't those be reversed?

2. What's with the toll arms at on-ramps from 35th Street to 84th in Milwaukee? Are they going to start charging to get onto that part of 94?

3. The Kansas City Chiefs forgot their rape whistle, cuz Ben Roethlisberger just scored on them.

4. I saw Nickelback at TWO football halftimes this weekend. (Packers VS Lions and the CFL Championship Game.) No man should be so (un)lucky.

5. Stuffing is better cooked with chicken broth.

That is all until tomorrow, when, ironically enough, I will post a blog about how I went to an Indian Pow Wow. (I would've posted it already, but nobody wants to read this shit on Thanksgiving weekend.) Take care.

Now THIS Is What I Call Music: Nick Nutter's Winter 2011 Hit Mix

I've been doing these every couple of months since 2008, and I figured: "Why just listen to them in my car when I can embarrass myself by revealing my musical tastes to [hypothetically] the whole world?" Also, NOW 40 just came out, so I figured "now" is as good a time as any to start sharing my personal equivalent to the series. Enjoy:

(p.s.: My previous blog "What Is Art?" was published on the UWM Post website in the Op/Ed Section. If you haven't read it already, check it out here.)

1. "Carousel" Vanessa Carlton
2. "Black Tongue" Mastodon
3. "The Devil You Know" Anthrax
4. "The Devil's Orchard" Opeth
5. "St. Croix" Family Of The Year
6. "John" Lil Wayne & Rick Ross
7. "Shotgun" Limp Bizkit
8. "Cylindrical Sea" Animals As Leaders
9. "React" 3
10. "Pandemic" Devin Townsend
11. "Narcissistic Cannibal" Korn
12. "Darkness"…

MUH FUKAZ BEST USE A COASTER: An In-Depth Look At "LuLu"

I'm having second thoughts about writing this. Not because I've been a Metallica apologist since "St. Anger", but because the funniest thing I could do is just throw up a link to the album and just say: "Have fun". It's really that bad.

For those who didn't hear the news, Lou Reed & Metallica have done an album together, and it's one of the worst albums ever made. That's not hyperbole. There are already conspiracy theories flying around the net about how this whole thing is a practical joke. (I'm especially drawn to the LOL cover theory, where the second L and the U in the title are positioned surrounding the empty arm socket of the...mannequin? cyborg? who knows? Anyway, It's supposed to say LOL.)

And yes, it's that bad. You know you're screwed when the first reaction of a long-time fan like me is unabashed, unabated laughter. Seriously, this might surpass The Lonely Island's "Turtleneck & Chain&quo…

Get On It, Washington.

Wait, I've got it! Ninjas cover their mouths. Which means ninjas don't have lip flaps. Which saves money. Ninjas can fix the recession, because ninjas save money! There, I did it! (With ninjas!) Now the government can get back to something less embarrassing, y'know, like discussing semen stains. (Yes, those were actually the good old days.)






Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2,011

It seems to me human progress can be defined as centuries of repeatedly bashing our heads against a wall, followed by an instant when we finally think not to do it. Kind of like that one Star Trek where the Enterprise is caught in a temporal causality loop and they have to go through it seven or eight times to figure out how not to blow up. We do things one way for so long, sometimes under the duress of authority, that it takes a long time to come up with a better path.

It's like a blurry image that only becomes clear when you get close enough; an invention, a vaccine, a path to peace in the middle east... All of these are inconceivable until one of us gets close enough to see the answer.

Then we have to help everyone else see it.

Getting the rest of us to stop hitting the wall is the hard part. Just ask Socrates or Galileo or Harriet Tubman or someone that believes in climate change. If only there was some way for the smart ones among us to just go: "Dude, no. Like this...&q…

SEPTEMBER FLOW BE HEAVY (Music Reviews, Pt. 3)

I'm back so much, you might need a back hoe.




+Plus+ 





Anyway...

Opeth "Heritage" *** and 1/4

From what I've been hearing, this album has been causing some flame wars in the metal community. Some people herald it as a trippy masterpiece while others deride it as a sellout move. Some think it's okay, but it's not heavy enough. Since these sentiments describe the comments on just about every metal album ever released, maybe I should elaborate.

Opeth has already done an album of lighter faire, (2003's "Damnation") and things like harmony and melody have been present on every one of their releases. Fans of this band won't be thrown as readily for a loop by the complete absence of the death metal on this one, though they may be thrown nonetheless. A friend of mine is a huge Opeth fan, and he says the album reminds him of 70's prog. That assessment's pretty accurate; you've got the classical guitars, the seeming conceptual string loo…

SEPTEMBER FLOW BE HEAVY (Music Reviews, Pt. 2)

Back once again is the Renegade Master, default damager, power to the people.





Gary Ogan "Sound Ground" ***

Surprisingly good. Got this one out of one of the infamous Exclusive Company grab bags. (10 CDs sight unseen for $5.99. Hey, it's fun not knowing what you'll get.) Reminds me of Paul Simon, but with more America-esque three part vocal harmony. Gary Ogan got his start with Leon Russel's band back in the early 70's, so this guys knows a thing or two about a thing or a thousand. And the fact that he can still put out a quality set in 2010 is testament to his not forgetting any of it.


Jakszyk, Fripp & Collins "A Scarcity Of Miracles" ** and 1/2

More like a Scarcity of Reasons to Stay Conscious. There had been rumors of a King Crimson album since 2007, and I guess this is the closest we're going to get. This is technically known as Projekt 7 (Robert Fripp gives different formations of the band different names when they aren't the…

SEPTEMBER FLOW BE HEAVY (Music Reviews, Pt. 1)

People have been saying "Rock Is Dead" since the late 70's. It's not really dead yet, but without some creative innovations it will be in the next decade. It will never be popular like it was; those days are gone.

However, there were three notable debuts on the main Billboard album chart recently: Dream Theater's "A Dramatic Turn Of Events" came in at #8, Anthrax's "Worship Music" at #12 (they're on Megaforce now), and Primus's "Green Naugahyde" popped in at #15 (on an even more obscure "label"). (The Devil Wears Prada also debuted at #10, but fuck them in the neck.) *

Point is, these three albums have something in common: They're all by bands more than 20 years old, and each release has an air of mystery surrounding it. This is Primus's first album in 11 years; their first release at all in 8. What's it going to sound like? Anthrax. Shit, they've been through four singer changes in the 8 years …

What Is Art?

I don't think of Art as this lofty thing that is only attainable with Marianas metaphor and pithy verbiage. Art is what we do to express ourselves; pure and simple. It's what we contribute to the world. A guy who likes to fix tractors in his spare time? That's his art. MC Chris wants to rap about weed and D&D? That's how he expresses himself; it's how he connects to the world. James Joyce? Hey, I might not like the motherfucker, but the guy was an artist just the same.

Therein lies the disconnect. Determining the definition of Art has nothing to do with the spectrum everyone sees in their head with "Art" on one end and "Crap" on the other. You haven't defined anything by using that scale; you've merely espoused an opinion.

The problem is that Art, as most people think of it, is subjective. Something like that can't be pinned down in a universally digestible package. Which is why I offer a different definition. Art is what we do …