My favorite albums of 2013

January 1st, 2014  |  Published in better-than-you, music

THE YEAR HAS ENDED, MY FRIENDS, and given that I only seem to use my blog for one thing, year-end favorite-album lists, I may as well post a year-end favorite-album list.

Forthwith, then, the list (Do note that I can barely tolerate music or art any more, both being significantly less Honest than Violence or Dogs, so view these not so much as "favorite albums" as "albums correlated with minor changes to my blood chemistry or neuronal activity").

  • 35. Shearwater - Fellow Travelers
  • 34. Haim - Days are Gone
  • 33. µ-Ziq - Chewed Corners
  • 32. Four Tet - Beautiful Rewind
  • 31. Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
  • 30. Junip - Junip
  • 29. Devendra Banhart - Mala
  • 28. Josh Ritter - The Beast in its Tracks
  • 27. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
  • 26. Russian Circles - Memorial
  • 25. Local Natives - Hummingbird
  • 24. Melt-Banana - fetch
  • 23. Thao & the Get Down Stay Down - We the Common
  • 22. Okkervil River - The Silver Gymnasium
  • 21. Man Man - On Oni Pond
  • 20. Washed Out - Paracosm
  • 19. Andrew Bird - I want to see Pulaski at Night
  • 18. Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus
  • 17. Tim Hecker - Virgins
  • 16. Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle - Perils from the Sea
  • 15. Julianna Barwick - Nepenthe
  • 14. Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Daze
  • 13. Chelsea Wolfe - Pain is Beauty
  • 12. Baths - Obsidian
  • 11. Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse

and cool the top ten hey cool

  • 10. Machinedrum - Vapor City

  • 9. Oneohtrix Point Never - R Plus Seven

  • 8. Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady

  • 7. Cass McCombs - Big Wheel and Others

  • 6. Kanye West - Yeezus

  • 5. Phosphorescent - Muchacho

  • 4. Son Lux - Lanterns

  • 3. Bill Callahan - Dream River

  • 2. The National - Trouble will Find Me

  • 1. Pusha T - My Name is my Name

Shortlist of albums that could have made it on a different day:

Mogwai - Les Revenants
A$AP Ferg - Trap Lord
A$AP Rocky - long live asap
The Dodos - Carrier
Lorde - Pure Heroin
Mark Kozelek - Like Rats
Mark Kozelek & Desertshore - Mark Koselek & Desertshore
Mount Eerie - Pre-human Ideas
My Bloody Valentine - mbv
Glasser - Interiors
The Range - Nonfiction
Midlake - Antiphon
Delorean - Apar
Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You
of Montreal - Lousy with Sylvanbriar

Favorite albums of 2012

December 27th, 2012  |  Published in better-than-you, music

Well, another year is nearly over! If you're anything like me, you live life with headphones on! And you know what that means: END OF THE YEAR FAVORITE ALBUM LISTS!!!

In chronological order, my favorite albums from 2012:

Karl Pichotta: Christ to Earth, Christ to Earth: Is Anyone Listening?!


K Pichotta: America! Mother! Weep! Weep!


k.arl pichotta: Apostasy, Freedommaker


Kørl Piçhötta six.six: Is it? Is it? Is it? Is it? Is it?




Karl Pichotta: Redemption in Obamawolf's Jaws


Karl Pichotta: Obamawolf, Infinite Heart


Karl Pichotta: Howl Me To Freedom, Wolfbama Mine, Wolfbama Mine


Papa Roach: The Connection


What a year it's been!

[images, in order: ([1]); ([2], [3]); ([4]); ([5]); ([6]); ([7]; ([8], [9]); ([10], [11]); ([12])]

My favorite albums of 2011

December 18th, 2011  |  Published in better-than-you, music

I know you have been clawing at your computer screen, crying out "Why won't Karl talk at me about music" for the last 12 months.

Well look, you can cease your agonized cries now.

(Note that 2011 inexplicably had like half the number of really good albums 2010 had, so if I were to combine this with my 2010 list, most of these would appear pretty far down the list).

Anyways, my top 10:

  • 10: Moonface - Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped

  • 9: Tim Hecker - Ravedeath 1972

  • 8: Cut Copy - Zonoscope

  • 7: The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck

  • 6: Cults - Cults

  • 5: The Weeknd - House of Balloons

  • 4: Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo

  • 3: EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints

  • 2: Bill Callahan - Apocalypse

  • 1: Wye Oak - Civilian

Songs During Which I am Constitutionally Incapable of Sitting Still

June 6th, 2011  |  Published in better-than-you, funk, funky-funk, music, things-which-possess-the-property-of-funk

A short, incomplete list.

The Glitch Mob - We Swarm

Otis Redding - Try a little Tenderness

LCD Soundsystem - Dance Yrself Clean

Cut Copy - Corner of the Sky

Cut Copy – Corner Of The Sky found on Pop

The Antlers - Two

Bibio - Jealous of Roses

Memory Tapes - Bicycle

Junip - To the Grain

My Favorite Albums of 2010

December 15th, 2010  |  Published in better-than-everyone-else, better-than-you, better-than-your-friends, music

This started out as a top 10 list, but grew into a top 15 list -- there was a lot of really good music in 2010 it turns out.

Herewith, please find proof that my aesthetic intuitions are superior to yours:

  • 15. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- Before Today

    I really didn't like this album the first few times I listened to it, but it's certainly grown on me.

  • 14. The Walkmen -- Lisbon

    A nice, affecting little album.

  • 13. Nina Nastasia -- Outlaster

    A desperate resignation permeates all her music, it is so wonderful.

  • 12. High On Fire -- Snakes For The Divine

    ZOMG Stoner Metal

  • 11. Best Coast -- Crazy For You

    I am apparently much more tolerant of girls acting like they're 16 and singing about boys than I thought I was.

  • 10. Flying Lotus -- Cosmogramma

    Noises which are pleasant upon striking tympana.

  • 9. Deerhunter -- Halcyon Digest

    Turns out Deerhunter isn't nearly as boring as I always thought they were, whoa.

  • 8. Kanye West -- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

    Whatever, the album's excellent.

  • 7. Zola Jesus -- Stridulum II

    A grand, towering monument to Ennui. Though I guess that's how I'd classify 80% of art.

  • 6. Arcade Fire -- The Suburbs

    An entire album about how the place I grew up in crushes your soul, what could be more perfect.

  • 5. Sufjan Stevens -- The Age of Adz

    This album is nutso. Like, what the hell is the last track -- is it a 30 minute self-parody, or what? I'd be perfectly happy if Sufjan put out ten more versions of "Illinois", but I guess it's good he's not, as this album's really pretty good.

  • 4. Dum Dum Girls -- I Will Be

    It turns out there are still new things to be done with drums, guitars, distortion, and singing!

  • 3. The National -- High Violet

    Boy, they sure can write a mean fucking song about being neurotic.

  • 2. Caribou -- Swim

    This is my favorite thing Daniel Snaith has done, and I really really like everything Daniel Snaith has done.

  • 1. Joanna Newsom -- Have One On Me

    I don't know what to say about this album, it is so good, it is so so good, it is so so so good. It has 18 songs, each of which averages about 7 minutes in length, and each of which stands on its own incredibly well. When they are put together into an album, the result is wildly powerful, holy jeez. This album is so fucking good you guys, there cannot possibly be a better album produced in the next decade, I categorically rule out the possibility.

And there we have it!

Bonus: albums which almost made the list (2009 had like 3 good albums, what the crap happened in 2010 to create this situation?):

  • Sleigh Bells -- Treats
  • Robyn -- Body Talk
  • Women -- Public Strain
  • Twin Shadow -- Forget
  • Toro Y Moi -- Causers of This
  • Pantha Du Prince -- Black Noise
  • Four Tet -- There is Love in you
  • The Bitters -- East General

What is Ada Hiding?

November 19th, 2010  |  Published in idiocy, music, whoopi-goldberg

Eisegetical Idiocy

Like any self-respecting American Twentysomething with a beard and plastic-framed glasses, I listen to a lot of The National. I got to thinking about the opening lyrics to Ada, one of my favorite songs of theirs:

Ada don’t talk about reasons why you don’t want to talk about reasons why you don’t wanna talk.

So there is a set of reasons R1 why Ada doesn't want to talk, and she doesn't want to talk about these reasons R1 for (possibly) different reasons (call these separate reasons R2). Matt Berninger is earnestly entreating Ada not to talk about reasons R2.

So, naturally, I got to thinking about what the hell R1 and R2 could be. Some options:

    • R1: Reason she doesn't want to talk: Blackmailed by Russians.
    • R2: Reason she doesn't want to talk about these reasons: The Russians will break her kneecaps.
    • R1: Reason she doesn't want to talk: Her throat is very sore.
    • R2: Reason she doesn't want to talk about these reasons: It is sore because she yelled at the TV too much while Perfect Strangers reruns were playing.
    • R1: Reason she doesn't want to talk: When she talks, she is is invariably reminded of her childhood dog Scruffers (she would spend hours each day imagining Scruffers talking, thereby creating an indelible mental association between her childhood pet and the locutionary act in general).
    • R2: Reason she doesn't want to talk about these reasons: That is incredibly, incredibly embarrassing.
    • R1: Reason she doesn't want to talk: She has taken a vow of silence as a sign of religious devotion.
    • R2: Reason she doesn't want to talk about these reasons: Her religion is "Whoopi Goldberg."
    • R1: Reason she doesn't want to talk: She cannot have a conversation that does not result in her yelling furiously about Lizard People and Freemasons.
    • R2: Reason she doesn't want to talk about these reasons: If she were to talk about this she may have to confront her Problems.

WELL, this ended up being a lot more autobiographical than I thought it would. Whoops.

(Sidenote: this demonstrates, of course, the fundamentally recursive nature of language. The sentence

Ada don’t talk about reasons why you don’t want to talk about reasons why you don’t wanna talk about reasons why you don't want to talk.

is perfectly valid, as is

Ada don’t talk about (reasons why you don’t want to talk about)^n reasons why you don't want to talk.

for any nonnegative integer n. The National has supplied us with a roundabout proof that there are an infinite number of valid sentences in the English language!)

A little interactive song I made

May 2nd, 2010  |  Published in music, noise-makin, vanity

Can be found Here.

Boy, it's been a while since I've played violin seriously, it turns out. I rejected about half of my "final takes" due to bad intonation, and the result isn't remotely in tune. Sigh.

My favorite albums of the naughts

December 29th, 2009  |  Published in music, vanity

So I have, at the behest of my friend Andy, compiled my top 25 albums of the decade (which decade being the one conterminous with 2009).

I do not pretend to be a music critic or anything remotely approximate, so it's tough to determine exactly what my ordering criterion is. I don't know enough music to be able to speak to the decade's most "influential" albums. Neither can I speak about the decade's most "musically innovative" or perhaps "musically impressive" albums (as if the phrase "musically X" means anything anyways). Neither am I remotely familiar with what you might call the last decade's zeitgeist (I spend most of my time in a cave staring into a mirror).

So I chose albums as follows: I have attempted to compile a set of those albums which I have latched onto and, at some point in time, listened to a whole lot. I have then ordered those albums by something like "how serious of an emotional reaction they have caused in me". The result is thus much more autobiographical than are most lists of this sort.

So, without further ado...

25: The Books: Thought for Food (2002)

As rad as it comes.

24: Madvillain: Madvillainy (2004)

So it turns out music can be fun!

23: Of Montreal: The Sunlandic Twins (2005)

When you're Kevin Barnes, things are strange.

22: Four Tet: Rounds (2003)

Did you know he went to the same High School as Pierce Brosnan? (and The xx?! (and Hot Chip?! (and Burial?!)))

21: Aphex Twin: 26 Mixes for Cash (2003)

Probably shouldn't count this since it's a compilation, but this has a few unbelievable tracks on it.

20: Diverse: One A.M. (2003)

Oh boy oh boy oh boy (Warning: "Hip Hop")

19: Angels of Light: We Are Him (2007)

Nothing is anything anymore.

18: Squarepusher: Ultravisitor (2004)

Tom Jenkinson, the guy who made it, showed himself to be one of those types I don't really like when he said "Ultravisitor is my spectacle of beauty and of terror. It is unknowable, and will never be understood by anybody, least of all its creator." In spite of that, it's a very good album.

17: The Dodos: Visiter (2008)

Just pretend it's spelled with an "o" and you'll love it.

16: Animal Collective: Sung Tongs (2004)

Really, Karl, Sung Tongs? Not Feels? Not Merriweather Post Pavilion? Yes. What.

15: MGMT: Oracular Spectacular (2007)

If thinking this album is incredible makes me a stupid hipster, well then I don't ever want to be anything but.

14: Devendra Banhart: Rejoicing in the Hands (2004)

Every track on this album is wonderful (ditto Cripple Crow, which didn't make the list).

13: LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Silver (2007)

This album is the voice of what everyone my age thinks they are. It is so good you guys. So so good.

12: Ghostface Killah: Fishscale (2006)

No other album will so successfully make you want to do coke and be famous.

11: The Postal Service: Give Up (2003)

Whatever, I don't care what you think. This album needs to be on the list. Each of us has a person inside that wants to spend all day wearing a scarf and scribbling into a composition notebook; this album is for them.

10: Iron and Wine: Our Endless Numbered Days (2004)

Why aren't you playing on your "x-box" and administering a good many "high fives" to your "bros", huh Karl, huh? Trying to look "sensitive enough so various females will let you see their underwears", huh, Karl? Whatever, I spent an entire summer listening to this album, it is the hymn of the warm earth you will turn into some day, and you would do very well indeed to remember your own mortality.

9: Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

I don't need to say anything about this album.

8: Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender (2004)

I guess it's OK to be a fucking weirdo from outer space again? I'm glad about that, at least.

7: Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes (2008)

Everything is nice.

6: The Knife: Silent Shout (2006)

I don't like steampunk, mysticism, or Europe, but I sure do like The Knife. I guess we've all got to live with our cognitive dissonances. (PLEASE TO NOTE: I do not actually dislike Europe. Also I actually think Swedenborg is pretty rad.)

5: Bjork: Medúlla (2004)

Mostly a cappella, entirely nonsensical, really pretty great.

4: Efterklang: Under Giant Trees EP (2007)

Listen to this ten times (it is not boring, but "subtle" and also "really fucking good").

3: Sunset Rubdown: Random Spirit Lover (2007)

The band has a stupid name, the album has a stupid name, but it fits together like wonderful, messy, byzantine clockwork. I really dig on this album.

2: Radiohead: Kid A (2000)

You try being a weirdo in High School when this album comes out and have it not affect you aesthetically, musically, and generally. I dare you.

1: Sufjan Stevens: Illinois (2005)

This is the album that I will listen to when I am gray and wish to weep for my youth. It is about the place I am from, it has a song about zombies, and it has a song about the apocalypse (the original one -- with the bearded goddude -- not the anthropogenic one that Kid A's all about). It is this incredible muddle of hopefulness, despair, religiosity, and longing set to really good music. Extremely coherent and extremely heartbreaking.

Honorable mentions

Andrew WK: I Get Wet
The Streets: A Grand don't come for free
Outkast: Stankonia
Prefuse 73: One Word Extinguisher
Boards of Canada: Geogaddi
The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Okkervil River: Black Sheep Boy
Current 93: Black Ships ate the Sky