Wednesday, December 31, 2008


One of my favorite films of the year is Guillermo Del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army. I absolutely loved the first installment and the sequel is mind-blowing visually. The plot isn't very dynamic but I wasn't expecting too much in that respect. It is, after all, a sci-fi action extravaganza anyway. I'll take Hellboy II over The Dark Knight in a battle over this year's blockbusters any day. The Batman sequel was actually pretty disappointing.

I am a huge fan of Del Toro's other films as well, especially 2006's Pan's Labyrinth which I just watched again for the third time last night. I usually don't watch movies more than once, especially ones with exceptional stories and plots because the thrill is gone when you already know how the story and plots unravel, but Pan's Labyrinth is such a mulit-layered picture I discover something new with each viewing. It's a fascinating movie with stunning visuals and thought-provoking themes. It's become a more enjoyable experience revisiting the movie after diving into some of Del Toro's older interviews where he discusses the film, it's early beginnings, how he developed the story and it's various themes, how he chose the score, and so forth. Here's some interesting stuff I picked up around the way. He gives engaging and insightful interviews, good stuff.

These excerpts are on the Deluxe DVD release of Pan's Labyrinth as added bonus features:

Here he makes an appearance on Charlie Rose with fellow Mexican directors Alfonso Cuaron (Director of The Children of Men) and Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu (Director of Babel) who are also his compadres as well as peers. This also appears on the Pan's Labyrinth Deluxe DVD release.

Guillermo Del Toro's next project is the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit (and it's sequel). I'm pretty sure it's going to be a monumental piece of work. Look at what he did with the Hellboy II budget.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Random Shots

I discovered Vampire Weekend's self titled release a little late but it's ridiculously good and is well worth mentioning as the year in music winds to a close. I usually browse "The Best Of..." lists at the year's conclusion to acquaint myself with music that may have flown under my radar during the year and Vampire Weekend was one of them. It was released January of 2008 but I didn't give it a thorough listen until the other night. Like The Walkmen's You & Me, it boasts an album's worth of strong cuts, all catchy, all well-produced.

The pleasure in listening to this album is that it's hard to nail down a favorite, but here's a couple to goodies worth throwing out there.

"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
"Mansard Roof"

...and Beach House's "Gila" is such a mesmerizer...

Fleet Foxes' self-titled debut is another album I just discovered. "Blue Ridge Mountains" is amazing. Very sublime, as is the rest of their solid debut.

And I can't begin to tell you how indispensible Soul Sides has been in introducing me to such an amazing catalog of the most soulful of soul classics. You know, the soul music variety that simply absorbs these...

The Impressions: "I'm Loving Nothing"
Candi Staton: "Too Hurt To Cry"

The video is terrible and this song came out last year but I haven't been able to get enough of it. From it's quiet and unassuming introductory 2.5 minutes to the unravelling of it's 1.5 minute conclusion that you want to sing from the rafters-The Shins' "Sleeping Lessons" from 2007's Wincing The Night Away is a sonic nova.

Junichi and Oliver over at Poplicks have rounded out their usual year-end lists.

Junichi's "Best Quotes of 2008" is a must read.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Albums

1. The Walkmen: You & Me
2. Various: Fallin' Off The Reel Volume 2
3. Menahan Street Band: Make The Road By Walking
4. Q-Tip: The Renaissance
5. Jean Grae: Jeanius
6. Estelle: Shine
7. Coldplay: Viva La Vida
8. Final Solution: Brotherman OST
9. Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part 1 (4th World War)
10. Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend

Honorable Mention:

Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
J-Live: Then What Happened?
Beach House: Devotion

This Year In Music - The Songs

Some of these tunes didn't come out in 2008 but were heard for the first time this year. Here's my month to month breakdown of this year's most memorable songs...


  1. Candi Staton: "Too Hurt To Cry"
  2. Kev Brown: "Batida"
  3. Nas: "On The Real"


  1. Pete Rock: "We Roll (Instrumental)"


  1. Lee Fields & The Expressions: "My World"
  2. Lee Fields & The Expressions: "Love Comes & Goes"
  3. Pete Rock feat. Slum Village: "Gangsta Boogie"
  4. Erykah Badu: "Soldier"
  5. Gnarls Barkley: "Who's Gonna Save My Soul"


  1. Rock Marciano: "MC's"
  2. Nut-Rageous: "They Wanna Know"
  3. Estelle: "Back In Love"


  1. J-Live feat. Posdnous & Oddisee: "The Upgrade"
  2. BIG: "Another Rough One"
  3. J-Live: "It Don't Stop"
  4. NYGz feat. Lady of Rage & Royce 5'9: "Ya Dayz R #d (Remix)"


  1. Solange: "I Decided (Pt. 1)"
  2. Coldplay: "Strawberry Swing"
  3. Quantic & Nickodemus: "Mi Swing Es Tropical"
  4. Little Brother feat. Oddisee: "Delusional"
  5. Jean Grae: "#8"
  6. Elkin & Nelson: "Vamanos"
  7. Ray Barretto: "Pastime Paradise"
  8. Infakt feat. Moonrokk: "California"


  1. Bishop Lamont: "Grow Up"
  2. Rock Marciano: "4 All The Real Raw Deal"
  3. M.I.A. feat Freeway: "Paper Planes (Remix)"
  4. Alicia Keys: "Teenage Love Affair (Instrumental)"


  1. Mos Def: "The Glow"
  2. The GZA: "IntroMental"
  3. Q-Tip: "Gettin' Up"
  4. Solange: "Would've Been The One"
  5. Joe Bataan: "Gypsy Woman (Demo Version)"
  6. Menahan Street Band: "Make The Road By Walking"
  7. Portishead: "Threads"


  1. The Walkmen: "The Blue Route"
  2. The Jacksons: "Show You The Way To Go"
  3. Final Solution: "Brotherman"
  4. Joe Bataan: "Under The Street Lamp"


  1. EPMD: "Listen Up"
  2. Roberto Roena y Su Apollo Sound: "Que Se Sepa"
  3. Menahan Street Band: "Go The Distance"


  1. Raphael Saadiq: "Kelly Ray"
  2. Cesaria Evora: "Sodade"
  3. Bill Withers: "I Want To Spend The Night"
  4. Q-Tip: "Move"
  5. Oddisee feat. Buckshot: "Where I Be At"
  6. Stevie Wonder: "Send Me Some Lovin'"


  1. Jay-Z feat. B.I.G.: "Brooklyn Go Hard (Mick Boogie Remix)"
  2. Paul Mitchell Trio: "Now That I Know What Loneliness Is"
  3. Jay-Z: "Sweet (Feli Kuti Remix)"
  4. Marsha Ambrosius feat. Little Brother: "Sunshine"
  5. The Temprees: "(Girl) I Love You"
  6. Joe Bataan: "Ordinary Guy (45 Version)"
  7. Nina Simone: "Gimme Some (Mike Mangini Mix)"
  8. Fleet Foxes: "Blue Ridge Mountains"
  9. Vampire Weekend: "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"