Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Shuffle #442

This is the second shuffle I've done today. I tried something new for the first one - using a Spotify playlist I've been adding to since the start of the year of every song or album I chose to play. It was up over 300 songs over more than 20 albums and at least as many single songs. I used shuffle mode for the playlist...and got 5 songs from one album, 3 from another, and 2 from a third. Not what I was looking for, so I scrapped it.

I'll have to go back to the drawing board with ways of incorporating Spotify into the Shuffle every week. Alternatively, I may just aim for 450 of these and call it done for a while, maybe combined with trying to make more playlists again. We'll see.

For now, let's get to the second version of today's ten...

1. Fleeting One/First Aid Kit (7) - last played on 12/26/15
2. It Was A Beautiful Car/M. Ward (8) - last played on 5/22/16
3. Think For Yourself/The Beatles (5) - last played on 3/9/16
4. Beautiful Beat/Nada Surf (9) - last played on 5/28/16
5. Decora/Yo La Tengo (5) - last played on 4/14/13
6. Endless Supply/Pernice Brothers (12) - last played on 1/8/17
7. The Mystery Zone/Spoon (21) - last played on 5/21/16
8. EKG/Wilco (11) - last played on 7/19/16
9. Effigy/Uncle Tupelo (1) - played many times on CD since 1993
10. Knuckles/The Hold Steady (8) - last played on 5/10/15

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Ahead/Behind

I talked about how I've gotten very behind on my pop culture consumption in the end of year posts I managed to get written. One good thing about a new year is that it wipes my slate clean and I can start counting books and comics and so forth anew. Last year I managed to read only 46 books and 248 comics. I know it sounds absurd to lament that fact, but both totals are way down from 2015. However, I'm currently on pace to read 73 books and 502 comics this year. I'm well aware that won't happen, but it's fun to look at my pace for the year this early on and dream. Anyway, one reason I ran out of steam on my year-end posts was having to come up with new content about most items. To combat that fact, I want to write more about what I'm consuming when I'm doing it. So, here's the first brick in this year's wall (I hope it's not just a pile of bricks)...

Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson - Even though I got a half dozen new books at Christmas, I decided it would be fun if the first book I read in 2017 was called Last Year.  A simple joke, yes, but it was also a book I wanted to read. The novel is set in the late 1800s in an Illinois where a futuristic city has sprung up west of Chicago. It was built by time travelers, who have come to the past to make money via tours and...other means. Jesse Cullum works for the City and gets embroiled in the story by saving the life of President Ulysses S. Grant when he arrives for a tour. Cullum is a strong character with a past in San Francisco that he is avoiding, but his moment of heroism puts him on a path to confront those issues by returning. He becomes involved with a woman from the future and they're both caught up in the machinations of the charismatic figure at the head of the City of Futurity. It's a fast-paced novel and quite good. I've never read Wilson's work before, but I am planning on changing that fact at some point this year.

Spider-Gwen - I caught up on the first 6 issues of the most recent iteration of this series via Marvel Unlimited over the past week. The series is set on an alternate earth where Gwen Stacy got bit by the radioactive spider and where Peter Parker became the Lizard and then died during a fight with Spider-Woman (Gwen). The world-building is a ton of fun; I am particularly smitten with Earth-65's Captain America, a black woman who was unstuck in time for a period. The characters are interesting and the art by Robbi Rodriguez (and the fill-in by Chris Visions) is great. I will probably be writing more about this comic and the other Spider women soon.

Lazarus - I used a good portion of my Christmas cash to buy digital comics (DC was having a big sale) and the four most recent issues of this series were part of the pile, as it were. I've been a fan since the beginning (and not just because artist Michael Lark is my second cousin), but I'd fallen behind and hadn't reengaged once the series came off its hiatus in the summer. These issues comprise almost all of "The Cull" storyline, which will finish in an upcoming issue. There are big revelations and machinations as well as great action scenes and outstanding character work. Very glad to be current again.

Comedy Bang Bang - I know I just mentioned this is my Podcasts 2016 entry, but I have been making a concerted effort to catch up. That said, I'll be 23 episodes behind after tonight...and a new episode will get posted tomorrow. Plus, I have 5 more tour episodes to listen to. Anyway, I have been laughing a ton to Andy Daly's Neptuna with his dire warning from Atlantis, the great rapport between Scott Aukerman and Adam Scott, and Paul F. Tompkins doing Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger among others.

TV comedy - By the beginning of the week, I had finally caught up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, and The Goldbergs...only to get new episodes of each. So it goes. I did have fun catching up and will endeavor to not fall that far behind on them again. We'll see.

Sunday Shuffle #441

I wish I had "American Girl" in my iTunes, because it would be perfect for today's shuffle. Why? The titular girl stands on the balcony watching cars go by on 441 like waves crashing on the beach. Hi, giant music nerd here.

I was talking last Sunday about being unsure of the future of the Sunday Shuffle, but I had a good idea early in the week about how I could start incorporating what I listen to on Spotify. I'm not quite ready to do it today, but next week looks like it will be the day.

I know I petered out on the rest of my best of 2016 lists, but I went back to school on Wednesday and that was that. I do want to try to write more about my pop culture intake and was going to yesterday, but my schoolwork and the NFL playoffs got in the way. Maybe I can get something up later today or in the next few days. We'll see.

I think that's all the business I needed to talk about, so let's get to today's ten...

1. Embassy Row/The Broken West (10) - last played on 5/10/15
2. Painted Faces and Long Hair/The Orwells (9) - last played on 7/20/15
3. Man on the Moon (Live)/Sugar (1) - debut
4. Handjobs For The Holidays/Broken Social Scene (5) - last played on 2/8/15
5. All Black and White/The Walkmen (14) - last played on 3/11/15
6. Stormy Weather/Reigning Sound (9) - last played on 1/24/16
7. Lord, I'm Discouraged/The Hold Steady (13) - last played on 10/3/16
8. Picky Bugger/Elbow (5) - last played on 5/22/16
9. The Birthday/Hospitality (19) - last played on 1/9/14
10. Pilgrim/Josh Rouse (3) - last played on 10/3/10

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Music 2016

I decided today that I did want to put some effort into more 2016 wrap-up posts after all. My music thoughts will be in two parts - this list of my 20 favorite albums and a post that accompanies my best-of playlist that will go up on Spotify. I normally do just a top ten list, but I've listened to so much good music this year that I wanted to expand the list. I love music and I want to share that love; hopefully, my few words on each might encourage you to check some of them out...

1. Drive-By Truckers/American Band - I've been a fan of the DBTs for over a decade, so a new album is a no-brainer. This one, however, is their strongest since Brighter Than Creation's Dark in 2008. I think they were energized by the political writing they did for this album, responding to the seemingly endless shootings of African Americans and other gun violence with some powerful songs like "What It Means" and "Ramon Casiano." Not every song is political; Mike Cooley gives us one of his classic story songs in "Filthy and Fried" and Patterson Hood looks at depression on closer "Baggage." The music matches the message, with great rock and strong playing from Jay Gonzalez (who plays more lead guitar than you might think), Matt Patton, and the always sturdy drumming from Brad Morgan. I always like when a favorite band delivers a good record, but I was thrilled that we got a great one.

2. Teenage Fanclub/Here - It's been 6 years since we got a new album from the Fannies and I became an even bigger fan of the band during that time period. Therefore, I was anxious for a new album, hoping it could stand up to my anticipation. Luckily, my anticipation was met and exceeded. All you need to do is listen to the first three songs to get a good idea of the strengths of the band's three songwriters - Norman Blake's "I'm in Love" is romantic power pop, Gerard Love's "Thin Air" is bouncy with a driving lead guitar, and Raymond McGinley's "Hold On" is strummy and contemplative in a way that sneaks up on you after half a dozen spins. The rest of the songs retain the promise of those first three and the result is a great album that rewards repeated listens. Their breakthrough was Bandwagonesque back in 1991; how amazing to get another great album 25 years later.

3. Car Seat Headrest/Teens of Denial - Everything I wrote about this album back in Heavy Rotation #29 still stands. It's really really good.

4. The Jayhawks/Paging Mr. Proust - I can't believe I never wrote about this during the year, because it's been a constant companion since it was released at the end of April. The band put out a reunion album with Mark Olson back in 2011 and...it's not my favorite. This album brings back the late 90s/early 2000s lineup, which was responsible for some great material (like 1997's Sound of Lies). They totally live up to that legacy on this album. We get some of that classic Jayhawks sound on "Quiet Corners and Empty Spaces" and "The Devil is in Her Eyes," plus some newer flavors like the angular, synthy "Comeback Kids" and the loopy, Krautrock stylings of "Ace." Three-part harmonies from Gary Louris, Tim O'Reagan, and Karen Grotberg abound, along with some great guitar soloing by Louris. I also have a fond memory of playing it for my brother during one of our many airport trips this year and then getting a text from him showing me he'd bought the vinyl a couple days later. The last line I wrote about the DBTs applies here as well.

5. Martha/Blisters in the Pit of My Heart - I wrote a lengthy entry about this back in Heavy Rotation #29 and I stand by it. How awesome is it to go into a year not knowing a band even exists and then fall completely in love with them? Answer: So awesome.

6. Lydia Loveless/Real - Here's another one I wrote about in Heavy Rotation #29 (I'm not going to bother linking to this anymore, cool?). If anything, I like the album even more now than I did at the time of writing. The songs take a little time to truly give up their secrets. I don't think it's as poppy as I made it out to be either. I also might not have said enough about her voice, which is powerful but also malleable enough for her to not just wail. Good stuff.

7. Big Thief/Masterpiece - Hmm, Heavy Rotation #29 was full of albums I loved, wasn't it?

8. Deep Sea Diver/Secrets - I'll confess that I skipped over this entry as I was typing this up and even now, I'm not quite sure what to write about this album. The songs are all great, but they don't necessarily fit into a category. It's not that they're all dissimilar from each other; they definitely belong together on an album. I love Jessica Dobson's voice and her guitar playing. I love the interplay between the drums and bass. I love the synths that sometimes accent the music and sometimes dominate. However you want to classify it, it's a step up from their good debut History Speaks from 2012. I listened to it throughout 2016 and never got tired of it. That's what you want from an album, right?

9. Modern Baseball/Holy Ghost - Yup, another one from Heavy Rotation #29!

10. case/lang/veirs//case/lang veirs - And another! Look, I don't know why they went for the lowercase thing here, but that doesn't change the fact they wrote some great songs and sang the hell of them.

11. Shearwater/Jet Plane and Oxbow - Hey, I actually wrote about this one way back in Heavy Rotation #28! The good news is that it still holds up. I bought it on vinyl for my cousin when we were at The Sound Garden in Baltimore for another cousin's wedding in April and he loved it too; I'd bought him The Both's self-titled debut when we were there in 2014. This year my brother was with us - I bought him a copy of Elvis Costello's King of America. Also, I wrote only two Heavy Rotations this year...I'd like to try and do 3 or 4 this year, but we'll see. Anyway, I think this is my favorite Shearwater record. Might be time to do a deep dive on the band...

12. Nada Surf/You Know Who You Are - I hadn't spun this album enough when I wrote HR #28 and I'd already spun it a ton and tapered off by the time I wrote HR #29. It's too bad, because this album was a consistent favorite throughout the year and I'm not quite sure how it ended up at #12 instead of higher, but that just goes to show what great music there was. Anyway, Nada Surf delivers more of their melodic power pop here, with lyrics about aging and friendship and more. We get some horns this time around ("Out of the Dark") and a great guitar solo from Doug Gillard ("Friend Hospital), as well as the rambling "Animal" and the great kick of "New Bird." I fell in love with the band and Matthew Caws' songwriting back in 2002 with Let Go and they haven't disappointed since.

13. Fruit Bats/Absolute Loser - I knew of Fruit Bats before this year, but I didn't really know them. I heard "From a Soon-to-Be Ghost Town" on KEXP and liked it, then discovered that my brother's former roommate was the drummer for the album. I listened, loved it, and ended up seeing them perform a couple weeks later. It was awesome. The lyrics are smart and the music is great indie pop/rock. Listen to Eric Johnson croon on "Baby Bluebird" and get hooked.

14. Wilco/Schmilco - Here's another example of how strong a year it was - there was a new Wilco album that I really really like and it's only at #14. This is a quieter album than Star Wars, but there is so much going on. I liked how prominent John Stirratt's bass is throughout and Jeff Tweedy continues his great songwriting run that started on the 2014 Tweedy record. I've listened to this quite a bit, but also feel like I might love it more after another 10 to 20 spins. We'll see.

15. Angel Olsen/My Woman - I'd heard Olsen's music before this year and even gave her last album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, a couple spins, but My Woman captivated me more than anything else I'd heard from her. The come on is "Shut Up Kiss Me," one of my favorite songs of the year. It's pleading and yearning and rocking and fantastic. The album's music is more varied than that, from the torch song-esque "Intern" to the epic builds of "Sister" and "Woman." Olsen's voice is the glue that holds it all together, powerful and intimate by turns. I've needed to go back to that earlier album, but haven't been able to stop listening to this one.

16. Alejandro Escovedo/Burn Something Beautiful - I've only been into this album for the last month or so and I can't stop playing it. I bought a copy of his A Man Under The Influence when it came out in 2001 and liked it, but haven't listened to anything of his in the intervening 15 years. This album was produced by Peter Buck (who also produced the Jayhawks record) and Scott McCaughey and all three of them wrote the songs. The result is a set of 13 great rock songs, from the glammy "Shave the Cat" to the more languid "Beauty and the Buzz" to the driving "Heartbeat Smile" and the Monster-era R.E.M. clang of "Horizontal." Another positive is that the great Kelly Hogan sings backup throughout, but gets to shine as a co-lead on the excellent "Suit of Lights." If I'd been listening for another month, this might be higher, but I'm just glad it came into my life.

17. Margaret Glaspy/Emotions and Math - This album came out in June and I first gave it a listen at some point after that, but it's only the last month or so that it really clicked with me. The thump and direct lyrics of "You and I" ("Aw, tonight I'm a little too turned on to talk about us/And tomorrow I'll be too turned off and won't give a fuck/About you and I") are a good entry point. The album is full of honesty and guitar and smarts and it burrows its way into your ears as you keep listening. I still don't think I've uncovered all of its secrets and I'm looking forward to listening more and trying to find them.

18. Dinosaur Jr./Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not - Hey, look, it's an album from Heavy Rotation #29! Imagine that. I will quickly say that I love the sludge and guitar shredding of "I Walk For Miles" even more now than I did back when I wrote that. Also, my brother saw them twice this year and I am quite jealous.

19. Black Mountain/IV - This album has three songs that are 8:30 and longer and they are all great. Opener "Mothers of the Sun" is one of those and the song that hooked me; it has a great mixture of synth and guitar and wailing vocals that just gets lodged in your head. The second song is "Florian Saucer Attack" and has some of the same elements, but packs them into a much shorter and punchier shape. I'd bought In The Future back in 2008 and liked it, but this album seems like a different band. I like it when bands do that.

20. Suede/Night Thoughts - Finally, here's another one I wrote about in Heavy Rotation #28. Scroll up for the link and then stay for the dramatic rock music.

Before I close out this post, I also wanted to mention that I had a great year of seeing live music as well. I made it to 5 concerts (Bob Mould, Fruit Bats, Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub, and Sloan), which is by far the most I've been to in one year. Each show was great and I had fun, whether going with my wife, friends, or by myself.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sunday Shuffle #440

I ran out of steam on my 2016 best-of lists and I don't feel like spending today writing them. I do need to do a better job of writing about things in the moment. For example, there were so many albums I loved last year that it would have been impossible to say things about most of them. I did try to write reviews for most of the books I read, but they were posted on my Goodreads account and then linked to my Facebook and Twitter. I'm sure I've said this at the beginning of many years and we'll see how well I do.

As for the Sunday Shuffle, I don't know how much longer I'll continue it. #450 sounds like a nice place to stop if I decide to do so. Then again, #500 sounds even cooler. The problem is that my iTunes only represents a fraction of what I listen to in a given week. Maybe I bring back the Sunday Sculpt once or twice a month. Maybe I try to put together a new playlist every month as well. I guess I'll just have to see where I go with all of it.

For now, though, I'll wish you a Happy New Year and get to today's ten...

1. Dreams of Leaving/The Clientele (9) - last played on 12/21/14
2. You Turn Clear In The Sun/Telekinesis (24) - last played on 9/20/15
3. Lean on Me/Telekinesis (17) - last played on 9/1/15
4. Remnants/My Morning Jacket (12) - last played on 9/18/16
5. I Fought Piranhas/The White Stripes (15) - last played on 8/14/16
6. Trouble Comes Running/Spoon (21) - last played on 2/22/15
7. I Will Kill Again/Jarvis Cocker (5) - last played on 8/26/12
8. One PM Again/Yo La Tengo (7) - last played on 3/13/16
9. Song For Dennis Brown/The Mountain Goats (2) - last played on 4/8/15
10. Did She Overtake You/Robert Forster (7) - last played on 10/25/15

Friday, December 30, 2016

TV 2016

My TV list comes with two caveats. One is that I haven't had as much time to devote to watching TV this year, thanks to my TTT courses (and is a main cause my being always behind on pop culture). The second is that this is the second year in a row that we didn't have cable, which means I'm watching mainly on Hulu, Netflix, and the CW app. So, I didn't see Game of Thrones, Atlanta, or many of the other highly-acclaimed shows from the year. That's okay, they are still there. Likewise, my list includes some TV that aired in 2015, but that I just got around to this summer or fall. That's fine too. Only TV critics are up on everything and even they can't really be up on everything. So, here's what I enjoyed this year...

1. DC TV (The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow) - No surprise here, right? The Flash is still my favorite super-hero and while the second season of the show wasn't as strong as the first, it was still good. The current third season has shown flashes of being the show I feel in love with, at least. Arrow is having a really strong year. I missed out on Supergirl when it started last year, but was able to catch up on Netflix; it's not a perfect show, but it can be really charming. Legends of Tomorrow is more inconsistent, but always gives me something to like...and that JSA episode was pretty cool. Speaking of cool, the recent crossover between the shows was a ton of fun and made my inner fanboy very happy.

2. iZombie - I loved the show in its first season, but the second season was even better, burning through story at a rapid rate and delivering big changes to the dynamics between its main characters. As a bonus, it's also really really funny. I've been waiting for the third season to get going, but apparently that's not happening until April now. Both seasons are currently on Netflix and I highly recommend you checking out those 32 so you can be as ready for the new stuff.

3. Bob's Burgers - I adore this show. Sure, it's always funny, but I just love the Belchers so much. Even though it's a cartoon, the characters have been allowed to grow and evolve, and that means they can keep using them in different combinations and come up with new things to say that go beyond the plots. That's cool. Plus, it makes me laugh a lot.

4. Stranger Things - This is the only Netflix show I watched all of this year (still 9 episodes to go on Daredevil Season 2 and all of Luke Cage and so on). It helped that it was only 8 episodes (yes to making only as many eps as you need!) and also that it was fantastic. I loved it from the theme song to the way the opening graphics pushed in on a scene to the intensity of Winona Ryder's performance and David Harbour's as well to the interaction of the kids to the 80s science fiction/horror mash-up that it was. Also, Dustin. I didn't care for him at first, but he quickly became my favorite. I hope they can retain the magic for the new season...

5. Fargo Season 2 - This is one of the shows from 2015 that I finally got around to (and just convinced my wife to watch as well). As good as the first season was, this season was even better. I loved the ample use of split screen, the ambiguous elements, the performances (Ted Danson and Kristen Dunst were standouts), and the plot. Can't wait to see what they do with the third season.

6. Doctor Who Series 9 - Yup, finally got around to this one in the summer too and wow, was it a step up from Peter Capaldi's first season. A big part of that was the inclusion of Maisie Williams; her character brought a new dimension and energy to the proceedings. I also liked the way the show handled The Doctor and Clara's relationship. Everything just felt richer and smarter in this season.

7. Brooklyn Nine-Nine - This is still my favorite classic sitcom on TV. It makes me laugh. The actors are great and inhabit their characters so well. It makes me laugh. The show isn't afraid to take risks and shake up the status quo. Oh, and it makes me laugh.

8. The Grinder - I knew this show was too good to last. The show was so smart and meta that it probably turned people off. While those aspects appealed to me, it was also very funny. Rob Lowe and Fred Savage played off each other brilliantly and the supporting cast was all great. The whole show is still on Hulu and I urge you all to give it a try.

9. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - I resisted this show at first, because a TV musical was not something that interested me. I kept hearing such good things that I decided to give it a try and quickly discovered that I was interested in it and very much so. The songs are really funny and smart and give so much depth to not only Rachel Bloom's Rebecca Bunch, but the entire cast. Rebecca is a deeply flawed person, but her humanity is very compelling. I'm a couple episodes behind, but will be caught up soon.

10. The Good Place - This is my favorite new show from the fall and it's from the same people as Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) dies and finds herself in the titular "Good Place"; however, she soon learns that was a mistake. The show is very inventive, filled with great actors (hello, Ted Danson!), and packs a lot of laughs into each episode. If you haven't seen the show, catching up is easy for two reasons - it's on Hulu and only 9 episodes have aired so far. I urge you to do so.

Bonus: Top Chef Season 13 - I spent most of this week ignoring the shows I needed to catch up on and finally got to this, which hit Hulu a couple months ago. I love Top Chef and this season fully delivered.

Bonus: Cheers, Seinfeld, Happy Endings - I dove back into my years-long rewatch of Cheers (just starting Season 5) and started rewatches of the other two shows. I need to get back to Adventure Time at some point too. And Bojack Horseman. And and and...

Podcasts 2016

I love listening to podcasts, but I don't have a whole lot of time to listen to them. I listen when I stretch in the morning and at night, while I drive to school (3 minutes one way) or the Y (6 minutes) or out on errands, while doing the dishes, while cleaning the house and doing laundry, and for 10 minutes while I'm falling asleep. Maybe that seems like a lot, but it's not that much. I also like a wide variety of podcasts, which means I'm always behind. I'm listening to March episodes of one and August episodes of another and 2015 episodes of some others and I can never catch up. A friend suggests I should just cut my losses and jump to current episodes, but I know I'll get behind again, so what does it matter. I love the medium and don't want to miss out on episodes of shows I really like. Speaking of which, here's what I was into this year...

1. Comedy Bang Bang! - This is the third year I've been a listener of Comedy Bang Bang! and this is the third year it's shown up on my year-end list. It's just a consistently funny show and is full of in-jokes that I reference all the time...and no one else in my life gets. That's okay. I am quite behind on the regular show, because I also took the time to listen to their tour episodes from the year, which number more than 30. The tour was really great, featuring Paul F. Tompkins and Lauren Lapkus along with Scott Aukerman, plus Neil Campbell, Mike Hanford, and a bunch of guests. Jason Mantzoukas was around for a few epsof the regular show, as were Ben Schwartz and Horatio Sanz. The "Apple Song" by Victor and Tiny was hilarious and we got another Middleditch/Lapkus Kid Detectives episode. And who knows what other goodies there are in all the episodes I haven't gotten to yet?

2. Doughboys - I'd heard of Doughboys before this year, but finally decided to try it this summer; I should have started sooner. Nick Wiger and Mike "The Spoonman" Mitchell review restaurant chains alongside a new guest each week. Wiger has these great introductions every episode, giving us a little bit of history on that week's focus and Mitch makes fun of him almost immediately. The podcast is really funny, while also delivering opinions on Chipotle and Chick-fil-A and so many more. Each episode ends with another food-related bit and some viewer mail. It's reminiscent of, but also completely different than, Mike and Tom Eat Snacks (which put out only 3 episodes this year; then again, I'm about 4 years behind on that one). I know I will never catch up (I'm in Sept. 2015), but I am definitely along for the ride.

3. Robots From Tomorrow - Speaking of podcasts new to me this year, I picked up this comics podcast in the summer. I originally jumped aboard with their "Pull List" episodes, where Greg and Mike each highlight two comics from the upcoming week to recommend and discuss. However, they put out two episodes each week, with the second focusing on some other aspect of comics, and before long, I was listening to those as well. I've come to enjoy their dive into the Previews catalog every month and they also have good interviews, like the recent two-parter with John Arcudi. I'm behind on reading comics, but this show makes me feel like I'm still in the mix, if that makes any sense. Also, since I just jumped in on episodes, I'm only 3 behind!

4. All The Books - I like this podcast for some of the reasons I outlined in the previous entry - I can't keep up with all the great books that come out, but this show highlights around 10 every week that are worth checking out. Liberty and Rebecca have great chemistry and are not locked into any particular genre, which makes this a good overall recommendation show. I do skip over the ads for bras every week, but to be fair, I skip over the ads of almost every podcast. New episodes come out on Tuesdays but I save them for when I'm doing housework on Sundays; it's a good ritual and, as a bonus, I'm completely caught up!

5. Baseball Tonight - It's not a secret that I love baseball, but a lack of cable means I can't watch all the baseball I would like to. Buster Olney and his crew of regulars (like Tim Kurkjian and Jason Stark) keep me up to speed with what's happening around both leagues. It's a daily podcast, which makes it difficult to stay on top of it, but I feel like I did the best job of it this past year (which could also explain why I'm behind on everything else). I also had a "Bleacher Tweet" read on air in August, where I asked about Rick Porcello's Cy Young chances. Keith Law was hosting that day and laughed off my idea...guess who won the Cy Young? Victory!

6. iFanboy Pick of the Week - This show has always made my list and while I still love it, I've fallen way behind. That has nothing to do with the quality of the show and everything to do with the fact I'm behind on reading comics. They spoil the books they discuss and some of them I'd rather read first, so it becomes a vicious cycle. My next episode will be one from October, plus I still have some special episodes to go back and listen to, like the one of Star Trek Beyond now that I've finally seen it.

7. All Songs Considered/Dad Rock - I still love my music podcasts, though I've gotten behind on these as well. I'm all the way back in early September on ASC and late September on DR. When they each put out two episodes a week and sometimes more, it's hard to catch up.

8. Celebration Rock - Speaking of music podcasts, this one has taken up my listening time this year as well. It started up at the beginning of the year as a companion to Steven Hyden's first book and went through October; I'm currently in July episodes. Hyden is one of my favorite music writers and he talks to both musicians and other music writers; the interviews are always engaging and give me food for thought.

9. The Great Albums - You could take the first sentence from the previous entry and just insert in here. Bill, Brian, and (usually) a guest take on one album each episode and spend a long time going through it, the history of the band and their relationships to the band, and all sorts of tangents. I'm not always the biggest fan of their third chairs, but I always find something to enjoy. After each episode, I'll spin the albums for myself; some I know (like New Pornographers' Twin Cinema) and some I don't (like Regina Spektor's Soviet Kitsch), but I'm always happy to listen. I am, however, in episodes from June 2015, so it's another never catch up situation. That's okay, these are timeless.

10. Spontaneanation - I've gotten woefully behind on this delightful improv podcast from Paul F. Tompkins (currently back in May), but the laughs are evergreen. There's been some interesting crossover from characters created here showing up on Comedy Bang Bang and not just by PFT either (love you, Chris Tallman!). Tompkins is a great interviewer too, so the opening segments are always great too. Hard to believe the show is coming up on its second anniversary.

Bonus: Pop Culture Happy Hour - You may have been wondering where this perennial favorite was. Well, I was wanting to watch The Hateful Eight before listening to that episode and then never got around to the movie. Finally, I decided to just forge ahead and it's been back in regular rotation. Unfortunately, I'm only in March episodes right now. Just going to keep plowing through, like with everything else!