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2015 Favorites

I'd started doing my traditional blog posts on the various pop culture things I loved...but my heart wasn't in it. Still, I want to share what I really enjoyed reading, watching, and listening to this year...so why not just do one big post? I'm not going to comment on anything but would be happy to share why I loved anything on the list with you if you ask. I hope you all found lots to love in 2015 and I'm sure we'll find more to love in 2016.

MUSIC
Courtney Barnett/Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Sleater-Kinney/No Cities To Love
Destroyer/Poison Season
Dawes/All Your Favorite Bands
Alabama Shakes/Sound and Color
Jason Isbell/Something More Than Free
Veruca Salt/Ghost Notes
Telekinesis/Ad Infinitum
Mac McCaughan/Non-Believers
Foals/What Went Down
El Vy/Return To The Moon
Twerps/Range Anxiety
Wilco/Star Wars
Drive-By Truckers/It's Great To Be Alive!

TV
The Flash
iZombie
Adventure Time - I'm through Season 3
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Parks and Recr…

Running 2015

I had my strongest running year in 2015 and that was with a period of about 2 months where running was painful. After a long period of rest and some new shoes, I got back to it almost two weeks ago and have worked myself back up to 3 miles. Granted, my pace has been a work in progress (this morning's run in my cold and wind was particularly challenging), but I'm happy to accept that as part of the process.

My running had one significant change for a large part of the year - I had somebody to run with. Our friend Jimmy decided to get into running and we started running together in March. He definitely helped to push my pace and keep that consistency. Plus, it was nice to have someone else out with me. I got to run with my cousin Heath at the lake over the 4th of July weekend too, which was a lot of fun.

This year did produce my best race times ever, as I set personal bests in both 5K (25:19) and 5 mile (41:44) distances. I am very proud of that.

As far as goals for 2016, I simp…

Sunday Shuffle #393

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas...we certainly did! It's been a great week filled with family, food, and fun. This coming week will be much more low key, which is just fine with me. My plan is to take advantage of the time and get my year-end posts up throughout the week, so look for those. Don't forget to check out this week's songs on my Spotify playlist - direct link coming later this evening. Okay, let's get to today's ten...

1. Walking To Do/Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (14) - last played on 5/26/15
2. There's Money In New Wave/A.C. Newman (16) - last played on 4/13/14
3. Fisher of Men/M. Ward (9) - last played on 2/3/13
4. Loretta's Scars/Pavement (7) - last played on 7/14/13
5. Picture, Picture/Harvey Danger (5) - last played on 4/22/12
6. Sensitive Man/Nick Lowe (10) - last played on 1/22/15
7. Obvious Bicycle/Vampire Weekend (18) - last played on 4/24/15
8. 911/Delta Spirit (13) - last played on 10/30/14
9. Ordinary Man/Eels (6) - last p…

Sunday Shuffle #392

Hard to believe we're in the final countdown to Christmas. I'm very happy to be on winter break from both jobs as well as my TTT program. I hope you all are doing well and have a great holiday with your friends and families this week. I'm excited to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens again this week - this time with my brother and parents and son!

Just a reminder that I put each week's songs on Spotify, if you're inclined to listen along; the link will be posted later today, though I update it in real time. On with today's ten...

1. Flight 180/Bishop Allen (5) - last played on 8/11/14
2. Black/Okkervil River (4) - last played on 5/27/12
3. First Frost/Oakley Hall (4) - last played on 11/2/14
4. Every Breaking Wave/U2 (1) - debut
5. 15 Step/Radiohead (16) - last played on 11/13/15
6. Movin' On/Blur (6) - last played on 10/30/14
7. My Pretend/Apples In Stereo (6) - last played on 5/28/12
8. A World Of Our Own/The Smithereens (11) - last played on 12/14/14
9. Wi…

Sunday Shuffle #391

It's finally here! This is the week that Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out! We go on Thursday night and I can't wait. I know a lot of people have been rewatching the movies in anticipation, but I've decided to just go into in fresh; plus, I've seen the original trilogy so many times and it's not like I've forgotten anything about them. If I love the new movie (and I hope I do), I can see myself doing a rewatch before I see it again on the 23rd.

My whole week can't just be focused on the movie, however. It's also the last week of school before Christmas break and the same for my college class. The good news is I'm finished in the pool, so I can get to my school work when I come home from school.

Just a reminder that I have an ongoing Spotify playlist for the Sunday Shuffle that I change out every Sunday morning - I'll post the link via social media some time this evening.

How about today's ten?

1. Fleeting One/First Aid Kit (5) - last pl…

Sunday Shuffle #390

Hard to believe I'm 10 shuffles away from 400.

As usual, I've been very busy with work and my class. Less than 2 weeks until a nice break, at least. Don't forget to check the Sunday Shuffle Spotify playlist if you want to listen along; I change it out every Sunday and post a link by the evening. I hope you find something to like if you do. Let's see what we get today...

1. With My Eyes Closed/The Raveonettes (4) - last played on 1/18/15
2. Snails/The Format (5) - last played on 3/12/15
3. I Need Better Friends/Cracker (4) - last played on 3/18/12
4. Today Will Be Better, I Swear/Stars (8) - last played on 10/11/15
5. Debris/Reigning Sound (7) - got distracted and missed when it last played
6. Long Hard Book/Stephen Malkmus (13) - last played on 10/23/15
7. Zurich Is Stained/Pavement (8) - last played on 1/4/15
8. Satellite/TV On The Radio (6) - last played on 5/26/13
9. The Lost Brigade//Ted Leo/Pharmacists (8) - last played on 11/22/15
10. The Vampire Lanois/The Afgha…

Sunday Shuffle #389

I've had a great Thanksgiving break and hope you have too. Unfortunately, my class started up again yesterday and I have lots to do. Still, only three weeks left of my class and of school before Christmas break; only two weeks left of swimming lessons before break. Speaking of Christmas, we are now in the period where I will let Christmas music play if it pops up.
Oh, I've also started putting the Sunday Shuffle songs in a Spotify playlist. I'll change the songs out each week as the shuffle is progressing and will post a link on Sunday afternoons or evenings. You can find me on Spotify at Justin Steiner if you don't see the links on Facebook or Twitter. Hope you enjoy listening along!
Okay, let's finally get to today's ten...

1. Bright Eyes Darkened/Slobberbone (5) - last played on 4/9/15 2. Monster Closet/Two Hours Traffic (6) - last played on 3/11/15 3. June Hymn/The Decemberists (22) - last played on 3/9/15 4. Diamond Light Pt. 1/Tweedy (3) - last played on …

Sunday Shuffle #388

I had thoughts about putting up a non-Sunday Shuffle post yesterday, since I have a week off from my TTT class. Instead, I just enjoyed the free time. I made good progress in the two books I'm reading, read some comics, and started catching up on TV. I even watched the first episode of Jessica Jones (I was months behind watching Daredevil)! This is only a two day week at school, so I'm going to keep reading and watching. My brother flies in Wednesday and then comes all the Thanksgiving goodness. I hope you all have a great week too!

1. Losin You/Amy Millan (8) - last played on 3/29/15
2. Nothing Lasts Forever Anymore/Sloan (17) - last played on 11/28/14
3. Marie Provost/Nick Lowe (5) - last played on 9/28/14
4. Me, Me, Me/Middle Brother (11) - last played on 12/13/11
5. Creature Fear/Bon Iver (5) - last played on 5/7/14
6. Clover Over Dover/Blur (6) - last played on 11/21/15
7. Jacqueline Susann/Pernice Brothers (18) - last played on 11/1/15
8. Big Blinding Star/Bowery Boy Blu…

Sunday Shuffle #387

Last week was a struggle, as I had to get back in the swing of schoolwork in addition to my two jobs. I definitely learned something, though, and I'm already doing better at the balance. My plan is to be done by Thursday and I'm on track. Yay.

I hope you all had a better week than I did and that you heard some great music. Let's see what ten songs pop up first...

1. Eastern Terminal/Superchunk (14) - last played on 9/13/15
2. Pretty Girl from Feltre/The Avett Brothers (5) - last played on 1/11/15
3. White Shadow Waltz/Okkervil River (13) - last played on 1/13/13
4. Cream Of Gold/Pavement (18) - last played on 5/3/15
5. Little Brother/Elk City (5) - last played on 3/11/15
6. I Will/The Beatles (4) - last played on 2/16/14
7. Actor Out Of Work/St. Vincent (10) - last played on 12/14/14
8. Press/Superchunk (19) - last played on 7/19/15
9. Tighten Up/The Black Keys (4) - last played on 1/29/12
10. Pretty Girl from San Diego/The Avett Brothers (3) - last played on 10/27/14

Sunday Shuffle #386

I've started my Transition To Teaching class in earnest, so I'm going to get right to today's ten...

1. Just One Thing/My Morning Jacket (3) - last played on 5/13/12
2. Polished Stone/Blur (5) - last played on 4/24/15
3. Just Like Anyone/Aimee Mann (3) - last played on 11/20/13
4. Cato As A Pun/Of Montreal (7) - last played on 1/11/15
5. Wait For Love/Tweedy (3) - last played on 5/4/15
6. You Love To Fail/Portastatic (4) - last played on 11/20/11
7. Snowy/Josh Rouse (7) - last played on 8/23/15
8. Hard Hearted (Ode To Thoreau)/Amy Millan (5) - last played on 10/27/14
9. Jen Is Bringin the Drugs/Margot & The Nuclear So & So's (8) - last played on 7/13/13
10. American Hearts/A.A. Bondy (6) - last played on 5/19/13

Sunday Shuffle #385

How is it November already? Hope you all remembered to set your clocks back...

1. All Cleaned Out/Elliott Smith (5) - last played on 4/28/13
2. Alex's Song/Blur (1) - debut
3. On The Moon/A.A. Bondy (15) - last played on 1/4/15
4. The Ghost of Rockschool/Belle & Sebastian (17) - last played on 1/14/15
5. You Or Your Memory/The Mountain Goats (3) - last played on 4/8/15
6. The High Road/The Broken Bells (15) - last played on 1/19/14
7. Who You Talkin' To?/Spoon (9) - last played on 3/15/15
8. Jacqueline Susann/Pernice Brothers (17) - last played on 5/15/15
9. Restlessness/J Tillman (8) - last played on 10/25/15
10. Let's Get Drunk & Get It On/Old 97s (13) - last played on 6/14/15

Sunday Shuffle #384

It was nice having Friday off for Fall Break; we've always had a Monday off too but not this year. This year we get the day before Thanksgiving off. So, four more full weeks and then a two-day week. I can live with that. I've started my Transition To Teaching program as well, so busy times ahead. Enough about my schedule, let's get to today's ten...
1. Rabbit/The Essex Green (7) - last played on 11/9/14 2. Scotch Grove/The Mountain Goats (5) - last played on 3/31/15 3. Did She Overtake You/Robert Forster (6) - last played on 7/23/13 4. Restlessness/J Tillman (7) - last played on 4/7/13 5. The Stars Just Blink For Us/Say Hi (8) - last played on 11/2/14 6. Nothing Lasts/Matthew Sweet (4) - last played on 9/3/14 7. Empty Space/Teenage Fanclub (6) - last played on 10/14/15 8. July, July!/The Decembersists (8) - last played on 5/17/15 9. Slow/The Broken West (11) - last played on 11/15/14 10. Wonderful Savior/Mavis Staples (10) - last played on 11/9/14

Sunday Songsmith (Sunday Shuffle #383)

I spent some time in the most recent Heavy Rotation talking about Josh Ritter. His new album, Sermon on the Rocks, came out on Friday (still weird that Friday is new release day, isn't it). I've only played it once but I decided today was the perfect day to devote a shuffle to his work. I now have 6 of his albums (bought Historical Conquests last week), so let's see what the distribution looks like...

1. New Lover (19) - from The Beast in Its Tracks
2. Man Burning (15) - from Hello Starling
3. Lighthouse Fire (2) - from Sermon on the Rocks
4. Rumors (4) - from The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
5. Another New World (19) - from So Runs The World Away
6. Good Man (11) - from The Animal Years
7. Here At The Right Time (12) - from The Animal Years
8. Lights (17) - from The Beast in Its Tracks
9. The Temptation of Adam (4) - from The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
10. Wolves (14) - from The Animal Years

Sunday Shuffle #382

I've got chores both inside and outside. I've got a bunch of TV to catch up on. I'm enough of a fan that I still want to watch the Bears play. I want to read more of the book I started yesterday. So, it's time to start the music...

1. Argonauts/Hospitality (18) - last played on 1/9/14
2. The Electric Version/The New Pornographers (1) - played countless times on CD
3. Shame/The Avett Brothers (4) - last played on 12/4/11
4. I'm Not Mad Enough/The Ladybug Transistor (7) - last played on 6/24/12
5. My Sweet Lord/Yim Yames (7) - last played on 6/23/13
6. Brand New Companion/Steve Earle (4) - last played on 12/18/11
7. My Favourite Book/Stars (6) - last played on 6/2/13
8. 7:30/Pernice Brothers (9) - last played on 4/23/13
9. Now We Can See/The Thermals (13) - last played on 2/26/15
10. Homeward Bound/Rhett Miller (7) - last played on 10/26/14

Heavy Rotation #27

The second half of September saw these five albums get a lot of play...

Destroyer/Poison Season - The album opens with strings and a tinkling piano on the first of three times we hear the song "Times Square" (this one adds "Poison Season I" to the title; the last of the three adds "Poison Season II" and the middle one adds nothing) and it reminds me a little of "Pure Imagination." It's over in 2:33 and gives way to a blast of sax and pounding drums. Really, "Dream Lover" comes on like Springsteen and the E Street Band. Unsurprisingly, I like it a lot. Speaking of Springsteen, there is a song here called "The River." It's sultry and slinky and has some great horns. The middle "Times Square"is built around an acoustic guitar, piano, drums, bongo, and a sax and it bounces along perfectly. "Archer on the Beach" brings back the slink with a groovy bassline and drums offset by a squalling guitar before br…

Sunday Shuffle #381

I'm eating Count Chocula as I start today's shuffle. Yes, I am a 44 year-old man.

Cue the music!

1. Midnight Surprise: My Time Spend Down the Lavender Bridge/Oh God, Really//Lightspeed Champion (6) - last played on 8/26/12
2. Unison Falling Into Harmony/Great Lake Swimmers (6) - last played on 3/24/13
3. All My Love/American Music Club (9) - last played on 12/21/14
4. The Part of Him/Drive-By Truckers (8) - last played on 8/9/15
5. You Gotta Dance (with Who You Came to the Dance With)/The Hold Steady (9) - last played on 5/10/15
6. For Your Heart/Divine Fits (20) - last played on 1/18/14
7. Dead Great Town/Bowery Boy Blue (8) - last played on 10/19/14
8. Ticket To Ride/The Beatles (5) - last played on 8/9/15
9. Flaming Wreck/Pernice Brothers (12) - last played on 4/5/15
10. Unhinged/The Drams (4) - last played on 9/28/14

Sunday Shuffle #380

Last Sunday in September already...

1. No Time For Dreaming/Charles Bradley (14) - last played on 9/6/14 2. The Laws Have Changed/The New Pornographers (2) - last played on 11/1/14 3. Nuclear Daydream/Joseph Arthur (5) - last played on 1/11/15 4. I Will Be There When You Die/My Morning Jacket (8) - last played on 6/9/13 5. Hospital Beds/Cold War Kids (5) - last played on 2/24/13 6. You Are A Light/Pavement (15) - last played on 1/2/14 7. Denise/Clem Snide (18) - last played on 12/2/12 8. Ballad of Vitaly/Delta Spirit (17) - last played on 6/23/13 9. Castanets/Alejandro Escovedo (4) - last played on 10/27/14 10. Young Men Dead/The Black Angels (7) - last played on 1/4/15

Fantastic Four Flashback #4

Fantastic Four #235 opens on splash page of The Thing trudging through an alien landscape with a heavy piece of Kirbyesque machinery on his back. It's a great image that captures the power of the Ben Grimm and wild ideas one finds in the title. The alien landscape is, of course, Ego the Living Planet, whom we met during last issue's cliffhanger. Ben's internal monologue (rendered in thought bubbles, of course) lets us know he's been at his task a while and that he's the only person left who can do the job; if he doesn't deliver the machine to the core then he'll "let down the whole friggin' earth."

The story shifts into an extended flashback as we get caught up to the point where the issue opens. The first two pages of the flashback are a recap of the previous issue. I get that every comic is potentially someone's first issue and that back in the 80s these sorts of recaps were necessary but I think devoting two story pages is excessive. Re…

Sunday Solo Band (Sunday Shuffle #379)

Telekinesis is a band that's really a solo artist, Michael Benjamin Lerner. I first heard of him/them before the debut album came out in 2009. KEXP was playing one or two songs off Telekinesis! and I dug them. He/they are also on Merge Records, which usually means the music is quality. The first two albums are power pop goodness and the third stays in that territory but starts to incorporate some new sounds. Telekinesis just released their/his fourth album, Ad Infinitum, on Friday, and there are a lot of synthesizers and drum machines. This is not a problem because the music is great. Anyway, I've only heard the full album twice so far (once via NPR's First Listen and once via Spotify) and purchased it a few minutes ago so I could feature it and the band this morning. If you're not familiar with the music, I highly recommend checking it out.

1. 50 Ways (32) - from 12 Straight Desperate Lines
2. Towns Chapel (8) - bonus track from Domarion
3. Gotta Get It Right Now (26)…

Sunday Shuffle #378

I almost skipped the Shuffle today because the house needs to be put back together after yesterday's Popcorn Festival guests and for the fact that I want to be able to watch the NFL starting at noon. It's before 8:30, though, so I decided why not. Without further ado, here are today's ten...

1. Hair Down/Cold War Kids (6) - last played on 3/1/15
2. Everything You've Done Wrong/Sloan (12) - last played on 3/14/15
3. Little Maiden Gin/Haley Bonar (5) - last played on 1/27/13
4. Rollercoaster/M. Ward (5) - last played on 1/18/15
5. I Need My Girl/The National (24) - last played on 7/1/15
6. Sunstroke/Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit (10) - last played on 4/7/13
7. I Was A Fool/Roman Candle (8) - last played on 8/12/11
8. Gift (Live)/Sugar (1) - debut
9. Sunship/Hospitality (7) - last played on 7/21/15
10. Aging Faces/Losing Places//Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew (8) - last played on 3/20/15

Heavy Rotation #26 and Other Summer Sounds

HEAVY ROTATION #26

I've been meaning to get to a Heavy Rotation for a couple weeks now and just haven't managed it. I'm a little past the prime period I listened to these albums, which was probably mid-July to mid-August, but I did play them quite a bit during that time and wanted to talk about them.

Jason Isbell/Something More Than Free - I was very excited for this album to come out. For starters, Isbell's previous album, Southeastern, was one of my favorite albums of 2013 (maybe even #1?). Secondly, the two songs that came out before the album's release, "24 Frames" and the title track, were great. Finally, all the early reviews were extremely positive. The good news is that I was not disappointed in the least; in fact, this album will probably make my top ten for the year. Take "24 Frames," for instance: "You thought God was an architect, now you know/He's something like a pipe bomb ready to blow/And everything you built that's a…

Fantastic Four Flashback #3

The cover to Fantastic Four #234 shows the FF cowering before a white silhouette of a man and asks the following questions: "Who is he?" and "What is he?" The first page brings us the answer to the first question (though not before a Shakespeare quote); he is L.R. "Skip" Collins, "who may be the most powerful man who ever lived." The second page fills us in on "Skip" a bit more - he's an average guy; he's a bit sexist, wishing his spouse would keep up on her "wifely chores"; and he has some sort of power to make his wishes come true. The first almost 7 pages are devoted to Skip and his family relationships, his work life, and how his powers came to be (not that Skip really knows about those). He flies to New York City and finally, in the last panel on pg. 7, we, or he, finally runs into Reed and Sue.

The focus shifts pretty dramatically to the FF at this point. Reed and Sue combine to save first a girl and then a crow…

Sunday Shuffle #377

I hope everyone is enjoying the 3 day weekend. After my 5 mile run yesterday morning, I spent most of my time reading a book, listening to music, watching TV on the internet and baseball on the TV. Oh, and I took a nice long nap. Today I'll need to do some chores but hope to incorporate everything else from yesterday and then repeat tomorrow. Anyway, let's get to today's ten...

1. Be Mine/Alabama Shakes (11) - last played on 11/9/13
2. Back To The Life/Spoon (2) - last played on 3/23/15
3. Gimme Back My Dog/Slobberbone (5) - last played on 4/9/15
4. I Want To Sing That Rock And Roll/Gillian Welch (5) - last played on 1/11/15
5. Default/Atoms For Peace (7) - last played on 12/5/13
6. Evil's Sway/Japandroids (15) - last played on 8/2/14
7. Country Mile/Camera Obscura (7) - last played on 7/31/14
8. Lady On the Water/Blitzen Trapper (5) - last played on 2/24/13
9. I've Just Seen A Face/The Beatles (5) - last played on 10/21/12
10. For Emma/Bon Iver (9) - last played o…

Sunday Shuffle #376

I had hoped to get another post or two up this week but going back to school got in the way. Those first few days are always exhausting. I do hope to get some posts up this week but we shall see. In the meantime, let's get to today's ten...

1. Tell Me/King Khan And The Shrines (4) - last played on 3/31/13
2. Volunteers Of America/The Both (10) - last played on 7/21/15
3. Still New/Smith Westerns (9) - last played on 4/4/15
4. It Ain't Right/Paul Burch (3) - last played on 11/2/14
5. Tears For Affairs/Camera Obscura (6) - last played on 7/31/14
6. Elmo Delmo/Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks (6) - last played on 11/3/14
7. You're Going Back/The Tallest Man On Earth (8) - last played on 4/26/15
8. Jubilee (Acoustic, BBC Live Version)/Blur (3) - last played on 3/28/15
9. In A Little While/U2 (4) - last played on 5/27/12
10. When I See Her/Higgins (13) - last played on 2/27/14

Fantastic Four Flashback #2

John Byrne's second issue of his run on Fantastic Four (#233) begins with a man on death row in what's made out to be the harshest prison around (nobody's heard about Deeden because no one has ever escaped and lived to talk about it, because they were all killed. Cheery!). George David Munson is about to die but he laments to Father Vito that even though he's been a bad man, he's to be killed for a crime he didn't commit. He then last requests the priest to deliver a letter for him, a letter to...the Human Torch!

Cut to Father Vito pulling up in front of the Baxter Building two weeks later (2 weeks? Really? Why so long, Father?). These leads to a two page sequence that demonstrates the kind of security the FF has, as Father Vito happens to run into Sue in the lobby. When they reach the "visitor reception level," the two walk into an ongoing fight between the Human Torch and the Thing. Cue a two page fight/insult scene between the heroes until it's…

Sunday Shuffle #375

It's the last Shuffle of the summer season - school starts back up on Wednesday. Of course, summer is actually still going on and the weather is certainly typical for August - my 4.75 mile run this morning was rough in the humidity. I do have a couple days off, which I will enjoy as much as I can. Anyway, it's already after 9:00, so I'd better get to today's ten...

1. Summer Dust/The Love Language (17) - last played on 6/20/13
2. Sweet Marie/Crooked Fingers (6) - last played on 10/24/12
3. Primary/Spoon (6) - last played on 6/21/15
4. Hallucinations/The Raveonettes (4) - last played on 11/23/14
5. Challengers/The New Pornographers (12) - last played on 1/27/15
6. No Snow On The Mountain/Nada Surf (16) - last played on 5/28/14
7. Vincent O'Brien/M. Ward (5) - last played on 3/18/13
8. The Magpie/Bishop Allen (5) - last played on 8/12/14
9. Break It/Reigning Sound (7) - last played on 5/19/13
10. Silver Leaf And Snowy Tears/Superchunk (13) - last played on 3/22/15

Fantastic Four Flashback #1

The new Fantastic Four movie opened this weekend and I imagine there are a lot of reviews of it that mention how unfantastic it is. I haven't read many reviews but the overwhelming consensus is that the movie is terrible. I hadn't planned on seeing it even before the reviews started appearing; the trailers did nothing but make me bored and annoyed that we had to reboot the origin yet again. I've had enough of super-hero movies that feel the need to do so. Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm? Absolutely, but give me something that excites me more than what I've seen. I may see this movie eventually, although I've still never seen Daredevil (the movie, that is) or Green Lantern or any number of reviled super-hero movies. I love comics but it's not a blind love.

I do like the Fantastic Four and I started to think how I could bring some positive experience with them into my life. It wasn't a comic I read growing up, which is a shame because I would have basically…

Sunday Shuffle #374

I started my musical morning by listening to the rest of The Joshua Tree (I started it last night after listening to the corresponding episode of U Talkin' U2 To Me?) and thought about continuing on to listen to albums the rest of the day. However, it's been three weeks since I've done one of these and six weeks since I've done a "regular" version, so why not jump into some shuffling...
1. What You Do To Me/Teenage Fanclub (6) - last played on 3/26/15 2. They Want My Soul/Spoon (14) - last played on 6/26/15 3. Look At You/My Morning Jacket (9) - last played on 3/24/13 4. Away When You Were Here/Ben Folds Five (11) - last played on 10/26/14 5. Another New World/Josh Ritter (17) - last played on 4/22/15 6. Stay With Me/Ryan Adams (10) - last played on 6/23/15 7. Floating Vibes/Surfer Blood (10) - last played on 12/14/14 8. Foolish Young Bastard/Patterson Hood (9) - last played on 3/29/15 9. Criminal Piece/Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (14) - last played on 3/17…

Sunday Superchunk #2 (Sunday Shuffle #373)

This would actually be the perfect weekend to do a Wilco shuffle - we got a surprise new album called Star Wars on Thursday night and then they were amazing at the Pitchfork Music Festival on Friday night. However, I have almost all of their music on CD...which makes shuffling a bit difficult.

So instead, I'm going to bring Superchunk back for round two. I just wrote about Come Pick Me Up and then heard them played on the Dad Rock podcast (which I just started listening to...more on which soon), so I'm itching to hear all of their music. Let's do that now...

1. Tie A Rope To The Back Of The Bus (20) - from No Pocky for Kitty
2. Iron On (11) - from Here's Where The Strings Come In
3. Untied (18) - from On the Mouth
4. Screw It Up (13) - from Leaves in the Gutter
5. Watery Hands (24) - from Indoor Living
6. Seed Toss (20) - from No Pocky for Kitty
7. Flawless (21) - from On the Mouth
8. Creek (22) - from No Pocky for Kitty
9. Rope Light (21) - from Majesty Shredding
10. …

Heavy Rotation #25

It's become more difficult to become immersed in any particular albums over a concentrated period of time. I love the fact that Spotify exists because I get to hear way more music than I ever used to...but it also makes it harder to remember what I've been listening to in any given week. I also don't really listen to music in the car or while I'm walking in town or even doing the dishes; instead, I'm listening to podcasts. I love that medium and am always trying to catch up (and usually failing) on the ones I like while also trying new ones. All that said, I am still just as passionate about music and do get into grooves with some albums. Here are the ones I've been listening to the most in the past month or two...

Courtney Barnett/Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit - I first became aware of Barnett when I heard her song "Avant Gardener" (possibly via All Songs Considered). I loved her lyrics, which were delivered in a singsong style an…

Sunday Shuffle #372

I should probably just change this blog's name to Sunday Shuffle at this point...

1. Waiting for Slow Songs/Sloan (12) - last played on 4/26/15
2. Butchers Tale (Western Front 1914)/The Zombies (13) - last played on 4/5/15
3. Picking Up Too Fast/Centro-Matic (5) - last played on 10/30/14
4. Sidewalk/Superchunk (18) - last played on 3/11/15
5. Woods/Bon Iver (4) - last played on 10/30/14
6. You Tell Me Where/The New Pornographers (7) - last played on 5/21/15
7. All The Wine/The National (4) - last played on 4/19/15
8. Long Vows/Band of Horses (13) - last played on 2/13/15
9. Theater/Middle Brother (16) - last played on 12/14/14
10. Murdering Oscar/Patterson Hood (8) - last played on 5/24/15

Sunday Spoon #2 (Sunday Shuffle #371)

I know I already did one of these about 6 months ago but last night I read that Spoon played an afterparty of their show (which was a Spoon cover band playing 2 whole albums). That's awesome and it makes me want to listen to their equally awesome music. So, I'm going to do that...

1. Nobody Gets Me But You (18) - from Transference
2. My Little Japanese Cigarette Case (15) - from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
3. Wanted to Be Your (6) - from Telephono
4. Sister Jack (11) - from Gimme Fiction
5. The Beast And Dragon, Adored (12) - from Gimme Fiction
6. Rhthm & Soul (12) - from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
7. Change My Life (8) - from Love Ways
8. My Mathematical Mind (11) - from Gimme Fiction
9. Who Makes Your Money (19) - from Transference
10. Inside Out (16) - from They Want Your Soul

Sunday Smut (Sunday Shuffle #370)

Today's shuffle focuses on The New Pornographers. I've been a fan ever since I grabbed Electric Version, their second album. All six of their albums are full of melodic power pop/pop music with multiple singers and songwriters (Carl Newman, Dan Bejar, and Neko Case being the most prominent members). If you don't know them, you should definitely check them out (as well as their side projects/solo albums). The play counts for the first three albums will be low as I only recently ripped them to iTunes. Rest assured, those songs have been played dozens of times. In fact, Twin Cinema is one of my favorite albums ever. I also listened to Brill Bruisers a bunch on Spotify before I got my own digital copy. Anyway, enough dissembling about play counts, I'm ready to listen to these songs...

1. From Blown Speakers (2) - from Electric Version
2. Moves (18) - from Together
3. Use It (2) - from Twin Cinema
4. Falling Through You Clothes (2) - from Twin Cinema
5. My Shepherd (17) - f…

Sunday Shuffle #369

It's the first shuffle of summer break! Of course, tomorrow I start getting in the pool for hours every day but I'll still have more time to read and listen to music and catch up on TV and all of that good stuff. For now, let's just get to today's ten...

1. Golden Light/Twin Shadow (5) - last played on 12/20/12
2. Last Word/Archers of Loaf (8) - last played on 2/22/15
3. St. Peter's Day Festival/Ra Ra Riot (4) - last played on 1/18/15
4. Backseat Sweetheart/Two Hours Traffic (7) - last played on 2/22/15
5. Chloe In The Afternoon/St. Vincent (12) - last played on 3/10/15
6. Fables/The Dodos (6) - last played on 11/16/14
7. Milwaukee (Acoustic)/The Both (2) - last played on 4/18/15
8. Worthwhile/The Rosebuds (8) - last played on 4/10/15
9. Girls and Boys/Blur (5) - last played on 4/29/15
10. New York/U2 (4) - last played on 2/22/15

Sunday Shuffle #368

Another Sunday of starting this but not knowing when I'm going to finish. Going for a run in short order and then I have an in-service for swimming lessons at noon plus all the usual Sunday chores. Really, it would be a day not to bother but I feel like doing one. And so, on to today's ten...

1. Ain't That the Way/Divine Fits (24) - last played on 5/3/15
2. Laissez-faire/Telekinesis (13) - last played on 11/3/14
3. Banging Camp/The Hold Steady (12) - last played on 5/9/15
4. (Even If You Die On The) Ocean/Saturday Looks Good To Me (7) - last played on 5/27/13
5. She Tows The Line/Crooked Fingers (11) - last played on 12/10/12
6. Woman/Joseph Arthur (4) - last played on 6/27/10
7. Stay With Me/Ryan Adams (8) - last played on 5/23/15
8. Gotta Get Up/Harry Nilsson (5) - last played on 3/19/15
9. Don't You Believe a Word/Sloan (11) - last played on 11/26/14
10. After All The Roads Have Lead to Nowhere (Live)/Sugar (1) - debut

Sunday Shuffle #367

I'm starting this shuffle just after 9:00 but I'm not sure when I'll finish, as I'm going to see Mad Max: Fury Road in a little bit. I was under the weather on Thursday and Friday but by last night I started feeling like myself again. I ran 3 miles this morning and felt pretty good even though I tired about halfway through. Anyway, none of that has to do with the actual music, so here's today's ten...

1. Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed On The Roof Of The Chelsea Hotel, 1979/Okkervil River (6) - last played on 11/16/14
2. Don't Tell Your Eyes/Joseph Arthur (5) - last played on 1/18/15
3. Rock 'n' Roll Toilet (Mark 2)/The Soft Boys (4) - last played on 5/3/15
4. Lord, I'm Discouraged/The Hold Steady (9) - last played on 3/20/15
5. Promises/The Morning Benders (10) - last played on 11/16/14
6. Murdering Oscar/Patterson Hood (7) - last played on 2/3/13
7. Turn It Around/The Smithereens (11) - last played on 4/18/15
8. Play Tough/Apples In Stereo (5…

Sunday Steady (Sunday Shuffle #366)

The Hold Steady's second album, Separation Sunday, celebrated its 10th anniversary last weekend. It was the album that hooked me on the band...I'd probably heard a song on KEXP and decided to take a shot. I loved the mixture of storytelling and rock music and became a fan. So, today we're going to shuffle through their music. The play counts are lower because I haven't listened to them as much since I reconstructed iTunes 5 years ago, except for Heaven Is Whenever, which came out after that time. I've only recently put their 2014 album, Teeth Dreams, in iTunes but I've listened to it on Spotify many times. Anyway, let's get to the music...

1. Big Cig (2) - from Teeth Dreams
2. Same Kooks (8) - from Boys and Girls in America
3. Massive Nights (9) - from Boys and Girls in America
4. Rock Problems (17) - from Heaven Is Whenever
5. One For The Cutters (10) - from Stay Positive
6. Teenage Liberation (4) - outtake from Boys and Girls in America
7. You Gotta Dance…

Sunday Shuffle #365

As I start typing, I have just over 6 hours until I can finally see the new Avengers movie. I've been staying off of Twitter for days so I don't get inadvertently spoiled. I really hope it's good. So, today's shuffle is as much a distraction for me as anything else.
Oh, and with today's edition I've now done a year's worth of Sunday Shuffles. Wow.
1. Don't You Wanna Come Out/The Redwalls (6) - last played on 3/9/15 2. Hoover Dam (Live)/Sugar (1) - bonus material from the Copper Blue reissue 3. Pretty Bird/Jenny Lewis (6) - last played on 3/14/15 4. Lion's Teeth/The Mountain Goats (2) - last played on 4/8/15 5. Ain't That the Way/Divine Fits (23) - last played on 3/23/15 6. Complicated Man/Rhett Miller (10) - last played on 9/1/13 7. Underwater Moonlight (Early Version)/The Soft Boys (4) - last played on 3/3/13 8. Two Seats Gold Reserve/Centro-Matic (6) - last played on 4/14/13 9. Bright Ideas/Portastatic (1) - from the album of the same name 10.…

Sunday Sorrow (Sunday Shuffle #364)

Alligator, the breakthrough album from The National, turned 10 earlier this week. It was the first time I'd heard of the band; KEXP played "Abel" quite a bit, as I recall. It took my friend Mike (who blogged as Little Toy Robot) talking up the album as a whole for me to pick it up; he was absolutely right about it being great. I became an instant fan of the band and I think they've only gotten better. Their music can be a little gloomy but the reason why I'm titling this "Sorrow" is that is one of their songs, a song they once played for many hours straight. If you don't know the band, I encourage you to check them out.

1. Lucky You (10) - from their 2007 Daytrotter Session
2. Lit Up (4) - from Alligator
3. Gospel (9) - from their 2007 Daytrotter Session
4. It Never Happened (11) - from Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers
5. Runaway (24) - from High Violet
6. Heavenfaced (21) - from Trouble Will Find Me
7. Lemonworld (21) - from High Violet
8. All The Wine (…

Sunday Shuffle #363

I have some online trainings to do in addition to all the usual Sunday chores, so I'm going to jump right in today. Happy Easter!

1. Clean the Clock/Blue Giant (3) - last played on 10/30/14
2. Butchers Tales (Western Front 1914)/The Zombies (12) - last played on 10/31/12
3. False Alarm/Yo La Tengo (5) - last played on 3/28/15
4. The Baskervilles/Tokyo Police Club (5) - last played on 11/3/14
5. Wayward and Parliament/Amy Millan (6) - last played on 3/10/15
6. Tee Pees 1-12/Father John Misty (13) - last played on 10/31/14
7. American Slang/The Gaslight Anthem (14) - last played on 3/13/15
8. Narrow Way/Bob Dylan (5) - last played on 9/1/13
9. Flaming Wreck/Pernice Brothers (11) - last played on 4/23/13
10. Weird Summer/Velvet Crush (11) - last played on 2/8/15

Sunday Scots (Sunday Shuffle #362)

Today I'm focusing on Teenage Fanclub. A couple weeks ago I ripped my CD of Bandwagonesque and downloaded the last remaining albums of theirs I didn't own (except for A Catholic Education, which isn't available in mp3). A couple days ago Norman Blake (one of the three songwriters in the band) tweeted that a new album was almost done. It's been 5 years since their last one, so this was exciting news. They are one of my favorite bands and if you don't know them, I highly recommend checking out their brand of power pop and slightly less-powered pop. Oh, they're from Scotland, which means I can keep my alliteration going on these one band Sunday Shuffles too. Woo!

1. Nowhere (8) - from Man-Made
2. Don't Hide (7) - from Man-Made
3. Pet Rock (5) - from Bandwagonesque
4. Start Again (23) - from Songs From Northern Britain
5. Dumb Dumb Dumb (4) - from Howdy!
6. When I Still Have Thee (22) - from Shadows
7. I Gotta Know (9) - from Grand Prix
8. Happiness (4) - from …

Sunday Superchunk (Sunday Shuffle #361)

I wasn't going to do a Shuffle this morning; instead, I was listening to Ivan & Alyosha, because I found out yesterday that they have a new album coming out in May. After I finished All The Times We Had, I decided to do one of my more focused shuffles. Today's band is Superchunk, a band I wish I had listened to back in the 90s but has become one of my favorites over the last 5 years. Seeing them in concert a few years back is still a highlight. Lead singer Mac McCaughan has a solo record coming out in early May that I'm really looking forward to. Anyway, let's get to today's ten from Superchunk...

1. What Do You Look Forward To? (13) - from Here's To Shutting Up
2. June Showers (13) - from Come Pick Me Up
3. Precision Auto (18) - from On the Mouth
4. Kicked In (18) - from Foolish
5. Trash Heap (16) - from On the Mouth
6. Creek (20) - from No Pocky for Kitty
7. Certain Stars (11) - from Here's Where The Strings Come In
8. Low Branches (12) - from Come Pi…

Sunday Shuffle #360

I added a bunch of new albums to iTunes last weekend...and have been in shuffle mode ever since. Just felt like one of those weeks, I guess. Sometimes it seems as if shuffle mode has some favorites; the algorithm can be odd. Anyway, I though I'd shuffle at least one more day and let you know what today's first ten are...

1. Minotaur/Cracker (4) - last played on 1/15/12
2. Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?/Arctic Monkeys (6) - last played on 9/29/14
3. Who You Talkin' To?/Sloan (8) - last played on 12/7/14
4. Queen of Eyes/The Soft Boys (8) - last played on 10/7/12
5. Caucasian Blues/Jarvis Cocker (7) - last played on 3/14/15
6. Cool Water/Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan (12) - last played on 1/1/12
7. Age of Kings/The Mountain Goats (10) - last played on 9/18/12
8. Broken Man/The Baseball Project (5) - last played on 1/27/13
9. Islero/Crooked Fingers (9) - last played on 7/19/14
10. Mouthful of Diamonds (7) - last played on 3/1/15

Sunday Shuffle #359

It's been a month since I did the last one and I feel like doing one today. That's how the magic happens, people. Ha. Anyway, here are today's ten...

1. Mystery Hours/The New Pornographers (2) - last played on 11/9/14
2. Early Aubade/Roman Candle (7) - last played on 5/19/13
3. Immaculate/Shearwater (14) - last played on 11/3/14
4. My Friend/Dr. Dog (5) - last played on 10/20/13
5. Imitosis/Andrew Bird (3) - last played on 6/18/12
6. Have You Ever Seen the Rain/Creedence Clearwater Revival (6) - last played on 10/19/14
7. Dance Away/Smith Westerns (9) - last played on 10/26/14
8. Lisbon/The Walkmen (13) - last played on 11/12/14
9. Jack Killed Mom/Jenny Lewis (4) - last played on 11/1/14
10. Oh No/Andrew Bird (6) - last played on 12/21/14

Heavy Rotation #24

It's been well over a year since the last Heavy Rotation but I've been hitting these albums pretty hard over the past couple weeks, so it's time for a new installment...

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals/Cold Roses - I think I've mentioned by big Ryan Adams listen last fall in the run-up to his great self-titled release. I'd been a fan in the early 2000s and then lost touch due to the sheer volume of music he put out. Out of all the albums that were new to me, Cold Roses made the biggest impression. It's a double album and while that can sometimes lead to bloat, I've always admired the ambition of doing one (and I don't think there's bloat in this case). "Magnolia Mountain," a perfect shambling rocker, opens the album and it's followed by the more melancholy "Sweet Illusions"; a great 1-2 punch. Later on the first disc, I love the repeated "I could never close/I could never get close enough/I could never get close enough...t…

Super Bowl Shuffle 2015 (Sunday Shuffle #358)

It's a good thing the Super Bowl party I'm going to is next door because today's snowstorm means traveling much farther than that is a no go. My parents were supposed to come as well but they are snowed in and even had church cancelled this morning.

As for the game itself, I'm more rooting against the Patriots than rooting for the Seahawks but I do hope it's at least competitive.

I'm going to do something quite different today. Every Sunday I do this shuffle, I let the music run long after the first 10. Some days I might listen to 100 songs this way or more. So, in honor of Super Bowl XLIX I'm going to list the first 49 songs that pop up today. Crazy, yes, but why not...

1. Bartomelo And The Buzzing Of Bees/Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (16) - last played on 9/15/13
2. Let's Love/Matthew Sweet (7) - last played on 4/15/12
3. Karen/The National (1) - loaded onto iTunes some time in Dec. 2014
4. Black Hole/She & Him (9) - last played on 6/23/13
5. The…

Sunday Shuffle #357

Let's just get right to today's ten...

1. Alphabet Pony/The Kills (4) - last played on 1/20/13
2. Open The Door/British Sea Power (3) - last played on 10/5/14
3. Nobody Knows (But I Do)/Mary Weiss (3) - last played on 11/1/14
4. Company Book (Live)/Sugar (2) - last played on 4/28/13
5. Sim Sala Bim/Fleet Foxes (14) - last played on 10/24/14
6. Rollercoaster/M. Ward (4) - last played on 5/6/12
7. Feast Of Hearts/The Damnwells (10) - last played on 4/21/13
8. Shrinking Violet/Bishop Allen (4) - last played on 8/11/14
9. Cast Iron/Superchunk (17) - last played on 10/24/14
10. Misfits & Mistakes/Superchunk (12) - last played on 6/2/13

Sunday Shuffle #356

I typically let shuffle mode run all Sunday long but I don't know how many more songs I'll hear today. There are 2 playoff games to watch. I also want to continue watching Parks & Recreation; on Dec. 1, I decided to rewatch the series on Netflix so I would be ready for the final season. Well, the new season starts Tuesday and I only hit the halfway point last night. Yes, I know I won't watch 55 more episodes in 2 days but I do want to keep watching because the show is great (save for the 6 episode first season). Anyway, long story short, I should get to today's ten...
1. Backstabbin'/Sloan (17) - last played on 11/28/14 2. Pretty Girl from Feltre/The Avett Brothers (4) - last played on 6/28/12 3. My Favorite Year/Destroyer (10) - last played on 8/16/14 4. Cato As A Pun/Of Montreal (6) - last played on 10/5/14 5. Maybe After He's Gone/The Zombies (13) - last played on 11/4/14 6. Scarlet Town/Bob Dylan (5) - last played on 5/16/13 7. I Fought Piranhas/The Whi…

Sunday Shuffle #355

I wasn't 100% sure I was going to continue the shuffle in 2015. I got burned out on it last year and went 4 1/2 months without doing one. When I did one at the end of September, I thought I might dip my toe in and out but ended up getting back into the swing. I'm enjoying the process again.

Another reason to keep this feature going is that my other long-standing Sunday morning tradition has come to an end. For well over a decade (and probably for at least 15 years) I watched The Sports Reporters on ESPN. This past week, however, we cut our cable and I no longer can watch. I will definitely miss that ritual, so it's going to be good to keep this one going, at least for a while. If I do stick with this throughout the year, I will reach #400 before the end of the year. Maybe that would be a good stopping point. We'll see.

All of that leads me to this: here are today's ten...

1. 30 Gallon Tank/Spoon (13) - last played on 10/12
2. Daphnia/Yo La Tengo (4) - last played o…

Firsts

I'm worn out from yesterday's marathon blogging but thought I'd mark down the year's pop culture firsts...

The first book I'm reading this year is World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters.

The first comic I read was She-Hulk #11.

The first TV show I watched was Parks & Recreation Season 2, Episode 23.

The first song I listened to, as is traditional, was "This Will Be Our Year" by The Zombies.

The first album I listened to was Ryan Adams' self-titled, my #2 album in 2014.

The first podcast I listened to was half an episode or so of Pop Culture Happy Hour.

The first blog post I wrote was this one.

Boom.