Tag Archives: action bronson

Top 20 Albums of 2015 (So Far…) 20-11

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We are almost halfway through the year, and there have already been some great releases in 2015. With a stockpile of potentially great albums coming down the pipeline soon (Chance the Rapper, High On Fire, Beach House, Deafheaven, Frank Ocean, Jai Paul, Kanye West, Joanna Newsome, Majical Cloudz, Ghostface Killah, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, and allegedly, The Wrens) I’d like to take a breather and appreciate some of my favorite albums from the year so far. To try to keep some semblance of control, I’ve limited my list to 20 albums released prior to June 1st. Below are albums 20-11.

Honorable Mention

An Autumn For Crippled Children, The Long Goodbye

Joey Bada$$, B.4.DA.$$

Built to Spill, Untethered Moon

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress

Lightning Bolt, Fantasy Empire

The Mountain Goats, Beat the Champ

Sannhet, Revisionist

Collin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld, Never Were The Way She Was

Thee Oh Sees, Mutilator Defeated At Last

Fred Thomas, All Are Saved

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Action Bronson “Mr. Wonderful”

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Action Bronson

Mr. Wonderful

[Atlantic/Vice; 2015]

RATING: 8

Remember when hip-hop was fun? My adolescence was filled with the entertaining, harmless anthems of MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, and Tone Loc. “Hip Hop Hooray,” “Jump Around,” and the “Humpty Dance” were the soundtrack to my middle school dances.  Kids wore their overalls backwards to emulate Kriss Kross and oversized Starter jackets like ABC (Another Bad Creation, yo!). Queen Latifah reigned supreme, Run DMC were the “Kings of Rock,” and Will Smith was The Prince of Bel Air.  Sure, acts like NWA and Public Enemy were anything but fun, but at that time, their hard-cutting verbal assaults were the minority to the more common, party approach to rap music.

Things changed with the dawning of gangsta rap. I’m not suggesting that Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg didn’t know how to have a good time, smoking their indo while sippin’ on gin and juice, but their songs took the genre into more violent, brooding territory. No longer was it cool to rap about how you can “Bust a Move” or how you wish you were a little bit taller, wish you were a baller, wish you had a girl, if you did, you would call her. Many artists tried to toughen up their image (gangsta MC Hammer was my favorite), but their efforts were transparent to fans that wanted stories of the streets from those who lived it.

Since that mid-90s mood shift, hip-hop has remained grounded in the more menacing approach, rappers boasting their worth in diamonds, clothes, and cars, MCs regaling their days as drug dealers and gang members. That’s what makes Action Bronson’s major label debut Mr. Wonderful so refreshing – it’s a throwback to the days when rappers were more interested in promoting a good time than themselves.

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The Top 25 Songs of 2014

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It’s no secret that I’m an albums guy. One look at my extensive year-end “Top Albums” list, and it’s clear that I’m a purist at heart, almost always listening to an album from start to finish. However, there is the rare occasion where I’ll queue up a specific song to fit the mood or raise my spirits. The list below contains 25 of those songs that I found myself searching out (why 25? Because I couldn’t cut it down to 20). You will not find many songs from albums on my “Top Albums” list simply because if it’s a great album, I’m probably not going to skip tracks. Instead, you will mostly hear songs that were stand-outs on albums that didn’t quite make the grade. If you are expecting a list that is of the same caliber as my “Top Albums” run-down, you are about to be greatly disappointed. But if you’re up for checking out some of those songs that got multiple replays on my iPod in 2014, the following list should provide you with an entertaining mix.

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Favorite New Videos

 

A few weeks ago the MTV Video Music Awards took place, and to be honest, I didn’t watch. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I viewed the yearly event (probably in a dorm room over a decade ago).  I hate to play the “back in my day” card, but I do feel that there was a time when the VMAs were legitimately about rewarding great music videos and not just a popularity contest. Big winners in 2014 include former child stars like Miley Cyrus and Drake, and Lorde was awarded the “Best Rock Video” of the year for her song “Royals.” You know, THIS SONG that doesn’t feature any guitars and is built around a looping hip-hop beat? Can we all just agree that rock (at least the popular variety) is dead?

On social media I’ve seen some bemoan the age-old complaint that MTV doesn’t even play music videos anymore, but I think it’s time to get over the fact they haven’t been a music channel for over a decade. Some have suggested that music videos don’t matter anymore. However, I think they are more important than they have been since their explosion in the 80s. Young people have turned to YouTube as a major source of music listening, often playing the same video multiple times just to re-hear their favorite OneDirection song. The highest rated videos on YouTube aren’t of people on fire, or people getting hit in the nuts, but music videos of teeny-bop stars (hence why YouTube has now started its own music awards).

I am still old-fashioned in my listening habits, predominantly purchasing LPs and CDs with the occasional MP3 when I can’t wait until my next record store visit. Despite my out-of-touch approach to music, I do still check out new music videos on occasion. I’m not spending hours online watching videos, but I do have some new videos that I’ve watched several times. Here are some of my favorite videos as of late.

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Top 20 Songs of 2013

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This list was once a big deal around here at BDWPS. Back in 2010, it was comprised of a top 100 list with an audio clip for each.  Not only was this a lot of work, it also never got nearly the attention that our Top Albums list always receives. I’ve also found that since starting the BDWPS Podcast that majority of the songs listed have been played and discussed at some point during the year.  By the time this list arrives, my discussion of the track seems a bit stale.  Below you’ll find 20 of my favorite songs of 2013.  Although it’s not much in comparison to what it once was, it’s still a solid playlist of memorable hooks that may have went under radar this past year.

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BDWPS Podcast: Episode #16

On this “on-the-road” edition of BDWPS you’ll hear new tracks from Surfer Blood, Majical Clouds, The National, and Action Bronson. Also, songs by Two Gallants, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Bob Dylan are discussed.

Track List:

Surfer Blood “Demon Dance”
Majical Cloudz “Silver Rings”
The National “Fireproof”
Eleanor Friedberger “Stare At the Sun”
Two Gallants “Seems Like Home To Me”
Action Bronson “No Time”
Sunny Day Real Estate “8”
Jeff Tweedy “Simple Twist of Fate”

Check it out below (or subscribe at iTunes, keyword- BDWPS):

http://bdwps.podomatic.com/entry/2013-07-11T19_53_40-07_00

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BDWPS Podcast #13

In this episode I take a look back at some of the highlights and low-lights from the South By Southwest Music Festival, 2013. You’ll hear new tracks from artists like Marnie Stern, Foxygen, Flaming Lips, TV Ghost, and Pissed Jeans as well as some classics from Afghan Whigs and Songs: Ohia.

Song list:

Marnie Stern “Year of the Glad” 
TV Ghost “Phantasm” 
Foxygen “No Destruction” 
Flaming Lips “Sun Blows Up Today” 
Action Bronson “Gateway to Wizardry” 
Pissed Jeans “Teenage Adult” 
Afghan Whigs “Going to Town” 
Songs: Ohia “Just Be Simple”

Check it out here or subscribe on iTunes (keyword “BDWPS”)

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