Archive for January, 2013

Family Ties on The Daily Ping

Paul and I have been writing The Daily Ping on alternating days for 13 years. I believe that is enough years to officially warrant a parenthetical triple exclamation point series (!!!).

Anyway, it occurred to me recently that we’ve written a lot about Family Ties over the last 13 years and I thought I’d collect all the posts about the show or where the show is a key part. Here they are, sorted by date:

  • May 3, 2000: Family Ties Vacation
    Remembering the Keatons’ trip to London.
  • July 1, 2000: Alex P. Keaton Goes Back to the Future
    Before Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox time traveled on Family Ties. Didja know that?
  • August 3, 2000: Lazy Flashbacks
    When sitcoms get lazy, they do flashback episodes. Family Ties did three in four seasons.
  • September 18, 2001: The Meaning of Life
    In this one, a commenter obliges with a story about how Family Ties enlightened her to all the universes’ mysteries. (See comment #2.)
  • February 5, 2003: 20 Years
    Elyse Keaton gets me thinking deeply.
  • March 19, 2003: The Problem with Andrew Keaton
    Poor Andy went on to have a pretty rough life, so I feel a little guilty for blaming him.
  • April 15, 2003: The Dark Background
    What happens when Family Ties gets all dramatic and theatrical.
  • September 11, 2003: TV Graduation
    Did you know Family Ties had three graduation-themed episodes?
  • June 4, 2004: Andy Gets Arrested
  • November 15, 2007: The Family Ties Game
    “Nevertheless, the game proved to be quite enjoyable, considering it seems like it was slapped together at the last minute by people who said, ‘We have a board, we have stock photos from the show, and we have dice. Let’s make something up.'”
  • February 5, 2009: Family Ties… ON YOUR COMPUTING DEVICE
    Before it was on Netflix, it was on
  • April 7, 2009: Robert Costanzo
    The same dude played five different characters on Family Ties. And you’ll recognize him from any other favorite 80’s sitcom, too.
  • June 25, 2009: Family Ties Editing
    What happens when a Christian network airs reruns of Family Ties where the lord’s name is taken in vain.
  • July 1, 2009: Yet Another Family Ties Fun Fact
    Fascinating facts about Alex’s girlfriend Ellen.
  • October 7, 2009: Family Ties Haiku
  • September 26, 2010: Mallory’s Clothes
    Paul finds a nifty blog.
  • September 29, 2011: At least he doesn’t say “Al-X!”
    Nick in his most horrifying role ever.
  • October 3, 2011: The Art of Being Nick
    Nick got his own spin-off series. It didn’t last long.
  • December 1, 2011: The Family Ties Documentary
    YouTube embeds of a documentary about the show as well as a bunch of bloopers.
  • June 21, 2012: A Family Ties Birthday
    Two cast members share a birthday – to the day! Guess which ones.

2012 Music Year in Review

For the past six years, I’ve really enjoyed putting together these year-end personal “best-of” lists. I don’t do many formal reviews these days, so this let’s me get a little music journalism in each year. I try to stick to new music, no re-releases (well, two “previously unreleased” albums snuck in this year). I had too much trouble picking one best-of-best-of-favorite album this year, so I didn’t (Brownbird Rudy Relic, Michael Kiwanuka, DJ Format, and Los Miticos Del Ritmo were all too close for me to decide).

Everything’s sorted in alphabetical order. (Note: Many album links are affiliate links to Amazon’s mp3 store.)

(See also: all previous years-in-review.)

Best of 2012

  • Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
    I admit it. I’m finally calling myself a fan of Fiona Apple, she of long, obtuse album titles. She’s a great songwriter, a terrific musician, a tortured soul, and she makes powerful, heartfelt albums. The Idler Wheel… is the latest and contains so many darkly playful, engaging tunes, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Plus, you’ve gotta admire that she was willing to cancel tour dates to be with her sick dog. (Also: if you haven’t read this article, you should.)
  • Baaba: The Wrong Vampire
    Eclectic Polish band Baaba does it again with this hodgepodge of creepy cross-genre experiments and improv that’s nu jazz one second, grindcore the next, and blippy electronica the second after that. Favorite cut: “To the Cellar,” a cinematic, Goblin-esque heart-stopper with wicked flute and sax melodies and driving drums.
  • Beneficence: Concrete Soul
    I’d never even heard of this NJ emcee before stumbling on this album on MOG. Boy am I glad I found it… the tracks with Lord Tariq (“Y.W.E.”), Grap Luva and Rob-O (“Cold Train”), and El da Sensei (“Way We Rockin'”) have that classic mid-90s snap without sounding dated in the least. And Beneficence isn’t an emcee to sneeze at, either. The guy’s got bars. This is an album made for cranking in the car, son.
  • Josh Berman & His Gang: There Now
    Super engaging Chicago free jazz (on Delmark, no less!) from Berman, also featuring the awesome vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz.
  • Brownbird Rudy Relic: Chicano Dynamite
    Brownbird does it again with another dynamite (see what I did there?) lo-fi, solo, soulful blues release. The title track is scorching, but Rudy also slows it down and shows the strength of his voice on ballads, as well. Love it. (Bonus: a video I shot of Rudy performing the title track in DC earlier this year.)
  • Casual & J. Rawls: Respect Game or Expect Flames
    Great production by J. Rawls and some of Casual’s best work lyrically in years. Favorite cuts include “Nota Problem Part II,” the Hiero posse cut “Hier-O-Dot (feat. Copywrite, Phesto, Tage, Tajai, Opio & Jakki Da Motamouth),” and straight fire on the title track. Great album, terrible album title.
  • Avishai Cohen: Triveni II
    Cohen is one of my favorite modern jazz trumpeters and on this trio’s second release, there’s a lot to love. Innovative and free without being formless, this is some of the best modern jazz has to offer. Love “B.R Story” and the drumwork on “Safety Land.”
  • Cuefx: International Post-War Chill
    Dark, sorta-glitchy Skalpel-esque nu jazz from Poland. Love “Neurodramatic Hip Hop” parts 1 and 2. A remixed version of the album just came out this month. See also (and this, too).
  • DJ Format: Statement of Intent
    The 10″‘s design harkens back to 60s Stereo Action exotica releases on RCA and the LP artwork is nearly as excellent. The music: pure late-80s throwback. There’s not a single thing I don’t love about this album, from the production to the emcees to the package design. All-around brilliance.
  • Michael Kiwanuka: Home Again
    Bill Withers’ last album was 27 years ago, but Michael Kiwanuka gives us an idea of what a modern day Bill Withers album would sound like. Warm and soulful, this is an outstanding release. Leading up to the album, Kiwanuka released a few EPs that contained a few tracks not on the album. I collected all of the tracks he released in one MOG playlist, if you’re interested (and here’s a Spotify version with a few bonus Spotify-exclusive live tracks tacked on at the end).
  • Shawn Lee: Synthesizers in Space
    Fonky space funk based around “the mystery box,” an unidentified vintage synth Lee found at a shop in Austin. Thoroughly enjoyable and funktastic. My favorite of his recent releases.
  • Los Miticos Del Ritmo: Los Miticos Del Ritmo
    Thanks to Josh from Herbivore for turning me onto this one, which ultimately became one of my favorite albums of the year and led me into a several-month long love affair with Cumbia music and Soundway Records entire catalog (Cumbia and otherwise). Good ol’ Quantic had a hand in this album, as with so many other excellent releases this year. Some more background info from Soundway: “The record was recorded entirely on 4 track tape, using a process of overdubs and tape transfers to record multiple sessions at different times with different musicians.” The end result is funky and super danceable, even on covers (“Another One Bites the Dust,” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”) that could have easily turned out gimmicky. In fact, my favorite cut on the album is the fantastic cumbia dub rehash of the Abyssinians’ “Satta Massaganna.” Super, super stuff.
  • Nas: Life is Good
    Easily Nas’ strongest album in years (maybe his best since Illmatic). He lets vulnerability shine brighter than his ego and gets handed a lot of great beats. Loved “A Queens Story,” “Daughters,” “The Don,” “Nasty,” and especially the brilliant No I.D. production on “Loco-Motive.”
  • Nostalgia 77 & The Monster: The Taxidermist
    Ben Lamdin seems incapable of making a bad record. Just enough free, just enough funk, just enough nu to make to achieve that balance of instrumental awesomeness.
  • Oddisee: People Hear What They See
    Oddisee’s a pretty amazing dude. Over the past few years, he’s become one of my favorite producers, eschewing an easily recognizable signature sound for a jack-of-all-trades style. One never know what angle he’s going to come from, but it’s almost always done with finesse. Turns out Oddisee’s a dope emcee, too. Don’t pass this one by.
  • Ondatrópica: Ondatrópica
    More Quantic on the list. The cover of “Iron Man” is clever and you’ve gotta dig the beatbox-infused “Rap-Maya,” but the entire album is a deliciously chill blend of the folky Columbian cumbia sound with any number of other genres, from salsa to bossa nova to hip-hop.
  • Pep Love: The Rigmarole
    This Hiero release flew under the radar, receiving very little mention on the music blogs I read. That’s a shame because it’s some classic Pep Love with solid production throughout and Pep at the top of his lyrical game. Peep “Runaway Slave” and the Bollywood-inspired “Everywhere.”
  • DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles: The Kolexxxion
    Premier’s beats are inspired and reminiscent of his heydey (Primo’s “reject” beats are still better than yours!) and Freddie/Bumpy is bringing the pain like he hasn’t since Industry Shakedown. Listen before going outside to punch people in the face.
  • Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Bárbaro: Look Around the Corner
    Seriously? Another amazing Quantic joint? Buddha have mercy. Funky soul and soulful funk by way of Columbia. Easy now.
  • Stik Figa: As Himself
    Technically this came out originally in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2012 that Kansas MC Stik Figa’s debut LP got the wide release it deserved. The first three tracks (“The Skinny,” “Corner Store,” and “Absitively”) are straight bonkers. Excellent production by Seven.
  • Tensei: Two
    Spacy, soulful, and jazzy instrumental EP (mostly) that kicks off with great Alice Coltrane samples (ones I’ve also used) but features some excellent live instrumentation, making this an above-average collection of beats. One is also good.
  • Yva Las Vegass: I Was Born In A Place Of Sunshine And The Smell Of Ripe Mangoes
    Venezuelan-born New York street performer Yva Las Vegass not only has an incredible voice, but is an amazing instrumentalist and songwriter. Her music blends Venezuelan folk songs with punk intensity. Don’t miss her NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert and her Soundcloud channel.

Almost Best of 2012

  • AWOL ONE: Shockra!
    Weird, quirky, subdued, instrumental.
  • Belleruche: Rollerchain
    Though not as strong as their previous albums (Turntable Soul Music and 270 Stories are personal favorites), there’s still a lot to like about the minimalist, electronica-soul band’s Rollerchain. Dig “Stormbird“… it’s blippy, bassy, and frenetic.
  • Black Taxi: We Don’t Know Any Better
    Shared with me by former co-worker Jason, Black Taxi is sounds like they’re straight of the 80s with their reggae-influenced punk. Good stuff.
  • El-P: Cancer for Cure
    A lighthearted romp through flowers and sunshine! Great to help the kids sleep well with dreams of fuzzy bunnies and rainbows.
  • Vijay Iyer Trio: Accelerando
    Modern jazz lives. Iyer can always be counted on to prove that. (And a jazz verson of “Human Nature” that doesn’t come off corny? Only Iyer.)
  • Matisyahu: Spark Seeker
    Matisyahu’s taken a Michael Franti turn, veering away from his reggae roots and going more toward reggae-infused happy rock. He does it well, though, and it’s hard not to like albums like Spark Seeker, especially good on a warm summer day.
  • Mello Music Group: Self Sacrifice
    A strong compilation form the ever-popular MMG. I dug the album’s opener, “Focus,” with DJ Soko and Def Dee and “Soul Survivor” with Boog Brown, PRT’s Wise Intelligent, and Georgie Anne Muldrow.
  • Frank Ocean: Channel Orange
    His sexuality initially overshadowed the release of the album, until people realized, “Holy crap. This is a good R&B album. I remember those.” Digging “Thinking About You” and “Super Rich Kids.”
  • Plug: Back On Time
    Luke Vibert found an album’s worth of unreleased drum-n-bass tracks from the mid-90s–Remember Drum-n-Bass for Papa? Yeah, that era–and I’m mighty glad he decided to release ’em. This stuff takes me back to my college years and my dabbling in drum-n-bass, jungle, and experimental electronica on my Trancelike State radio show.
  • Portico Quartet: Portico Quartet
    Innovative UK jazz using a 21st century percussion instrument, the Hang.
  • Rocket Juice & the Moon: Rocket Juice & the Moon
    Enjoyable, low-key album from the supergroup made of folks from the RHCP and Blur and Fela Kuti’s drummer with some good guest spots.
  • Tabasko: Ostatnia Szansa Tego Rapu
    Number one in Poland for two weeks, this O.S.T.R. production isn’t as fire as his previous work, but tracks like “Sluchawki” and “Zachlannosc” will stick with you.
  • Loudon Wainwright III: Older Than My Old Man Now
    I came to Loudon Wainwright III very late in the game (only after seeing him on Undeclared) and I am admittedly not up on his extensive back catalog (this is his 22nd studio album), but I loved his humorous, thoughful take on aging, family, and death on Older Than My Old Man Now. “The Days That We Die” is a duet with his son with poetry written by his father. A great quote from Wainwright about turning 65: “When you’re sixty-five, everything seems to be somewhat in the rear-view, or at least in the side-view. Well, not everything, and hopefully your windshield wipers are still working.”

Best of 2011 I missed until 2012

Oddly, I didn’t mark anything down this year.

My Daughter’s Favorite Tracks This Year

My daughter, now six, has developed an interesting taste in music. Here are her favorite tracks this year (not limited to songs from this year), loaded up in a MOG playlist that we often spin when we’re on the road.

  • Naughty by Nature: “Hip-Hop Hooray”
  • Bill Withers: “Just the Two of Us”
  • Max Romeo: “I Chase the Devil”
  • Screeching Weasel: “You Are My Sunshine”
  • Heavenly Beat: “Hurting”
  • Heavenly Beat: “Tradition”
  • Beastie Boys: “The Panda Rat”
  • Yabby You: “Warn Them Jah Dub”

Best Tracks of 2012

Last year I put together 8tracks playlists, but this year I realized that a lot of tracks I liked I only have access to streaming. On the flipside, not everything is available on Spotify, so I can’t make a streaming playlist and cover everything. Maybe by next year there will be a way to combine local tracks and streaming tracks in a playlist that can be shared. Until then, I’m just going to give you a big ol’ unsorted list of some favorite tracks of the year.

  • 7 Immortals: “Thursday Night Live”
  • Black Taxi: “We Don’t Know Any Better”
  • Cuefx: “Neurodramatic Hip Hop (Part 1)”
  • Robert Glasper Experiment: “Smells Like Teen Spirit (feat. Lalah Hathaway)” or “Afro Blue (feat. Erykah Badu)”
  • Gensu Dean: “On Down (feat. Sputnik Brown)”
  • Jeb Loy Nicholls: “Hard Times (Darq E Freaker & African Boy Version)”
  • MA_Doom: “PBS”
  • DJ Format: “Terror (feat. Mr. Lif)”
  • People Under the Stairs: “Uprock Boogie”
  • Pep Love: “Everywhere”
  • DJ Nu-Mark ft. Bumpy Knuckles: “Dumpin’ Em’ All”
  • Belleruche: “Stormbird”
  • Gift of Gab: “Nlp”
  • Casual & J. Rawls: “Respect Game or Expect Flames (feat. Del the Funky Homosapien)”
  • Quakers: “What Chew Want”
  • Boog Brown, Wise Intelligent, and Georgia Anne Muldrow: “Soul Survivor”
  • THEESatisfaction: “Enchantruss”
  • Willis Earl Beal: “Take Me Away” (great story behind this album)
  • Stik Figa: “The Skinny”
  • Tensei: “Passport”
  • Rakaa: “Frequent Flyers (feat. Prevail)”
  • Liknuts: “Grumpy Crocodile”
  • Portico Quartet: “Steepless (feat. Cornelia)”
  • Baaba: “To the Cellar”
  • Oddisee: “Do It All”
  • Ming & Ping: “Chinatown (feat. Mariqueen Maandig Reznor)”
  • Yva Las Vegass: “Crack Whore”
  • Los Miticos Del Ritmo: “Satta Massa Cumbia”
  • Muneshine: “Lower Level”
  • Pink Freud: “Horse and Power”
  • Josh Berman & His Gang: “One Train May Hide Another”
  • JJ DOOM: “Dawg Friendly”
  • Everlast: “Prison Folsom Blues”
  • Shawn Lee: “Lost in the Shuffle”
  • Brownbird Rudy Relic: “Chicano Dynamite”
  • Craig G: “Rabbit Season”
  • Styles Of Beyond: “Take That (feat. Celph Titled)”
  • Chino XL: “Father’s Day”
  • The Coup: “Your Parent’s Cocaine feat. Justin Sane of Anti-Flag”
  • Brother Ali & Jake One: “Letter to My Countrymen (feat. Dr. Cornel West)”
  • Hannah Williams & The Tastemakers: “Work it Out”
  • Busdriver: “Werner Herzog (feat. Open Mike Eagle & Nocando)”

My Top 15 Scrobbled Artists for 2012

1. Beastie Boys 148
2. Bill Withers 138
3. Dennis Brown 129
4. Barrington Levy 115
5. IV the Polymath 102
6. Brownbird Rudy Relic 95
7. King Tubby 92
8. DJ Format 91
9. Piero Umiliani 89
10. Half Pint 81
11. Michael Kiwanuka 80
12. Lee “Scratch” Perry 77
13. Scientist 76
14. Junior Wells 75
14 (tie). Johnny Clarke 75

Other stats

Total tracks: 16173
Total unique tracks: 14225
Song Repetition: 1.14