Top 20 most played artists in 2013

Caveat last.fm. Number in parentheses is place on last year’s list.

  1. Kanye West (8)
  2. A$AP Rocky (—)
  3. Drake (6)
  4. Taylor Swift (1)
  5. Kendrick Lamar (7)
  6. The 1975 (—)
  7. Paramore (—)
  8. Laura Marling (—)
  9. Tegan and Sara (—)
  10. The Gaslight Anthem (3)
  11. The National (18)
  12. Carly Rae Jepsen (2)
  13. The Smith Street Band (—)
  14. Chief Keef (—)
  15. Modern Baseball (—)
  16. Cat Power (—)
  17. Tyler, the Creator (—)
  18. The Lemonheads (—)
  19. Fall Out Boy (—)
  20. Kacey Musgraves/Ariana Grande (tie)

Top 20 most played tracks in 2013

Caveat last.fm. Edited to one song per artist.

  1. Kanye West, “Bound 2”
  2. The 1975, “Chocolate”
  3. Cassadee Pope, “Cry”
  4. Drake, “Too Much”
  5. Tegan and Sara, “Now I’m All Messed Up”
  6. Big Sean ft. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica, “Control”
  7. A$AP Rocky ft. Schoolboy Q, “PMW (All I Really Need)”
  8. Haim, “The Wire”
  9. Veronica Falls, “Teenage”
  10. Paramore, “Anklebiters”
  11. Megan & Liz, “Release You”
  12. Fall Out Boy, “Alone Together”
  13. Avril Lavigne, “Here’s to Never Growing Up”
  14. Modern Baseball, “Tears Over Beers”
  15. Bonnie McKee, “American Girl”
  16. FIDLAR, “Cheap Beer”
  17. Taylor Swift, “Sweeter than Fiction”
  18. Britney Spears, “Perfume”
  19. Lana Del Rey, “Young and Beautiful”
  20. TV Colours, “Beverly” / Cloud Control, “Dojo Rising” / Ariana Grande, “Baby I” (tie)

Top ten songs I listened to in 2013 not from 2013

According to my Last.fm, so not entirely accurate — doesn’t include YouTube plays, etc.

  1. Taylor Swift, “All Too Well” (2012)
  2. The Lemonheads, “Rudderless” (1992)
  3. The Menzingers, “Nice Things” (2012)
  4. Kendrick Lamar, “Poetic Justice” (2012)
  5. Chief Keef, “Love Sosa” (2012)
  6. Dillinger Four, “Doublewhiskeycokenoice” (1998)
  7. The Lawrence Arms, “Great Lakes/Great Escapes” (2006)
  8. 2 Chainz, “I’m Different” (2012)
  9. Solange, “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work” (2012)
  10. The Loved Ones, “Jane” (2006)

(Note for folks unaware of the thing with the Liar cover: It’s a book with an African American protagonist, but on its first run in America, was published with a white girl on the cover. Here’s what Justine said.)
I really really love Justine Larbalestier and I totally recommend all her books! (Liar is a good place to start.)
She holds a particular appeal to me, admittedly, because she’s an Australian who spends half her life living in New York and the other half in my neighborhood here in Sydney, which not only sounds an amazing way to live, but also subtly affects her writing. That is, she and I are both Australians who have lived for protracted periods of time in the United States and write about the United States, and though she and I are doing it in very different forms and she with much more success (!), I kind of see her work as the result of someone who has made a great effort to try to understand how a foreign nation works and to really pick apart and put together its cultural nuances. I mean, I might be projecting, but I do detect in her work an outsider’s grasp of American society’s invisible mechanisms.
And I think that plays into her desire to have her protagonists not always be white folks: that as an outsider to a society she recognizes that there is more to America than what white people have to say. Which does present problems of appropriation, true, but she seems to be very aware of those pitfalls; we’re not talking YA Iggy Azalea here.
Also, her Twitter is awesome. 

(Note for folks unaware of the thing with the Liar cover: It’s a book with an African American protagonist, but on its first run in America, was published with a white girl on the cover. Here’s what Justine said.)

I really really love Justine Larbalestier and I totally recommend all her books! (Liar is a good place to start.)

She holds a particular appeal to me, admittedly, because she’s an Australian who spends half her life living in New York and the other half in my neighborhood here in Sydney, which not only sounds an amazing way to live, but also subtly affects her writing. That is, she and I are both Australians who have lived for protracted periods of time in the United States and write about the United States, and though she and I are doing it in very different forms and she with much more success (!), I kind of see her work as the result of someone who has made a great effort to try to understand how a foreign nation works and to really pick apart and put together its cultural nuances. I mean, I might be projecting, but I do detect in her work an outsider’s grasp of American society’s invisible mechanisms.

And I think that plays into her desire to have her protagonists not always be white folks: that as an outsider to a society she recognizes that there is more to America than what white people have to say. Which does present problems of appropriation, true, but she seems to be very aware of those pitfalls; we’re not talking YA Iggy Azalea here.

Also, her Twitter is awesome. 


These are some books I read in 2013

Chronological order. Links to commentary etc. where available.

  1. David Williamson, Emerald City (1987) [play]
  2. H.P. Lovecraft, The Shadow Over Innsmouth (1936)
  3. H.P. Lovecraft, The Shunned House (1924)
  4. E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (2008)
  5. Carl Wilson, Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Bad Taste (2007)
  6. Mark Binelli, Detroit City is the Place to Be!: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis (2012)
  7. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (1861)
  8. Justine Larbalestier, How to Ditch Your Fairy (2008)
  9. Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan, Team Human (2012)
  10. John Jeremiah Sullivan, Pulphead (2011)
  11. Jeff Weiss and Evan McGarvey, 2Pac vs Biggie: Rap’s Greatest Battle (2013)
  12. Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (1868)
  13. Haruki Murakami, Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1985)
  14. Rebecca Stead, When You Reach Me (2009)
  15. Ira Katznelson, Fear Itself (2013)
  16. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963)
  17. Lev Grossman, The Magicians (2009)
  18. Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939)
  19. Ivy Pochoda, Visitation Street (2013)
  20. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Diamond as Big as The Ritz (1922)
  21. Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Double Down: Game Change 2012 (2013)
  22. Ann Rinaldi, A Break With Charity: A Story About the Salem Witch Trials (1992)

Selfie from world’s worst train going to all the terrible places for bb’s first broken home xmas.
On the plus side, maybe this looks like I have a hand growing out of my temple?

Selfie from world’s worst train going to all the terrible places for bb’s first broken home xmas.

On the plus side, maybe this looks like I have a hand growing out of my temple?


FRDRK ft. Mos3s, “Game of Heartbreak” (2012)

The guy behind Farrah Abraham’s reality-star-outsider-whatever hit of 2012 has outtakes. This one needs more teen mom.

Dec 23

Ten Country Songs 2k13

01. Florida Georgia Line ft. Nelly, “Cruise”

Or, “Accidental Racist” if Brad Paisley hadn’t tried to be so damn thoughtful about things. After all, what unites Southern boys better than big trucks and Southern girls? (Note that Nelly, in his verse, explicitly calls himself a country boy, aligning himself with both his co-performers and his country radio listeners.) Nelly had already crossed the all-too-real country color line in 2004 with the marvellous Tim McGraw collab “Over and Over,” and here he shows yet again that rap and country need not be the awkward fit that Jason Aldean and Ludacris, Cowboy Troy, or Snoop Dogg suggested it should be. Because what’s great about “Cruise” is how little race or genre matters: this bounces like a country party song or a St Lunatics jam and it’s barely perceptible when Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard’s vocals end and Nelly’s sing-rap begins. Smart writing to tell overheated commuters what to do — “I got my windows down and my radio up” — but the ebullience from everyone involved disarms even that mercenary tactic. Nelly and co. think this stuff is so fun that they’re even excited about the transition from sweltering Florida sunshine to baking Peach State heat: “Whippin’ cross the border/ Florida into Georgia.”

02. Luke Bryan, “Crash My Party”

The secret here, apart from the piano and the “call me, call me, call me” hook is in how Bryan turns a romantic sentiment into something dark and almost sinister. The lyric features a man telling a woman that he’s putting her (or, at least, sex with her) at the top spot on his agenda: “this is a drop everything kind of thing.” But the purple arrangement and dread in Bryan’s voice suggests he’s not happy with the way things have turned out: this is a man who knows he’d probably be better off raising hell with the guys. Like Brand New’s Jesse Lacey sang, you can sin or spend the night alone.

(n.b. to Taylor Swift fans: there’s a 2 a.m. in this song. No day specified though.) 

03. Cassadee Pope, “Cry”

I gave this one of the highest scores as part of an almost universally disapproving Jukebox panel, and I was still ungenerous. One of my favorite Fall Out Boy–affiliated also-rans went solo to sing country songs on The Voice, and if nothing else, it resulted in this take on a Faith Hill song that gushes out the goop in quantities even the original couldn’t manage. “Asinine martial snare points up just how young Pope sounds: in her hands, ‘cry just a little for me’ sounds like the meanest yearbook inscription,” Brad sniped (no shots!). For me, that’s exactly the appeal. 

04. Tim McGraw ft. Taylor Swift & Keith Urban, “Highway Don’t Care”

It’s a quite nice Tim McGraw tune, I said, and it is: nice enough to include a “hey-I-can-play-guitar” Keith Urban solo and a fictional Taylor Swift chorus made real from the performer herself, finally paying back the namedrop that was her first single. “Highway Don’t Care” echoes Dierks Bentley’s “Settle for a Slowdown" in the way it measures emotional distance in interstate miles, wrenching relationship minutiae from the very act of driving, something that’s all minutiae. I like the way it bestows upon the man-made open road — that beacon of freedom for so many, including perhaps the subject of McGraw’s song — the qualities of indifferent nature.

05. Kacey Musgraves, “Follow Your Arrow”

It received an awful lot of attention for its progressive incorporation of sexuality and drug use, the kind of attention that squeezes out its other positive qualities: its modest and lilting chorus, at least as comforting as its lyrical gestures. Note also its all-inclusive take on country life: there is no reason this can’t be for church pew–sitters, promise ring–wearers, and tee-totallers, as well as promiscuous, gay stoners — or any combination of the above.

06. Brandy Clark, “Stripes”

One joke, but it’s a good one, and, planned or otherwise, its arrival coincided with that of watercooler premium TV hit Orange is the New Black. Give credit to its bifurcated presentation of feminine power: “Don’t think hard time would be that hard on me,” Clark warns — chilling from a woman with her hand in the trigger — before revealing the source of her composure: “I don’t look good in orange.” Guess what prison-yard pattern she also hates?

07. Carrie Underwood, “Two Black Cadillacs”

The further into noir Underwood is dragged the better she sounds. “Two Black Cadillacs” tamps down on the anger of “Before He Cheats” and its goofy cousin “Last Name” for something that genuinely, thrillingly seethes. The genteel luxury cars of the title match the uteruses-before-duderuses unity of the narrative. The men are all on the outs here: the brother who said he was a good friend, the preacher who said he was a good man, and the cheating son-of-a-bitch being lowered into the cold ground himself. Meanwhile, the women are trading on mythologies of feminine mystique to put themselves at the centre of the story.

08. Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart”

From the Jukebox: Lambert enjoys accentuating the dramatic in rural life — the arson in this song is, for once, metaphorical — but “Mama’s Broken Heart” doubles down on the caricatures of “Only Prettier” to create what is practically a small town burlesque, from its gossiping “barflies and Baptists” to its evocations of Jackie Kennedy “when Camelot went down in flames.” This is a performer who has always understood the importance of appearances far more often than she has evinced an interest in maintaining them, and her relationship advice in this chorus is draconian: “Go and fix your make-up, girl, it’s just a break-up.” The punkish rockabilly arrangement makes the gothic touches more delicious.

09. Taylor Swift, “Red”

We can talk all you want about whether Taylor is still country — my response: what do you think teenagers in the suburbs of Atlanta and Dallas are listening to? — but Nashville still loves her, so whatever. Unlike “22,” admittedly the better song, this went number two on the Billboard country chart, and yeah it does have a mandolin instead of Max Martin. The color motif is very country, but the inspired part is the Rawss-ian opening line: “Loving him was like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street.” Country no longer belongs to George Straits forty-eight albums deep into a career; it’s for the 20-something-multimillionaires.

10. Jason Isbell, “Stockholm”

I underrated this at the Jukebox; I was not prepared for how consistently welcome I would find the sound of Isbell doing the Jayhawks thing.


Josh Langhoff, at the Jukebox:

Thompson Square, who never hesitate to call what they’re wearing an outfit, told a similar story this year in their piano ballad “I Can’t Outrun You.” It’s got flatter language and ten times the gloop and I think I prefer it to “Stockholm” because we’re talking songs, not short stories.

Yeah. This is incredible. Notably, the earlier Trace Adkins version is greatly inferior.

(Source: Spotify)


The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of same-sex couples, granting them all the same rights of marriage enjoyed by heterosexual couples.

The court’s 31-page opinion states, in part, that: “All rights, protections, and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples.”

New Mexico joins 16 other states, the District of Columbia, and several Native American tribes in recognizing same-sex unions.

NM Supreme Court affirms same-sex marriage rights,” ABQ Journal, 19 December, 2013 

Since handing its votes to Al Gore by a sliver of a percentage point in 2000, and then siding with Bush in 2004 by a still-miniscule margin, New Mexico has seemingly turned itself solidly blue. (Though it does have a Republican governor, its senators are both Dems, as are two of its three House members.) I don’t know a lot about the Land of Enchantment beyond Breaking Bad and pueblo architecture, but sandwiched between the roughneck wilds of Rick Perry’s Texas and Barry Goldwater’s Arizona suburbia, and, unlike Colorado, lacking a major metropolitan area, the state’s slip from purple status is a bit of a surprise.

Yet what separates NM from TX and AZ is the greater influence of its Native American and Hispanic populations. According to traditional Republican theorising, that should give Dems and edge when it comes to immigration issues, but the GOP still likes to tell itself Latinos are natural conservatives when it comes to business and social issues. The number of states offering gay marriage has doubled in the past twelve months, with New Mexico the most recent. If its unique demographics explain why New Mexico is unusually blue for its region, they don’t explain why it behaves a lot like other blue states on issues unrelated to immigration.

Also, from the ABQ Journal article:

However, the ruling also stipulated that religious clergy who do not agree with same-sex marriage are not required to perform marriage ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

Has anyone anywhere ever really cared about forcing homophobic churches to marry gay couples? It seems to me like a strawman invented by conservatives to demonstrate how giving gay folks rights is really oppressing straights, or a strawman adopted by liberals who want to show how reasonable they are by distancing themselves from a radical position that doesn’t exist, 



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