10 Years of Top 10 Lists: Data

January 10, 2016

I’ve been writing Top 10 Albums of the Year lists for over 10 years now, but this year marks 10 years of lists which are published on the internet. If you’d like to take a walk down memory lane, go for it:
2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

One of the most amazing parts about this, to me, is that all the links still work, across Facebook Notes, Tumblr and for the last 6 years, this very website here. Things have broken though: images embedded from elsewhere on the web, all download links, and who knows what else.

Well, I like data so I decided to take this 10 year milestone as a chance to draw as much as I can out of these top 10 lists. So I made a Google Sheet and I went to work.

Here are some charts. Some have some explanation and others should be more self explanatory. Click on the charts to see bigger versions with interactive data in a new tab.

Does my list contain popular opinions?

Are the opinions on my list widely held? This first chart aims to find out. I put in the Metacritic scores for all 100 albums on my list (when available) and averaged them out for each year. Some years 2-3 albums weren’t available so there are less than 100 data points to work with here.

My list is pretty steady from year to year with my “least popular list” at an average score of 76.1 and 3 of my most popular lists all topping out just above 81.5. Metacritic states that a score of 81-100 is “universally acclaim” and 61-80 indicated “Generally Favorable Reviews”. I put a trend line in there as well which seems to indicate that things are getting more popular:
List's Average Meteoritic Score

Some other trends

Here I took 5 different data points and put them all on one confusing chart.
The red line indicates how many artists made their first appearance on my list that year. Obviously, the first year, that would be all 10 of them.
The blue line indicates how many new artists have showed up on my list that year. This line is troubling because it’s definitely trending downward, meaning I’m listening to less new artists. Boo Jon.
The other three lines are demographics: How Canadian is my list? How female is it? And how many entries on my list are by eponymous artists?
That first chart was a little cluttered, so I made another one that is a 3 year average (one year before, one year after, when data is available):

The Regulars

The last 3 charts attempt to visualize some of my favorite artists of the last 10 years by documenting how frequently they show up on my list, how they rank in the top 10 and finally if they are in multiple bands throughout the years.
Here are all the bands that appear more than once:
Here are how bands with multiple appearances usually rank (shorter bars are best here):
And finally here are the individuals who are leads or co-leads in multiple bands that appear on the list:
For clarification:
Panda Bear is in Panda Bear & Animal Collective.
Dan Bejar is in Destroyer, The New Pornographers and Swan Lake.
Dan Boeckner is in The Handsome Furs, Divine Fits and Wolf Parade (though Wolf Parade never appears on this list!)
Britt Daniel is in Divine Fits and Spoon.
Rostam Batmanglij is in Vampire Weekend (though probably a bit of a stretch to call him a lead) and Discovery.
Spencer Krug is in Sunset Rubdown, Moonface, Swan Lake and lots of other bands that aren’t on this list.
John Darnielle is in The Mountain Goats and Extra Lens which I think was a 1-off project.
And Tim Kasher is in The Good Life, Cursive (not on any of these lists!) and of course, Tim Kasher.
There were a couple surprises for me in this chart:

  • Conor Oberst, despite being one of my favorite artists and in a ton of bands like Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos and Monsters of Folk only has 1 top 10 spot over the last 10 years
  • There’s only 1 Spoon album in my last 10 years of top 10s? That’s crazy
  • Anyway. That’s all for now. The data is available to anyone who’d like to look at it on Google Drive!

    Top 10 Albums – 2015

    January 10, 2016

    2015 was almost the year that I switched from my time-honored tradition of buying & illegally downloading music to buying & legally streaming music… but alas, it was not. I tried Apple Music for the whole 3 month trial and while I found it pretty nice in a lot of ways it couldn’t break my old habits. I still torrent whatever I want and buy whatever I like. So it has always been, so it will probably always be.

    What other things didn’t change in 2015? I still can’t find a way to get interested in EDM, I never stopped listening to Run the Jewels 2, and I still am writing a list of my top 10 favorite albums of the most recent year. Spoiler alert: this list is not that exciting. There’s only 1 artist on here that hasn’t appeared on previous Top 10 lists. Yikes. Will 2015 be an anomaly of will it mark the start of me being an OLD PERSON?

    Oh well, let’s get to it.

    10. Death Cab for Cutie – Kintsugi

    Listen on Spotify
    Death Cab for Cutie - Kintsugi
    Death Cab’s guitarist quit sometime between their last album and this one, but Ben Gibbard is still pretty much doing the same thing he’s always done. I find the sound of Death Cab albums comforting even when I don’t think the songs are quite as good as they have been in the past, so here’s this album with a top 10 spot.

    9. The Good Life – Everybody’s Coming Down

    Listen on Spotify
    The Good Life - Everybody's Coming Down
    Tim Kasher (Cursive, The Good Life) is a regular on this list, but The Good Life haven’t put out an album in a long time. Everybody’s Coming Down checks all the regular Kasher boxes (drinking & breakups) but I think this is his best work since his untouchable 2000-2004 run. This has a bigger, louder sound than previous Good Life records and I think it works well. Bonus tip: If you ever get the chance to see any of his bands live, I think you should do so.

    8. CHVRCHES – Every Eye Open

    Listen on Spotify
    CHVRCHES - Every Eye Open
    CHVRCHES 2013 debut The Bones of What You Belive took me awhile to warm up to but ended up being one of my favorite albums of the year. Once you’ve warmed up to that, their 2015 followup Every Eye Open should take no time getting used to, because it’s very very similar.

    That said, It’s still very good. Poppy tunes, fun beats, etc… They definitely didn’t reinvent their sound for their sophomore album but that’s probably a good thing. What’s going on here works.

    7. Holy Sheboygan – THREE

    Listen on Spotify
    Holy Sheboygan! - THREE
    If you haven’t heard of Holy Sheboygan, you are forgiven. However, there are no excuses for not checking them out if you’re reading this list and especially no excuse if you read this list last year. Their latest release (or at least most of it?) is even on Spotify!

    This CD (probably an EP?) is a big winner for me and my wife. If you’re looking for some chaotic but accessible pop music check this out. It’s endearing and beautiful and happy and sad. Special standout track: Swim with me.

    6. Destroyer – Poison Season

    Listen on Spotify
    Destroyer - Poison Season
    Easily in my top 3 Canadian musicians, Dan Bejar’s Destroyer is back with another tale of mystery and intrigue. This album contains beautiful string and horn arrangements and melodies which serve as backdrops for Bejarian classic lyrical contradictions like “The writing on the wall wasn’t writing at all”.

    The album’s thematic core, Times Square/Poison Season (not sure what to call it) is particular beautiful, with different versions at the beginning, middle and end of the album.

    5. The Mountain Goats – Beat The Champ

    Listen on Spotify
    The Mountain Goats - Beat The Champ
    Becker Family Favorite™ The Mountain Goats did not disappoint in 2015 (they never do) with their 2015 release, Beat The Champ, a concept album about professional wrestling at the time when it was still a regional affair.

    I’ve never been a huge wrestling fan, beyond a brief stint with N64 classic “WCW vs. NWO Revenge” but as always, lead singer/songwriter (of our generation) John Darnielle finds ways to find the humanity in stories and people that you don’t think you care about.

    4. Joanna Newsom – Divers

    (Not on Spotify… hates streaming. Purchase on iTunes here.)
    Joanna Newsom - Divers

    Otherworldly enchantress, wife of Andy Sandberg, “the world’s most famous harp player”, Vicoria’s Secret Commercial Music Contributor, second cousin twice removed of former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom… these are just some of the ways to describe Joanna Newsom.

    Divers, her first album since 2010’s overwhelming triple album Have One On Me, is a compact logical evolution from that ambitious event. The strengths of this album are the strengths of all Newsom albums: clever use of a uniquely beautiful voice, lyrics which may require a dictionary, and thoughtful arrangement of an ever-growing bag of instrumental tricks. While this might not be her strongest work, if you were just starting with Joanna Newson, this is perhaps your gentlest route into her beautiful world.

    3. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

    Listen on Spotify
    Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly

    Thank God for Kendrick Lamar. Rather than remaking Good Kid, M.A.A.D. city (which would have been awesome!), this Compton rapper started from scratch to create something completely different. Kendrick, who is almost certainly the most lyrically proficient rapper making popular music right now, is pushing himself on every level here. The music is challenging, the lyrics are challenging and the story line is ambitious.

    This album is asking and addressing questions that I have the luxury of never having thought about as a white person in America. It is good to be challenged, to think, and to have perspectives broadened. It is good to listen to voices other than your own.

    2. Natalie Prass – Natlie Prass

    Listen on Spotify
    Natalie Prass - Natalie Prass

    Welcome to Natalie Prass, the lone newcomer on this list. This was one of the first albums I listened to in 2015 and it stuck with me throughout the year. It’s short, there are repetition of motifs and themes throughout, and the melodies and arrangements are seeping in a vaguely familiar nostalgia.

    Prass’ voice is breathy and beautiful. And she writes lyrics which are immediately simple and memorable. One point of consternation: album closer “It Is You” is too much for me.

    1. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

    Listen on Spotify
    Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
    What is there to say about an album that speaks so clearly and with such focus for itself? Carrie and Lowell is an album that Stevens wrote about his complex relationship with his mother (Carrie) and stepfather (Lowell) following his mother’s recent death.

    The songs buck Stevens trend of plunging headfirst towards musical decadence and pulls everything back as far as it can go here. There are no more instruments or words than necessary. Stevens has always felt like an artist on the verge of quitting and becoming a recluse, but albums like this show what a tragedy that would be. He has a unique way of reaching into the soul of a personal experience and making it universally powerful.

    21 Netflix Christmas Movies, Ranked

    December 23, 2014

    Christmas movies, right? There are so many to choose from, and there are tons of new ones being made every year. So how do you know what’s good and what’s garbage? It turns out, most of them are garbage. High budget or low budget. TV specials or blockbuster releases. Big name actors or nobodies. It doesn’t really matter much.

    But if you sit down to watch a ton of them, as my wife and I did this Holiday season, you’ll find something to like about almost all of them. And something to hate about almost all of them. But I have to say that this exercise did put me in the Holiday spirit. We picked movies, pretty much at random, by what sounded good to us at the moment and was also available on Netflix. We ended up getting through 21 movies, only 2 of which I’d seen before

    Lots of these movies are pretty much the same. If you’re looking for some clichés to incorporate into your next Holiday film, here are some that we noticed:

    • Single moms with kids trying to find them a new husband
    • Plays at the end
    • Women who are in their mid-twenties and are too busy with their careers to find the right man
    • Terrible people from any walk of life can be visited by 3 ghosts

    Anyway, we hardly made a dent in the Netflix Christmas collection, but here’s my incredibly arbitrary ranking of the movies I did watch:

    21. Christmas with the Kranks


    Bad. A couple decides not to celebrate Christmas, and does a poor job communicating the reasons to their neighbors who are crazy. There’s a twist, but it isn’t interesting.

    20. Snowglobe


    Bad. Girl can’t find a relationship and falls in love with a dude in a snow globe. Non-hilarity and annoying family dynamics ensue.

    (Snowglobe and Christmas with the Kranks were the first two movies we watched on this marathon. I wonder if they were actually the worst, or if I just wasn’t in the Bad Christmas Movie Spirit yet)

    19. Happy Christmas


    Lena Dunham and Anna Kendrick. What’s not to like? For me, the answer to that question is almost always Lena Dunham. And also, Anna Kendrick’s character is kind of unlikeable in this film. But everyone learns something in the end, and this movie isn’t really about Christmas. It might be a decent movie, but it probably won’t bring you the Christmas spirit.

    18. Christmas Cupid


    The girl from Snow Globe is back … well, not her character, but the same actress (and Cash Money Records Recording Artist). Also an ABC Family Movie. It’s the worst version of the Christmas Carol on this list. (There are 4.)

    17. All I Want For Christmas


    Fine. Two kids get their parents back together for Christmas and it works. I wasn’t really paying attention during this one.

    16. Holidaze


    Not a stoner holiday movie, unfortunately. This movie tells women they shouldn’t pick careers over marrying and having children. Or tells them they can do both. Or something. Also, Walmart is bad. Small town businesses are good.

    15. I’ll be home for Christmas


    Meh. JTT is at a boarding school in California. He has to be home by Christmas Eve at 6pm to get his Dad’s Porsche. Along the journey, he finds out that some things are more important.

    14. A Christmas Kiss


    An artsy type, but also up & coming decorator or something accidentally makes out with her boss’s boyfriend. Love trumps career or something.

    13. Dear Santa


    A 30 year old woman who didn’t graduate from college and has been mooching off her parents and living in Manhattan for 8 years, I guess, doesn’t have a job. Under the threat of being cutoff by her parents, she finds a man. It turns out well. Kind of cute.

    12. All American Christmas Carol


    Wow, another Christmas Carol… who cares? YOU WILL, when you watch this terrible white trash version. There are 3 ghosts, and the ghost of Christmas Past is a 17 year old girl who gets wasted at a party when she’s supposed to be teaching a lesson. What’s not to love?

    11. The Nightmare Before Christmas


    What’s the bigger sin? That I had never seen this movie before, or that I didn’t really pay attention while it was on? Either way, this seemed pretty good. Had some good musical numbers. Maybe will watch again some time. Sticking this in the middle of the list.

    10. Love, Actually


    I used to argue that Love Actually wasn’t a Christmas movie, but after watching so many Christmas movies this year, I take it back. It is at least as Christmasy as most of the movies on this list. I also used to not like this movie, but I take it back. It’s at least as enjoyable as half the movies on this list. It is also the only movie on this list with nudity, including the one with Lena Dunham.

    9. Scrooged


    Bill Murray plays a modern-day scrooge as a TV executive… the catch is that they are putting on a live TV musical of A Christmas Carol. It’s pretty good, but not as good as you might hope Bill Murray in a Christmas movie would be.

    8. 12 Dates of Christmas


    Speaking Of Bill Murray, this is a Christmas take on Groundhog Day. Also, not as good. But plenty cute enough, I think. A girl eventually finds love on Christmas and learns a life lesson or something.

    7. Holiday Engagement


    A girl’s fiancé dumps her right before Christmas, and she hires an actor to play her fiancé. It’s fun. Things work out.

    6. 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue


    Some stuff happens. They put on a play and save a dog adoption place and keep dogs from getting killed or abused as race horses. It takes place in the 30s maybe, but they do a poor job keeping the piece in the right time-frame. There’s a cute play at the end.

    5. Christmas Angel


    This is a cute one. A little girl finds that the Christmas wishes of her friends are magically coming true. Also, just like in a lot of these movies where there’s a kid, there’s a single mom who finds a new husband.

    4. Holiday in Handcuffs


    This is the campier lower-budget version of Holiday Engagement. Naturally, I liked it more. Clarissa Explains what it’s like to kidnap a dude to impress your family, and have it all work out in the end. Good.

    3. Coming Home for Christmas


    Surprisingly good. Though, if you’re picking it because there’s a dog on the cover, you’re going to be a bit disappointed. Two sisters have a big falling out, and 5 years later they decide to start talking to each other again, to fix their parents marriage at Christmas time.

    2. Switchmas


    Favorite new (to me) Christmas movie of the year. Two kids who kind of look alike and get shipped off by their parents to visit other relatives meet in O’Hare, and decide to switch destinations. One is Jewish and celebrating Hannukah. One is Christian and celebrating Christmas. There’s a play at the end.

    1. The Muppet Christmas Carol


    I almost feel bad including this on a list. It is in a league of its own, especially amongst the other crappy Christmas Carol stories on this list. Funny, touching and brilliant. Almost makes me want to read the book, which I’ve never done.

    Top 10 Albums – 2014

    December 17, 2014

    Welcome, one and all to my top 10 list! Sorry if this one takes awhile to load… got a lot of embedded Spotify playlists and things this year. If you’d like something to listen to while you read, I’ve even created a “Mangosquash’s Best of 2014” playlist right here for your listening pleasure. It features a track from my honorable mentions as well as every artist on the top 10, except one who isn’t on Spotify (No, It’s not Taylor Swift.). Anyway, you can check that out here:

    It’s tough to find a theme in my list this year, and perhaps even tougher than in previous years.. There’s a lot of poppy stuff here, but my two favorite albums of the year were definitely not pop, definitely pretty serious, and definitely very very different.

    Here’s some cool stuff: 5/10 of the artists here have never made a top 10 list of mine in any form, and I was not familiar with them before this year. Also 5/10 of the albums have a female as at least one of their lead singers. 2/10 Artists have released their own coffee this year. 1/10 Artists is remaking their whole album with cat noises in 2015.

    I will say, at the time of writing this, I haven’t read Pitchfork’s Top 50 yet, but through the Twitter grapevine, I have found out that we do have the same #1 album. So that’s something. Enough with the chitter chatter. Let’s dive in:

    10. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

    Prior to Brill Bruisers, The last time the New Pornographers released a CD was 2010’s Together and it featured at #5 of that year’s top 10 list…. 4 years might seem like a lot of time between albums, but I think at least 2 of the leads of this group would consider the band a “side project.”

    Since the last release, Dan Bejar has released 2 EPs and an LP as Destroyer, and Neko Case and AC Newman have both released solo CDs as well. Other singer, Kathryn Calder, who’s taken an even more active roll in the band on this album, also appears to have released some work. What I’m saying is, these folks haven’t been idle

    Every New Pornographers album is good, and this one is no exception. This release could be the band’s most raucous ever. Standout tracks include the opener, Brill Bruisers, and War on the East Coast. Perhaps the reason this album didn’t rank higher on the list is that the Dan Bejar tracks, my favorite part of most of the supergroup’s output, aren’t particularly strong here. It’s a good listen none the less!

    9. Ortolan – Covered in Black

    Here’s something new! Ortolan was the second band ever to take the stage at St. Louis’ new venue, The Ready Room. They were touring with Of Montreal at the time, and when I wrote-up a review of the show, they got but a single paragraph of mention. Fortunately, I followed through and picked up their CDs because hey, they are really good.

    These ladies are on Sounds Familyre records, which I always assume means that they get to hang out with Sufjan Stevens a lot. This assumption draws me to make comparisons that may or may not be there. But the songwriting seems to share themes of spirituality and allusions to religion that may be missed if you aren’t looking for them

    I think that there’s a wide appeal with this album, perhaps if you enjoyed my previous year’s recommendation of Tristen as an artist to watch out for. Standout tracks on this CD include “Votes are In” and album closer, “Miles”.

    8. Conor Oberst – Upside Down Mountain

    I’m pretty sure Conor Oberst isn’t making albums as Bright Eyes anymore, but I can’t seem to find a source for that information. Either way, whether it’s his former main vehicle, Bright Eyes, his punk band Desaparecidos, his folk supergroup Monsters of Folk, or his self titled releases, for me, Conor Oberst is always worth checking out.

    Upside Down Mountain is my favorite Oberst release, perhaps in 10 years. No, I don’t think it is as good as Wide Awake/Digital Ash era Bright Eyes, but I do think it really finds Oberst making the best of his adult self. The songs here are well developed, have big hooks and are fun to listen to.

    Standout tracks include: “Governor’s Ball”, “Hundreds of Ways” and “Enola Gay”

    7. tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack

    So, I missed tUnE-yArDs’ first two releases and I still haven’t listened to them yet. Don’t know why. But Damn, is Nikki Nak a fun album. This might be the second poppiest thing on this list, but in a very world-music type of way

    There’s an incredible dichotomy between the fun, loud and crazy instrumentation on each track, and their often incredibly serious subject matter. Every song contains some kind of blunt social commentary.

    If you like crazy pop music and appreciate an enthusiastic eccentric vocal style, check it out!

    6. Spoon – They Want My Soul

    Don’t you just sometimes wish that Spoon would release something that wasn’t so solid?

    I mean solid in a lot of different ways. In stark contrast to the songs on the previous album on this list (tUnE-yArDs) which often feel on the verge of falling apart, each spoon song is built on a foundation that could support a skyscraper. Spoon songs and albums sound solid, and are of solid quality and are predictably good. They’ve done this shit for 8 albums since 1993!

    This album, They Want My Soul, is even more solid than usual and I don’t mean that to sound boring. This is probably my favorite Spoon album since 2007’s “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”, and more than any other album on this list, it’s just a solid rock album.

    5. Holy Sheboygan – TWO

    Want a good funky folk album about love and life? You’re going to want to check out this release (It might be an EP? I’m not sure.) from Holy Sheboygan. I saw them perform this year at 2720 Cherokee, where I was going to check out music and art from my friend Lawton Hall who was in town touring from Wisconsin. I was really impressed, so I bought their cassette tape. Only later that day did I find out my cassette player no longer works, but it came with a free download code, so I was in the clear.

    This release, at 22 minutes long (OK, so it’s probably an EP.), is so good all the way through. It’s also tackling some ambitious subject matter. Finding love, the purpose of life, materialism, indefinite detention of prisoners… everything you could want is all here.

    Also, there are fun instruments. They don’t have a “drummer” but on their Facebook page they do list two people playing “trash”. Milk jugs feature prominently. There’s also plenty of horns, saxophones and strings. TWO has a big full sound. I could be wrong, but I think many of the people in this band have some kind of advanced musical degree. But the music is accessible and fun. Anyway, be on the lookout for more from these guys. I think they could blow up!

    4. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

    Jenny Lewis is pretty great, right? Per her Wikipedia page, she made her acting debut in a Jello commercial and went on to play parts in TV shows and made for TV movies forming Rilo Kiley in 1998. She made, by my estimate, 3 great albums as Rilo Kiley and was a contributor to the Postal Service’s only album. More recently, though, she’s released some pretty but also pretty forgettable solo albums, and also a project called Jenny & Johnny which I’ll admit I haven’t listened to

    The Voyager is the first Lewis album to captivate me since Rilo Kiley’s 2004 release, “More Adventurous” and I think it shares a lot in common with that string of great Rilo Kiley releases. The hooks are big, the stories told in the lyrics are good, and Lewis’ voice is still as beautiful as ever. We’ll probably never get another Rilo Kiley CD, and that’s for the best, but this CD is a reminder of why I might still want one.

    3. Kishi Bashi – Lighght

    Kishi Bashi is a classically trained violin player who used to be in Of Montreal. According to his Wikipedia page, he’s also toured with Regina Spektor. If you haven’t listened to his albums, or heard of him, you may know his work from this Microsoft Windows 8 commercial

    Of all the albums on this list, this was the one I listened to the most this year. This was my album of the summer, driving to and from Michigan and it’s the best (and the last) pop album on this list. I can’t believe it didn’t get more attention. The track I included on the Best Of mix at the top, The Ballad of Mr. Steak, is the most infectious song of the year. If you’re looking for fun pop music, this is your album

    2. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

    People die. People die for strange reasons. People are in the process of dying. You are in the process of dying, right now. If you’re not interested in thoughts like this, this probably isn’t the record for you, because that’s about all that’s here. Sure, there’s a track about loving your mom. There’s a track about loving your dad. There’s a track about early sexual encounters. There’s a track about attending a Postal Service show. But even these are framed by death.

    But there is poetry found in death, and Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek is out to find all of it that he can. This premise is laid out in the album opener, Carissa. Kozelak’s second cousin, who he didn’t know that well, is 35 years old. She had 2 kids as a wild teenager, but turned her life around and is now an RN. She dies one night, because her trash explodes as she’s taking out. It’s hard to find meaning in a story of senseless tragedy, but these reflections on mortality are as interesting a way as any to tackle the topic.

    1. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

    My city, the city of St. Louis, has had a lot of national attention on it since Mike Brown was killed on August 9. Protestors in Ferguson and in cities around the United States have been out daily to share their messages and questions of righteous anger and frustration. Why is our justice system so broken? Why do black people, in every neighborhood and in every economic and social class, get treated so poorly? Why do white people (like myself) get the benefit of the doubt? How have we allowed our country to remain in a state where so many people feel so hopeless from the time they are born?

    These are the types of questions I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about lately, and I don’t have any answers. I’m trying to do my best to listen to what others are saying and Killer Mike, who makes up 1/2 of Run The Jewels, is one guy who’s saying something. While the biggest artists in Hip Hop have stayed mostly silent, Killer Mike has been out there. He’s written op-eds in USA Today and on Billboard. He’s been on CNN. And then, as fate would have it, on November 24, hours after the Ferguson Grand Jury decision came out, Run the Jewels took the stage at The Ready Room in St. Louis Missouri. It is my biggest regret of the year that I wasn’t here to see this show. Before the show, Killer Mike came out, and made this speech in tears. The audience doesn’t really understand what’s going on, but this is powerful stuff:

    Run The Jewels is two 39 year old Rappers who have come together after long solo careers. Killer Mike is from Atlanta, GA and first gained exposure as a part of Outkast’s Dungeon Family collective. He appeared on their 2000 record, Stankonia. El-P is a white dude from New York. Together, they are the most dynamic thing happening in hip-hop. Run The Jewels 2 is the band’s second album in as many years, and it is insane. These are two best friends doing what they love together. This collaboration plays well not only in music, but when they give interviews together. Check out this crazy piece about El-P’s Steven Seagal obsession in The Onion’s AV Club.

    Run The Jewels 2 is not for the faint of heart. It’s loud, vulgar, violent and should offend everyone. Social problems are addressed aggressively throughout the album, but most directly on tracks “Crown”, “Lie, Cheat, Steal” and “Early”. Killer Mike and EL-P are asking questions too, and these questions are uncomfortable.

    But damn, if it isn’t the most fun thing released this year. Amongst these tough questions are two friends just having a blast. The intensity and urgency with which both the beats and the verses are delivered makes for one wild right, from start to end in 39 minutes. If rap isn’t your thing, this isn’t going to be your thing either, but this is a really special album.

    2014 Honorable Mentions

    December 16, 2014

    It’s that time of year again where I remember that I have a blog and get to writing some year-end lists. Just like every year, I promise that I’ll make better use of this blog, but I probably won’t!

    Anyway, I’m putting together my top 10 list right now, and I’m not sure what the order is looking like in that top 10, but I am sure that these three releases aren’t going to make it. But it was really hard to leave them out so I’m going to write about them anyway. Two of my favorite artists’ releases didn’t make the list. What kind of world is this?

    Anyway. Here’s three great releases that weren’t in my top 10:

    Moonface – City Wrecker

    Longtime list-readers will know that Spencer Krug (Moonface, Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade) is maybe my favorite dude making music. I love everything that he does, including this EP.

    But… this release, coming in at 5 songs long is definitely an EP, and it seems to be a “leftovers” release from the excellentJulia With Blue Jeans On LP, released last year. It’s in the same style of that release, featuring the piano and Krug’s voice nearly exclusively for its somber noisemaking.

    That’s not to say that there isn’t some good stuff on here. The first two tracks, The Fog and City Wrecker, are both exceptional tracks which highlight Krug’s skills as a songwriter. I try to save the top 10 for full-length releases, but this was definitely one of my favorites of the year.

    Ex Hex – Rips

    This CD is loud, melodic, and fun. It’s like a punk girl group from the 50’s. You might say that it rips. Standout tracks include: Hot and Cold and How You Got That Girl.

    This was the unofficial #11 on this year’s top 10 list.

    Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End

    More words have been spilt on this website about Weezer than any other band, and that’s because I have a lot of sentimental attachment to them and consider them to be one of my favorite bands.

    And this is their 3rd or 4th best CD ever. Is it as good as their first two albums (The Blue Album & Pinkerton)? No. It definitely isn’t. Is it as good as their third, and third best album, The Green Album? It actually might be. Does it stand tall and proud as significantly better than Maladroit, Make Believe, The Red Album, Raditude and Hurley? It stands miles above these releases.

    So, it bums me out to leave it off this year’s top 10 list, but that’s just how it goes. I might find myself listening to this one in 2015 though, which is more than I can say about any other recentWeezer release the year after it’s come out. If you have any sentimental attachment to Weezer at all, this album is worth checking out.

    Mates of State, April 17, 2014, The Ready Room

    April 18, 2014

    Mates of State, October 31 2011, The Firebird

    On October 28, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in absolutely astonishing fashion. My whole body was in a euphoric state for days afterwards, and so it was with an incredibly good attitude that I saw Mates of State at The Firebird on October 31, 2011.

    Being a show on Halloween, the band was dressed up. If I remember correctly, keyboardist, lead singer and only female of the band Kori was dressed up as a cop, and the rest of her band was dressed in pin stripes as criminals. It was a fun look, and it was an incredibly fun show. This was the second time I had seen Mates of State and I expected an up-tempo show, featuring the faster and poppier hits from though out their catalogue, and that’s exactly what I got.

    But at some point in the middle of the show, All the band members ripped off their costumes to reveal Cardinals t-shirts underneath, and the audience lost their shit. There often is not a huge overlap between sports fans and indie-rock concert goers, but for this city, at this moment, it was perfect.

    I will always remember this moment as one of extreme happiness in my life.

    Mates of State, April 17, 2014, The Ready Room

    Earlier this week, my wife and I were listening to the “Unless I’m Led” from Mates of States’ 2011 album, Mountaintops. It’s a pretty great song, but definitely on the quieter and slower side of the Mates of State catalogue. Each of their albums have songs like this, and I do sincerely enjoy them.

    It prompted me to pose this thought: “It must be weird recording songs for a record that you’re probably never going to play live.”

    This statement was based on logic from my previous Mates of State show experiences. They have a large amount of high-energy quality music to pick through, so inevitably some songs are probably never going to see the light of stage, right?

    On April 17 at the Ready Room, I saw a completely different Mates of State show, where they played “Unless I’m Led” as well as several other songs of this ilk, and while it wasn’t the show I was expecting, it was fantastic none-the-less.

    Mates of State is a primarily drums & keys band that tours with more musicians as they see fit. The two previous times that I’d seen them, they toured as a rock band. This show, there was a cellist, saxophone & trumpet. The arrangements that they came up with for the songs they played were great.

    The set pulled heavily from their 2008 album, Re-Arrange us, and while the energy was still high, it was definitely a more mellow experience.

    I loved seeing something a little different, and the audience seemed to as well.

    Speaking of audience, I didn’t expect Mates of State to come close to selling out this show, but I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t love them. They make incredible hook-heavy, relatable pop music. They are still adorable on stage together after all these years. There is nothing pretentious or difficult about their music. They are everything that pop music should be. Everyone should go to a Mates of State show to make the world a better place.

    One confession/apology: Some girl requested oft-crowd-favorite “Everyone Needs an Editor” several times, and I said, kind of loudly, “You need an editor.” She heard me and gave me a dirty look. I deserved that look, and I’m sorry. Everyone does indeed need an editor. Kori & Jason played the song by themselves as the first song of the encore right after I made my rude remark.

    Anyway, the show was great.


    Ready Room Revisited

    My last piece here was a review of the first night at the Ready Room under the guise of being a review of an Of Montreal show. This is a bit of the opposite. My primarily nit-picky complaints from the otherwise great first show were as follows:

    • Lighting & Sound were weird for the first band
    • Bar lines were excruciatingly long
    • It smelled too new.

    None of these items were problems. The opener, who I only saw the last 1/2 of their set, sounded good and the house lights were appropriately low. As I suspected, the audience seemed to be paying more attention to them.

    This wasn’t nearly as crowded as the Mates of State show, so I’m unsure how it’ll hold up at capacity, but I never waited more than a couple minutes for a drink, and I went at “busy” times in between sets. It also looks like they’re in the process of installing beer taps, so that’s great!

    It still smells new, but less new than last time. Everything still looks great, and I didn’t really notice too many other changes.

    I was a bit worried that the room was going to feel empty for Mates of State, a band that didn’t quite sell out the Firebird on their last visit to St. Louis. However the Ready Room did a great job making the space feel smaller by repositioning the tables. Previously they were in the back corners, but for the anticipated smaller audience, they moved them to the back-center, right in front of the soundboard. This gave people a place to sit and enjoy the show, and also provided plenty of room for people to stand in front of the tables. Because of the high tables and the relatively high stage, I think everyone could still see. Here’s how it looked during the opener when no one was standing in that space:
    I appreciated this detail greatly. I won’t say that I’m ready to crown the Ready Room as my favorite St. Louis venue yet (that distinction still goes to The Firebird) but I am thrilled with their booking so far, have enjoyed both my experiences there, and look forward to attracting more Mates of State/of Montreal quality acts to the St. Louis area.

    Opening Night at The Ready Room

    April 3, 2014


    26 is the oldest I’ve ever been, but it’s still a young age, right? If all things go well, God willing, I’m less than 1/3 of the way through this life thing. That said, when I see a sign at the door like this, my first thought is “I’m too old for this shit.”

    Let’s back up! I went to a show last night at St. Louis’ newest venue, The Ready Room. The venue, located in The Grove neighborhood, accommodates 800 folks, and is run by the same people who brought you The Firedbird. You can read more of those types of details in this article.

    My expectations for The Ready Room were very high, as I was basically hoping for it to be the Mississippi Nights replacement that St. Louis has needed since its closure in 2007. I don’t care much for The Pageant (capacity 2,300), and I’ve seen too many shows there that would have been better served in a smaller venue.

    I showed up to The Ready Room around 8:30, the time the first band was supposed to start, and easily found free street parking just a few minute walk from the venue.


    I knew the show wasn’t sold out, but I expected it to be crowded. What I didn’t expect was the long line to get in.

    This line, maybe 50 people strong, moved at a quick-enough-but-not-quite-fast speed and I was inside the venue in 15 minutes. They expedited the entrance process by having IDs checked while you were standing in line instead of at the door. This was a good move.

    The process could definitely be faster, but it could also definitely be worse. I just wasn’t expecting the line. Next time I will… or more likely next time I’ll aim to show up after the first opener has already finished.

    When I got in, the first thing I noticed wasn’t the layout, or the bar, or the colors or even the music. It was the smell (not pictured). The Ready Room, for presumably obvious reasons, smelled like fresh paint.

    It’s not fair to knock a new place for being new, but I like my concert venues to smell like smoke, body odor, and spilled booze. These last 2 things will come with time, but let’s talk about the first one: smoke.

    I don’t smoke, but I think concert venues should smell like smoke, and that people should be allowed to smoke in them. You may disagree, and probably for good reason. But there’s one thing that we can all agree on: e-cigarettes look ridiculous, and probably are ridiculous. If you’re going to be a no-smoking establishment, you should probably just be a no-smoking establishment. It occurred to me that e-cigarettes probably provide cover for people smoking less legal substances though? So, maybe it’s an upside for those people.

    Anyway, there were a lot of people smoking e-cigarette type devices at this show, helping neither the smell of the venue, nor their own appearance. Back to the review…



    The first thing you see when you walk into the Ready Room is this bar. One of my favorite things about The Firebird (also, Off Broadway) are their reasonably priced 24 oz PBRs. I am happy to report that these are also available, for the price of $5, at The Ready Room.

    They also have a good variety of craft beer, ranging from New Belgium to Schlafly, and a few breweries in between. I would like to see a bit larger local selection, but I got a PBR & a New Belgium Shift over the course of the night, so who am I to judge? Part of the lack of selection could be due to the fact that the venue would much rather serve cans than bottles, and local craft cans aren’t yet too common.

    One thing that this bar doesn’t have enough of is the ability to serve a near-capacity crowd in between sets.

    My first drink order, in between the first opener and second, went smoothly enough, maybe a 5-10 minute wait. This is an acceptable amount of time to wait. My second drink order, in between the second opener and Of Montreal, was a disaster.

    When the second band ended, I got in line, where I stood for 30+ minutes. I don’t know exactly how long I was in line, but I know that Of Montreal had started playing around the same time I finally got my drinks.

    I say line, but really it was a cluster of people all fighting to get a space at the bar, and trying to get the attention of the bartenders. Off Broadway recently switched away from this system to an actual line system and I think their service quality has increased greatly as a result. At least when you’re standing in a line, you have an idea about how long it might take for you to get a drink. When you’re in a cluster, it’s ambiguous and frustrating.

    This is a fault of the venue, and not a fault of the bartenders, who were working their asses off in an efficient manner.

    There needs to be a second bar at this venue. Maybe one which only serves beer and only takes cash, to reduce strain on the other one. You can’t serve drinks to 800 people in 30 minutes from one 30 foot bar. My recommendation for location: next to the merch setup to the right side of the stage. It’s out of the way and there’s plenty of room (see next diagram).


    Rather than describing the layout, I’ve made this rough map. This map is not to any kind of scale, and may not be accurate at all, but I’d like to use it for reference:


    I like the layout. It’s got a good feel to it. The separation between the bustle of the bar and the concert room is admirable (I know that I’ve suggested getting rid of it, with a second bar, like a jerk). Things flow well between the two rooms though, and there was never congestion going from one to the other.

    The place looks like it will age into being a good concert venue. The green/blue color paint (yes, the paint I complained bout earlier, like a jerk), is a good color. My favorite aesthetic feature of the venue is the exposed black ceiling beams across the whole venue.

    The tables are a nice concession for people who like to sit at shows, and they aren’t in the way of anything.

    I think the venue feels smaller than it actually is, and I mean that as a compliment to the space.

    There’s a lot of room to the sides of the stage though, and those spots seem to have kind of sloppy & muddled acoustics.

    Here’s my last big gripe: There are cool exposed light fixtures on the sides to the left and the right of the stage. During the opening bands, they were too bright, to a distracting degree. You can see them (or their effects) in all of my pictures pre-of Montreal (Below, and in “The Show” section).

    I was worried that they didn’t have a dimmer setting, and that it was going to be like this the whole night. Fortunately things got darker when of Montreal came on.

    Dark rooms are essential for good shows. They make the audience talk less, and a quieter audience makes for the appearance of a better band. A quiet audience also makes for the appearance of better soundboard operations. During the second set, the vocals weren’t coming through loud enough, the room was too bright, and the audience was too loud. These factors made it hard to enjoy what otherwise seemed like a performance I think I could have liked a lot more.


    I’ll wrap up the venue comments in a bit, but I saw a great show last night, and I should probably write a bit about that first.


    Local band Middle Class Fashion opened the evening off. I’m pretty “meh” on a lot of local bands (I’m sure that’s due more to the lack of effort on my part rather than the lack of quality of the local scene!), but I appreciate the gesture of having one be the first to play in this new venue. I also appreciated even more the fact that Middle Class Fashion appears to be very good. They are a 4 piece band, featuring a couple keyboards, a bass player and a drummer. Despite the no-guitar lineup, the songs were pretty rocking. The female-vocal led group sounded well put together, and I’d like to see them again in the future.


    The second band, Ortolan, was also female lead — three times over in fact. I had never heard of them before, and I had a bit of a hard time hearing them during this set. Vocals were particularly soft on the first song, but as the show went on, things either got better, or my ears adjusted. This band was a little more folksy, which I’m all about. I’m grabbing both of their CDs today, and I hope they come to St. Louis again as a headliner so I can get a better feel for their sound.


    The sets ran on time all evening, and of Montreal came on as scheduled at 10:30 PM. The band took the stage, minus lead singer Kevin Barnes, and a masked man came triumphantly to the stage to give a funny, silly, kind of dark speech to introduce him. This theatrical flourish would be repeated before the encore, and supplemented with other theatrics throughout the show.

    Sometimes, things like this can take up too much time, and I’ve read recently of of Montreal shows that were criticized for being more about the theatrics than the music. This was not the case during this show, which I think struck a wonderful balance between the two. The production was good, but the music was the star of the show and it was incredible. There was only one costume change, and no nudity, male or female.

    The 6 piece band stormed through the best parts of their 6 most recent albums, though they only played 1 song from False Priest (Coquet Coquette), and completely omitted 2012’s Paralytic Stalks. They pulled heavily from Skeletal Lamping & Hissing Fauna, as well as their most recent release, Lousy with Sylvianbriar. They couldn’t have played a set that was tailored better to my desires as an of Montreal fan. The most notable omission of the night, to me, was “Wraith Pinned To The Mist And Other Games”, but once your song is remade for an Outback Steakhouse commercial, maybe you don’t need to play it live anymore. There were a few other songs I would have liked to hear, but when you’re working from such a large catalogue of great work, these things are more than understandable.

    Lighting and sound were both wonderful for the duration of the set. The show was loud, and every instrument sounded great. I look forward to seeing this band again, hopefully at the same venue.


    There are no perfect venues, especially on opening night, but The Ready Room is off to a pretty good start by my estimation. My only 2 real gripes are that there should be another bar and that the lights should be dimmed during the openers. The “venue smell” I desire will show up eventually. Sound systems in new spaces are complicated, and I’m confident that the sound for opening bands will get better.

    I’ll be back to see Mates of State in 2 weeks and I’ll have another, and hopefully shorter write-up then!

    Here are some more pictures:



    What is @DrunkBuzzFeed?

    January 30, 2014

    If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that I’ve been retweeting an account called @DrunkBuzzFeed (formerly @BuzzfeedEBooks) fairly frequently. As with most tweets that most people send, there’s a good chance you ignored it, or didn’t think twice about it.

    Well, you’re reading this blog post, so maybe now you’re interested: @DrunkBuzzFeed is a robot I made that takes a beginning, middle and end from 3 different randomly selected Buzzfeed headlines, and sends them out as a mashed together tweet. Sometimes the results make perfect sense, and sometimes they don’t. Here are some examples:

    For me, the best part of these tweets is that I run the account, and I have no idea what they are going to be. They make me laugh out loud somewhat regularly. If you’re curious about how I made the bot, read this blog post. It’s long, and a little technical. But not very difficult. If you have a Mac, I think you could build one yourself.

    So that’s that. The next thing you might ask me is…

    Why did I make @DrunkBuzzfeed?

    @DrunkBuzzFeed was born out of two things: First off, months, or maybe even years of conversation with a few friends about how frustrating the articles we see shared around the web are. It’s a common bit around the office to mockingly come up with Buzzfeed-esque headlines to describe mundane situations we’re in.

    The second one was a fascination with other Twitter bots (or faux Twitter bots) such as @Horse_eBooks that had gotten so much attention.

    With these two things in mind, my friend Cameron and I came up with the idea of building a bot that tweets fake Buzzfeed headlines. The project had numerous false-starts and dead ends, and probably was built over the course of a couple months. If you followed my blog post now, you could probably set up your own in two hours. With the combination of our inspirations in mind, the project was originally named @BuzzfeedEbooks

    We were hoping that the twitter account would have some viral success of its own with the help of a few retweets, but it was an absolute failure in that regard. We discussed, though never went through with, buying fake followers, and eventually tried rebranding it a couple times. @DrunkBuzzFeed is what we’ve settled on for now.

    As of earlier today, the account had 11 followers, most of whom I had told personally about the account. The account has been a failure, in all ways but one: I think it’s funny, and a couple I’ve told about it think it’s funny. My hope is that explaining it here, a few more people will think it’s funny.

    Even though it brings laughter to me, and I hope it brings laughter to you, I’d like to stand up on my very small soapbox for a moment.

    Why Do I hate Buzzfeed so much?

    I have never made or attempted to make a career as a journalist. I studied journalism in college, and worked as an editor on our weekly student paper, The Torch, but I was never the best at it. Since then, my closest attempts at journalism are this blog and this frequently abandoned Chicken Wing review site..

    I got a communications degree with a focus in New Media/Journalism, and I am much more on the New Media side of that spectrum. I spend my time working at boom. reactive. doing social media management for companies in the St. Louis area. Yeah, I sit on Facebook all day.

    One of my least favorite things about being on Facebook all day is seeing the links to “news stories” my friends are sharing. I didn’t put the word friends in quotes, because I mean it. Many of the people who share crappy links on Facebook are people who I respect a lot, and who I think are otherwise good folks. I did put “news stories” in quotes, because most of the things shared aren’t news.

    Buzzfeed, ViralNova, UpWorthy, UpRoxx and more popping up weekly it seems like. These are sites that make The Huffington Post look like The Wall Street Journal/New York Times – whichever one of those you view the most favorably.

    Here are seven screenshots I just have sitting around:

    Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 11.03.38 PM

    Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 5.31.49 PM

    Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 5.36.00 PM

    Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 5.41.57 PM

    Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 2.07.27 PM

    Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 5.35.20 PM

    Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 10.55.11 AM

    Why do any of these things even exist? Clearly they aren’t news, so what about their value as entertainment?

    These sites are the reality TV of the internet: lowest possible budget & lowest common denominator. Beyond that, the larger of these sites like Buzzfeed make loads of money selling advertisements on content written by unpaid writers. And much of the content is stolen without credit or payment from elsewhere on the internet.

    Throw in an endless opportunity for confirmation bias, an insistence on EXPERIENCING HEIGHTENED EMOTIONS AT ALL TIMES (“You’ll be shocked”, “you won’t believe”, “This will change everything”), and headlines that offer no clue about what’s inside. It all just drives me nuts

    And I click on it, you click on it. We all do, and they make money because of it. Meanwhile, sites and services that strive to create real content of value are struggling & failing regularly.

    So, what’s the solution? How many people even believe it’s a problem? I’m not advocating endless support for dead-tree companies that are doing a crappy job transitioning to the modern age. I’m not telling anyone to stop clicking on these stories, though I would encourage you to think before sharing them.

    The internet is an endless source of proverbial junk food, and it’s fine if you enjoy some occasionally. But every now and then, it might be nice to eat a healthy meal.

    Building an automated Twitter bot

    January 30, 2014

    @DrunkBuzzFeed is an semi-automated Twitter bot that I built. I break up a bunch of headlines from Buzzfeed into 3 parts, and put them in a Google Drive spreadsheet. Through a variety of automation services, the headline parts are strung together and tweeted out 9 times a day. Using this guide, you should be able to make something similar (or even identical) yourself. I encourage you to do so.

    No coding is required. The only thing you need to have to start this tutorial is a computer running OS X. This tutorial was made using 10.9 Mavericks, but it would probably work with older versions as well. It would be to your benefit if you were able to leave this computer on all the time, with persistent internet access but this (probably?) isn’t required for operation.

    Follow this guide, look at the screenshots (click on them to see them full size), and don’t give up. Good luck!

    1. Get a new Google account, Make sure Dropbox is installed on your computer, get a new Twitter account.

    Click here to sign up for a new Google account. It doesn’t really matter what you call it. Don’t use a Google account you already have.

    If you’ve already got a Dropbox account and the Dropbox OS X app is already installed on your computer, move along to the next paragraph. If you don’t already have a Dropbox account (what’s wrong with you?), click here to sign up for one. If you don’t have the app installed on your computer, go here and install it.

    Finally, sign up for a new Twitter account. This will be where your automated tweets are posted from. Sign up with the email address you just created to keep things straight.

    2. Collect content

    For @DrunkBuzzFeed, the content is made up of parts of Buzzfeed headlines. Since I hate Buzzfeed, I didn’t want to go there and collect the content myself, so I made the automator service IFTTT (If This Then That) do it.

    Even if your content isn’t Buzzfeed headlines, sign up for an account because you’ll need it later. If you already have an account, it’s fine to use that one.

    IFTTT calls their automations “recipes”. I made a set of recipes that collect new headlines from every Buzzfeed category, and puts them in the same Google Drive document. You’ll have to connect your Google Drive to your IFTTT to use this recipe, but they’ll walk you through that.

    Here’s a sample recipe. I made one of these for each Buzzfeed headline category, but they all end up in the same document.

    3. Break up content


    When I’m ready to add new content to @DrunkBuzzFeed, I select all the headlines (command+a), cut them (command+x) and paste them (command+v) into a new TextEdit document. TextEdit’s a program that’s already on your computer.

    Once I’ve got the contents pasted into TextEdit, I turn the document into plain text (command+shift+t) but that’s personal preference. Then I start breaking the content up with the tab key. I break each headline into 3 parts, so that means I’ll put 2 tab breaks in each headline. It should look something like this:


    Once you get everything set up, this step and the next one will be the only thing you do to keep your bot fresh. It’s also the only place you have any kind of creative control. Have some fun with it!

    4. Input content

    Copy all of your newly separated headlines (command+a, command+c). Head back to Google Drive, and make a new spreadsheet. Name it something you’ll remember

    On Sheet 2 (trust me) of your spreadsheet, paste (command+v) all of your headlines. BAM! All your Tabs have turned into new cells.


    5. Randomize content to create a piece of new content

    So now you’ve got all the parts in place, and here’s where the real automation magic comes into play. For ease of organization, make a Sheet 3, and do this step there.

    Next, Follow this guide which does a great job of explaining spreadsheet formulas. Change things as they apply to you. Here’s what mine looks like


    As you can see, @DrunkBuzzFeed is chosen from 3 columns of 298 choices. That gives it a possible output over 25,000,000 tweets, assuming each cell was unique.

    At this point, you should have a cell that puts together 1 choice from each column, forming something new in a single cell. Now, make Sheet 4 and make cell A1 point to that end product. It might be something like “=Sheet3!A3”. If you’re doing it right, it should display the same thing as your end product on Sheet 3. This is what mine looks like:


    6. Get the tweet out of Google Drive and format it

    A couple last things before we can get out of Google Drive. First, make your spreadsheet public. I don’t know 100% if this is necessary, but you’re going to be calling on it from another service later, so it can’t hurt. To do this, click the blue “share” button at the top left of the window, and select this option:


    Finally, in your spreadsheet, go to File > Publish To Web. For your settings, if you’ve followed all my advice, “Sheets to Publish” should be set to Sheet 4, Automatically Republish when changes are made should be checked, Get a link to published data should be “TXT (Plain Text)” and your cells should be set to A1. I didn’t follow all my advise, so here’s what mine looks like:


    Copy and paste that link at the bottom into a new browser window. You should also save it somewhere for later. If you’ve done your job right, SpreadSheetName.tsv should download. Here, try mine. Open that with text edit, and it should be one line that’s a combination of 3 Buzzfeed headlines. Now how do you turn that into a Tweet? This is the part that had me stumped for the longest time. We’re going to turn to an OS X app you’ve probably never used before called Automator. It should be in your Applications folder. If you can’t find it, bring up spotlight (command+space) and search for it.

    Open Automator, and navigate to File > New > Application. Yeah, you’re making your own application. Heads up: we’re going to be using the app’s search bar a lot to work quickly. We’re going to do 5 easy tasks.

    Task 1: Get Specified URL

    Find the “Get Specified URL” task with the search bar. Make the only URL in there the one that comes from your Google Drive spreadsheet. It should look like this


    Task 2: Download URLs

    This is going to allow you to save that file into a folder of your choosing. The folder you choose should in your public Dropbox folder, and should be used only for this purpose. Here’s what mine looks like:


    Tasks 3, 4 & 5: Rename Finder Items: Add Date or Time

    Now, we want to make sure each file has a unique name by date stamping it. First, we’re going to rename the finder item as such: Add date or time > Created > Hour Minute > After name > Dash > Space. Then we’re going to rename the finder item Add Date or Time > Created > Month Day Year > After Name > Forward Slash > Space. These two tasks should look like this:


    The last Rename Finder Items tab is to change the file extension. So it will go Replace Text > Find tsv in > Full Name (ignore case checked) > Replace: txt. Mine looks like this


    Now, run it. Ignore the warning. You should see 6 green checkmarks at the bottom that everything has run correctly. And if you navigate to your specified folder, you should have a new file:


    Save your file as something you’ll remember in the same folder that your tweets will be outputting to. Close Automator. Double click on your new application, and ignore any warnings and let it run. The file should create itself without Automator opening at this point.

    7. Make tweet readable by IFTTT

    IFTTT is the program we’re eventually going to use to send the Tweet, but it can’t read the content of plain text documents. Fortunately, there’s another Automator service called Zapier that can. You probably don’t have a Zapier account, so create one here.

    Now, Zapier COULD turn this .txt file into a tweet ALL BY ITSELF in 1 step, BUT we’re not going to go that route. You see, Zapier only allows 100 free actions a month, and so we limit the load on Zapier and put as much of it as possible on IFTTT which allows unlimited free actions a month.

    For @DrunkBuzzFeed which sends 9 tweets a day (around 270 a month), I have 3 different Zapier accounts do the work to keep it free for me. With 1 Zapier account, you can do up to 3 a day every month.

    The only service you need to connect to your Zapier account is Dropbox. Do so. Then we’re going to create a new Zap. (Zapier Zaps = IFTTT Recipes). My Zap can be found here, but I’ll walk you through how to make your own.

    Click “Make A Zap” and make both your trigger and action services Dropbox. Make the trigger “New File In Directory” and make the Action “Create New Text File”. Click “continue” and use the same dropbox account for both your trigger and your action.

    For “Only trigger a “New File in Directory” from Dropbox when…” go choose your directory and make it where you just made your Automator task. This is a dumb process and it takes a long time to drill it down. Be patient. Don’t add any custom filters, just click “continue”

    Now have it output to A DIFFERENT FOLDER. Make one in your Dropbox Public folder first in Finder, then drill down again just like you did last time to find it.

    For “Name of New File” insert “File Text”. You can do the same for File Content. It should look like this:


    Test it. You should end up with a new file in your output dropbox folder that’s called “(whatever the body of your old document used to be).txt”. Deep breath. We’re almost there.

    8. Send the Tweet

    We’re heading back to IFTTT for steps 8 and 9. This first one is going to take your output from Zapier and send it to Twitter. You’ll need to connect your Dropbox and Twitter accounts, but it will walk you through that. Here’s the recipe I used, but I’ll show you how to make it on your own .

    Click create, then: If > Dropbox > New File In Your Public Folder > Subfolder Name wherever you have your Zapier output going > Then > Twitter > Post A Tweet > FileNameNoExt… and that’s it. You’re now to a point where if you run the Automator application you created, within 30 minutes, a tweet will show up. I say within 30 minutes, because Zapier and IFTTT aren’t checking all the time, they do it on 15 or so minute intervals. We’re not done with IFTTT yet though!

    9. Make New Tweets

    We can’t just send the same tweet over and over again. Fortunately, you may have noticed, your randomly generated tweet changes every time you make a change to the spreadsheet. And fortunately, IFTTT can make changes to the spreadsheet for you! Here’s my recipe that does that, but once again I’ll walk you through it.

    If > Date and Time > Every Hour At > Doesn’t Matter Minutes Past the Hour > Then > Google Drive > Add Row to Spread Sheet > Spreadsheet Name “Whatever you called your spreadsheet all the way back in step 4” > Put anything in the row. It doesn’t matter what you put, just something> Get rid of Drive Folder Path if it’s in your main Drive folder and Create Action.

    Now you’ll be generating a new thing every hour, whether you use it or not.

    10. Schedule Tweets to run forever

    You don’t want to have to run your application every time you want a new tweet published. This last step will allow you to schedule them forever, so they’ll run when you’re away from your computer (if you’re computer’s on), or while you’re at your computer and you don’t want to think about sending new tweets

    Open up Calendar for OS X. Go to File > New Calendar > On My Mac. Call it “Tweet Schedule” or whatever you want.

    Right click on a time that’s like 15 minutes from now. Make a “New Event” Make sure your new event is on the calendar “Tweet Schedule” Call the event whatever you want. Make the event time short, maybe 10 minutes long. Set Alert > Custom > Open file > THE APP YOU MADE” Make it repeat every day, if you want. It should look like this: (but with Repeat on “every day”)


    Now… wait for the event time. When it comes, your app will run in the background. You won’t see it. What you should see is a new file in your designated Dropbox folder. In 15 minutes or less, Zapier will take that file and rename it. 15 minutes or less after that, IFTTT will take that renamed file and tweet it. If you set this calendar event to repeat every day, you’ve created an automated twitter bot!

    With 1 free Zapier account, you can send 3 tweets/day. Create 2 other additional recurring events. For every additional Zapier account you make, you’ll be able to schedule 3 more tweets/day, but you’ll have to duplicate your Automator setup into a new folder. And if everything works, that’s it!

    Tips, tricks and thanks

  • Automator uses Safari, and for whatever reason you need to be logged in to a Google account (any Google account) on Safari for your app to work. Every 2 weeks or so, Safari/Google will sign you out of your account, and you’ll have to sign back in for your tweets to start working again.
  • Clean out your Google Document collecting new headlines and your Google Spreadsheet that IFTTT is adding to. Do this somewhat regularly (weekly?. They get unruly when they are too large.
  • I hate Buzzfeed so much
  • Thanks to @CameronBanga who also hates Buzzfeed for helping me come up with this idea. I wouldn’t have done it without him.
  • Please if this guide has helped you out at all, contact me on Twitter @mangosquash and let me know. I’ll also answer questions there. Also, I’d love it if you followed my bot. I think the results are funny

  • Top 10 Albums – 2013

    January 18, 2014

    4 years in the same location. This is certainly a new record for my top 10 list, and though this blog has been neglected/abandoned this year, it’s nice to have everything in the same place.

    I had a great year listening to music this year, and still believe in the album as the best way to listen to music. Perhaps the fact that I’m saying that though indicates that I don’t really believe it. Who knows? In 2012, 7 artists were new to my top 10 list, and this year that number is down to 4.

    I had a wild ride through October and November where I was seeing about a concert a week, but despite that fact, I only saw 4 bands that made the top 10 list live this year.

    It’s been a tradition that I’ve provided download zips for past top 10 lists… but I’m not going to this year. If you’d like to hear the album, you can click on the Spotify link, or find it on YouTube or whatever. If you can’t figure out a way to listen to the album, get in touch. Without further ado, here we go!

    10. Tim Kasher – Adult Film

    Tim Kasher had an incredible run 2000-2004 chugging away as Conor Oberst’s second fiddle on the Omaha scene. Tim Kasher released 5 albums and a couple EPs over this period of time, and some of them are among my favorite albums ever. Specifically, Cursive’s Domestica and The Good Life’s Album of the Year.

    I’ve kept up with his work with varying degrees of interest since that time, but I hadn’t really gotten into an album since this one. Adult Film is more Good Life than Cursive, but it still rocks pretty hard. Standout tracks: A Raincloud is a Raincloud, Truly freaking out.
    Listen on Spotify

    9. of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar

    of Montreal’s another band who I was into for a long time. Unlike Kasher’s music, which I thought got kind of boring, of Montreal’s music just got too weird for me, and I lost interest.

    With Lousy with Slyvianbriar, of Montreal takes a sharp left turn from their hyper-sexualized-pschadelic-disco-pop and basically makes an accoustic country album. This isn’t too crazy, as they started out as a more acoustic pop band, but it’s pretty unexpected twist, and it works out pretty well. But it’s still pretty weird. Standout tracks include: Triumph of Disintegration, Belle Grade Missionaries
    Listen on Spotify

    8. Fur Trade – Don’t Get Heavy

    So, here’s a new band, but a sound you might recognize. Fur Trade is a side project of Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat (Who’m you’ve probably heard of) and Parker Bossley of the Gay Nineties (Who’m you might not have heard of. I haven’t.) Now, I’ve never listened to a Hot Hot Heat album, so I wasn’t expecting much when I grabbed this one.

    But hey, it’s good, maybe even really good. This album is one of two that falls into my annual category of “Who’s going to make a better Islands album than Islands?” (The next answer is #7)

    This album is a rocking good time. The album starts out with a really strong 1-2 punch, so check those two out: Don’t Get Heavy and Kids These Days
    Listen on Spotify

    7. The Little Ones – The Dawn Sang Along

    I literally don’t know anything about this band. They weren’t reviewed on Pitchfork, and the people who formed the band were a part of Sunday’s Best, another band I’ve never heard of. I probably stumbled across this CD when it was on a torrenting site’s top 10 and had the tags “indie, pop, rock”. Those are all things I like

    And it turns out this album is really good. Those tags are pretty good indicators of what you’re in for. It’s a great pop rock album. It’s got good beats throughout. I think maybe on this list, it might be #2 or #3 on an “appealable to the largest amount of people” ranking.

    Check out tracks: Argonauts and Little Souls
    Listen on Spotify

    6. Kanye West – Yeezus

    Hating Kanye West appears to be back in style and stronger than ever in 2013, and I won’t deny that he makes it pretty easy. He says dumb things in interviews, he marries weird people, etc… I understand if you don’t like Kanye West.

    But he is doing real work, musically. His previous full-length, 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, was my favorite album of the year, and I just listened to it again this week. It’s incredible. This album is not that good, by a long shot, but it’s also wildly different.

    I still haven’t got on board with this IDM or whatever the kids are calling it these days, but Kanye’s keeping up with the times. He’s built a huge platform for himself and he’s not sitting on his ass making Graduation over and over again, raking in more money. He’s doing interesting things. He’s setting himself up over and over again for criticism and failure, and (at least musically) he keeps succeeding.

    This album took awhile to grow on me. Maybe 3 times through I was still unsure about it, but it’s strong all the way through from the schyzophrenic “On Site” to the topless Kim Kardashian “Bound 2”. There’s a reason that artists as diverse as Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Daft Punk and Rick Rubin want to work with this guy. No matter how misguided you might think he is, he cares passionately (often to a fault) about the work he’s doing, and will go to whatever ends he deems necessary to get it done.
    Listen on Spotify

    5. Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium

    Unlike Tim Kasher and of Montreal, where I kind of lost interest for awhile, I’ve given all of Okkervil River’s albums a good hard effort, and things have been in decline (on my estimation which is obviously of little consequence) since Black Sheep Boy, which capped a string of 3 phenomenal albums. Both Stage Names and Stand-Ins (which maybe doesn’t count as an album?) were both pretty good.

    2011’s I Am Very Far was decidedly average though and after seeing a decidedly below average show in support of the album, I was worried my Okkervil River days were nearly over.

    This album is very good though. Not BSB good, but at least Stage Names good, and the St. Louis tour date was decidedly great. This is a concept album about a boyhood in New Hampshire in the 1980’s, and if that sounds too quaint to you… it might be. But if you think “oh that might be interesting” then you’ll probably like this album.

    Looking at the track list, it’s hard to recommend just a few tracks here, but let’s see how you like: On A Balcony, Down The Deep River & Pink Slips
    Listen on Spotify

    4. Tristen – Caves

    You might remember Tristen from her #6 appearance on the 2011 list with Charlaten at the Garden Gates. This follow album seemed to take a long time to get out. Maybe I only think that because I backed it on Kickstarter.

    But anyway, Charlaten was a very nashvill-y album, and this one is too. But there are more drum machines. I don’t have a lot to say about this, other than I love her voice and I think you will too. Check out the tracks “No One’s Gonna Know” and … I don’t know “Monster”. They are all good though.
    Listen on Spotify

    3. CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

    This one took a lonnnnggggg time to grow on me. There are discussions on record of me not liking this album. I still stand by the fact that CHVRCHES is a stupid band name, but I can no longer say that this is not one of my favorite CDs of the year.

    This is an electronic pop album. Listen if you like “The Postal Service”, maybe? But it’s definitely less minimal than that. It’s big, it’s fun, and it might be just as good. This is solid stay awake, multiple listen road trip material.

    Check out “The Mother We Share”, “Gun”, “Recover”, and then be confident that if you listen a few times, the rest of the album is as good as these three tracks.
    Listen on Spotify

    2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

    I keep waiting for this band to disappoint me. Their debut seemed like such a flash in the pan, their second album seemed like an acceptable continuation of their first album, but what about that third album? They have to get worse, or get boring, right?

    WRONG. Modern Vampires of the City is as good as Vampire Weekend’s debut, and it is completely different. Sure, it’s still kind of ivy-league pop-rock. But they strayed well out of their comfort zone here, most notably by writing some great slow songs. I can’t and won’t say what my favorite Vampire Weekend album is, but this is definitely in the conversation. Also, it gives me hope that this band has a lot more potential than I thought they did.

    Every track is great, but I guess check out “Dianne Young”, and “Everlasting Arms”. My favorite track though, is “Hannah Hunt”, but it’s a bit of a grower
    Listen on Spotify

    1. Moonface – Julia With Blue Jeans On

    If Spencer Krug is putting out an album, under any name there’s a good chance it’s going to show up on a Top 10 list for me. (Except for those Wolf Parade albums after the first one. Don’t know what went wrong there.) Moonface has been an amorphous project with the only fixed piece being Spencer Krug himself, and this one is the most concentrated form of this vision: Spencer Krug, his voice, and a piano.

    It’s easily my favorite Moonface album and maybe up there with my favorite Spencer Krug album under any name. (Sunset Rubdown was his other main band. They only put out 3 albums but all of them were close to my #1 album of the year when they came out.)

    If this album were by anyone else, it might not have made such an impact on me, but I just love this guy’s voice and his style of writing so much. I guess standout tracks include: “Love the House You’re In” and “Black is Back In Style”.

    To be clear, these top 3 albums were kind of a tossup. In a tossup though, Spencer Krug always wins for me.
    Listen on Spotify

    Thanks for reading. See you again in 2015.