Who Are The Suburbs?!

Album of the Year!

“Who is The Suburbs?”, was the question I’ve read most about in the post-53rd Grammys interwebs, and also the big question at my workplace, this morning. But the right question should be: “Who is Arcade Fire?”.

While they’ve been a favorite of music geeks (including myself) and online critics for years now, not a lot of people know of Arcade Fire, and I don’t blame them. The band doesn’t have a lot of radio airplay or music videos, they have an almost zero exposure. But are they good? Is The Suburbs better than the other nominated albums in the Grammys last night (who are all heavy hitters)? Hell yeah! After all, it is my favorite album of 2010.

I wasn’t expecting this though. But I did hope for Arcade Fire to win. So, this is a victory for me and to all others who really care about good music. It’s also a sign that the Grammys isn’t that hopeless. So, maybe, just maybe, they’ll have better nominees for ‘Best Metal Performance’ next year.

Anyways, if you don’t know Arcade Fire, here:

“Ready To Start” by Arcade Fire


The Best of 2010

2010 wasn’t exactly the best year for me. But it wasn’t that bad either. There were deaths, all four of them I knew in high school. Two were batch mates, one was a classmate and one was a good friend. Then I also quit my second job. Without it, I don’t have enough money compared to previous years. But, actually, I’m doing fine. I still make ends meet, I have less stress and, for the first time in recent years, I feel like I’m control of my life. I don’t feel like a wage slave anymore.

I also have more time now to do what I’ve always like to do –listen to music, play games, read books and comics, and watch movies and anime. Of course, I wasn’t able to buy all the games and all the books that I really want this year. But I’m fine with that. I’ve read, played, seen a lot of good things this year, most of which will end up on my list below.

As for this list, I’m only including new releases in 2010. So no The Walking Dead comics, because it’s an ongoing series, or season 7 of The Office.

Now on to my definitive list!

Best Film

A Prophet

A Prophet is one of the best crime dramas I've seen.

Crime Drama isn’t really my thing. But when a friend told me about A Prophet, who then compared it to The Godfather and The Count of Monte Cristo, I got curious. The story in this film revolves around Malik, a 19 year old Frenchman of Arab descent, an illiterate, and a small-time criminal who was sentenced to prison for 6 years. While in prison, he learns how to read and write, studied the politics of prison and gangsters, and runs his own drug cartel. By the time of his release, he’s no longer a small-time criminal but a mob leader. The story is gritty and very gripping. It’s a coming-of-age story of the criminal kind.

1. Inception
2. Toy Story 3
3. Social Network

Best TV

The Walking Dead

The best Comics-to-TV adapation.

I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead comics. But I have to say I’m a bigger fan of the TV series now. This survival zombie series wasn’t only faithful to the books but it also threw in some new elements, both of light and dark nature. Racism was played in the first episodes, which I never recalled in the books. A group of Latinos was also added into the fold, which will make you stereotype them as gang bangers, only to find out they were only caring for the elderly in an abandoned nursing home. This show has drama, suspense and moving moments. Unfortunately, this series only lasted 6 episodes. So, now, I’m craving for it like a zombie craves for brains.

1. Louie
2. Justified
3. Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Best Album

The Suburbs by Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire, the geniuses behind The Subrubs.

I didn’t really liked The Suburbs from the start. But the more I listened to the whole album, the more its lyrics got etched into my mind, the more it grew on me. It’s also one of the very few albums that I like for its lyrics because it’s honest, and I love it and hate it for being honest. It reminds me of my fleeting youth, of how I refuse to let go of it. I agree and laugh with the album for mocking modern city kids for using big words they don’t understand, only to find out that I’m also that kid. It’s a great album, a moving album. One that will certainly stay on my playlist for a very long time. The Suburbs, it’s a modern classic.

1. Diamond Eyes by Deftones
2. High Violet by The National
3. Brothers by The Black Keys

Best Anime

Angel Beats

The many characters of Angel Beats.

Being only at work three days a week, I was able to find time to watch anime this year. While I didn’t really watch a lot, I was able to see a couple of 2010 releases. Among those new releases, Angel Beats is my favorite. This anime is about dead teenagers, who had lived an unfair life, and is spending time in a “high school purgatory” for a second chance. This anime has everything. A roller coaster of emotions, it has drama, romance, action and comedy. You’ll be watching an awesome fight scene, then you’ll be laughing your ass-off on the next scene, and then it’ll try to make you cry. The animation and music are pretty sweet too.

1. Durara!!
2. Shiki
3. High School of the Dead

Best Game

Mass Effect 2

Commander Sheperd in his Blood Dragon Armor.

Even though Mass Effect 2 was released very early this year, I knew by then that I had a ‘Game of the Year’ at my hands. While Red Dead Redemption made me reconsider, as a BioWare and RPG fan, I have to go with this game. I love how this game reaches into the past of your character –the things you did in the previous game are carried in here. It certainly enhances your gaming experience. Besides that, this is also a well packaged game with a good cast of characters, great story and lots of instances that will satiate your trigger-happy self. Plus, in this game, you’ll also get a chance to have sex with Yvonne Strahovski (model and voice of Miranda Lawson).

1. Red Dead Redemption
2. Fallout: New Vegas
3. Heavy Rain

Best Comics

American Vampire

Skinner Sweet, the bad ass American Vampire.

When this comic book hit the newsstands earlier this year, I thought this was going to be another vampire themed book, riding the blood sucking pop-culture wagon. But, the good thing is, I was wrong. This is no contemporary vampire story that young adults would love to read. It’s a gritty, grimy and suspenseful book. What I love about this series is that it didn’t only gives us vampiric violence but also shows us, in the background, that American history was filled of blood. This is a great comics, a worthy addition to Vertigo’s excellent line up. Scott Snyder really did well in reminding me that vampires aren’t cute.

1. Parker: The Outfit
2. Orc Stain
3. Joe The Barbarian

Best Book

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot, author of the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, holding a copy of her book.

I bought this book only because its title sounded like The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which is one of my favorite books. Of course, it’s nothing like Junot Diaz’s novel. But once I started reading it, I had a hard time putting it down. This non-fiction book covers a lot of things, from science to ethics, and all of which are interesting. But the main topic is about Hennrietta Lacks, her family and her HeLa Cells –a cell line that continues to live on 60 years after her death and have been used in many researches. This a very beautiful book. Sad, yet inspiring. Its author, Rebecca Skloot, is also my new heroine. She is persistent and passionate, and she looks good in boot heels.

1. Packing For Mars
2. The Half-Made World
3. I Hotel

So that’s is my definitive list, the best of 2010. Happy New Year to all! Hopefully, 2011 will be good to us all. And no more deaths, please.

The $25 Tunes: October 2010

I’m having a hard time beating Amazon, I’ll tell you that now. As a frugalist, the site has been nothing but a blessing to me with all the cheap stuff they sell. Sometimes, however, they just push way too many cheap stuff for me to choose from, leaving me torn. This October, especially, when they unveiled their $5 mp3 albums. The selection was just so good and so massive, I was getting headaches choosing from their catalog. It’s a good thing I got this “$25” rule, else I’d gone broke from buying all those music from them.

Anyways, here are the albums that I got for this month.

The Suburbs by Arcade Fire – $5
I became a big fan of Arcade Fire when I heard their album, Neon Bible, back in 2007. That album was amazing. The songs in it were dreadful, like it’s the end of the world. Though I must admit that I don’t really get them, their lyrics. This time, however, in The Suburbs, they’re pretty much straight-forward. But, with all their songs about family and middle-class neighborhoods, it makes me feel old and cynical.

Score: A+

“Ready To Start” by Arcade Fire

Blue Sky Noise by Circa Survive – $5
Honestly, I was torn between getting Spoon’s Transference and this album. Naturally, since I like prog-rock more than indie rock, I chose Blue Sky Noise. I’m glad I did so too. Because this is an awesome album. It’s a heck of an improvement from their sophomore title, On Letting Go, which I happened to like a lot. Every song here is great, and every member plays to their potential that I never thought they had.

Score: B+

“Imaginary Enemy” by Circa Survive

A Mouthful by The Do – $5
I never really knew anything about The Do (which is pronounced as do in do, re, mi) prior to purchasing their album. But I fell in love with them after I streamed their music. A Mouthful is just that –a mouthful. While The Do’s music is tethered to pop, it has its eccentricities that makes each track different from one another. Some songs may appeal to you, some may not. That’s what so fun, and not so fun, about it.

Score: B-

“On My Shoulders” by The Do

The Fool by Warpaint – $9
(see my review here)

$24 spend on music this month. Honestly, I almost went over my budget because I was tempted to throw Spoon’s latest album, Transference, into my shopping cart. But my will prevailed. Although if Amazon continues to add good albums on their monthly $5 mp3 deals, I’ll probably capitulate and break my $25 rule.