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My 10 Favorite Albums of 2008

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The following is not a list of the Top-10 Albums of the Year (c’mon, I’m one man, who am I to say if these are the best albums of 2008?), instead, this is simply a list of my Top-10 favorite albums of the year:


10. Girl Talk, Feed The Animals
Yes, he’s just a mash-up artist, and what can a mash-up artist do besides layer acapellas over well-known instrumentals? Well, if you’re Girl Talk you take hundreds and hundreds of not just instrumentals, but bleeps, breaks, and beats and masterfully intertwine them with the naughtiest dirty south rap lyrics you can find. Feed The Animals isn’t just a simple collection of click-and-drag MP3 files, it’s an A.D.D.-pop-culture-musical-collage pieced together like a fine work of art.

9. Sons & Daughters, This Gift
Ah yes! They’ve made their first great album. This was my initial reaction after listening to Sons & Daughters’ sophomore effort, This Gift. Their debut, The Repulsion Box, had some “moments,” but it still seemed like the Scottish foursome hadn’t found their identity. This time, they found it, crafting one of the best rock albums of the year. Adele Bethel’s vocals are beautiful, Scott Paterson’s guitar licks steal the show on many of the tracks, and each song will leave your feet stomping for more.

8. The Raconteurs, Consolers of The Lonely
Throughout the duration of Consolers of The Lonely, I thought to myself, “If The Raconteurs wanted to, they could be the best rock, pop, country, or blues band in the world.” Because they can’t decide on one direction, sometimes Consolers of The Lonely feels a little jumpy, bobbing between the big rock of “Consoler of The Lonely,” the backwoods, southern-fried, “Top Yourself,” the Zeppelin-like “Rich Kid Blues,” and the burger and malt, retro-rock of “Many Shades of Black.” If only every band had these kinds of problems, huh?

7. The Cool Kids, The Bake Sale
I love the idea of The Cool Kids. As stated on their track, “88,” the group is attempting to bring back 1988, and who wouldn’t love to have that year back? Public Enemy would be fresh off the release of their groundbreaking, It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back, Run-DMC would be Tougher Than Leather, and The Beastie Boys would be between Licensed To Ill and Paul’s Boutique. With their old-school rhymes, sparse production and Bomb Squad-inspired snare drum blasts, The Cool Kids sound unique in our Timbaland-ruled world. My only complaint is that The Bake Sale was released as an EP. Didn’t anyone tell The Cool Kids that back in 1988 (before hip-hop albums became littered with 20 or more tracks) The Bake Sale would have been released as a proper full-length album?

6. The Morning Benders, Talking Through Tin Cans
Indie-pop-rock acts who are inspired by The Beach Boys, with daydreams of being The Shins are a dime a dozen. So even if you are inspired by the two bands mentioned above, how do you separate yourself from the rest of the pack? By creating some of the most feel-good, well-polished, catchy-as-sin songs of the year. Like many great singer/songwriters before him, Chris Chu has the talent of making the verse in a song just as memorable and sing-a-long-worthy as the chorus.

5. International Superheroes of Hardcore, Takin’ It Ova
After creating their mellowest album to date, Coming Home, and being dropped from their major label, New Found Glory took a page from Rocky Balboa’s book and went back to their roots by fully embracing their hardcore tendencies, forming the band International Superheroes of Hardcore. Their debut album, Takin’ It Ova, sounds like any great hardcore album from the late 80’s/early 90’s (everyone-shout-at-once choruses, machine gun drums, slow-down-the-mosh-pit breakdowns), but it’s different in that it’s lyrics are pure comic gold. Brilliantly written tongue-in-cheek songs about seat belts, emo kids, and super hero movies will leave you grinning from ear to ear, while thinking back to the glory days of Sick Of It All.

4. Hot Chip, Made In The Dark
Hands down, the best album Hot Chip has ever made. Their previous efforts–not saying they weren’t good–came off a little choppy, especially during the transitions between their dance club bangers and tracks where they wanted to flex their singer/songwriter muscle. Made In Dark boasts both types of songs, but instead of the album feeling uneven, it sounds like a well-made mix tape–I’m sure it also helps that Hot Chip created some grade-A, booty-shaking beats, sequenced the album perfectly, and wrote some really, really good songs.

3. Santogold, Santogold
Santogold seamlessly blurred the lines between hip-hop, dancehall, new wave, and indie-pop-rock on her self-titled debut album. Is she the first artist to do this in the last few years? No, but her penchant for pop and catchy hooks may make her more mainstream accessible than that one girl with the brightly colored lipstick (although Santogold’s beer commercials didn’t grip America like her counterpart’s movie trailer did). Comparisons aside, how freakin’ good were “Creator,” “Say Aha,” “Lights Out,” and “You’ll Find A Way”? The future’s looking bright for Santogold.

2. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
Just one album in and Vampire Weekend have already carved out their own signature sound–jangly indie-rock mixed with African-inspired music, lush string arrangements, Ivy League college wit, and a smidgen of swagger. I mean, c’mon, who else sounds like Vampire Weekend? (I had a friend earlier this year who called them a cheap rip-off of Paul Simon, but I think he was just reacting to the hype.) All of the songs on Vampire Weekend make me feel something special inside, and although I don’t know exactly what any of them are about, oddly, I do.

1. Weezer, The Red Album
Weezer’s best album since Pinkerton. For those who felt the lyrics were too simplistic, keep in mind we’re living in a different Rivers Cuomo-world. You can’t be writing songs about teenage Japanese girls after you’ve conquered the galaxy. Instead, you share the microphone with your bandmates (who wrote some solid songs in the process), take a dig at critics any chance you get, and throw any and all self-consciousness out of the window. If people thought Pinkerton was Weezer’s most honest album, the Red Album has to be considered their most fearless. How else do you explain the epic-ness of “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived,” the rap-rock of “Dangerous,” and “Heart Songs,” a tune that simultaneously shouts out Nirvana, The Fresh Prince, Iron Maiden, and Debbie Gibson?



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.