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BEN & JIM: Best of the Year

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Jim: Ben, we’re two days into 2009 and I never got a best-of list from you, what’s going on?

Ben: It really isn’t that much, but I’ll write some of my thoughts about my lists if you want.

Jim: Go for it!

Favorite Albums of 2008
11. Fall Out Boy, Folie à Deux
10. PlayRadioPlay!, Texas
9. The Hush Sound, Goodbye Blues
8. Steel Train, Trampoline
7. Valencia, We All Need a Reason to Believe
6. Fire in the Hole, Love & Malice
5. Jack’s Mannequin, The Glass Passenger
4. The Matches, A Band in Hope
3. Forgive Durden, Razia’s Shadow: A Musical
2. Lydia, Illuminate
1. Underoath, Lost in the Sound of Separation

Nice, no Lil’ Wayne or TV On The Radio. You also went Top-11, way to think out-of-the-box!

First and foremost, I cheated just a little bit. Steel Train’s Trampoline actually came out in 2007, but I found out about the band in the summer, and I got the album in August, so I am counting it. I also decided that bands simply shouldn’t be allowed to release albums in December. That is partially why Fall Out Boy’s album is randomly #11.

Yes, technically, in the list-making world their album came out too late in the year to be considered a Top-10 candidate for 2008. The almighty Dave Powers cuts off his list the first week in December. But back to your commentary please.

I think that Valencia released one of the best pop-punk albums of the last five or so years. It irks me that bands like Metro Station and The Maine are finding the success that bands like Valencia deserve. It also annoys me that a talented band like Fire in the Hole remains unsigned and unheard of when pieces of garbage like Sonny are getting major record deals.

Then there’s Thomas Dutton of Forgive Durden. He decided to do what every musician does when three members quit the band, write a musical. Razia’s Shadow is really a full-on musical that features guest vocals from Greta Salpeter, Max Bemis, Brendon Urie, and several others. The storyline is actually pretty easy to follow, unlike some other concept albums (Coheed and Cambria).

Lydia and Steel Train are two bands that (I think) the ‘indie kids’ would really enjoy. Steel Train play a type of indie-pop with a fair amount of classic rock influences. Unfortunately for them, they are signed to the most well known independent-pop-punk label in the country, Drive-Thru Records. Lydia is a pretty tough band to describe. I’d recommend them if you like Copeland, Death Cab for Cutie, soothing songs, female backup vocals, clean guitars, lots of layers, and relaxing music.

There isn’t much to say about Underoath. You pretty much either like them and their genre of music, or you don’t. I feel kind of bad for people who don’t, because Lost in the Sound of Seperation is one of the most complete albums I heard all year long. Spencer Chamberlain and Aaron Gillespie are an incredible duo.

Favorite EP’s of 2008
5. Automatic Loveletter, Recover EP
4. People in Cars, Uninvent
3. Straylight Run, Un Mas Dos
2. Deas Vail, White Lights EP
1. You, Me, and Everyone We Know, So Young, So Insane

Juliet Sims from Automatic Loveletter has one of the best voices I have ever heard. Same goes for Wes Blaylock from Deas Vail. Straylight Run didn’t lose a step after vocalist and keyboardist Michelle DaRosa left the band. And last but certainly not least, You, Me and Everyone We Know is giving away their album for free. If for some reason you don’t already own it, what are you waiting for?

That’s the second You, Me, and Everyone We Know plug you’ve given them this year. They owe you a gold record (although, they may never get one if they keep giving away their albums for free). How ’bout songs? You have a list for that category as well? (I love asking questions I know the answers to.)

Favorite Songs of 2008
15. Anberlin, “The Resistance”
14. Death Cab for Cutie, “I Will Possess Your Heart”
13. Deas Vail, “Balance”
12. Lydia, “Hospital”
11. PlayRadioPlay!, “Loco Commotion”
10. The Matches, “Point Me Toward The Morning”
9. Valencia, “Holiday”
8. You, Me, and Everyone We Know, “Happy Birthday”
7. Fall Out Boy, “What A Catch, Donnie” (ft. Elvis Costello)
6. The Hush Sound, “Honey”
5. Forgive Durden, “The Spider and The Lamps” (ft. Max Bemis)
4. Jacks Mannequin, “Miss California”
3. Gnarls Barkley, “Run (I’m A Natural Disaster)”
2. Paramore, “Decode”
1. Underoath, “Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear”

Wow, you are lovin’ Underoath! (I can’t say anything though, cause I showered Weezer with the same amount of attention in 2008). I’m glad Gnarls Barkley and Death Cab For Cutie made your list, and I also like the fact that some youngsters are going to get turned onto Elvis Costello via Fall Out Boy. Thanks for the list Ben, I love the different point of view! Now get cracking on your list for 2009.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



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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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.