So by now we’ve done 3 of these things. You’ve studied our choices. You’ve familiarized yourself with what we’ve deemed acceptable. You’ve deployed the albums & TV shows in conversations with your friends, and they’re all impressed at how sharp your tastes are. They think you’re hip and plugged in. So far so good — but now they’ve started asking questions. “What else did you like this year, Thomas? You always know the cool stuff” or “What about funny video, Maria? You’re the one that always knows what’s up.”
It’s a lot of pressure. You’re not sure how long you can keep up this facade of being on the cutting edge of everything. We’re here to help you get through another day, another conversation, and preserve your social status for one more day. But the wisdom comes to an end tomorrow; have your exit strategy in place now. Eject before your friends find out you don’t really like anything and spent 2014 rewatching Master Chef on Hulu.
The Best LA Album
Anderson Paak – Venice
What does this category even mean? I don’t know I just made it up. But seriously, ‘Venice’ merges a plethora of different styles and sounds that are emerging from the music mecca that is Los Angeles. Chilled out hip-hop, heavy rap, future beats, neo-soul, and even house music have a place on this rising star’s release. The album itself is a reference to the iconic Los Angeles neighborhood appropriately named for its canals which resemble that of Venice, Italy. Surfing sound bytes are sprinkled throughout the album for a more immersive listening experience. If you’re into heavier rap sounds, check out Paak’s apathetic anti-love anthem, “Drugs”. If you’re looking for something a little more mellow, listen to “Might Be”. Something a little more fast-paced for anyone into underground electronic music is the DJ Nobody produced “Milk N Honey”. And if you like any of those three, cop the album. It’s worth it, trust me. – Taylor Barnes
Most Tolerable Inaccurate Euro-centric Bible Movie
What a year it was for white Bible stories! Other than the recent critical flop Exodus: Gods & Kings, where they couldn’t get even one off-white person to fill a main role but had plenty for the background extras, there was also the theatrical release of Son of God, a compiled version of the History Channel miniseries The Bible. Putting aside the fact that “has British accent” has long been lazy Hollywood shorthand for “this story takes place a long time ago,” and the fact that Hollywood seems to be unwilling to remedy their own casting limitations by taking risks on new off-white stars, there’s only one crazy Euro-centric Bible movie worth a damn in 2014: Noah from Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan film maker, Darren Aronofsky.
Join haggard Russell Crowe as he embarks on a mission in a unique High Fantasy/Biblical setting with rock-golems, Lord of the Rings-style war scenes, and troubling questions of faith. Watch with delight as Noah degrades into absolutely entertaining single-minded psychosis. Laugh out loud as they show him inventing wine just so they can get to a “Drunk down on his luck Noah” scene. It’s a thrill! Although it could be braver in several ways, it is the only biblical film this year that has a driving point & idea. – Justin Pansacola
BEST BRIDGE BURNER
Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste
Azealia Banks quickly burst onto the scene with her single “212″, only to spend the next few years annoying her way out of the popular consciousness. Her debut album showed up this year , having its moments, but ultimately falling as a middle-of-the-pack release. Her political moves range from publicly feuding with her record label, calling Iggy Azalea “Igloo Australia” in the wake of Ferguson, and absorbing fallout from Vegans and LGBT people due to lyrical content. It felt like she was chasing headlines with publicity stunts, equating herself with the heavy hitters of the music industry before she’s done anything of note. “Broke With Expensive Taste” was an intriguing release, but her volatility likely pushed Banks to the periphery where no one will work with her and a fan-base destined to constantly advocate, wondering why she’s not popular. – Ben Levine
Vine Of The Year
Doritos Mountain Dew Guy
Since Instagram updated its app to record 15 second videos, Vine’s meager 6 second videos just didn’t seem to compare. I had all but forgotten about the social media site and its rapid decline, until I saw this one. This video made me realize a lot of things. People’s lives can change in 6 seconds. People can become famous, have their heartbroken, lose everything, or be emotionally moved. In 6 seconds this man did something that no man had done before. In doing so he brought me an endless amount of joy and entertainment the likes of which I rarely experience. I laughed so hard that I cried. Everytime I think of this Vine, I still laugh uncontrollably. Something about his face, his overwhelming excitement, the strange concoction he decided to create, it all comes together to create the perfect 6 second moment. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give you the Vine of the year. – Taylor Barnes
Best Podcast Critiquing a 90’s CBS Sitcom
The Early Edition Podcast – iTunes
Do you remember the 1996 CBS program Early Edition? Of course you do. Why, it’s the show wherein Kyle Chandler stars as a Chicago man who receives tomorrow’s newspaper the day before, giving him the opportunity to change the future before it happens. Abate your excitement, dear readers, it’s not as genius as it may seem.
All cynicism aside, while the show may be an absolute mess, its newly accompanying podcast is quite the opposite. Enter Chris Lambert and Weston Scott, hosts of The Early Edition Podcast who review the episodes in detail and point out the inherent flaws and plot holes of the CBS program. For you trivia fans out there, Lambert provides the perfect amount of esoteric knowledge and tidbits relating to the show – it will literally be knowledge one has never before heard. The podcast is a hilarious deconstruction of a fairly poor show by two good friends who are clearly having a blast in the studio. If nothing else, The Early Edition Podcast is among the most entertaining podcasts relating to reviewing television and film, even if the subject matter itself comes from one of the error-riddled shows that CBS has produced. Our hosts recommend that one views the associated episodes before listening to the commentary (a simple Youtube search will yield nearly the entire series online) but should that prove too time-consuming, the podcast itself is a treat unto itself. – Jake Tully
Noisy Cynicism Killer of the Year
Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love
I want to talk purely about the music, about the simple but effective lo-fi punk that is “Interference Fits” and “Driver.” I want to simply say that these songs are cleansing and the way Meredith Graves stakes a flag while screaming “When did we say yes to love?!” breaks down the jaded walls of my heart. But thinking about that, it’s hard not to also think about Graves’ backlash as an artist that has criticism and is willing to say it out loud. When she provided a sidebar to the alternatingly amusing & childish War on Drugs/Sun Kil Moon beef, there was a breed of comment thread that bashed her earnestness. But it’s that burning fire that keeps Say Yes To Love hot. People just enjoyed it more when it was dressed up as a boldness for love instead of boldness for feminism, or criticism, or believing in things that cynics despise. It’s not an optimistic album — it’s just one guided by something too true to keep to yourself. – Justin Pansacola