Hot Routes: Week Fourteen

30 Nov

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Editor’s Note:  This is the Swanky roundup of our top picks and songs of the week, running every week of the 2012 Year of Football.  For a primer, check out the Introduction.

Week Fourteen

 

Oklahoma (9-2) at TCU (7-4)

The pick: Oklahoma (-6)

The track:  Come To The City by The War On Drugs

Many of tracks by The War on Drugs are akin to the feeling of walking into a smoke-choked room during a packed and noisy house party.  There’s a haze in the air, resulting from both the literal smoke and the much more figurative effects of drinking in a humid house with hormonally-charged strangers.  Everything kind of swirls around, feeling vaguely compelling, so that you are moved to stick around for a while.  And the more you stick around, beginning to get adjusted to the haze, you start to catch on to something in the room – a cohering thread that you can grab on to, and which eventually delivers in an emotional and consistent payoff that made the trip upstairs worth it.  “Whoo-hoo.”

 

Alabama (11-1) at Georgia (11-1)

The pick:  Georgia (+7.5)

The track:  Twenty Eight (Ianborg & Bronze Whale Bootleg) by The Weeknd

In the game that will decide who gets to beat the wildly overrated team from South Bend, Alabama is the better team.  They’ve got line advantages on both sides of the ball, and Alabama’s D in particular will be poised to take advantage of any and all Georgia mistakes.  Georgia is going to come correct though, and in a game that will be played in their backyard, they should be able to ride some charged motivation on the way to getting within a touchdown.  They just may not get farther than that.

 

Texas (8-3) at Kansas State (10-1)

The pick:  Kansas State (-10.5)

The track:  No Fun by The Stooges

Kansas State got embarrassed by Baylor in their last game, and as a result, they were kicked to the curb in the National Title race.  The Wildcats will have a pretty big chip on their shoulder coming into this regular season finale, and when that’s paired with Texas’ often porous defense having to matchup with a volatile offense, things do not look good for Mack Brown & Co.

 

San Francisco (8-2) at St. Louis (4-6)

The pick:  St. Louis (+7.5)

The track:  Take, Take, Take by The White Stripes

One of the many great things about Jack White as a songwriter is that he consistently refuses to take himself too seriously.  Amongst his various bands and solo efforts, there are plenty of straightforward tunes in which the emotions are just as deep as the blues licks being laid down.  Amongst these ‘serious’ songs, however, Mr. White will sprinkle tunes imbued with a sly, winking sense of humor, often relating surreal and esoteric little stories whose meanings, if those exist, are not readily available.  “Take, Take, Take” is such track, from The White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan, and it concerns an excellent re-telling of what seems like an actual dream dreamt by Jack himself.  Jack White could, and should, release an album in which he just puts all of his dream recollections to music.

 

Minnesota (6-5) at Green Bay (7-4)

The pick:  Green Bay (-8)

The track:  And I Say (Xinobi Edit) by Nicolas Jaar

Green Bay and the moustachioed Aaron Rodgers got their shit handed to them by the Giants last week, so they’ve got something to prove on their return home.  The potential return of Greg Jennings could add another dangerous weapon to Rodgers’ arsenal, and they’ll come out swinging against their division rival.

 

New England (8-3) at Miami (5-6)

The pick:  Miami (+9)

The track:  Bad Girls (Verdine Version) by Solange

Solange, aka Little Beyonce, dropped a short album this week, True, that solidifies her rep as the cool indie sister of the family.  The album feels somewhat lightweight on the surface, populated with spare beats seemingly culled from vintage Madonna outtakes providing a stark background for Solange’s powerful voice.  As the songs go on, however, the simplicity of the production shines through as a unique strength.  The open air between the drum beats, laid-back bass lines and keyboard flourishes is a perfect complement to Solange’s vocals; the singer explores the open spaces with her twisting vocal runs, wrapping her voice around the melodies with a sense of enjoyment that’s contagious.

 

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Last Week’s Record:  4-2

Overall Record:  39-31

A Long Weeknd

20 Nov

Abel Tesfaye, the man behind the musical persona The Weeknd, does not seem to care for the concept of holding something back.  His songs routinely push the five-minute mark, with nary an efficient, radio-friendly pop hit in sight, and he seems to enjoy combining multiple themes into one song – pushing those particular track times to over seven minutes.  When it comes to lyrical content, Tesfaye pretty much puts it all out there.  He’s not going to edit lyrics out of a fear of being too offensive, or of coming across as too sensitive or eccentric.  Based upon many lyrical samples from his short career it seems that whatever’s going on inside Abel’s head is going to be explicated at some point in a breathy falsetto or low-register rap.  Explicit tales of drug use, kinky sex, heavy drinking – it’s all there in vivid, gory detail.

So no, Abel does not seem to be a proponent of restraint when it comes to many aspects of his musical output as The Weeknd.  In light of that, it didn’t come as too big of a surprise when his first major-label release, Trilogy, lived up to its name and dropped as a package of three ‘discs’ (or whatever you want to call them in these stream-heavy modern times).  Three whole ‘discs’ composed of over 160 minutes of music on a major debut – that kind of confident grandiosity is right up Abel’s alley.

When it comes to the music of Trilogy, that inescapable refusal of The Weeknd to scale things back defines the listening experience.  There are brilliant highs in which the production and the songwriting combine to create a wholly unique and darkly sexual sonic world that is more seductive than most other musical releases from the past few years.  At the same time, there are musical runs and entire songs that fall on the wrong side of indulgent and that would have been best left to an optional bonus disc.  While these weaker parts of Trilogy take away from the quality of the album as a whole, they seem, for now, to be a necessary evil if we are to still get the full potential of Abel at his best.

Tracks like “The Party & The After Party” or “House Of Balloons / Glass Table Girls” (both not coincidentally on the first album, but more on this in a second) are great because the artist behind them is throwing every idea he’s got into the composition of the music.  These songs feature shifting themes and concepts, both narratively and sonically, and take the listener on an emotional trip that could only come from the mind of someone unafraid to put it all out there.  It’s human nature, particularly for a young professional, to have questionable or just plain bad ideas at times, and when everything is being put on the table from an Idea standpoint, there’s going to be some poor judgments mixed within the good-and-occasionally-brilliant ones.  When you look at Trilogy as an uncensored and immersive transmission from a uniquely gifted musical mind, it’s easier to forgive the occasional stumbles and outright mistakes.

There’s another way to look at Trilogy, however, that offers a less-optimistic view on the artistic merits of The Weeknd both now and in the future.  The majority of Trilogy is made up of tracks that have already been self-released by Abel on three separate mixtapes, dating back to 2010.  These older songs are structured in mostly chronological order on Trilogy, with the first disc comprised primarily of tracks from House of Balloons ( March 2011), the second disc from Thursday (August 2011), and the third disc from Echoes of Silence (December 2011).  This ordering of the tracks clarifies an issue that was already becoming apparent with each subsequent Weeknd mixtape release over the course of 2011 – the new material hasn’t really matched or improved upon the quality of House of Balloons.  With each new mixtape release, HoB looked stronger and more unique as a whole, bringing up the worry that maybe, just maybe, Abel had peaked in the beginning.  The fact that pretty much all of the new, non-mixtape material on Trilogy is underwhelming does not help to assuage the concern about ‘diminishing returns’.

Hopefully these concerns are unfounded, and the mixed results from Abel’s more recent efforts are simply the result of an artist continuing to grow and develop in the early stages of a career.  The Weeknd release have offered a unique and enthralling new voice in the musical landscape, and it is exciting to think of the potential highs yet to be reached by an artist so endeared to the idea of holding nothing back.  No matter what happens, there will at least be Trilogy – a sprawling compilation of sexually charged tales that, in the right spots, features some of the prettiest dirty music you’ll ever hear.

Hot Routes: Week Twelve

16 Nov

 

Editor’s Note:  This is the Swanky roundup of our top picks and songs of the week, running every week of the 2012 Year of Football.  For a primer, check out the Introduction.

Week Twelve

USC (7-3) at UCLA (8-2)

The pick: USC (-4)

The track:  Know Til Now by Jim James

The awesomely weird and incredibly talented Jim James is taking a break from blowing minds with My Morning Jacket, and is set to release a solo album in February.  That release date can’t come soon enough.  “Know Til Know” features some of James’ musical loves – wide-eyed soul and some irresistible funk.

 

Ole Miss (5-5) at LSU (8-2)

The pick:  LSU (-18.5)

The track:  Promises (Plastic Plates Remix) by The Presets

Ole Miss will be coming into this game with the motivation a long-held rivarly can bring, but they’ll be running up against an LSU team that has finally started to look competent offensively.  In the noisy confines of Death Valley, LSU should roll.

 

Texas Tech (7-3) at Oklahoma State (6-3)

The pick:  OK State (-9.5)

The track:  Big Trouble in Little China (feat. Action Bronson) by DJ Yoda

Beat mastermind DJ Yoda relies heavily on Asian musical touches to craft a seductive and laid-back beat that Action Bronson promptly jumps on and works to his lyrical will.

 

Cincinnati (4-5) at Kansas City (1-8)

The pick:  Cincinnati (-3.5)

The track:  Randy The Musical by Action Bronson

Things were already going quite badly for Kansas City this year, and now they’re coming off a demoralizing loss on a short week, with uncertainty still hanging over the QB position.  Cincinnati needs the win, and they’ll take advantage.

 

Green Bay (6-3) at Detroit (4-5)

The pick:  Green Bay (-3.5)

The track:  Walk On By by El Perro Del Mar

Swedish songstress El Perro Del Mar dropped her new album this week, and it features some solid electronic grooves to go with her strong voice.  “Walk On By” hearkens back to some mid-90s chilled out jams, in the best possible way.  You could almost swear you heard it first on The Beach soundtrack.

 

Tampa Bay (5-4) at Carolina (2-7)

The pick:  Tampa Bay (-1.5)

The track:  Today Is Our Life by Memory Tapes

“Today” takes its sweet time getting to a musical payoff, but when it gets there, the result is some of the most blissed-out musical goodness you’ll hear this week.  Follow the airy voice, the furious guitar lines, the bedroom drum beat and the keyboards as they shift and change until finally hitting the spot.  ‘Sup synthesizers.

 

 

Last Week’s Record:  3-3

Overall Record:  35-29

Hot Routes: Week Eleven

9 Nov

Editor’s Note:  This is the Swanky roundup of our top picks and songs of the week, running every week of the 2012 Year of Football.  For a primer, check out the Introduction.

Week Eleven

 

Texas A&M (7-2) at Alabama (9-0)

The pick:  Texas A&M (+13.5)

The track:  December 4th (Sourface Remix) by Jay-Z

Sourfacetakes Jay’s Black Album track on a triumphant journey back to the 70s, with a warm old-school beat marked by swelling strings and defiant trumpet bursts.  The production of the remix mirrors the themes and tonal shifts of the lyrics, pushing this release above most of the over hip-hop remixes constantly being released.  Warm, soulful vibes are paired with Jay’s retrospective rhymes, and the result is a mix that sounds polished and natural – as if Jay’s original release was actually just a modern take on an old-school cut.

 

Kansas State (9-0) at TCU (6-3)

The pick:  TCU (+7.5)

The track:  Take A Walk (Classixx Remix) by Passion Pit

Both of these teams are coming into their Week 11 matchup with meaningful questions surrounding the quarterback position.  Collin-with-two-Ls- Klein got rocked in last week’s game against Oklahoma State, and wasn’t allowed to re-enter the game after the hit.  He pretty clearly had some form of a concussion, so his status and capabilities for this week are up in the air.  If he can’t go or can’t play at his customary level, then TCU’s defense could take advantage in front of a lively home crowd.  TCU, meanwhile, has been starting a redshirt QB for the past month, and while he’s been serviceable, he’s also an inexperienced freshman going up against the No. 2 team in the country.  A lot of things could go wrong – but I think the homefield advantage keeps TCU within a TD.

 

Utah (4-5) at Washington (5-4)

The pick:  UW (+1)

The track:  Mouthful of Diamonds by Phantogram

I’m well behind on the Phantogram tip, but later is still better than never, especially when it comes to dynamic and seductive songs like “Mouthful of Diamonds.”  Like many of Phantogram’s tracks, “Diamonds” melds together aspects of hip-hop, electronic beats, and polished indie-rock to create a sound that is both propulsive and brooding.  It sounds as if the Postal Service got drunk at a hip-hop show and found some swagger to replace some of the tears.

 

Denver (5-3) at Carolina (2-6)

The pick:  Carolina (+4.5)

The track:  I Will Dare by The Replacements

The Replacements were one of those hallowed, ‘underground pioneer’ bands that I ended up reading quite a bit about before ever actually hearing their music.  Whether it was through perusing indie-rock retrospectives or interviews in which current bands cited them as a huge influence, The Replacements were slowly built up in my mind as a raw, bruising rock band that could be called a ‘punk band’ over any other classification.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I cued up Let It Be and the first thing I hear is this shimmery, buoyant-sounding song called “I Will Dare.”  Since it is the Replacements, “Dare” pairs pop elements with a welcome edge; the result is a great song that captures a drunken and defiant rock energy.

 

Atlanta (8-0) at New Orleans (3-5)

The pick:  Atlanta (-2.5)

The track:  Glawio by Com Truise

It’s been said many times over the last few weeks, but it bears repeating for this game at least: Atlanta is getting very little respect as an undefeated team.  There’s no other way to describe the line on this game being under 3 right now.  Sure, it’s a home game for the Saints, but they play in a dome just like the Falcons do.  And while the Saints looked good against a catastrophic Eagles team last week, their defense remains highly suspect, and they’re now going up against the high-powered ground-and-air attack of Matty Ice and the Falcons.  Even if Drew Brees manages to put up some points, the Saints and their D have an uphill battle.  They won’t make it within 3.

 

New York Jets (3-5) at Seattle (5-4)

The pick: Seattle (-6)

The track:  The Party & The After Party by The Weeknd

As The Weeknd prepares to release his major-label debut this month, why not take the chance to look back at how this soft-spoken artist built up white-hot online buzz over the last two years.  Some of his early notoriety had to do with the mysterious persona he initially cultivated, but all it takes is a listen to some of his tracks from House of Balloons and you know exactly why he took the music world by storm.  On songs like “The Party,” the crooner crafts tales of drugs, sex, and models that sound dangerous, seductive, and weirdly nasty.  These are meant for rainy nights and early mornings, and they won’t leave your head.

Last Week’s Record:  4-2

Overall Record:  32-26

Hot Routes: Week Ten

3 Nov

 

Editor’s Note:  This is the Swanky roundup of our top picks and songs of the week, running every week of the 2012 Year of Football.  For a primer, check out the Introduction.

Week Ten

 

Texas A&M (6-2) at Mississippi State (7-1)

The pick:  Miss. State (+7)

The track:  Bonafied’ Lovin (RAC Mix) by Chromeo

Among Chromeo’s many irresistibly funky dance tracks, “Bonafied’ Lovin” has always stood out as being particularly hard to get out of your head long after you’re too tired to keep dancing to it.  There’s something bordering on dancefloor perfection behind the combination of those “oh oh oh oh” refrains, the slinky synth jump-off, and the promise of lovin’.  It’s no surprise at all that RAC’s take on this jam finds a hot groove of its own – the RAC guys are no stranger to the kind of funky, new-disco party vibe that Chromeo loves to do.  Put it on and step back.

 

Alabama (8-0) at LSU (7-1)

The pick:  LSU (+8.5)

The track:  One by Ghostface Killah

I’m still holding a grudge against both of these teams for last year’s National Championship “game” – although Alabama wasn’t the one that took a dump on the field (LSU) they both contributed to a performance that was an affront to anyone who enjoys the concept of exciting football, and that was most likely responsible for some number of potential football fans turning their back on the game forever.  I know that both of these teams are very fearsome opponents to play, and that Alabama is probably the best team in the country.  That said, let’s hope this is the only time this year that we have to see this slugfest.  In this particular matchup, LSU is too good at home to be giving up more than a touchdown, even to ‘Bama.

 

Texas (6-2) at Texas Tech (6-2)

The pick:  Texas Tech (-6.5)

The track:  Bright Lights by Gary Clark Jr.

Gary Clark Jr. is undoubtedly a powerful and exciting talent when it comes to the blues.  This man plays the blues with a fury that at times seems like it was inherited directly from the Delta swamps in Robert Johnson’s neighborhood.  His live shows are already approaching a must-see status at this relatively early point in his career.  One of the things that has afflicted other talented guitarists in the past is translating their live energy to studio records.  Clark’s new album Blak and Blu displays some of that difficulty in its diverse genre-hopping, but the good thing for Clark is that there are some songs that bring his searing blues-rock attitude to the forefront.  “Bright Lights” is one of them.

 

Denver (4-3) at Cincinnati (3-4)

The pick:  Broncos (-6)

The track:  Danse Caribe by Andrew Bird

 

Tampa Bay (3-4) at Oakland (3-4)

The pick:  Tampa Bay (+1)

The track:  Secret Days by School of Seven Bells

 

Minnesota (5-3) at Seattle (4-4)

The pick: Seattle (-4)

The track:  The Ballad of El Goodo by Big Star

 

 

 

 

Last Week’s Record:  3-3

Overall Record:  28-24

I Wanna Party With You: Halloween Edition

30 Oct

Sometimes, you don’t really get to know what someone is really about until you can sit down, loosen the tie, and toss a couple back with them.  So whenever a particular group of people have piqued our interest here at DS, we figure the best way to learn more about them, and ourselves, is to take a look at what it would be like to party with them.  It’s social science, if you will.  This is I Wanna Party With You.  It’s heavy stuff.

Halloween Parties

The week or so before Halloween is prime party season.  A magical, party-friendly atmosphere is created by the confluence of a couple different factors:  1) the cooling temperatures give the night air a little extra zip, making those early fall nights feel refreshing and a bit dangerous,  2) Halloween is a pretty universal concept that everyone can use for an excuse to party, to the point that people will feel left out if they’re not there, and 3) there are costumes everywhere.

It’s factor number 3 that makes Halloween parties some of the more unique and absurd events on the year’s social calendar.  Costumes for Halloween provide an opportunity for people to shed their normal insecurities along with the shackles of social decorum and proceed to let their freak flags fly – behind the safety net of the fact that nearly everyone else is doing it.

It’s interesting that even though young kids are typically pretty riled up when it comes to dressing up for Halloween, it’s when people enter their later teens and adulthood that they start spending the most time and energy on costume decisions.  There usually seems to be a period of indifference to the idea of Halloween costumes around middle school and high school, but as kids start to get introduced to the fun-stifling constructs of the adult world, and as the definition of ‘party’ drastically changes, the motivation and possibilities of dressing up in costume strengthen and expand.

As you get older, you can start to appreciate the unique allure behind showing off some imagination and maybe looking extra-sexy while hanging out with a bunch of people doing the same.  Costumes are one big X-factor thrown into every Halloween party, and if you’re a fan of parties, you know how much better they can be with X-factors in the mix.

Coming into the chilly Halloween season this year, we’re going to take a look at a few of the more common X-factor outfits (read: costumes) that you, as a legal adult, maybe come into contact with this year.  Or you may be already planning on doing one or more of these ideas, and if so, we mean little to no offense for the following opinions.

 

Magic Mike

There are two possible avenues that a fellow could take to get to this particular costume choice.  The first could be a fully irony-free, bright-eyed, oiled-up, and fake-tanned embrace of the Magic Mike image.  This could be a gentleman who hits the gym daily and sees an opportunity to show the ladies that he can offer up the guns-and-washboard package just like the Chan-man can.  These guys’ lack of self-awareness, reliance on shiny graphic tees, and propensity for rage bursts could definitely be a party downer.

The other approach to MM time could throw some irony into the concept.  The ‘I know this is ridiculous, but I see the laughter behind Chan-man’s version of “Pony” and I want to join in on that brand of ridiculousness.  There’s bonus points given if they body type of said fellow is nowhere near that of Mike’s.  Just don’t look for too long.

Good Party Meter:

6/10

Presidential Candidate

With 2012 being an election year, there will probably be a few faux-presidential candidates running around out there.  Many of these topical revelers will go with the standard business suit-and-mask costume.  You know the masks – big rubber caricatures of presidents often used in cinematic bank robberies.  So far it seems like Obama masks are the most common ones, but we know Romney’s out there.

These masks are generally creepy even if you just see them hanging up on a shelf in some costume store, and when you put it on some drunk person you don’t really know at a house party you may or may not feel 100% safe at, it’s going to be a party buzz-killer.  Are they looking at you or at the person to your left?  Are those muffled sounds coming from behind the mask a request for more ice, or are they making a lewd come-on that you should be taking as a sign to get the hell out of the room?  Just lose the mask.  You’re making everyone feel weird.

Good Party Meter:

1/10

Breaking Bad

Another buzzy piece of entertainment that will inspire some costumes this year is Breaking Bad.  The most common of these will probably be the yellow jumpsuit and gas mask combination that Walter White and Jesse Pinkman wear to cook their very special brand of blue meth.  If someone is out wearing this particular costume, it says a couple of things about them that give a promising indication of their party abilities.

First, they are promoting an amazing series, and they have good taste.  Second, they are okay with a little grittiness, hence the drug references, and as long as this is not a lot of grittiness, that adds some flavor to the proceedings.  Third, if it’s a lady in a yellow suit, they have all of the above, plus a sense of humor about things, and the self-confidence to pull it all off.  Check, check, check.

Good Party Meter:

7/10

Replacement Ref

This would have been a cool choice for about two days a couple of months ago.  Unfortunately, there will be a decent amount of partygoers this Halloween who didn’t get that particular vibe from this costume choice, and will push forward in an attempt to be topical with some zebra stripes and zany accessories.

The party problems this indicates is that this person has a thudding sense of humor and probably doesn’t get out much.  Also, after a few Zimas, they will most likely start blowing on a whistle or doing severe hand motions that will get old midway through the first time it happens.  If it’s a lady who is wearing a ref shirt and nothing else, we’ll reconsider adding a couple of points.  But still.

Good Party Meter:

3/10

80s

In the past several years, the 80s have seen a widespread costume resurgence to the point that a college 80s aerobics-themed party is no longer just a cliche – it’s an expected tradition.  So whoever goes the 80s route for their costume will more than likely be getting a big 0 for originality.  That’s a zero.  When it comes to communicating and facilitating a debauched, no-holds-barred party energy, however, the 80s are second-to-none.

Try putting on a serious 80s party costume and then not having at least a tiny urge to get out there and dance your ass off to New Wave with other 80s-themed cuties.  It’s pretty tough to resist it.  The other solid thing about the 80s decision is that you’ll run out of parties before you run out of costume options.  Barely.  There’s 80s rocker, wrestler, skier, prom, wedding, fitness, porn star, prep school, beach day….

Good Party Meter:

8/10

 

Party On…

Hot Routes: Week Nine

26 Oct

Editor’s Note:  This is the Swanky roundup of our top picks and songs of the week, running every week of the 2012 Year of Football.  For a primer, check out the Introduction.

Week Nine

Due to some extracurricular activities going on this week at Dan Swanky’s, this version of Hot Routes will be a bit shorter than usual.  There’s no need to worry – you’re still getting the hot tunes that can soundtrack the victory parties you’ll throw after these picks work themselves out.

A couple of quick notes for this week:

Kendrick Lamar’s new album good kid, m.A.A.d city is represented in these track selections for good reason.  It’s one of the best hip-hop albums of the past several years, and is both an excellent homage to classic West Coast gangsta rap, and a crazily unique foray into new sonic territory.  Don’t just listen to one track here and there – go all in.

This is a proving weekend for a few teams that could be competing for the National Championship in a couple of months.  Alabama gets its first semi-test, and while I think they’ll win, I don’t think they’ll smash Miss. State as they have other teams.  USC is coming in at only -6.5 in Arizona, and I expect them to continue the improvement they’ve shown in recent games.  They’re getting a lot better, and Arizona is not.  Lastly, Florida seems to be riding a bit too high right now, and while I didn’t pick their game below, I think there’s a sneaky potential for Georgia to pull off an upset.  But don’t hold me to it.

USC (6-1) at Arizona (4-3)

The pick:  USC (-6.5)

The track:  Thriller (DiscoTech Remix) by Michael Jackson

Notre Dame (7-0) at Oklahoma (5-1)

The pick:  Oklahoma (-12)

The track:  So Good To Me by Chris Malinchak

Mississippi State (7-0) at Alabama (7-0)

The pick:  Mississippi State (+24)

The track:  Money Trees by Kendrick Lamar

Seattle (4-3) at Detroit (2-4)

The pick:  Seattle (+2.5)

The track:  Don’t You Evah by Spoon

New York Giants (5-2) at Dallas (3-3)

The pick:  New York (-2.5)

The track:  The Keeper (Banks Remix) by Bonobo

New Orleans (2-4) at Denver (3-3)

The pick: Denver (-6)

The track:  Graveyard Girl by M83

Last Week’s Record:  4-2

Overall Record:  25-21

Hot Routes: Week Eight

20 Oct

 

Editor’s Note:  This is the Swanky roundup of our top picks and songs of the week, running every week of the 2012 Year of Football.  For a primer, check out the Introduction.

 

Week Eight

 

Baylor (3-2) at Texas (4-2)

The pick:  Baylor (+8.5)

The track:  Fucking Problems by A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz, Drake & Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar was all over the interwebs this week, and his new album doesn’t even drop until next Tuesday.  This isn’t anything to complain about, however – his wordy, fluid rhymes and eccentric musical tastes are an energizing new force in hip-hop.  Kendrick started building buzz based on his affiliation with Dr. Dre, but the strength of his last album and the early buzz on his new one is pointing towards a big breakout in his own right.  With that breakout comes a recognized acceptance into the ‘young elite’ club of today’s hip-hop world, and “Fucking Problem” is a showcase for some prominent members of said club.  While fellow breakout star A$AP Rocky gets the top billing on the song, Kendrick, Drake and elder statesman 2 Chainz all get their chance to shine over a beat that draws out some of their top-drawer efforts.

 

South Carolina (6-1) at Florida (6-0)

The pick:  South Carolina (+3.5)

The track:  Me and My Shadow by M. Ward

A potentially major issue in this game is Marcus Lattimore’s health – if he can’t go, then the Gamecocks might be starting at a disadvantage.  If he can go though, I think this is going to be a hard-fought game that stays within 3 points.  The Ball Coach will have his team ready for a fight in The Swamp, and even though they just lost to LSU, I think S.C. will play Florida tougher than LSU did.

 

Kansas State (6-0) at West Virginia (5-1)

The pick:  Kansas State (+2.5)

The track:  The Page by Chromatics

It was surprising to see this line come out in favor of West Virginia after the embarrassment laid on them last week at Texas Tech.  Sure, the Mountaineers  are now at home, where they can draw upon the lusty, booze-fueled rage of the Mountaineer faithful.  But some home-field momentum can’t fix a defense that hasn’t stopped anyone all season, and Kansas State’s defense most likely picked up some valuable tips from Texas Tech on how to slow down WVU’s vaunted offense.  Kansas State has the edge here, and should send the Holgorsen Mullets to their second straight defeat.

 

Arizona (4-2) at Minnesota (4-2)

The pick:  Minnesota (-6.5)

The track:  So Many Details by Toro y Moi

On his new track, Toro Y Moi maintains some of his signature sound – laid-back funky electro and spacey croon – while also pushing things in an expansive, moody and interesting new direction.  Electronic squiggles and guitar loops float in and out of a beat that takes its sweet time building up to an emotional climax in step with the brooding lyrics.  When everything winds down in a swirl of drum beats, you’re left wondering what it was you just listened to – and why it sounded so strangely compelling.

 

Green Bay (3-3) at St. Louis (3-3)

The pick:  Green Bay (-5)

The track:  Poetic Justice by Kendrick Lamar feat. Drake

Aaron Rodgers submitted the “Fuck You” game that many expected last week, and it succeeded in putting a reeling Packers team back on track after a rough start.  The Pack looked great last week, and while the excitement from that fired-up win should be tempered going into this Sunday, the newfound confidence of Rodgers’ offense should be feared by the Rams.  St. Louis has played decently at home this year, but if Green Bay is anywhere close to the level they were at against the Texans (which they should be) this game is not going to be within a touchdown.

 

Pittsburgh (2-3) at Cincinnati (3-3)

The pick: Cincinnati (+1)

The track:  It Gets Dark by Holy Ghost!

I’m not sure if it was intentional, but it’s suitable that Holy Ghost! released their newest single around Halloween.  This track features the same energetic, expansive new disco sound that made HG!’s debut album so compelling, while also adding in a dark, menacing tone that lends a great edge to everything.  It’s a little bit of Thriller by way of LCD Soundsystem.

 

 

 

Last Week’s Record:  4-2

Overall Record:  21-19

Hot Routes: Week Seven

12 Oct

 

Editor’s Note:  This is the Swanky roundup of our top picks and songs of the week, running every week of the 2012 Year of Football.  For a primer, check out the Introduction.

Week Seven

South Carolina (6-0) at LSU (5-1)

The pick:  South Carolina (+3)

The track:  Night Light (Joe Goddard Remix) by Jesse Ware

South Carolina and LSU are coming off pretty different emotions after their games last week.  South Carolina rode a wave of crowd-fueled adrenaline on their way to dominating Georgia, while LSU continued to spit in the face of the idea that football should be fun to watch in their grinding loss to Florida.  One big question here is whether S.C. can play at the same high level as last week when their crazy home crowd is replaced by the hostile fanbase at Death Valley.  I think that S.C. has more talent overall than LSU, especially on offense, and that will carry them through.

 

Tennessee (3-2) at Mississippi State (5-0)

The pick:  Miss. State (-3)

The track:  I Owe You This (feat. Twin Shadow) by Chad Valley

Two artists who know their way around synthesizers and drum machines collaborate for a silky smooth New Wave/R&B hybrid jam.  Chad Valley and Twin Shadow have a love for all things 80s, and their sounds complement each other quite well.  If these guys aren’t on some kind of tour bill within the year, there’s something wrong with the music world.

 

West Virginia (5-0) at Texas Tech (4-1)

The pick:  West Virginia (-4)

The track:  Hail Bop by Django Django

While I do think that West Virginia will not make it through the season undefeated – their defense is just nowhere near good enough – I don’t think that this is the week for the first loss.  The Dana Holgorsen Mullets have enough firepower to win by at least 4 points here.

 

Kansas City (1-4) at Tampa Bay (1-3)

The pick:  Tampa Bay (-4.5)

The track:  Reagan’s Skeleton by Yeasayer

This cut from Yeasayer’s recent album is straight from the LCD Soundsystem school of new disco.  Following the template of those great LCD jams, “Reagan’s Skeleton” builds up as it goes along, adding energy with every new layer of sound that comes in.  Eventually it burns everything down in a glorious burst of chaotic dancefloor moves.

 

New York Giants (3-2) at San Francisco (4-1)

The pick:  Giants (+6.5)

The track:  It’s Not Over by Panama

This is going to be a hotly anticipated game, with the 9ers bringing in the motivation from last year’s heartbreaking playoff loss, and the Giants bringing the defiant swagger of a reigning champ that knows it has something to prove.  I’m not totally sold that the Giants can outright win, but they know how to bring the intensity in big games, and I like their chances of keeping it close.

 

Buffalo (2-3) at Arizona (4-1)

The pick: Cardinals (-4.5)

The track:  Arch & Point by Miguel

R&B singers always seem better when they’ve got a weird edge to them – when the creative spirit inside their heads is just too strong to be contained, and as a result comes out in awesomely strange sonic flourishes, or in brilliantly twisted lyrics about the thrills of various vices (usually drugs and sex).  R. Kelly is an old-school proponent of awesome R&B weirdness, and more recently, The Weeknd built up some incredible buzz with his own brand of drug-fueled silkiness.  And here we have Miguel, who is firmly staking out his own position in the R&B world with his excellent new album Kaleidoscope Dream.  Invite a few special friends over, light some candles, and buckle in.

 

 

Last Week’s Record:  4-2

Overall Record:  17-17

Personal Soundtrack

8 Oct

The Song

 

Mind Mischief by Tame Impala

One of the things that sets Tame Impala apart from most other bands today is their ability to get awesomely weird and loose while never losing focus on whatever tight rhythm they’ve locked into.  The bottom end is deep and prominent throughout the group’s new album Lonerism, but instead of overpowering the rest of the dynamic musical shifts going on everywhere else, the bass and drum sections stay tight to the beat and keep things grounded in a scuzzy, funked-up groove.

Sometimes the heavy rock rhythm comes to the forefront – like in the righteously woolly “Elephant” – and sometimes it sits back before emerging just in time to end a spacey tangent with a nasty bass line/drum run combo.  Despite the airy sound of the Beatles-invoking vocals, Tame Impala are always going to make sure that their electronic-sprinkled brand of psychedelia is heavy enough to get you moving.

The Activity

This is blowing your mind.  Not literally – although you’re pretty sure that if you were ever able to open the window you’re sitting next to, your mind would actually be blown.  Along with the rest of your body.  Into space.  That – space – would be part of what’s blowing your figurative mind right now.

It had all started pretty innocuously – you and Steve hopping in his VW and road tripping down to Florida so you wouldn’t miss the rocket launch that Mr. F. Kennedy had so epically spoken about several years before.  Things were going pretty groovy in the back of the VW on the way down – Steve had volunteered to drive as long as you kept the joints rolled, lit, and passed – and you had both managed to build up a nice little buzz.  And then when you finally got to the launch site and saw how fucking awesome that rocket looked in all it’s shiny, paid-for-by-the-Man glory?  Probably the best moment in your life.

That moment was so good in fact, that you and Steve had decided to take some of that new acid in honor of the event.  Into the red cups of Schliltz it went as you both toasted to America and to the babes parked two spots over in the viewing area.

The Schlitz was the last thing you can remember before just about five minutes ago, when you woke up in the the rocket you were toasting to earlier.  The rocket that is now orbiting the moon.  And that is currently emitting some strangely awesome sounds from what signs tell you is the cockpit.

As you stir in your brand-new space gear, flashes of the past couple hours come back into your head.  Something to do with using the newfound mental awareness the special Schlitz had given you to talk your way past several rounds of lax 60s-era security guards and into the final prep room for the lunar astronauts.  You’re not sure how at the moment, but at some point in the prep room, you switched places with one of the flight crew, and ambled your way into flight position number three.

Well, there’s no use worrying anymore about how you got out here – right?  That music is continuing to get louder as you release your restraints and float effortlessly towards the hatch leading to the cockpit.  As you open it up and float into the corridor, the music leads you straight into a large, cavernous room that is filled with four other floating astronauts, and one shaggy-haired band grooving away on the floor.

On the floor?  You think about the laws of gravity for a moment, and start to wonder if maybe you’re still in the back of Steve’s VW, listening to his new sound system in the Florida swamps.  That’s to be shaken off, though, for now.  When is the next time you’ll be able to listen to an awesomely groovy band in deep-space orbit?