My favorite music of 2010

It is that time of year again to review the music of the year. Now, I’ll remind you of my usual disclaimer: I make no claim to know what is good music, but I know what I like, so you’ll have to live with that.

So, without much further ado, here is 2010 in Review (curious what 2008 or 2009 looked like?)

Some honorable mentions that just missed: Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; Typhoon’s Hunger and Thrist; Caribou’s Swim; Vampire Weekend’s Contra and Robyn’s Body Talk. Kanye always impresses me at first but I’ve been burned by the staying power of his stuff. Caribou released what I had hoped that Hot Chip’s One Life Stand was while Robyn’s inclusion is highly weighted by what might be my single of the year “Dancing on my Own“.

20. Dealing in Antiques by Cats on Fire – Sure, might be rarities/demos but I love this band.
19. Surf Noir EP by Beat Connection
18. Magic Chairs by Efterklang – More Scandinavians. Sorry.
17. Fur Dich Immer Noch Fanta Sie by Die Fantastichen Vier – Quickly, they’re becoming, in my mind, the most important non-English-speaking act out there.
16. Fight Softly by the Ruby Suns
15. II by Crystal Castles – Shouting and synths. I still follow that siren song.
14. Halycon Digest by Deerhunter – Many people will gasp, but dang it if Deerhunter is still uneven.
13. High Violet by the National – In a sense, the opposite of Deerhunter: too even.
12. Trans-Continental Hustle by Gogol Bordello
11. Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager by Kid Cudi – After Lupe Fiasco, probably the most daring mainstream rapper out there (Sorry, Kanye and Jay-Z)

10. Hidden by These New Puritans – Like the Horrors in 2009, These New Puritans’ sophomore album annihilates their so-so debut.

9. Transference by Spoon – This might be the first time Spoon has ever made one of my “best of” lists. I have honestly no idea what this Spoon album clicked with me while every other one hasn’t.

8. Memphis by Magic Kids – Sorry, it is sticky sweet, like XTC 2.0, but better and much much younger than they should be.

7. All Day by Girl Talk – I still can’t shake the feeling that Girl Talk doesn’t deserve to be this high, but you have to acknowledge the fact that I can’t stop listening. I still feel dirty in a postmodern way.

Check out the mashup deconstruction of All Day.

6. Grinderman II by Grinderman – I know some like the mellower side of Nick Cave, but I do appreciate the badass side, too.

5. My Best Friend is You by Kate Nash – Honestly, she should be one of the Doctor’s companions, right? Right?! (Steven Moffatt, I hope you’re listening).

4. The Suburbs by the Arcade Fire – They’re R.E.M. or something now. You might have heard of them.

3. Lisbon by the Walkmen – Sometimes I think the Walkmen are the best true rock band in existence. Maybe that is why I would have been a poor music director at a radio station and a much better petrologist.

2. Treats by Sleigh Bells – Back in the mid ’90s, I proclaimed that Atari Teenage Riot was ahead of its time. I think time has caught up.

1. This is Happening by LCD Soundsystem – I’m not 100% sure, but I think James Murphy’s albums topped my lists every year he released one. Bastard. Honestly, “Dance Yrself Clean” is absolutely monumental, like the Colossus of Rhodes but extant.

There you go … now have it.

The “5 Tools” of Academics

So, I asked this question on Twitter earlier today, but I thought I’d make the discussion easier here on my personal (non-volcano) blog. Here’s the gist:

We are currently running a search for a tenure-track professor and it got me wondering how to evaluate candidates. In baseball, players are ranked (especially young players) based on the 5 tools:

1. Running speed
2. Hitting for contact
3. Hitting for power
4. Fielding ability
5. Arm strength

These are seen as the 5 most important, fundamental aspects to playing the game of baseball. Players are rated by scouts on a scale of 20-80, where 20 is poor and 80 is truly exceptional. For example, a player with a 80 rating for hitting for power will knock out the lights in the stadium like the “The Natural” while a 20 will barely hit it out of the infield.

So, I started thinking, can we define the 5 tools of academics – the 5 most fundamental pieces needed to succeed in academics, either at a big research school or a small liberal arts (or everything in between). What are you thoughts? What are the skills and what score would you give the best R1 or SLAC professors in each of the tools? Do you think this is an effective way to impartially assess candidates or is there no way to pull that off? Lots of things to ponder, hopefully some of you will join the discussion.