Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fresh Top 5

I've decided to update my Top 5 list again. I just couldn't deal with having a list of all North Americans like I did in my last incarnation. So I've decided to drop Moon Bloodgood and Missy Peregrym from the 4 and 5 spots and bring on an Aussie and a Brit. Here goes:

5) Billie Piper, Actress, 25. If you haven't been watching "Secret Diary of a Callgirl" you are missing out. Not only is the show fantastic, but Billie really shines as Hannah, the high end working girl. Billie was a pop star in the UK before getting into acting, and did a turn on the venerable "Dr. Who" series which she is reprising as we speak. All I can think about when I see her is the line in the Flight of the Conchords song: "You're so beautiful, you could be a high class prostitute" but in a really flattering way. By which I mean: she is the perfect combination of hot, beautiful and sexy to believe that men would pay her thousands of dollars to sleep with her. (She's the blonde on the right in this video):

4) Nicky Whelan, Actress, 25. Crack, Heroin, Caffeine and Australian nighttime soap operas. These are some of the most addictive things in the world, and Ms. Whelan was one of the stars of "Neighbours" for years. She has what is quite possibly the best body I have ever seen which would normally be enough. However, like scores of Aussies beauties before her she also has beautiful face with a smile and eyes capable of lighting up the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The assault on your senses is topped off when you hear her quintessential Aussie accent in this clip from Neighbours, she is also the blonde on the right:

This awkward moment between friends lead to this amazingly contrived soap opera moment, now you see why Inky and I loved this show:

The rest of the list stays the same:

3) Evangeline Lilly, Actress, 29. I can't believe we have to wait 5 more months till Lost comes back, but Kate makes the wait worth wild. I don't know how I feel about them being off the island, however, which means that she will spend a lot less time in a swimsuit.

2) Anne Hathaway, Actress, 25. After seeing Anne on Aussie talk show "Rove" I'm even more smitten than ever. She is quite simply a stunning woman, who seems to have a great personality and was once married to William Shakespeare.

1) Mila Kunis, Actress 25. The very fact that I can still think she is scorching after hearing her as Meg Griffin for all these years tells you how hot she really is. Now, she just needs to back up her great turn in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" soon with another role.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Somebody Call Carl Spackler!

Inky and I were watching some TV on Fox last night when we saw one of our friends while fast forwarding through commercials. He is a reporter at the local affiliate and he was doing a tease for that night's news. The story: Someone took a dump in a local pool... six different times. So they dispatched the intrepid reporter to cover the story and work in as many puns as possible. A fluff news piece about turds in a pool just isn't complete with out things like: "they are trying to flush out the perpetrator" or as the ABC affiliate called the mad crapper: "poopetrator". My favorite was when my friend said that turd spotting was not one of the lifeguards usual "duties" which he somehow managed to get through with a straight face.

My friends and I, on our best days, are one step above a third grader when it comes to dick and shit jokes, so I have no idea how he made it through this assignment. I know the gag reel must be an hour long, and filled with "Caddyshack" references not to mention countless giggles and crack ups. I know that it is physically impossible for me to hear about shit in a pool without laughing, or wondering to myself if this is what it looked like when it was discovered:

Of course I'm also pragmatic, so I know that once doodie is found it your pool, it's no big deal. You just need to call the assistant greenskeeper to drain the pool, and mop the bottom. Like this:

One thing that was driven home on both the ABC and Fox stories about the incident, was that this is a topic that no one finds funny. No one? Really? Maybe they should have called me if they were looking for someone who thinks it's hilarious that someone has been dropping a deuce at the pool. I get myself worked up in a laughing fit just trying to work out the logistics of shitting in crowded pool. Dose one swim to bottom, or do it while floating on the surface? Do you pull your trunks down, or just go in your pants and let it drift out of the leg? (a move that XL and I know as: The Federico.) What happens if you've had Mexican food, or an abundance of corn or peanuts? Good questions all, good questions all.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Can I Get Down on That

So do I have to see my H.R. rep to get them to take some dough out of my paycheck so I'll be eligible for this upon retirement? I mean, there was a time when this type of pension would have just been a total tease, because by the time you retired you wouldn't be able to enjoy all that pussy in your pension. Now, with the advent of ED drugs like Viagra, you could get knee deep in your pension and really reap the rewards. (Plus you can also nail your wife up to four hours after your kid comes home from college unannounced, and you can sit in a separate bathtubs and hold hands as the sun goes down, but I think we all know that's not nearly as good a use as taking a withdraw from your pussy pension)

I hate to use the really old joke here: but what do you think the penalty for early withdrawal is? And to save up for the big payout at retirement, do I need to be putting pussy away? Cause I don't think Inky would be down with that, unless, of course she gets to bank a cock or twelve. And if I bank a 22 year old pussy now, and go to collect in 30 years, will it still be 22 year old pussy or will it be 52 year pussy, because that seems like diminishing returns. I don't have a whole lot of extra time on my hands to be playing around in the pussy futures market you know. Unless, of course, I'm able to buy low and sell.... wait. What? The story is about a dude who is making a ton of money in Australia by betting on the Geelong Cats Football Club.

Talk about your miss leading headlines.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Song Spotlight: Fountains of Wayne - "Hey Julie"

During a recent trip to a record store in Baltimore, the 2003 Fountains of Wayne record "Welcome Interstate Managers" came up. I really liked the record, which most people remember for the song "Stacy's Mom" but which really is solid through out. In my mind the standout track is "Hey Julie" figured is a great way for a lot of us to start a Monday. Chances are pretty good most of us would rather be at home with a certain special someone who makes our lives worth living, rather than at work. This song spells it out perfectly.

Working all day for a mean little man
With a clip-on tie and a rub-on tan
He's got me running 'round the office like a dog around a track
But when I get home,
You're always there to rub my back

Hey Julie,
Look what they're doing to me
Trying to trip me up
Trying to wear me down
Julie, I swear, it's so hard to bear it
And I'd never make it through without you around

Hours on the phone making pointless calls
I got a desk full of papers that means nothing at all
Sometimes I catch myself staring into space
Counting down the hours 'til I get to see your face

Hey Julie,
Look what they're doing to me
Trying to trip me up
Trying to wear me down
Julie, I swear, it's so hard to bear it
And I'd never make it through with out you around
No, I'd never make it through with out you around

How did it come to be
That you and I must be
Far away from each other every day?
Why must I spend my time
Filling up my mind
With facts and figures that never add up anyway?
They never add up anyway

Working all day for a mean little guy
With a bad toupee and a soup-stained tie
He's got me running 'round the office
Like a gerbil on a wheel
He can tell me what to do
But he can't tell me what to feel

Hey Julie,
Look what they're doing to me
Trying to trip me up
Trying to wear me down
Julie, I swear, it's so hard to bear it
And I'd never make it through with out you around
No, I'd never make it through without you around
No, I'd never make it through with out you around

Friday, July 25, 2008

More Fresh Ink

My long tattoo Odyssey is nearly at an end. I went up to Mechanicsburg PA last night to for three more hours of tattoo work with my artist: Angel. Since I made the fateful decision to turn this project into a three quarters sleeve, I've know that I was in for a bit more pain when the time came to do the elbow. And let me tell you, the elbow hurts as much to tattoo as you think. In the end the pain was worth it, as the sea serpent now wraps around my elbow on his trip up the back of my arm. Next time we finish it all off with the moon up on the top of my arm, some more water at the bottom and one or two other small touches. I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

If I Had $1,000,000.00

At work today, I brought up that age old question: if you won a ton of money in the lottery, would you still work? Now, this is a no brainer for me, but I am always amazed by the people who respond like two of my coworkers did today. Some people say "I'd still do some kind of job, because I'd be bored" or something to that effect. This shit baffles me.

If I won the lottery, I would do everything and anything to be sure that I never worked a day in my life again. If that meant living a modest but free life off the interest, then so be it. What I wouldn't have to worry about is being bored. Inky and I would travel. We would see it all, and thanks to a longstanding J4 handshake agreement, we'd have XL to help run our empire.

If we won a huge amount of money, XL would be the CEO of our company: FCE and the president of our charity: The Belinda and Mill Gates Foundation. It should be noted that I have agreed to act in the same capacity for XL, should he ever strike it rich. After getting the basics down, I would set about living a life very much patterned after all the worst attributes of a Roman Emperor. There would be no roads projects, Aqueducts or temples built to please the gods.

No, if I won the BIG powerball I would live a life of controlled opulence. I'm not one for tons of cars, big tasteless houses or gaudy jewelry. I'm all about experiences and to that end I would host an orgy or twelve, have someone feed Inky grapes and fan her and of course stage gladiator style games for my amusement. While traveling around the world, from city to city and country to country Inky and I would try to collect every experience there is till we're called to the big Amphitheatrum Flavium in the sky.

What I wouldn't do, good people, is work.


Monday, July 21, 2008

These. Mutha Fucking. Rocks.

I've waited about a week to announce my most recent victory in the household chore arena. I wanted to wait and see how my newest pet project responded to the elements before I crowed about it, and we had been lacking in the rain department over the last few days. First, the back story. The community that Inky and I live in has it's pluses and minuses. For instance, a big plus is that we have our own drive ways, which we learned through XL's experience is a big deal. A minus, however, is that the driveways have a strip of earth between them that has to be maintained.

This 2 foot by 12 foot stripe has been a bit of a nuance to us over these last 6 years, as we've had to weed it, or deal with all the mulch that would wash out when it rained. So I decided to go out and get a fuckload of rocks to put down there. (Fuckload is a technical term for not as much as I needed in the first place, so I had to go back to the store for more) Once Inky and I had pulled all weeds and crap out, we laid down some of that black "weed block" plastic and set about dispersing the stones.

Sixteen bags later we had the finished product you see above. I was very happy with the outcome, especially since I took extra care to make sure the edges were well defined and covered with rock. What's that saying about a reward for a job well done? Oh yeah, my reward is not having to think about how ghetto that think looks with 2 foot weeds growing out of it.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

And I Don't Feel Bad

Inky and I are only just learning how to control our powers. We are like fledgling superheros with no instructor. Case in point: while driving down one of Central Pennsylvania's highways we were enveloped by a mob of douche bags on motorcycles. They began doing wheelies and weaving in and out of traffic. In a situation like this, one false move by one of the bike riding d-bags and we could have been playing slalom just trying to avoid running one of them over.

As they showed off for one another we started to talk about the complete and total disregard they seemed to have, not only for the people around them, but for themselves. It was at that time that we invoked the power. It is the same power that a sports broadcaster has to break up a no hitter or cause a sharpshooting basketball player to miss a free throw.

"These guys deserve to wipe out and crash"

And lo, what happened? As we curled around an exit ramp, watching d-bags pass us on the shoulder to catch up to the main d-bag pack, a cloud of dirt caught my eye. In the triangle of grass between the exit ramp and the highway we were merging on to we saw a rouge d-bag struggling to keep his rice burner upright. After about 5 over and back motions the handlebars turned to the left and the bike when down. The d-bag, however, when up. He flew at least 10 feet and turned over in the air what had to have been a dozen times.

All the other d-bags stopped to check on him, and Inky and I were able to continue our ride unfettered. Job well done. Oh, and case you were wondering, yes: it is funny to see someone fall of a motorcycle, provided he brought it on himself by totally disregarding his own safety and the safety of those around him.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hey Greazy: You've Got Something in Your Teeth

Short of walking around with you fly down all day, is there anything more mortifying than looking at yourself in the bathroom mirror and seeing a whole fucking stalk of basil in your teeth? You immediately start thinking about every conversation you've had since lunch time. Hopefully you had something with basil in it a lunch, or you can get very down on your own personal hygiene habits.

Finding themselves in this situation many people get mad at their coworkers for not pointing out that they look like they are growing a chiapet in choppers, but I totally understand. I don't like being the one that has to tell someone that they are guilty of an appearance faux pas, so I normally just let them find out on their own, like I just did.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Performance Enhancing Enhancements

First and foremost, I'm going to have to ask you to forgive the amount of thought I've put into this subject. I throw myself on the mercy of the court and plead forgiveness since, at the very least the topic of this post basically boils down to T&A. That said, I ask: What the hell are the Miss Universe judges smoking? Miss Venezuela, Dayana Mendoza, won the title, but I think they had to adjust the sash to get it to fit around her huge, fake tits. One look at this picture and you know for sure that Dayana is packing two large ziplock bags filled with silicon there, which at one point in time used to disqualify a woman from competing for the title of Miss Universe.

I've never been a fan of implants, and while they have their place (namely: on the wife of an older doctor, in porn and on either side of a pole) I don't think they should be in a beauty contest. If Laura Dundovic had gone out and gotten a couple of bowling balls strapped to her chest, would she have had a better chance to win? Laura is Miss Australia, and she has obvious natural beauty. So to does Taliana Vargas of Columbia who was the first runner up. (Laura on left and Taliana on right)

There is no doubting that both Miss Columbia and Miss Australia are knockouts with amazing bodies and beautiful faces. And Columbia placed first in both the evening gown and the swimsuit so... wait, what's that thumping sound? Oh, it's just my Dad rolling over in his grave knowing his straight son is the one writing this.

I didn't watch the show (I was scared away by Jerry Springer and Mel B as hosts) so I don't know how these two did in the "interview" but I'm sure the difference in the top 15 was negligible. So what are the judges using to make this decision? And, most importantly, how much weight does jug size carry? Pardon the chauvinistic pun. It's not as if Miss Venezuela is really all that pretty, she just has a rock hard body and big clown tits. So, basically the Miss Universe Pageant has just become a VH1 reality show then huh? If that's the case, that's cool, I now know to give it no attention whatsoever, as opposed to the passing glance I used to give it.

It's just that it's hard for me to let this kind of injustice stand. We already live in a world where people think Fergie is hot, and I can't stand to see more of that injustice perpetrated. If they were going to give the crown to a woman with fake knockers they could of at least gone with Miss Dominican Republic, Marianne Cruz, who also happens to be hot, as you can see here.

It's just sad to see what the Donald has wrought on this once proud and completely insipid competition. Now it is just a feeder system for the worlds entertainment reporters to be. Don't get me wrong, the world needs hot eye-candy in a ball gown to ask questions of famous people on the red carpet, but shouldn't they have to get their job the old fashioned way? By spreading their legs for some wretched old producer? When it's all said and done, I guess I am happy that pretty little Laura Dundovic will get to go on to become a Psychologist rather than being a model at some car truck and boat show somewhere. Look how pretty she looks in that footy jumper, holding that sherrin! As for Miss USA she became the second American in a row to fall on her ass. We're all so proud!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

De Fuhrer of Beers?

If it hadn't already become clear to people that the American way of doing business needs some updating, this should do it. Belgium based InBev SA is going to spend around 50 billion bucks to buy Anheuser-Busch, making the American King of Beers the bitch of Northern Europe. No longer will the beer represent St. Louis and the heartland of America. No, now it will be more closely tied to Brugge, Brussels and Waterloo.

How and why is this happening? Well, it starts with the fact that the capitalist business model is loyal only to money, and not to nation of origin. That is why it is so comical that the Republican party in this country is both the party of "American Values" and of big business, because they are diametrically opposed to one another. What is best for the CEO of a company is for that company to make him, and his stock holders -of which he would be one- a fuckload of money. Fuckload is a technical term, usually defined as: more than any person could spend in their life time.

This gathering of green is normally accomplished on the backs of the American worker, who generally have those backs looked out for by a Labor (or Labour) party in other nations. Failing that in the States the Democrats have long been the party most commonly affiliated with the labor movement, but they are always painted as pinko commie liberals who want to make men marry men and allow you to light your joint with old glory. So they are marginalized by the Right who make people chose between their bible and their bank book.

The long term breakdown of the middle class, coupled with a war we can barely afford -even with the billions we borrow from China on a weekly basis- has lead to a point where the greenback is thoroughly devalued. Trust me, as a person who recently spent a month overseas, I know from devalued dollars. So this deal became a steal for InBev who are basically getting Bud off the bargain rack. What is scary is that Wall St may as well have a big "Everything Must Go" sign on it right now as EU corporations are licking their chops at the chance to get a US blue chip on the cheep.

The only way to keep American companies in American hands is to make sure that they become to pricey for European, Oriental and Middle Eastern companies to buy. The best way to be sure that happens is for the dollar to be robust, the economy to be strong and the military budget to be at the lowest level possible which will still ensure readiness and protection. To do that we need to leave Iraq now. Not on January 20th of 2009, now. We need to start taxing rich companies who's actions impact the American worker negatively (i.e. sending jobs overseas to improve the profit margin, even though they are already profitable). Lastly, we need to start making things in the US again and stop using the money we borrow from China to buy things from them. That is tantamount to borrowing money from "Vinnie the Nose" just so you can buy a hot stereo from him.

All great societies reach a stagnant point where their growth is outstripped by their lethargy. Now doesn't have to be that time for us, but we need to vigilant in ensuring that our way of life is preserved, not from fundamentalist Muslims, but from corporate tycoons.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Roads Taken and Not Taken

Back in 1979 the government tapped my old man to take over a disastrous project in the New York area, and sent our family to live in the tri-state area. It was just supposed to be a two year diversion from our life in suburban DC, just like the S.S. Minnow was only supposed to be on a three hour tour. the early 80's were a crazy time in real estate and, since that was one of my old man's specialties they had a few choice places to pick from. One of them was a Brownstone in Hoboken NJ. At that time the town was a bit of a shithole, so the place was a relative steal. The same went for a building that they were looking at in lower Manhattan. Ultimately they chose to buy in the small Central Jersey town of Metuchen, which provided train access to NYC.

With that choice they set in motion 20 plus years of the lives of 6 people (so much for that two year appointment). Our lives, in turn, impacted the lives of others and it was that give and take which made us who we are now. Who knows what I would be like if I had grown up in SoHo or the East Village. Would I be better or worse? Chances are pretty good that I'd be, at base, the same person. You know, that whole nature vs nurture argument. That said, some of the choices I myself would end up making would almost certainly have changed, and I would most definitely be in a different place, with different friends and a whole other life.

In thinking about all this as I walked the streets of the Village yesterday, I reflected on some of those choices that I ended up making and how they laid out the path that I am on now. Where I went to college, the clubs and organizations I joined and the people I chose to spend time with. They all were just ripples at the time but, they now have the force of tidal waves. Surprisingly, they were all made with slim to no thought to their consequences. My folks thought about a lot of things when they chose Metuchen over Hoboken and the Village, but did they really know what the positives and negatives would be some 28 years later?

Of course not, we never do. That's not to say that they were reckless in their choices, because they always made their choices with us in mind. Ultimately though, they didn't dwell too much on all the many end results these decisions would have, they just their choice and focused on giving us the best life they could. Living every day, one day at a time and all that jazz. I hear all these stories of people who agonize over every aspect of their lives or their children's lives, but the truth is... you just have to play the cards you are dealt. You have to make the best choice in the moment and not try to think of all the possible outcomes, because you'll drive yourself crazy. This is what I was thinking walking along Avenue A the other day. This, and, why the fuck is it so hot?


Sunday, July 06, 2008

We don't swim in your garage, please don't park in our pool

Sure, the owner of this Mazda Miata says this was an accident, but I think she was just trying to wash her car. This is the stuf that makes the papers here in good ole York, and there is always a comedy nuget to find in these stories beyond the obvious. Like the fact that the owner of this car couldn't get in touch with the owners of the pool, since they were on vacation in Florida. So they called the owners daughter... at work... at Hooters.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Inky and I are Jumping-in to a Gang!

I live in York Pennsylvania, which you may be surprised to find out is pretty big time gang country. See, the Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings were finding that they were kind of hemmed in by the constraints of doing business only in LA county. So, in the late 80's they began branching out to other big cities call it following the franchise model. By the early 00's they found themselves in smaller, more podunk towns like mine. And so it is that you can see all sorts of crazy gang tags right down on the corner of Princess and Queen Sts.

For our own safety, Inky and I have decided that we can no longer run the risk of being unaffiliated, but there's a lot to think about when choosing who will become your second family. It has to be the right fit, and I think we've finally found our right fit. Inky and are are jumping-in with... The Gangaroos!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

TGWOOfY Top Songs of 2008, So Far.

Yesterday I posted my 10 favorite full records of 2008, but as I have said, this year has been much more of a singles year for me. To that end, my top 50 songs through the midway point of the year come from 50 different artists. Seven of my top ten songs are from my top ten records, but the rest of the list is as varried as I've ever had. Of the 50 songs, 29 are by American acts, 8 are British, 6 Australian, 2 Canadian, 2 Sweedish and one each from Scotland, New Zeeland and Isreal. 28 of the acts are female, which contines a long lasting trend for me of favoring female singers.

(The picture features: Top Row- Operator Please, Death Cab and Dawn Landes. Second row: R.E.M. She & Him and Be Your Own Pet. Third Row: Clare Bowditch, The Wombats and Vampire Weekend. Bottom: Robert Francis and Cat Power)

50. Scarlett Johansson - Falling Down (Cover)
49. Holly Conlan - You Are Goodbye
48. Aimee Mann - Freeway
47. The Ting Tings - Shut Up and Let Me Go
46. Ladyhawk - I Don't Always Know What You're Saying
45. Mickey Avalon - My Dick
44. The Old 97s - Dance with Me
43. Anna Nalick - Shine
42. The Bridges - Pieces
41. Katie Melua - Mary Pickford

40. The Watson Twins - Just Life Heaven (Cover)
39. Yael Naim - New Soul
38. Sara Melson - Dirty Mind
37. Adele - Right as Rain
36. Ana van der Laan - Paradise
35. The Breeders - We're Gonna Rise
34. British Sea Power - Waving Flags
33. Bonnie Prince Billy - Easy Does It
32. The Kills - Cheap and Cheerful
31. Tristan Prettyman - Hello

30. Peter Moren - Social Competence
29. Flight of the Conchords - The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room
28. Sia - Little Black Sandals
27. Architechure in Helsinki - Debbie
26. Counting Crows - When I Dream of Michelangelo
25. Flogging Molly - No More Paddy's Lament
24. Kate Nash - Foundations
23. Foxboro Hottubs (Green Day)- Mother Mary
22. Joan as Police Woman - Magpies
21. Paul Weller - Cold Moments

20. The Long Blondes - Guilt
19. Stephen Malkmus - We Can't Help You
18. Kathleen Edwards - Oil Man's War
17. Sheryl Crow - Gasoline
16. Weezer - Pork and Beans
15. The Audreys - Lay Me Down
14. The Herd - The King is Dead
13. MGMT - Time to Pretend
12. The Fratilles - A Heady Tale
11. Cat Power - New York (Cover)

10. Dawn Landes - Twilight
9. Robert Francis - One by One
8. Vampire Weekend - A-Punk
7. Death Cab for Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart
6. The Wombats - Let's Dance to Joy Division
5. Clare Bowditch - You Looked So Good
4. Be Your Own Pet - Twisted Nerve
3. Operator Please - Yes Yes Vindictive
2. She & Him - Sentimental Heart
1. R.E.M. - Supernatural Superserious


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

TGWOOfY Best Records of '08: Half Way Edition

It's been a pretty good year, music wise, but more so from the single standpoint than from the LP standpoint. By this time last year I was knee deep in records that I just loved, so I posted a top 25 records of '07, up to that point. This year, I haven't even purchased 25 records yet, so I'm just going to focus on the 10 that I have liked the best over the past six months.

10) The Audreys - When the Flood Comes. The Audreys are an Aussie country band, and this is their second album. Inky and I heard a lot of them on the radio during our month down under, so I picked the record up and I have really enjoyed it. Lead singer Taasha Coats has a great voice for country and the band it top notch too. Best Tracks: Lay Me Down, Chelsea Blues, Paradise City.

9) The Fratellis - Here We Stand. Just like the Arctic Monkeys before them, the Fratellis didn't make us wait long to get a hold of their second record. I had last year's Costello Music at #8 on my end of the year list, and this one is just as good. While Here We Stand is not quite at the same breakneck speed as Costello was, it is still fantastically done, and the very epitome of a pub rockin good time. Best Tracks: A Heady Tale, Acid Jazz Singer, Stragglers Moon.

8) The Long Blondes - Couples. Another returning entry for me. Their last release placed #12 on my end of year list for 2006, and while Couples is a bit of a departure from "Some one to Drive You Home" is is still a great record. Kate Jackson's singing and Dorian Cox's writing are both at their best here, and the new direction is welcomed, once you get used to it. Best Tracks: Guilt, Here Comes the Serious, The Couples.

7) Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend. In certain circles there has been a lot of buzz about this record, and rightfully so. I really enjoy their original sound, and the Ivy league bent to their lyrics, all of which combines in a record with high repeat listenability. I get in moods when I can listen to this disc all the way through and then just start it again without even considering putting something else on. Best Tracks: A-Punk, Walcott, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.

6) Operator Please - Yes Yes Vindictive. This group of Aussie teens made a big splash in Oz last year with their first track: "Just a Song About Ping Pong" and they've built on that in '08. This is their first full length release and it is filled with great pop-punk songs, very much like the next group on the list: Be Your Own Pet. Led by singer Amandah Wilkinson's powerful, yet very much still female vocals this record is a scorcher! Best Tracks: Yes Yes Vindictive, Zero Zero, Two for My Seconds.

5) Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward. Even though the US release is missing two very good tracks, this is fantastic second record, from a group that has endless potential. Their freshman effort was my favorite of '06 and this one shows fantastic growth from what was, already, an amazing start for a bunch of art school teens. The song writing is a bit less helter skelter, and has a more personal feeling to it. The pace of the record, like last time, is still balls to the wall as Jemina Pearl never seems to take her foot off the gas. Best Tracks: Twisted Nerve, Food Fight, Becky (left off the US release)

4) The Wombats - A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation. They're named after a marsupial, and Inky and I first heard them in Oz. So, I just assumed that they were Aussies, but alas, they are Poms. Luckily they are kick ass Poms, with a wonderfully fun and clever record. I think those more in the know may refer to them as cheeky, but I'll just say that I enjoy the whole record for it's whit and rockability equally. Best Tracks: Lets Dance to Joy Division, Patricia the Stripper, Moving to New York.

3) Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs. Death Cab has moved into that group of bands that I will be a fan of for life. They have a sound all their own, that comes through in both their performance and in the tenor of the their songs. While most have the tendency to be quite heavy, they can brighten it up too. (As Inky said: everyone needs their "Friday I'm in Love") As with all Death Cab records Ben Gibbard's genius is full on display from the first note to the last. Best Tracks: I Will Possess Your Heart, No Sunlight, You Can Do Better Than Me.

2) She & Him - Volume One. Normally we all cringe when an actor decides that she or he would like to give recording music a shot. Normally we are right, but when Zooey Deschanel hooked up with Matt Ward to form She & Him we got the exception to the rule. I think Zooey's voice is wonderful for all the ways it can take you. Smokey and cool at one moment, and playful and sweet the next she dose justice to both the songs she has penned herself and the ones she has picked to cover. I think the fact that she has featured her own songs on this record is what helps it to stand out, and be taken more seriously. Best Tracks: Sentimental Heart, Change is Hard, Take it Back.

1) R.E.M. - Accelerate. It's been years since I've liked an R.E.M. record, but this one just demands to be listened to. It is a beautiful marriage of the things we loved about the band all throughout the 80's and 90's. I think it is in many ways comparable to 1994's Monster, but each song has the ability to make me think back to Green, Out of Time, Automatic for the People and Document. However, the content is all 2008, making up to date and salient points that are 100% current. I have not been able to stop playing this record so far, and I can't imagine that I'll get tired of it. Best Tracks: Supernatural Superserious, Until the Day is Done, Living Well is the Best Revenge.