Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Oh yeah

Did you people know that 2009 is the Year of the Ox?!

Oh yeah, the Oxtails are going to rock it next year.

It's our year after all.

New Year's Eve with The Cheat, Diderick and Gnome


This year, the Cheat did not drink as much as he usually does. There was no mixing of pills and vodka but Diderick the Christmas Goose Lout was also in the fray.

There was a fight.

They downed the entire bottle of alcohol and for reasons unknown, they did a Caribbean theme this year.

They even brought a couple of rasta yardies and filled them up with alcohol.


Perhaps the most shocking display of all shocking New Year's Eve events of all the years, is that Gnome was present.

Gnome's underaged.

I am mortified and ashamed by The Cheat's behaviour.

Luckily, Gnome thought it all a game and didn't drink any.

The Airing of Grievances and New Year's Resolutions

They may be late but the Festivus tradition of the "Airing of Grievances" will not be broken!

Due to the fact that it's Old Year's Night and a new year is upon us in a few hours, we'll also list New Year's Resolutions that you asshats should live by.

Let's start with MC, since he did us waaaaay dirty this past year.


Your Most Heinous Grievance of 2008 -

How is it you managed to find a woman and engage she before anyone has even met her?! Mk does not count as the lot of us having met her.

You also did not come this way for Thanksgiving either but taking the other grievance into consideration, this is the least of our worries.

The HOchieS resolution for you in 2009 -

Make sure there's good food at your wedding.


Grievance of 2008 -

We can't believe you really did find Jeebus before you found us last year! But luckily you did find us this year before TOTALLY finding Jeebus.

The HOchieS resolution for you in 2009 -

Not so much as a resolution but a concern. We're concerned that this may become a yearly thing with you...this Finding of Jeebus.


Grievance of 2008 -

Worst than ever before, your runk like a skunk behaviour was way out of control. And if not for an in house Holiday party this year, WHO KNOWS what kind of hooker-ing was going to go down and what this grievance would have been.

The HOchieS resolution for you in 2009 -

We thought kicking you out of The Oxtails would sober you some, but clearly you are wrong and strong. Please be try to less runk and more skunk. Skunks are cute.


Grievances of 2008 -

Not as severe as last year but on principle we have to have three. We recall you disappeared on us at some point during Spring but came back in full force by bestowing us with candy from London and almost successfully defended it from the bottomless pit that is your sister, free dinner (and maybe you should have a grievance with us for inviting Alex and X but let us not talk about that...moving along), and bringing us lots of alcohol. However, you also downsized H1's gift from Italy and suggest that her fierceness was not fierce enough.

The HOchieS resolution for you in 2009 -

We think you should strive to be less angry about not having parties.


Grievance of 2008

You went to Grenada to get away from being in servitude, then demands stuff from us while over there. As Watanuki, that is not how things work!

The HOchieS resolution for you in 2009 -

Be a proper servant.


Grievance of 2008

Smug! Your smugness increased in 2008!

The HOchieS resolution for you in 2009 -

We would you like to be in NY with the HOchieS for TWO months and of course, try to stop liking the smell of your own farts.

Bughie J.

Grievance of 2008

At first we thought this was a grievance free year for you once more but H1 suddenly remembered that she did not get any brownies yet.

The HochieS resolution for you in 2009 -

We require two batches of brownies. Perhaps we will make them Easter brownies to give you some time.


Grievance of 2008

We used to be BFFs. For the entire year, we were BFFs and then you went to Australia and you fell off the face of the planet (there AND when you got back!)

The HOchieS resolution for you in 2009 -

You too are to ensure that the food at your wedding is good, or else you'll find yourself higher on the grievance list.

Diderick and The Cheat

Grievance of 2008 -

While I thank you for my Royal Dansk butter cookies, you truly did me an unkindness. You know I suffer from an addiction!

Or 2's resolution for you in 2009 -

Buy a smaller tin for me next Christmas.

Or 2

Grievance of 2008 and resolution for 2009

Stop making me watch your damned anime!!! - H1


Grievance of 2008 and resolution for 2009

You'll watch my damned anime if I want! - Or 2.

Mess Up - Whoops!

Edit on 10/12/2009:

For some reason, I had a double post of the End of Year Review III.

AND! I realised I didn't post about Keane's "Perfect Symmetry" album on the end of Year Review for Music.

So, where does it fit in that list?

Way down.

Waaaaaay low.

What a crap album, that was.

For $3.99, I guess it wasn't bad but after the amazing second album "Under the Iron Sea", this one just FAILED.

There are about four songs I like with "Spiralling" as 80's cheese and horrible as it is, I love that stupid song. A lot. It's embarrassing really. But I'm not alone. H1 loves it too.

Other noteworthy mentions:

"Better Than This", "Haven't Told Me Anything", and "Love is the End". Other than that...craptacular!

This should have come out in 2009 to make the bad album year complete...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The End of 2008 Year Review II - Anime

I, and some the times H1, watched 'so much' anime this year that I feel the need to make a review list for this as well.

Starting with the best to the worst, here's what we watched in 2008 (old, new or continuing series):

1. Monster

This is true of most series, but I do not mind not catching a series as it airs but rather enjoying collecting so I don't have to wait weekly for a new episode.
Thank goodness I discovered this series after it aired in full. Monster was intense - A drama, thriller, and dark story about an ordinary, good-hearted doctor that is tossed into a moral dilemma of the most outrageous but plausible circumstances. The worst possible nightmare comes to life for Dr. Tenma as he travels through Germany and Europe after the fall of the Wall. The psychological drama takes him through the dirty streets and dirty underworld of Germany and the remnants of war, and the products of it. From prostitution, mafia, hidden horrendous experiments on children, the Magnificent Steiner, to the creepiest (cutest?) fictional in story storybook and the enigmatic Johan, it's Dr. Tenma as he struggles against the world...and himself.

The question remains, who's the real Monster?

Music Review: Kuniaki Haishima. "B+" It's a very fitting soundtrack. The music, while quite good, was mostly lost to me during the series until midway with that great scene involving the library, Dr. Tenma and Johan 'pulling a Sephiroth'. Notable tracks: "The Seeds of Time", "Grain", and "Sweet Home".

Favourite characters: Johan, Dr. Tenma, Deiter and the Magnificent Steiner.

2. D. Gray-Man

Finally taking a chance on it, I was mostly unimpressed at the beginning of the series. It had potential and the story seemed fairly, well, uninspired at best but a few episodes in and I was hooked. At first it was my obsession with another silver-haired boy but as the story progressed and I realised this shonen series was about to get super hardcore and characters could take a serious beating and possibly not make it intact, I couldn't stop watching.

Suddenly, the series was extremely well-written as the focus became more on the Black Order - a group of exorcists tasked to rid the world of Akuma: the souls of tortured humans hiding in the skins of the humans, who called them back from the dead out of extreme sorrow, but killed by the very ones they loved on order of the Millenium Earl; The Noah (Tyki Mikk - you are probably the most beautifully drawn character of all series watched this year); and a strange little exorcist by the name of Allen Walker.

Surprisingly, I love Allen. It's surprising because it's rare I love the main character the most but sure enough, he's a little odd, overly sweet, has a gambling problem and yeah, Beetchie, he's got silver/white hair.

Of course, with my stupid luck, it would figure that as soon as I get incredibly enthralled with this series, it ends when it shouldn't and I'm left waiting around for the manga to be written. Damn it, I miss it.

Music Review: Kaoru Wada. "B". There were some stellar pieces, some of the opening sequences were okay. Notable Tracks: "Allen Walker", "Tyki Mikk", "Roku Maboroshi Hatsudou", "Sennen Hakushaku" and "Gekisen".

Favourite characters: Allen Walker, Tyki Mikk, Cross Marian, JasDevi and Crowley.

3. Soul Eater

Okay, I REALLY hated this when I saw the first episode. It was too forciful in it's trying to get me to like it. I hated it so much, I stopped watching in May and only recently picked it up again. I'm just about caught up to all the goings-on and if not for Death the Kid, I'd probably still be missing out on something good this year.

Everything about Soul Eater is edgy - the characters, the style, the punches thrown, the punches received, and the music. The story gets insane at one point and it's then it's at its best and like any good action series, the fights are incredible to watch but even more so because the style is so crisp and no holds-barred.

Square Enix is going through some kind of transformation, first with publishing The World Ends With You and now this highly-stylized, 'modern - street punk' series.

Music Review: It's so cool, it's scandalous. Full review in the music issue of the End of 2008 Year Review. The short version... "A+"

Favourite charaters: Justin Law, Professor Franken Stein, Death the Kid and Black Star.

4. Mushishi

This was another mostly serious, creepy anime about beings called Mushi. Mushi co-exist, and sometimes not, with humans. They're in everything but most cannot see them. Sometimes interactions with certain types of mushi can cause great strife or sometimes, even joy. They're usually dangerous to humans but not intentionally. This series is pretty hard to describe as to what it really is but it was an enjoyable watch - often sad, mysterious and quiet. It's beautifully done from the art to the story telling and Ginko (the main and only consistent character) is as mysterious as the mushi he seeks.

Music Review: "B". I'm sure it was fitting as most music set to anime are but I don't recall anything too outstanding about it.

Favourite character: (There's only really one but he is quite loveable) Ginko

5. Katekyo Hitman Reborn

It's beginning to be a trend here but I disliked this series at the start. I read that it got a lot more serious later on, so I stuck with it. I'm still in the process of watching it (up to episode 65 as I write this) and I cannot wait to catch up. After some time, I missed seeing the main character in his underwear and was just getting into the comedy of the series when it turned bad-assed on me.

It's another series that's a bit of a 'first' for me. I love the main character. Unlike D. Gray-Man, Sawada Tsunayoshi is not my favourite but I still do really love him.

It's your typical shonen - there's a fight, after fight, after fight but I'm very impressed by how the fights have those little twists I don't quite see coming but probably should?

Hitman Reborn's premise and delivery is... suspect. Tsuna's in training to become the next Italian mafia boss of the most powerful family in the world. As the 10th Vongola boss, Tsuna is an unwilling candidate, being he's only a 14/15 year old kid in Japan who just doesn't understand why babies are trying to teach him the way of violence and why various people are trying to kill his ass. And who could blame him for being wary of a gun toting baby who speaks full english and is constantly kicking him in the head?
As Hitman Reborn's story goes on, Tsuna unwittingly (thanks to Reborn the mafia maestro hitman baby) gathers his Vongola Mafia "Family" together. Not all of them like each other and they're pretty much all misfits in their own way but Tsuna's "Family" is strong and well, pretty cute as most shonen characters are. So, what I love most about Hitman Reborn are the fights that are damned excellent and the characters and their interactions with each other because they're loveable and fun.

Music Review: I like it well enough and some pieces just really stand out. What's with the Rocky/Road to Victory theme though? And why do I like it so much? "B". Notable Tracks: "Fuuki Iinchou Hibari Kyoya", "Tsuna Kakusei", "Ningen Bakudan I-pin", "Battle 1" and "Hurricane Bomb Gokudera Hayato"

Favourite characters: Gokudera Hayato (white/grey hair, and an unhealthy obsession? - count me in!), Tsuna, Yamamoto (really, how cool is it everytime he does a special sword attack the Japanese name for it flashes across the screen in old school style?), Colonello ("hey!"), Mukuro, and I'm even liking my previously hated Reborn.

6. xxxHolic: Kei

The second season of xxxHolic took a more serious turn. There were more episodes that developed characters and their relationships. While still charming and bizarre, it was short and there was just too much trauma packed into that time period. With the manga still ongoing, the series ended on what H1 likes to delude herself with and call a 'happy note'. Watanuki's surrounded by his strange, collection of 'family' and they're together eating and drinking with no worries in the world. It was a sad, sweet ending to a great series but I know nothing but tragedy's waiting for me in the manga. It is CLAMP after all.

Music Review: S.E.N.S. Project. "B". It's a good, weird soundtrack for the most part. Full review in the previous End of 2008 Year Review I - Music.

Favourite Characters: Watanuki Kimihiro, Yuko, Mokona (H1's favourite), Himawari, and Domeki. That's about the entire cast of regulars.

7. Honey and Clover I & II

Sometimes, I enjoy watching a 'romantic' type series. 'Romantic' is not quite the word I want to use to maintain my cred. here but that's what this show was: various love triangles that ended Japanese like - with nothing being resolved for any parties involved. It was cute, funny, sweet, sad and unsatisfying! But, knowing these things never end well, it was also expected. It didn't make things any less harsh when they unfolded though.
There was nothing super crazy but its strength was all in the characters' development, relationships and broken dreams everywhere.

Music Review: "B+". Embarassing but it was mostly made up of songs from "Clover" by Suga Shikao. Heh... I know, I know.

Favourite characters: Shinobu Morita (crazy mf'er!), Takumi Mayama, and Ayumi Yamada. Aww, stupid Mayama. At least Yamada could be happy at the end.

8. Mononoke

This was the most beautiful anime I watched this year. It was like watching wood block prints in motion. It was a short series, that followed story arcs each dealing with a different Japanese lore ghost/spirit/mononoke! It was sometimes creepy but not too scary either. I thoroughly enjoyed this interesting series.

Music Review: Takanashi Yasuharu. It was a fantastic, thrilling, grand soundtrack that blended some creepy Japanese sounds in there too. I hate it when ghosts call to me! "A". Notable Tracks: "Mononoke", "Isamashige", and "Osoroshige".

Favourite Characters: Only one to love because there was only one main character - The Medicine Seller (great voice actor too!).

9. Darker Than Black

Like I said, superficially this anime reminded a bit of Cowboy Bebop - Mostly due to it's Yoko Kanno composed soundtrack, a 'gate' and a few other things I've said before. That's not to say this should be compared to Bebop and I try not to do that. It had a fairly strong, interesting story with potential for much more than how it ended. It was sometimes fun, the different abilities were mostly impressive and learning what their payment was for using their powers was cool too and sometimes was enough to make me cringe.

Music Review: Yoko Kanno. She's a great composer and at the very least, she composed one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard when she did it for Bebop. This soundtrack's no different. It's more on the jazzy side than some of her others but very smooth, fun and sexy just as Kanno knows to do. However, I was not over impressed initially by the music in the series. It did not really stand out while I was watching but is a good listen otherwise. There are some pieces that were just fantastic but for some reason did not make the soundtrack's final cut and THAT just leaves me cranky. "B+". Notable Tracks: "Keiyakusha", "Was", "Tenderly", "Go Dark", "Guy", and "Yin's Piano"

Favourite characters: Li Shengshun/Hei, November 11 and the Detective Agency fools.

10. Naruto Shippuden

Naruto Shippuuden did not have that strong a year for the first half and throughout summer. I don't care about Sasuke, so any Sasuke related bullshit will automatically drop the anime on a best of a list for me. The only time I want to see Sasuke is when he's getting his ass handed to him, not when he's being a smug bitch to Naruto.

Filler followed during the summer as a set up for one of the saddest anime moments for me. Oh, Asuma Sensei! Why did you have to go? Even though I read it months ago in the manga, it still hurt enough to leave me teary for a month after the fact seeing it in the anime.

Shikamaru shined and since he's my 2nd favourite, I was happy with that. It was also not that great a year since there was not enough Kakashi Sensei.

If we were talking about the manga though...omg, all sorts of hellish rubbish is going down and my little brain can't handle it. The anime is going to be good this year...

Music Review: Pretty good for the most part. Some of the more rock infused pieces can get annoying though. I'm only going by what I hear as I watch weekly so I'll give it a "B-".

Favourite characters: Hmmm, well... there was new to the cast, Hidan! Who I loved even if he killed Asuma. I know, that's just hateful on my part but I did love me some Hidan. And the regulars - Kakashi, Shikamaru, and even got to love Asuma more and gain a new respect for Naruto, who I actually care about now.

11. Bleach

I have to say - Bleach had an even worse run this year than Naruto. This series is going too quickly and is plagued with nonsense fillers while Tite Kubo writes the manga. I love my damned Bleach (H1's convinced I am just a heartless bitch and don't really care enough about the characters as I claim to) but this year was just rubbish. I can't stand how those asshole animators made my Rukia look like a moron by having her say "Kaien-dono" about a billion times before she finally keeled over for the millionth time after getting the impression she should do more major damage than that ass Tite lets her do.

Then there was Orihimeass. I hate her. I don't feel sorry for her. I can't stand her love for Ichigo and she's an annoying, noisy, selfish bitch. The faster Aizen destroys her, the better. The manga might reveal something good or Tite might just let me down as he usually does.

The manga's going okay and I can't wait to see Shinji again but other than that, the 4 or so episodes to end the year when the Gotei 13 showed up to save the fools at Hueco Mundo were not enough to pull Bleach out of a crap hole. I do love you though, Byakuya! Ugh, severing your own nerves to save your sister... awesome.

Music Review: Shiro Sagisu. Not as good as last year's. I mean, I just said it today. If they were to release the next Bleach soundtrack based on what's being played currently - it's going to suck. The rock's not working out. Umm, and I know some of it's from the Diamond Dust Rebellion soundtrack and that just sucked. More Espada music, please Shiro Sagisu!

Favourite characters: The regulars - most members of the Gotei 13 save that wolf, H1...I mean Yama ji and Soi not fon. I didn't care for the Espadas they focused on this year but can't wait for Ulquiorra to return. His clown face is just hotness, H1. Hotness.

12. Natsume Yuuchinjou

A little slow on the start and maybe throughout the entire thing really, I enjoyed the quietness of this series for the most part. Things didn't quite happen they way I was expecting them too and remained kind of a simple watch that could have been better but never quite resulted in something fantastic. It was fine enough for me to be interested in the 2nd series or maybe H1 just really loves her a bitchy Nyanko Sensei, as do I. What an ass, he is! But with Kakashi's voice, he's forgiven and made all that cooler even if you can't really hear it when he's in round form.

Music Review: I don't recall much other than H1 singing the opening bit of the main theme for me. Ass. I can't rate it because I don't remember most of it.

Favourite characters: Nyanko Sensei, those cheering yokai who were dim, and Natsume Takashi...not to be confused with that bitch Reiko.

13. Kuroshitsuji

I started this and it's still ongoing. I really don't know how I feel about this shart. It's kind of endearing, kind of weird, and I feel like it has found its niche. It's comedic moments sometimes just try to hard and don't quite fit in with the supernatural, bloodiness and underlying story of the anime. It's weirdness that I will stick with just to see what it truly develops into.

Music Review: Based on what I remember, I'll give it a meh.

Favourite characters: Sebastian Michaelis (of course), Finian, Bard, Undertaker and Grell.

14. Elfen Lied

Meh. It began pretty good. It was very bloody and had me interested. Being a short series, I decided to watch it through. It was decent but not the greatness that everyone talks about in my opinion. The blood spatter and flying limbs was more for shock value than anything I felt and that can often be annoying. As per usual though, the Japanese know how to make you cry and the abuse scene with the little girl and the killing of the puppy was just hard to watch.

Music Review: Don't remember a damned thing.

Favourite characters: I don't remember them either other than Nyu and even so, she wasn't my favourite.

15. Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror

This was also a collection of story arcs dealing with a certain lore/ayakashi, of which the last collection was Mononoke which was made into its own spin-off series. Other than Mononoke, I didn't care for the other stories. They were alright but I was not that impressed by the art or the stories themselves.

Music Review: This came out first and the soundtrack is the same for Mononoke. It gets an "A". While a certain track in particular just truly stood out for certain scenes, the music just fit better in Mononoke than it did here.

Favourite characters: I don't have any from the other arcs but The Medicine Seller still rocks!

16. X TV

After 5 years, I finally finished watching X. That's pretty lame but I just fell off anime for a while and this was one of them that I didn't finish. So, I did and have to say... it was really dated. What was so fantastic about this anyway? What was the big deal? Sure the art's beautiful but it's CLAMP, so that's to be expected. The whole Dragons of Heaven and Dragons of Earth just seemed pretty emo and self-righteous. The characters though were still loveable and amazing but the end of the series was very rushed.

Music Review: Naoki Satou. A big "A+". This is one of the best soundtracks and music I own. Even after all this time, it's still fantastic. The entire first volume is just a masterpiece and the most notable track from the second volume is "Last Battle". I played that song 49 times this year and it never gets tired.

Favourite characters: Aww, my Sorata. You've always been the one I love most. Yuto, and Kakyo.

17. Bus Gamer

I'm not sure why this was made into an anime but after 3 episodes, it was unfinished and left a bad taste in my mouth. There was no real time to get involved with the characters for the most part. I did not miss it when it was over and I did not really care to see how things ended because it just wasn't that good anyway.

Music Review: Meh.

Favourite characters: Meh. Probably the stupid blonde kid though or maybe just meh.

18. Chrono Crusade

Ummm. I should just stop reviewing at this point. I watched this at the beginning of the year and I remember it finishing and I was not caring. I vaguely remember it being kind of funny or wanting to be, then being kind of serious, then being kind of retarded. Maybe I'm just confused because the descriptions I'm reading are seeming a bit like it was a good series but yeah, I really think I felt rather underwhelmed.

Music Review: None. I can't remember.

Favourite characters: Aion but probably only due to the fact Kakashi's voice actor voiced him, Chrono was kinda cute too and Joshua.

19. Jigoku Shoujo

I fail to see what the fascination with this series is. I tried to watch both the first and second and did not get more than half way through for either. The individual stories were kind of lame, all followed the same formula - which was to make ordinary people harrassed and pushed fix their problems by calling forth this bitch to send them to hell, and by doing so, they person who set the curse would also go to hell when they died. What's the point of living in the now only to be tortured at the end for all eternity? Tch. I mean, sometimes it was harsh - this one person was almost killed by a stalker but pulled the string on the doll to call the Hell Girl to do her bidding but other than that... it was just kind of terrible and then just kind of boring. I remember being very annoyed and the same chariot of fire scene showed every damned episode.

Music review: Meh.

Favourite characters: Meh.

20. Negima

One of my favourite series was Love Hina, so I was very eager to give this series a chance being that it was the same creator. I couldn't get past the 3rd episode. Maybe I should try again...

Things to watch:

H1 and I watched the first episode of Moyashimon and it was cute but started right at the end of the year, so we couldn't add it to the list. I also want to watch Pumpkin Scissors and Claymore in the coming year since I never got around to them.

Currently listening to: "Love Dog" by TV on the Radio. I might be re-thinking this album's position on my end of year review I because it's pretty damned good.

Monday, December 29, 2008

End of 2008 Year Review I - Music

It's that time of year again - It's the End of Year Music Review for 2008. Once more, we listened to things released not only in 2008 but last year as well, or whenever else past because there's always something missed and new to take a chance on.

Takeharu Ishimoto - Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core Original Soundtrack

The 'new' guy, manages to create a great Theme to Crisis Core but then remixes it so many damned times that it gets repetitive and lazy in some instances. The tracks that were originally created by Nobuo Uematsu are still great from way back in 1997 and they've all been given a make over to suit the mode of the game and they rock both literally and figuratively. The bottom line is that most of the original tracks on here are better heard in game than out as nothing is truly memorable save the one piece of music that will live for me as the song I associated with that horrible day in May when The Hochies lost something important. It was sad in game and even more tragic now. I dedicate "The Burdened" to my Brian. We love you, Brian and we're sorry we didn't get to tell you so before you left.

Takeharu Ishimoto and various artists - The World Ends With You Original Soundtrack

Listening to this soundtrack outside of playing the game, makes me remember why I don't usually like J-Pop. It can be damned terrible. The fact that most of the songs are in English are even worse because at least if it's Japanese I can remain in ignorant bliss for some time before looking up translations. By that time, I usually already like a song and it isn't as bad when I realise the lyrics suck. In game, the music fit perfectly but on the street, does NOT make me want to visit Shibuya! Well, the raps are surprisingly cool but you know, I'm on a Japanese rap kick this year which is semi-embarrassing.
Listening to this soundtrack that does not include the vocal tracks, allowed me to hear it for what it really was - another soundtrack by that Crisis Core composer. Again, while not horrible it's not entirely fantastic either. In his defense, the tracks on here are short with a few seconds to show case an emotion, so it's okay but not terribly memorable.

Album Cover Review: A. I loved the art of this game 'cause I love Tetsuya. Joshua's my favourite character and he's on the cover making it cool.

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I - IV and The Slip

One $5 dollar instrumental album and one free legit download of Trent's studio album later, NIN's continuing to make me angry but after last year's Year Zero, I'm not as angry with 2008's music (as much as I am with the man) than I was at 2007's effort.

In fact, it could even be said that Ghosts I - IV is fairly good. It's not unexpected because beats and various noises are the things Trent's good at but I can't say it was terribly clever either or without bits of boredom.

The Slip on the other hand suffers from a bout of laziness. Some things in life deserve to be free and well, thank goodness this one was. A non-too-coherent album that was probably given for free because it was in a file on Trent's computer under 'rejects', The Slip is really not all that horrid save the uninspired drum machine usage in parts but again, it also proves that Trent could bottle his fatigue and Reznorians everywhere will hail it as the Law come down from the Mount.

I'm happy I'm no longer an active cult member. Really, I am.

What Sariel REALLY destroyed this year: "Head Down". Other noteworthy tracks: "14 Ghosts II" and "21 Ghosts III".

Album Cover Review: Ghosts I - IV. C. It's alright and that's all it is because I refused to get the deranged $75 copy that was not worth it. The Slip A+. I was duly impressed with my free copy of this album. Every song has a different bit of digital art for it, and lyrics were provided to boot. It's everything all Itunes and other MP3 copies of albums/songs bought should have but do not.

Suga Shikao

I know he's probably THE J-pop king but I am admitting right now that I enjoy his music a lot after listening to his 7 studio albums.
I'm sufficiently embarrassed but do not take it back and I will say no more.

Favourite albums: "Clover" and "Parade".

Taniuchi Hideki - Death Note Original Soundtracks I & II, Death Note Tribute, Death Note Movie OSTS.

My beloved L... Slaughtered but not forgotten. The osts from this series though…hm, not on heavy rotation. I was obsessed with this series last year but ask me what it sounded like and I've flashes of Parasite Eve. Which, while not a bad thing, is sometimes forgettable when you're trying your best to put that horrible game in the back of your mind. The reverse is here - Parasite Eve was a failed game with a great soundtrack save the one track that played over and over again making it unlovable, to my dismay sounds like the one track used over and over and unlovable in Death Note as well but a brilliant series it was.

The Death Note: A Movie Tribute OST seems to be a collection of crazy jrock which might work out for me. I'll have to listen in full.

Albums Covers Review: B, because Light's on them. Curse you Light! but he's balanced by L.

Tracks Sariel may have played?: "L's Theme", "Light's Theme" and still the most rockin' song ever by Maximum the Hormone "What's Up, People?!".

Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII Original Soundtrack.

Much of the same from Sakimoto since his style is so distinctive but nothing less than epic for a game as grand as FFXII. Sakimoto always manages to create the ideal sound for fantasy based war ridden land in the Final Fantasy world.

Sariel liked: as always, anything that involves a boss fight! "Esper Battle" stands out.

Album Cover Review: A for Awesome. A Judge made the cover and Judges are bad-assed.

Toshio Matsuda - Naruto Soundtracks

Just going by memory of what I hear weekly for Naruto and Shippuuden...the Shippuuden soundtrack has been really good. I don't own it (yet! heehee) but the Naruto soundtracks are pretty good as well. It's kind of rock sometimes, which sometimes can be fairly annoying because it's overdone but the mixes with traditional Japanese sounds are always fun. I love ninjas!

Shiro Sagisu - Bleach Soundtracks, Beat Collections

I've been watching this series since 2006 (why not sooner? Because I'm stubborn!). The various soundtracks for the series and movies are amazing. Musical compositions are a huge part of any anime and gaming series and can make or break it sometimes. In games, the music sets the moods in an otherwise none vocal piece of art, and as such it has to speak volumes.
The only other experience I've had with Sagisu was a good one and it resonated throughout Neon Genesis Evangelion and I can hear his style in Bleach. NGE was one dark, religious based theme, mech war series that did not leave much room for banter save the little penguin named Pen Pen and a drunk Misato so in contrast, it's good to see Sagisu has a sense of humour because Bleach is full of that.
In this case, the music sets up the tone - ridiculous, serious or otherwise that lay the background for the intense fights and intensely funny characters and situations of Bleach. It's incredibly well done and never before have I anxiously waited for a soundtrack like I have with this.

Also surprising are the seiyuu character songs. The Japanese, I've noticed, are obsessed with making their voice actors sing their own theme songs. From my limited experience and opinion, they mostly suck and there I was not expecting anything from this set either and I'd be right listening to some of the characters but pow, in comes a Rangiku and Gin combo and it's great. Musically, the pieces are strong and sometimes, vocally they fit just right making the beat collections a welcome addition to my collection.

And of course, there are tons of opening and ending themes by various artists which led to the discovery of new bands and jpop artists. Of the lot, Orange Range (featured in Naruto amongst others Naruto as well) are great.

Sariel loves Bleach! The favourites are: "Turn The Tables" (Bleach: Memories of Nobody Movie Ost), "On the Precipice of Defeat" (H1's favourite), "Catch-22", "Heat of the Battle" and basically all of OST I, "Breakthrough Even" (Bleach: Diamond Dust Rebellion), "Phenomena", "Here To Stay", "A Requiem", "Shadow's Masquerade", "Back to the Wall", "Rage of Lunacy" (Bleach OST II), "Gallop" by Pe'zmoku (Bleach 16th ED), "Kansha" by RSP (Bleach 14th ED), "Asterisk" by Orange Range (Bleach 1st OP), "Ichirin no Hana" by High and Might Colour (Bleach 3rd OP), "Orange" by Lil'B (Bleach 15th ED).

Album Cover Review: All Great. They all have Ichigo or some sort of Bleach symbol on them. What's not to love?

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Sank

Not a bad album at all, actually. I saw them in concert this year and was totally amazed by their performance, after hearing horrible reviews from their tour for the previous album.
With new respect for them and not being a rabid fan from the beginning, I am not one to argue that they've 'sold out' because I haven't heard much from their earlier works.

Sariel's favs: "Fire it Up", "Dashboard" and "Steam Engenius". This isn't from this album but "Trucker's Atlas" is the best damned song ever.

Album Cover Review: Meh. D.

Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell

After loving the release of their "A Lesson in Crime" EP, I anxiously awaited the full length album. And it was a disappointment. Where was the wit? Where were the insane lyrics about robots and a bleak future? And why did the lead singer's voice sound even more nasal and annoying?! What I got instead was a studio album that was kind of bland and 'tween' sounding. Yeesh, anything but that...
Refusing to accept that, and refusing to admit it's more hipster-ish than I want to let on, I'll just blame this mess on their being Canadian. Sometimes, I get confused.
Overall, as I listen now (because all albums need a good 6 months to simmer), it's not so bad actually. It's not the album I was expecting and no where near as cool as "A Lesson in Crime", but there's some stuff I enjoy still and they're still kinda funny I suppose.

Sariel played more than I remembered: "Listen to the Math", "Nursery, Academy", "Your English is Good", "The Harrowing Adventures of..." and "The Baskervilles"

Album Cover Review: E. For Elephant Shell and because it's horrible.

S.E.N.S Project - xxxHolic Sound File and Original Soundtracks

"April Fool" is one of the greatest tracks ever and with so much meaning behind it for Kimihiro Watanuki, who just happens to be one of my favourite characters in anime of all time, this track fits his mood and personality while keeping in line with the show's quirkiness perfectly. The music is everything this anime is - fun, dark, scary, light, odd, depressing and charming all the way through.

And I blame this series for my love of Suga Shikao.

Most played on Sariel: "April Fool", "Hyakkyagyou", "Nobody Knows" and "19Sai" by Suga Shikao

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell, Show Your Bones, IS IS EP

You can hear the sounds of a band being a band - sometimes safe, sometimes insane, sometimes annoying, sometimes brilliant. They're an experience in another regard with Karen O's nonsensical lyrics, howling and eerily beautiful voice; Nick Zinner's riffs (I love Nick!) all made complete into a full sound with Brian Chase's drumming.

I've grown to like them a little more everytime I listen and would appreciate the value of a concert put on by them to do the albums more justice and I will admit that the LPs did not grab on first listen. I was hooked on one of the best set of songs I've heard all year with the release of the IS IS EP.

Of the two LPs, I prefer Show Your Bones but Fever to Tell has a few winner tracks as well. All albums listed here are solid listens and I look forward to the release of their new album in 2009.

Tracks Sariel rocked this year hardcore: All of the IS IS Ep with a special love for "Rockers to Swallow" and "Down Boy"; "Black Tongue", "No No No", "Date With The Night", "Maps" and "Y Control" (Fever To Tell; "Honeybear", "Turn Into", "Sweets", and "Gold Lion".

Album Cover Review: D. They're hideous.

Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs

It's a Death Cab For Cutie album. What more is there to say? It's good but there's no doubt this album just didn't move me as their last effort and in fairness, it would have been hard to top the greatness that was Plans. Still, it's a very solid listen with Indie quirkiness and Indie heartache intact, a few dashes of experimental that needs to be refined but could be potentially awesome if explored in the future and also provided one of my favourite songs for the year.

Sariel loved: "Grapevine Fires", "Long Division", "Bixby Canyon Bridge", "Your New Twin Sized Bed", and "Pity and Fear".

Album Cover Review: C. I don't care for it but it doesn't totally offend either.

Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty

The sophomore album from Cold War Kids was not very good. There were a few songs that were CWK great but the rest were half-assed songs that got stuck on there, some being truly annoying.

Sariel's favourites: "Relief", "Dreams Old Men Dream", "Welcome to the Occupation" and "I've Seen Enough".

Album Cover Review: Ugh. Even the cover's half-assed. F.

Menomena - Friend or Foe

Weird is my favourite track off this album and subsequently the feel of the album itself. Plenty dark, plently mystifying and a genre that I'm not quite sure how to peg. With no lead vocalist and all members contributing to the musical and the vocal, it's kind of hard to build a love for personality. I feel a little bit removed but that doesn't make it a monstrosity. You love this or you hate it. Friend or Foe is right. I am a friend.

Sariel rocked hardcore: "Weird", "Wet and Rusting", "My My", "Air Aid" and "West".

Album Cover Review: Since I got this album digitally, I read that that does it no justice. It looks crazy as the songs on there but I've read that it's even cooler in hand due to some kind of decoder business going on the sleeve and the design by one of the band members. I think I love this album enough to invest in a hardcopy some day.

The Rascals - Rascalize

Ah yes, Miles Kane's day job when he's not side-projecting with The Last Shadow Puppets. I like this album a lot. I like the arrangements - they're interesting and a throw back to that time he and A.T. are obsessed with. What's good about this album? The rock, the 60s rock, the lyrics and I love Miles. He's cool, the band's cool, and the songs are cool. The only true complaint I have is that he tends to deliver lyrcis and sing things a certain way that's the same throughout the album. There's nothing truly offensive about the album. The only thing that's offensive associated with Miles is that X keeps dreaming about him and leaving me out of the dream. That ass! Though, unbeknownst to her, I dreamt about Alex and Miles and left her out too. Ahahahaha.

Songs Sariel Rocks: "Stockings to Suit", "Rascalize", "People Watching", "Fear Invicted into Perfect Strangers", "The Glorified Collector", "Freakbeat Phantom", "I'll Give You Sympathy"

Album Cover Review: Lame. D.

The National - Boxer; Alligator

This band opened for R.E.M @ MSG, and I decided to go prepared. After hearing a few tracks from Boxer and reading rave reviews for the first album, I went ahead and purchased both albums.
I really enjoyed Boxer but not Alligator that much. The latter sounded a little dated to me. Boxer, has a strong collection of songs. The lead singer's voice is deep, the lyrics are a bit on the meh side sometimes but the delivery coupled with the music make for an easy, satisfying listen. I worry a little about my choice of adult contemporary sometimes... eep! I might be getting old! Ha ha. Ooh, scary.

Sariel killed from Boxer: "Mistaken For Strangers" and "Brainy", and played these a bit "Guest Room", "Racing Like A Pro", "Start A War", "Fake Empire" and "Slow Show". And from Alligator, "Secret Meeting" and "Friend of Mine".

Album Cover Review: Ugly. F. Both of them.

R.E.M. - Accelerate

In all the years that R.E.M. have been active and all the years I've been a fan, this year was the first I saw them live. I could not have seen them at a better time as I did for when they were on tour for this album because it is fantastic. The opening track is loud, fast and energetic and sets the mode for the most of the rest of songs. The album is called what it is because that's what R.E.M. wanted to do - play loud and fast like the true rockers that they are but also sticking to what makes R.E.M. great - it's not fluff, very thoughtful and very rock.

Sariel played loud!: "Sing for the Submarine", "Living Well is the Best Revenge", "Horse to Water", and "Supernatural Superserious".

Album Cover Review: B. I kinda like it.

Beirut - The Flying Club Cup

This year I credit TD5 for introducing me to Beirut. He knew I'd love Zach Condon's voice and he was right. TD5 loved Beirut's sound for the layers of instruments and musical arrangements and it's that European charm that has me loving tihs album as well. H1 found Zach's voice a little bit 'put on' or forced but we agree that "Nantes" is a beautiful song. Other than "Nantes", the rest of the songs are mostly enchanting and an interesting fuse of a musical culture I've only a vague perception of.

Sariel played the following lullabies for me: "Nantes", "Guyamas Sonora", "A Sunday Smile", "Cliqout", and "Forks and Knives (La Fete)".

Album Cover Review: Lame. D.

4. TV on the Radio - Dear Science

With a name like TV on the Radio, it's no surprise I passed this band up many times in 2006 and 2007 for their name reminded me to much like Panic at the Disco, therefore making me believe they were such - emo trash.
One jaunt to Metacritic looking for a review of another album blared that this one got a 9.0/10. "What? Can emos even get that high a rating?"
I did some Wiki research and because Wiki never lies, I discovered the truth - they're not emo at all. They're experimental. Is that a trick word for emo? Only one way to find out and that was to preview the tracks after being encouraged by reading that the lead singer and guitarists are quiet accomplished and have meddled in affairs that include Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner.
User Review after user review said, "incredible! Every song is different! They must be aliens because the sound is like no where else on earth!" Aliens? So I listened. As Bughie J. cleverly said, "everything's new! You know, it was new when that other person we ripped it from did it! But it's new to us, so it's new to you!" Yeah.
It's certainly dancey, experimental and 'new' but not really. I feel like I've heard something similiar before but it's still pretty fresh and a damned good album. It's better than expected but I don't agree with a 9/10. Still, it's more than half good and I find it on heavy rotation, so it was totally worth the gamble. It even made the fourth best album I've heard all year.

Tracks Sariel's been rockin': "Red Dress", "Dancing Choose", "Stork & Owl", "Crying" and "Crying (Telepath Remix)", and "Love Dog".

Album Cover Review: F. Really, an "F". I'd be lying if I gave it anything other than it.

3. Mindless Self Indulgence - If

Without counting the tracks that were created years ago and stuck on this studio album, If does not stand that strong as far as MSI albums go. They've gone as mainstream as MSI can go, which is a disturbing thing for a fan like me. It's mostly droll and uninspired and that spark of insanity that makes MSI who they are is just not quite there.
Some of its retained but fitted in a way that is secure sounding. For some reason the arrangements and Jimmy's vocals are just not as clever. It's a bit more club/house sounding and less 'jungle'/rock sounding. I blame marriage to emo and crap the downfall of MSI.
An album that should have been number 1 on my list by the mere fact its from MSI got beaten by a few but bad MSI is still better than most (H1's always saying that about Bleach).

New songs Sariel enjoyed: "Lights Out", "Due", "On It", "Evening Wear". Older tracks that were created in the past 2 years but fixed and officially released that Sariel enjoyed playing back then and now: "Bomb This Track", "Mark David Chapman", "Pay For It".

Album Cover Review: Stellar. A+ because Jhonen Vasquez always gets an A+.

The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of the Understatement

Alex, Alex, Alex. Here he is again, a wealth of talent at 22 years old and no hint of slowing down ever since he was writing songs for us on the first Arctic Monkeys album. Here he is with his talented friend Miles Kane of the Rascals and they're taking a stab at creating music they 'have no business knowing given their age': the likes of David Bowie, Scott Walker and others. "Wouldn't it be great if we could make music as great as those people?" Yeah, so they try and succeed.

OMG, amazing. They prove that no matter what the genre, the time period or the person - if a song or artist is great, it'll stand the test of time and be influential to whoever listens. That's not to say I enjoy every artist who tries the same - attempts can often come off as arrogant, overdone, lame but not the case with TLSP. There may be two songs on there that piss me the eff off and are downright unlistenable but then there's Alex's and Miles' rich lyrics and an ability to sing with an undeniable coolness and cleverness making them way too old for their time and way too charming. It's a valiant, productive and a most often beautiful collection of songs.

Sariel played: "My Mistakes Were Made For You", "Calm Like You", "Separate and Ever Deadly", "Standing Next To Me", "The Chamber", "The Meeting Place" and "In The Heat of the Morning".

Album Cover Review: U. It was unnecessary and ungradeable.

2. Shiro Sagisu - Bleach Original Soundtrack Volume III.

Truthfully, if all Bleach albums came out and were acquired this year, it'd be number one on the list. The Bleach soundtrack is one of the best soundtracks I've ever listened to and even weekly, it never gets tired. There are so many great pieces that are just done right for the anime, which too is one of the most enjoyable series I've ever seen.
This year, after over a year and a half of waiting, Volume III of the music of the Bleach universe came out. I stressed for that long for this thing to come out. Every time a new piece was played in the anime, it was like torture. It all began when my favourite Ulquiorra bitched slapped Yammi. The art was sharp, the scene was great and it was just damned coral! And it was only made better when the Spanish infused music started up.
Week after week of Spanish influenced music came through as Ichigo and the Gotei 13 fought Aizen's bastardly Arrancar/Espada army. And just when you thought Aizen couldn't get any more awesome, he creates a good looking army of hollows.
Sagisu created music for Kubo's obsession with Spanish culture and did a fine job of mixing those classical violins with spanish flamenco.
And then he manages to throw in some sleazy, gambling music for the Vaizards as well that suits their personalities to a tee.
This soundtrack is nothing short of amazing making Sagisu nothing short of amazing.

Sariel cannot live without: "Nube Negra", "Escalon", "Can't Back Down", "Hollowed", "Scoundrels", "La distancia para un duelo", "Clavar la Espada", and "Soundscape to Ardor". The whole things pretty much great but those are some special mentions.

Album Cover Review: A+. This is by far the best soundtrack cover for Bleach.

1. Taku Iwasaki and various artists - Soul Eater Original Soundtrack

I. love. this. soundtrack.

It's probably the most embarrassing thing since I don't know when but it's pure greatness. It's filled with jrock songs I actually like and what's worse, JRap! Never did I think the day would come when those words would actually form and fall out of my mouth.
Jrap still confuses me if I see it but the anime is very stylistic and a soundtrack fitting of that hyper energy was created.
I actually look forward to the opening and ending themes and really hope they release the second soundtrack soon and hope the series gets picked up for a second season.
The non-vocal pieces are great as well and Taku Iwasaki manages to blend traditional sounds with rock when needed, or moody piano pieces when those are needed.

Sariel is constantly playing: the whole soundtrack but rocks like nobody's buisness "Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Have a Nice Dream", "Kreig", "Bakosou Yume Uta" by Diggy'Mo, "Blitz", "Death the Kid (So Crazy)", "Mifune", "Resonance" by T.M. Revolution.

Album Cover Review: B-. It's cute but I can't wait for Justin Law to be on the cover. Heh.

Currently listening to: "People Every Day" by Tsuneo Imahori, from the Trigun 1st Donuts Soundtrack.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Making Christmas (Part VII)... A Mountain of Pyos, A List, Thanks and a Middle Finger

It's always hard when Christmas Day is over.

Christmas seems to never want to come and then when it's here, it goes by so quickly that it's depressing. It always feels as though something else should have happened but never quite did.

This year, The HOchieS had the fortune of a Thursday Christmas and a Friday office closing but as soon as those presents were unwrapped Christmas day, I felt that my weekend was already done.

Sure enough, it's Sunday night now and I'm already dreading another work week, even though it's a short one. I already feel like next weekend's gone too and I'm looking forward to Martin Luther King Jr.'s Day.

Clearly I have problems.

This was not supposed to be a rant but really a thank you for the presents and the pyo list to keep track of.

As per Bunji's commentary (and his finger):

"It's 2008, and there's a recession but obviously NOT AT THIS HOUSE".

It was truly embarrassing but I stuck to a budget for the most part, as did H1. Well... maybe.

Now, on to the Loot!

The Cheat -

Season 8, Vol. 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Comic from Or 2

Diderick -

A hardcover copy of the Divine Comedy from Or 2

H1 (an incomplete list because I don't know all she got)-

A Christmas Candle in Cute Christmas Sock from Mahone
Clothes from Aims
A copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard from Alex and J.J.
A Hand Vac from X, Mk and Mw
Persepolis the book from TD5
An additional subscription to Bookswim from MC
A Sephora Diva makeup kit from Frass, to add to her fierceness in 2009
A Lilac stone pair of earrings from Sons
Pajamas, and measuring cups from BooHead
Butter dish, clothes & accessories, hand vac, sneakers, pot holders and other things from Luuuuuiiisssss
Awesome sweaters from Momma HOchie and Papa HOchie
A (I only want a) Candy Cane (This year) Mug from Papa HOchie
A Deep purple stone pair of earrings, The Complete Peanuts 1967-1970, and the Limited Edition Collector's The Tales of Beedle the Bard from Or 2

Or 2 -

A Christmas Candle in Not-as-Cute-as-H1's Christmas Sock from Mahone
A Ghost of Christmas Bear, and TONS of Great Time Spam Singles from Sandy Cheeks
Persona 3, Death Note DVD Volume 4 and a Cool Japanese Diorama from Aims
Persona 4 from X, Mk and Mw
Death Note DVD Volume 6 from CLee
Monies for Rock Band Songs and my Death the Kid Soul Eater Silver Ring from Sons
A Monokuro Boo Note Pad, Yummy Sugar Cookies, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles Manga Vols 2-3 from Gen Frien'
Futurama "Bender's Game" Blu-Ray Disc, and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles Manga Vol. 1 from Frass
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles Manga Vol. 2 from MC, which I will be getting a refund for from Amazon for Vol. 4
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles Manga Vols. 7-8
A Christmas Story Limited Edition Box Set, and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle Manga Vol. 9 from TD5
Christmas Eve Pajamas, and Reno & Rude figures from Boohead
The Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 2 from Luuuuiiissss
Awesome sweaters and pants from Momma HOchie and Papa HOchie
A pyo and christmas ornaments Mug from Papa HOchie
A huge tin of Royal Dansk Danish Butter cookies from Diderick and The Cheat
Shadow of Colossus from Bunji
xxxHolic Manga Vol. 12, D. Gray-man Manga Vol. 11, and Disgaea DS from H1

I'm not finished with Christmas shopping yet, days after the fact but it'll happen.

Sorry to be late, friends and thank you so much for everything.

Currently listening to: "Mayuka's Theme" by Seikou Nagaoka, from the Tenchi the Movie 2: The Daughter of Darkness Original Soundtrack.
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