Category Archives: Random Thoughts

My favorite albums of 2018

I released my 2017 version of this list on Dec. 15 last year. In early January, my Online Friend, comedian John Cullen, released his own list. At No. 1 on his list was Phoebe Bridgers’ Stranger in the Alps, a transcendently smart, painfully sad album that, were I to rewrite my own 2017 list now, would be the unquestioned No. 1. Except that I hadn’t heard about it until John’s list.

This changed the way I approached things a little bit for 2018. Intellectually, I understand that year-end lists are arbitrary cut-offs and that the calendar is only something we perceive, and that Boston Celtics’ prospect Robert Williams would laugh at us for even considering it. Music does not belong to the year it was released in. Not finding Bridgers’ 2017 album until 2018 did not make me enjoy it any less. All it meant was that it wasn’t on my list, which was a snapshot of my feelings on 2017 music at that point in time. It’s no different, really, than looking at my 2015 list and realizing how much I’d re-shuffle it as my personal tastes have changed.

Still, I wanted to make a concerted effort to cast a wider net this year. It wasn’t so much an “I can’t miss another Bridgers” as it was an interest in seeing what else is out there outside of my usual genres that I might enjoy. Last year, I occasionally asked people on Twitter what their favorite albums of the last while were. This year, I made that a quarterly exercise, and the responses were voluminous. The result was that I wound up checking out 145 albums this year, way up from 2017 and way too many in general.

I…think I’ll scale back moving forward. The exercise is still a lot of fun. Reaching out to readers for their favorites has led me to some unexpected finds, and it’s cool to know where the tastes of people I interact with a lot lie. At the same time, such a broad approach necessitated spending a little less time with the albums I really loved this year. There’s a trade-off between searching for anything you might like and really immersing in the things you know you love. There’s no right answer, obviously, but 2019 will probably see me hold back less when it comes to, say, listening to CHVRCHES front-to-back on every run for an entire week even though Pusha T, A$AP Rocky, Retirement Party, and Hoobastank all dropped that same week.

What follows are the albums I enjoyed most in 2018.

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My favorite albums of 2017

My mom’s basement flooded in July. This was not really that big a deal. My step-dad had been finishing the entire basement himself, so it was disappointing for him, but big-picture, this was about as low-stakes a housing disaster can be. There was damage, including some old family keepsakes, the type of stuff you really don’t need to hang on to but do anyway for the occasional shot of nostalgia.

I keep some of my stuff in storage there, including a duffel bag that serves as a graveyard for old, terrible jerseys and a box of random things from my childhood. Photo albums, sports memorabilia, letters from my globe-trotting pen-pal, and some random notebooks. The notebooks are a trip. There have been signs that I wanted to be a sportswriter for as long as I can remember. I would “play” SportsDesk with mini-sticks or in the driveway. This photo actually exists. And the notebooks are filled with fake box scores, standings, and mini-game stories.

They also contain re-written editions of the MuchMusic Countdown. Apparently displeased with the order presented, I would write the top 25 out in the order I thought those (or other) songs should go in. 11-year-old me gave Harvey Danger a hell of a run on top. Around that same time, I was seeing a child psychologist in Guelph regularly, and I remember that my sort-of “reward” for going to those sessions was that on the drive home to Cambridge, the Top 7 at 7 would be playing on whatever London’s alternative radio station was at the time. Just get through the session, and there was good music waiting.

I have not pursued music writing (or ranking) nearly as aggressively as sports, but it’s still something I really enjoy doing. (The connection between mental health and music remains, umm, quite strong.) And so instead of just listing off my favorite albums of 2017, I wanted to write a bit about some of them for a change. 2017 wasn’t as strong at the top as 2016, something it made up for with exceptional depth. When I listed out all of the albums I’d listened to in 2017 to start cutting down to 25, there were 88, which feels insane. I opted to stretch this annual list from 25 to 50, because there were just too many albums I enjoyed that I didn’t want to leave out or thought other people might see, check out, and enjoy.

What follows are the albums I enjoyed most in 2017.

An aside: My mom lives in Drumbo, which – and I am not joking here – refers to itself as “The detour capital of Ontario.” I really feel like they should borrow from The Wonder Years and erect a sign that says “But I was kinda hoping you’d stay” as you leave.

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My favorite albums of 2016

No pre-amble necessary. Here are my favorite albums of 2016.

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My favorite albums of 2015

No pre-amble necessary. Here are my favorite albums of 2015.

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Rabbit Hole: Villaneuva for Ford for O’Neal for Marion for Barbosa for Zubcic

Title: Rabbit Hole: Villaneuva for Ford for O’Neal for Marion for Barbosa for Zubcic
Date: December 1, 2014
Original Source: Raptors Republic
Synopsis: This Raptors pre-game broke down the Raptors’ Nov. 24 contest against the Suns.

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It’s here, let’s ramble

Title: It’s here, let’s ramble
Date: October 28, 2014
Original Source: Raptors Republic
Synopsis: This article was simply a stream of consciousness on the eve of the NBA season.
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I Hate My Friend / No ‘No New Friends’

Title: I Hate My Friend / No ‘No New Friends’
Date: April 30, 2014
Original Source: Raptors Republic
Synopsis: This article complained about having to miss Games 5 and 6 of the Toronto Raptors-Brooklyn Nets playoff series.
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Anxiety and twitter

Title: Anxiety and twitter
Date: January 28, 2014
Synopsis: I wrote a bit about my issues with generalized anxiety disorder and how social media can make it far worse.
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The Annual Baseball Road Trip

Title: The Annual Baseball Road Trip
Date: August 31, 2012
Original Source: The On Deck Circle
Synopsis: Taking a look back at an annual baseball road trip that has taken me to 21 different MLB ballparks.
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ODC Rough Cuts – The Site, The Derby, The Doc, The Rock

Title: ODC Rough Cuts – The Site, The Derby, The Doc, The Rock
Date: July 15, 2008
Original Source: The On Deck Circle
Synopsis: Some random thoughts while healing from laser eye surgery.
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