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Boomboxes and Dictionaries
Soundtrack to My Life
01/21/12 at 08:12 AM by Matt Chylak
This started as an assignment for one of my music classes, where I was supposed to write a "musical autobiography" that would describe how music has impacted my life. But isn't that sort've ridiculous? It would be impossible for me to adequately address how music has affected my life because when I am not eating, sleeping, attending class, or running (and sometimes during all of those activities), I am interacting with music on some level. In an attempt to demonstrate how music has ingrained itself in my life, I've compiled a short playlist paired with memories that will always be tied to these songs.

1. “I Want It That Way” by The Backstreet Boys
As a child (like most children, I’m assuming), I probably listened to a lot of music that was specifically targeted at kids. I remember being super excited when I got the Pokemon: The Movie soundtrack for Christmas one year. In light of that, my first introduction to popular radio music was definitely the Backstreet Boys. My cousin Gina had posters all over her bedroom walls (her favorite was Brian) and she played their music every time I came over. I forced my mom to buy me their debut CD and blasted it nonstop in our home cabinet stereo—my dad actually moved the stereo out of the living room because he was sick of hearing “that crappy music.” I never really got into ‘bubblegum pop’ like Britney Spears and I hated N’Sync (come on! They were total rip-offs!), but to this day I’ll jam “I Want It That Way” and sing along to the whole song.

2. “In Too Deep” by Sum 41 & 3. “Radio Player” by Allister
The first CD I ever bought for myself was All Killer No Filler by Sum 41. I was in third grade and my friend Dave (who’s still one of my best friends) let me listen to it on his Walkman after school one day. Most people like “Fat Lip” because that was the big single on the Now! compilations (never bought one myself, but my cousin Annie had like eight of them), but “In Too Deep” spoke to emotions I probably didn’t even have at that age. Plus, the melodies were so good! You listen to an album like that, all brash and summery, and it makes in impact on you, especially at that age, when you’re starting to define what you like. The other song that sparked my love of pop punk is “Radio Player” by Allister, one of the first bands I ever heard from the now-defunct Drive-Thru Records. In the early 2000s, Drive-Thru literally told me what to listen to: this was a time before computer downloading, so when I heard of a new Drive-Thru band (Something Corporate, New Found Glory, etc.…I can literally still name all twenty) I immediately went out, bought their new record, and loved it. This shaped my musical tastes, and now I write blog posts and music reviews for the site AbsolutePunk.net, which caters to that same music demographic.

4. “Touch The Sky” by Kanye West
This album is the reason I almost died when I was fourteen. I was in Ocean City, MD the summer before high school and was going for a run (I wanted to get on the varsity cross country team). Before returning to my hotel, I crossed the six-lane Coastal Highway to see if the record store across the street had Kanye’s new album Late Registration. Long story short: on the way back I got hit by a car and totaled it with my forehead. There’s a line in this song—one of my favorite rap songs ever—that goes “I think I died in the accident, ‘cause this must be heaven.” Chance?

5. “Tangled Up In Blue” by Bob Dylan
I’ve been making mix CDs for my Uncle Joe at Christmastime since at least 2004, and looking at the old playlists always reminds me of how tastes change (I mean, did he really need to hear “Drunk Kid Catholic” by Bright Eyes in 2006?). Nevertheless, my uncle is probably the guy who most got me into “older” music. He tells stories about random 60’s songs that make them come ALIVE for me, and he’s one of the only people in the world who I feel comfortable blathering about music to for hours on end. My favorite vignette (which he re-tells every time this song title even comes up) was one I first heard when I included this song on a mix CD for him. He looked at me strangely and said this song has his favorite Dylan line: ”I must admit, I was a little uneasy when she bent down to tie the laces of my shoooooooooooooe.” Yep, I have no idea, either.

6. “Ninety Miles an Hour” by Matt Chylak
If you look at the artist for this one, you might notice something. Yep, I play music. Throughout high school, I had a backing band and played for thousands of people. Writing music has been a large part of my creative life, and part of the reason I am pursuing an emphasis in Creative Writing for my English major. This is one of the songs from my first album—I have two on iTunes—and was probably one of the more popular ones. There’s nothing in the world like standing on stage and hearing a few hundred people sing your words back to you.

7. “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People
I started working at WXPN radio station last summer as a research assistant on their morning show. Every morning I would hear a variety of songs, but this one kept getting played. This was early in the song’s radio cycle, before it became the impossible-to-escape jam of July and August. I met the band at a festival I was working at for XPN, and they could not believe that I had heard of them. I told them it was going to be a hit on the radio and they just smiled kind of sadly and thanked me. Later that week, I played it for my cousin in the car and said, “This song’s going to be huge!” She listened to the whole thing and then replied, “ehhhh…I don’t see it.” For me, this song represents what I want my future career to be like: enjoying myself around music and finding new bands that I can show to other people.

8. “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot” by Brand New
This is my favorite song by my favorite band ever. Brand New is a band from Long Island that literally grew up with me. They have four albums, all of them very different, and their sounds match up to where I was in my life experience, from adolescence to unsure maturity—their most recent one was released the night before I left for Penn for the first time. I spent my New Years’ Eve this year at a show with them in Atlantic City, and it was one of the best nights of my life. Though it’s the last song on my playlist, this song is chronologically from their 2003 album Deja Entendu, which means “Already Heard”. There is a line in the bridge that is my favorite lyric ever, and though the song lines refer to a girl, they also perfectly encapsulate my relationship with music: “You are the smell before rain. You are the blood in my veins.”
Tags: musical autobiography, writing, songs that mean a lot
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2011 End of the Year List [Part I]: The Albums (20-11)
01/01/12 at 09:30 PM by Matt Chylak
Well, it's a new year. I've resolved to blog more so I can practice writing about music, since that's at least part of what I want to do in the future. With that in mind, let me roll out the first section of a three-part piece for my...

2011 End of the Year List [Part I]

There's always some sort of pressure to introduce an End of the Year List (look ma, all caps!) with a big, sweeping declaration of the year in music. I feel compelled to either describe the waves of trends that gained momentum (rap is getting really interesting these days, a constant genre flux with the cross-pollination of styles from all across the country...but that's a blog for a different day) or mention some of the biggest controversies in music last year (Tyler, The Creator's homophobia debate was vintage Eminem circa-2001 at its finest, and the arguments about Lana Del Rey's authenticity seems like they won't slow down anytime soon). And most of all, there's the inclination to try and put it ALL in perspective, making the random albums I liked this year fit into an overall theme or message.

With all that in mind, let me leave you with this thought: If the music of 2011 were a stew, it would be stone soup. Bear with me. What I mean by that is that there hasn't been a record this year that the critics have been able to come to consensus on as the "best" album of the year. Last year, there was an almost embarrassing gap between Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and EVERYTHING ELSE on most lists (If you're interested in reading more about this thought, Steven Hyden over at AV Club wrote a great piece called "The year of no Important Albums"). There's no obvious gap this year. While I typed this list's descriptions, all five of the albums in my top 5 switched places countless times, with each of them literally inhabiting all five spots at one point or another. There's no defining flavor of my year in music, which shifts from folk to rap to punk rather seamlessly, with quiet acoustic strummers and obnoxious brags getting equal time. Its focus was undefinable, as music often is, and all I know is I enjoyed it immensely. Here's the first half of twenty albums that soundtracked my year:

20. Cold War Kids - Mine Is Yours
Ultimately, I'm not sure what I want from Cold War Kids anymore. When I heard that they were in the studio with Jacquire King, who produced the last few Kings of Leon records, I got really excited. Maybe they COULD turn around their disaster of a sophomore slump and write a record with strong hooks. Unfortunately, they only pulled half of it off. The first half of the album had some of the strongest tracks of their career (especially "Finally Begin"), but it petered out right around "Sensitive Kid" and they fell back into mediocrity again on the back half of the album. I feel like they'll always be chasing the success of their debut album.

19. Blink-182 - Neighborhoods
"Woohoo!" That's what I thought when I first heard that Blink-182 had gotten back together, which is interesting because they were one pop punk band I never got into back when they were at their prime. Sure, I sang the wrong words to "The Rock Show" all the time in grade school ("She's so cool that I threw her out the window"...what?) and "Adam's Song" was one of the first songs I could play on guitar. But I never owned a Blink CD, and couldn't tell you the difference between "Mutt" and "Rollercoaster" until they announced their reunion, when I developed a sort've retrograde nostalgia for the band--devouring all the tunes I'd missed. That being said, their self-titled has always been my favorite album, so the earlier songs on Neighborhoods ("Ghost on the Dancefloor," Natives") fit in more with what I like. The more 'old-school' tracks ("Heart's All Gone," "Wishing Well") are nice to hear, but I'd rather stick with my nostalgia.

18. Tyler, The Creator - Goblin
Talk about a lack of lasting value. I still think Tyler's Bastard is one of the best albums that I missed out on last year, with angry, juvenile, violent motherfucking JAMS that soundtracked a solid month or so. The sequel? Not so much. After a promising one-two of the haunting "Goblin" and Tyler's mainstream introduction "Yonkers," the tracks started to grind. Not to say there weren't good songs ("Tron Cat," "Sandwitches," and the totally different "Analog" come to mind), but 80+ minutes of music from this kid is just way too much at once. Tyler's emotions just get tiring at a certain point, and then there's about a third of the album left (it doesn't help that most of the features on the album are weak, even by Odd Future standards). Not to say that "Bitch Suck Dick" isn't one of the most fun songs I've heard all year...maybe pare it down next time, Tyler (though you most certainly won't, and that's part of what I like about you).

17. Taking Back Sunday - Taking Back Sunday
I've really liked most of Taking Back Sunday's discography (minus New Again, which might be THE weakest album ever from a band I really like), and when the OG TBS reunion was announced I got as swept up in the hype as anybody. While I wasn't taken with "Best Places to Be a Mom" at first, it grew on me like a hooky fungus, and opener "El Paso" is a straight ripoff of TDAG-era Brand New that surprisingly DOESN'T suck (awkward lyrics aside). That being said, I can tell this CD will inhabit the same space as most of the band's other albums; I'll listen to it from time to time, belt along with most of the super catchy music (especially "Call Me in the Morning," which fast became one of my favorite songs ever from TBS), and then put it away again, to be listened to on some other road trip or something. Nothing groundbreaking, but (almost) always enjoyable.

16. Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire
Every review of this album touched on the same three points: it is (1) Adams' most consistent output in a long, long time; (2) an obvious return to the sound of Adams' fan-favorite Heartbreaker, the album that jump-started his career; and (3) boring as hell. Yeah, there's not much left to say, really. This was far and away my most anticipated album after its announcement, and each new live video promised more quiet strummers in the vein of what I classify as "Ryan Adams music I really like." But there's too much beauty here and not enough grit, with too many songs employing stringy backgrounds that have always irked me in Adams' music (I'm a guitar/harmonica man, myself) and not enough angst. So I guess I agree with all the reviewers.

15. Childish Gambino - Camp
I was mildly obsessed with this album for a week, but then (as sometimes I happen) I just...got over it. I thought I'd be able to overlook some of the more obvious Kanye ripoffs that weren't quite executed right (the women-led chorus in "Outside," especially), but they began to stack up. Lyrically, Glover (as if anyone would ever call Donald Glover by his rap name) fits in easily with most of the pioneers of so-called emo rap these days--Kanye, of course, but also Drake and other introspectives--but whenever he decides he needs more rap cred he slips into "intelligent Lil Wayne" (his words, not mine) mode, with mixed results. He's often entrancing, but this pure punchline rap style of skipping around leaves him reaching for more than he's able to grasp. The album's faux "cohesion" is indicative of this falling short; each track is loosely held together within the 'camp' theme, but most of the connections are tenuous at best ("Firefly" is a great example). That being said, he does make some absolute jams (the scathing "Backpackers" and sing-along anthem "Sunrise" are my favorites). Glover's on the cusp of musical success, but if he's going to emulate his idols he needs to do a better job next time.

14. Logic - Young Sinatra
Here's a mixtape of the old form done RIGHT. Logic is a cool young cat from NYC who simply spits well. There's nothing overly ambitious here, just some solid rhymes, smooth flow, and a couple great songs. The production is top-notch, and Logic often flips and snips familiar samples to make something much more enjoyable. Overall, it might stretch a little long, but hey--it's all free! Songs like "Beggin" (probably my favorite, though for the life of me I can't figure out where that sample is from) and "Let Me Go [Feat. Lykke Li]" definitely belong on urban radio. I'm also giving it the extra prize for intro of the year (if you know me, you'll know what I mean when you hear it). Pick it up for free here.

13. ASAP Rocky - Live.Love.A$AP
There's five mixtapes on my EOTY list this year and two in the top 10, which really speaks to how the medium has grown over the last decade or so. Drake's So Far Gone can take a lot of the credit for the mixtape-as-album trend, and it's fitting that Drake's taking out both ASAP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar (who we'll get to a little later) on his Club Paradise Tour. Rocky's from New York, but you couldn't tell it from his debut work, which draws a lot on Houston sounds for its base while not really existing anywhere. It's trill, plain and simple, and hooky trill at that. He shows his lyrical chops on songs like "Out of this World" (where he boasts "Coulda been J. Cole if I met J-Hov / Who dat? / ASAP, / But I'm fly like I never left. / You's a lie, like fly without the letter F") and then gets the speakers bumping with songs like "Peso." He leaves everybody, regardless of location, calling themselves "pretty motherfuckers" and hollering "swag" left and right. Grab it for free here.

12. The Weeknd - House of Balloons (special recognition for the entire Balloons Trilogy, actually)
It's been quite a year for Abel Tesfaye. As I type this, I'm listening to Echoes of Silence, the third mixtape of his Balloons trilogy, which dropped earlier tonight. Like all of The Weeknd's music, it's R&B at its most crushing and desolate, which is often its most beautiful. Though I certainly don't have enough time to rank Echoes among the rest of the year, you would definitely be missing out if you didn't pick up everything Abel puts out. I've always had a soft spot for R&B, but the XO aesthetic especially speaks to me (partially due to his links to Drake and OVO, I'm sure). House of Balloons is the quintessential mixtape from The Weeknd (so far!) due to the simplicity and immediacy of its hooks, coupled with its cohesiveness. Whenever I listen to this record, I always want to hear whatever song is currently playing, but as one transitions to the next I never have the heart to push back on my iPod. I can only press on and surround myself with more heartache. Free download of all three of what's easily the greatest mixtape achievement of the year right here.

11. Middle Brother - Middle Brother
Barely missing out on the top 10 is the debut album by the underground supergroup Middle Brother, made up of the lead singers of Delta Spirit, Dawes, and Deer Tick. I'm a big fan of all three bands, so when I heard they'd released an album together in March, I immediately ordered it. I wasn't disappointed; from the lazy wakeup of "Daydreamin" to the absolutely stunning closer "Million Dollar Bill" (which has what might be my favorite verse of the year on it), the album is filled with light, folky turns through all three of the singers' worlds. My biggest complaint is that it's often to easy to hear Middle Brother as a sum of its parts rather than a cohesive effort; each individual song distinctly sounds whichever one of the three bands its vocalist comes from, with relatively minor influences from the other guys (as if confirming this thought, the aforementioned "Million Dollar Bill" shows up--virtually unchanged--on this year's Dawes album). Still, there's next to no filler and these three will be something to reckon with in the future.

So that's albums 20-11 on my End of the Year List. I've got Part II (the top ten) all worked out, just writing up a little more for each of them and I'll have some more soup for you to enjoy. Thanks!
Tags: writing, music, end of the year
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2010 End Of The Year List
01/03/11 at 11:49 PM by Matt Chylak
As anybody who's been paying attention will tell you, 2010 has been a great year for music. There have been some phenomenal releases from every genre, and plenty of established acts created out-of-the-box masterpieces (the best of which take up the top 5 positions on my list). Last year I didn’t rank my favorite albums, but I’m going to muscle through it this time because I think it’s important. There’s three hip-hop/rap albums, a soundtrack, and some good old-fashioned rock and roll. Enjoy.

Album of the Year list:

10. Neon Trees - Neon Trees
Each track on this album wormed its way into my brain, the long white wires of my iPod headphones serving as tunnels directly into my skull. Though the enveloping synths and woah-oh choruses in “Animal” got the majority of pop radio’s attention, almost any song—pulse-pounding freakout “1983” or bombastic closer “Our War”—could have done equally well.

9. The National - High Violet
This one, like its predecessor, took a while to grow on me. Once it did though, Nate Berninger’s pained baritone reaffirms Boxer’s slow burn with more tense, almost atmospheric rock. Perfect night music.

8. The Roots - How I Got Over
The best live band in rap take a break from Jimmy Fallon’s soundstage to deliver great socially-conscious hip-hop with more solid hooks than their recent releases. Obscure samples (Monsters of Folk) mixed with the usual guests (Blu and Joanna Newsome) for great effect.

7. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
I know, I know…another rap album? Big Boi’s debut solo album was four years in the making, and thank GOD he finally got it out. Though missing a few prime cuts with his fellow OutKast André 3000, Sir Lucious Left Foot delivers in fully flushed out backing tracks and a slew of acrobatic rhymes. The most telling moment on the album comes in the middle of “Be Still” (featuring Janelle Monaé, who we’ll see again later), when Big Boi tosses out a few throwaway lines which take the supposedly unrhymable word ‘orange’ and flip it a few times: “Say I don’t deserve you, you’re gonna learn/ Treat it like a perm, leave it be or let it burn (burn)/ Eat ‘em like an urr-ange, orange/ So when they on the verge of leavin it don’t get borin./ Foreign trips are taken…”

6. Vampire Weekend – Contra
A lot of people (including almost me) forgot about this record because it was released in early January, but it’s one of the great mainstream indie records of the year. That descriptor might seem like an oxymoron; it’s supposed to be. Although the boys from Columbia combined South African poly-rhythms with every instrument I’ve never heard, the end result is a set of relatively straightforward pop songs with quirky hooks.

5. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network OST

Reznor and Ross’ brooding and sparse soundtrack to my favorite movie of the year…is probably what made it my favorite movie of the year. Each dark, minimalistic blip added to the undercurrent of betrayal that purveyed the film. This is the first soundtrack I’ve ever searched for and it introduced me to the viability of soundtracks as music for casual listening. Extra awesome in surround sound.

4. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

My favorite Sufjan album. To be honest, I’ve never loved any of his prior work; Illinoise felt like an overly grandiose, unfocused failure. However, from the first descent into the electronics of “Too Much” (particularly effective after the fake-out opening of “Futile Devices”) this album entranced me. Sufjan’s most personal lyrics to date resonate better than ever before, and twenty-five-minute tracks fly by effortlessly. A wonderful accomplishment from a super-talented musician.

3. The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt

With this album, Kristian Matsson steps out from any “Swedish Bob Dylan” moniker that certain blogs are trying to push on him to craft a tight ten-song set that sounds like an early morning sun. Drawing on old American folk influences like Bascom Lamar Lunsford and Stephen Foster helps Matsson create an album that sounds both timeless and out-of-time.

2. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

What else can be said about this record? It’s loud, it’s arrogant, it’s fantastic, twisted, dark, and beautiful…but most of all, it’s Kanye West’s. Yes, the “My” of the title marks this record, as Mr. West’s retreat from the limelight gives him the room to craft an album that deserves to NOT be limited to the phrase “comeback album.” The bombastic horn section in “All Of The Lights” deserves to be played the next time Usain Bolt breaks a world record; the screwed vocals of “Blame Game” reflect chilling heartache that 808s and Heartbreaks only hinted at; Kanye’s most inventive sampling yet cements his status at the pinnacle of rap producers. The Aphex Twins, Lacrimosa, King Crimson and Chris Rock are given equal time, and at the end of it all we’re told (in Gil Scott-Heron’s voice) that all Kanye really wants is “a good home, and a wife, and children, and some food to feed them every night.” Yeah, right. Kanye wants to rule the world, and with this, his greatest record, he has for the time being.

1. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

“Look what you started; I seem to be coming out of my skin.” So begins 2010’s most soulful, rocking album. To say I’ve overplayed this album would be the biggest understatement of my year. I devoured this record from the day it leaked this summer, bought multiple copies and pushed them on my friends and roommates (it worked; you can hear a Gaslight record blaring out of one of our apartment rooms almost every day). Every note and lyric became a mission statement, the rough punk of “Boxer” mixing with the showstopping climax of “Bring It On” mixing with the West Side Story finger snapping of “The Diamond Church Street Choir.” Around the album’s midpoint, Brian Fallon’s croon “Who does it better than we do?” ceases to be an idle boast. Economical instrumentation captures each drum fill and guitar riff perfectly while expanding the Jersey Boys’ sound from prior releases, building up this wonderful tribute to aging gracefully until the U2-esque harmonies of finale “We Did It When We Were Young” carry us away into the great mist hovering over the George Washington Bridge. It won’t be long before we see these boys again though, as the running time of barely over a half-hour demands instant and constant replays. For these reasons and many more, American Slang truly deserves to be called my Album of the Year.

Here's a list of great records from pre-2010 that I discovered/loved this year:

Delta Spirit - Ode To Sunshine
The National - Boxer
Miniature Tigers - Tell It To The Volcano
Charlie Parker - Jazz At Massey Hall
Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run; The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle; Nebraska (I didn't really get into Bruce until this summer)
Gil Scott-Heron - Pieces Of A Man
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury
Broken Bells - Broken Bells
Mutemath - Armistice
Jay-Z - The Blueprint
Bob Dylan - Nashville Skyline
Nirvana - In Utero
Counting Crows - August And Everything After
The Strokes - This Is It
Drake - So Far Gone
Amos Lee - Amos Lee
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F[FONT="]♯[/font] A

Should've Been Given More Press on AP.net

Miniature Tigers - Fortress
This severely underrated group mixes lush instrumentation and colorful pop melodies that are highly reminiscent of one of AP.net's favorite bands, fun., and an even better debut that's even more infectious and nuanced in all the right ways...listen up!

These are Bands that Released Above-Average Albums in 2010, But I'm Afraid I've Outgrown Musically:

Jimmy Eat World - Invented
Though it was similar enough to Futures that it should've gotten many plays, something about this record still hasn't caught my attention.

Hellogoodbye - Would It Kill You?
Hellogoodbye's new release is miles ahead of their last few, but I just never got into it.

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Yeah, it's sprawling. I don't consider that a good thing.

I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business - The World We Know
Ace's voice still melts hearts, but not mine. There were some nice songs on here ('Rosary'), but overall I'm getting a little bored with Mr. Enders.

Most Disappointing Records of 2010:

Drake – Thank Me Later
After the minimalist So Far Gone crept up to become one of my favorite rap releases of 2009, I (and the rest of the world) had GIGANTIC expectations for this album. First single “Over” seemed promising, with a booming horn background and witty-enough rhymes about Rosetta Stones and Visine. Once we got to the whole thing, though, we met lukewarm pop songs (“Find Your Love”) and decent tracks ruined by poor guest choices (“Up All Night”; “Unforgettable”; actually, almost every song with a guest). Underlying everything was the sense that Drizzy had no idea what he wanted his album to sound like. It begins wonderfully, picking up right where So Far Gone left off, and ends properly with a meditation in Miami. But right around when Nicki Minaj cuts in during “Up All Night,” Drake loses his direction, and the middle of the album is truly muddled. Here’s hoping he shows a bit more independence with his sophomore full-length, to make something truly unforgettable.

Jack Johnson – To The Sea
Every subsequent release from this man has gotten worse and worse. He’s getting further away from sunny barbeque jams that make him a joy. Does he not know how to make catchy tunes anymore?

Delta Spirit – History From Below
Unfortunately, instead of capitalizing on the wonderful and unique elements from their debut Ode to Sunshine (bright three-part harmonies that push lead singer Matthew Vasquez’ vocals to the forefront), these San Diego boys decided to release a mostly monotonous and undynamic collection of songs. A waste of talent.

Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon II: The Search for More Money (& Cocaine)
Oh, that wasn’t this album’s title? My bad.


Lyricists of the Year:

Kanye West
Brian Fallon of the Gaslight Anthem

Mixtape of the Year:

J. Cole – Friday Night Lights
Setting Drake-sized expectations out with this fully-formed meditation about a man on the precipice of fame, wondering what it’s like to step off into the darkness.

Hardest Worker of 2010:

Kanye West
Anyone who’s seen his wildly eccentric short film “Runaway” or heard the dozen or so free G.O.O.D. Friday tracks (that could’ve easily been their own album) wouldn’t bother to dispute this title.

Next Big Things:

Lady Gaga
Born This Way is going to be huge. This will be the summer of Gaga.

Look out for new zombie stuff based off of the strength of AMC’s series “The Walking Dead.”

The Foo Fighters
They took a little time off to work on different projects, but with Butch Vig (Nevermind) at the helm of their latest, I'd be pretty surprised if their next album doesn't push them into the stratosphere...literally, like they should play a show in space, Protozoa style.

TV Series of the Year:

“True Blood,” “Mad Men,” and “How I Met Your Mother” all had wonderful seasons.
I’m giving the title to 1960s series “The Fugitive.” Look it up.

Guilty Pleasure Singles:

Katy Perry – Firework
“Baby, you’re a fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirework !” OMG I LOVE HER BREAS…THIS SONG. Don’t tell anyone.

Anything by Bruno Mars
Say what you want, the man can write (and sing) a pop hook like no one’s been able to since Michael Jackson. Watch out for him.

Worst Songs of 2010:

Eminem –Not Afraid
I’m grateful as anyone for Eminem’s 2010 “comeback,” but this song really is awful. The wordplay too. “Lift the liquor cabinet up, ‘cause I’m raising the bar.” Really?

B.o.B. – Airplanes [Featuring Hayley Williams]
The first time I heard this song, it was practically charming. The 12000th? Not so much.

Any of the Summer 2010 songs that got played into oblivion at Camp. See you next year!

and finally...Most Anticipated of 2011

Taking Back Sunday - TBA
Coldplay - TBA
Bright Eyes - The People's Key [Feb. 14]
Cold War Kids - Mine Is Yours [Jan. 26]
The Gaslight Anthem - TBA
The Ataris - The Graveyard of the Atlantic
Lupe Fiasco - LASERS
Blink 182 - TBA
Thrice - TBA
Brand New – probably won’t happen

Thanks for everything 2010! See you...err, next year?
Tags: music, writing, end of the year, lists
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Late-Night Songwriting
08/08/10 at 08:42 PM by Matt Chylak
writing a song. i think it's a closer.

one more for the road

you flip your hair like a silver dollar,
but it never seems to glint in the rain.
i whispered goodbye through the glass, it lingered...
like breath on a windowpane,
and you can do what you want to, but the roads only go one way around here.
and you can say what you want to, but don't sell me on songs that i don't want to hear.

strum on the porch after sundown,
the cars age backwards on baimbridge and park.
cigarette silhouettes haven't dissipated yet
as embers burn back the dark.
and you can do what you want to, but i've got my pride and i won't be turning around.
and you can say what you want, but there isn't much left to stop me now.

'cause i can't hold a candle for each bridge i've burned
or put a scar on my cheek for every lesson learned.
at least a rose tattoo doesn't bare it's thorns after the needle leaves your arm.

so remember me before you go.
the night is wild, the lights are low.
i wrote this song just so you know.
remember me before you go.

i don't know what to sing here, the words never come out right,
so i guess i'll just wait for inspiration to come around another lonely night.
but that's just the way things are sometimes. the world spins, rain falls, and children rhyme.
so as the lights fade to black, i'll look back at my past, and no matter what, i promise to smile.
and you can do what you want to, but this is where i'll call my home.
and you can say what you want to, but the show's over after this song.

'cause i can't hold a candle for each bridge i've burned
or put a scar on my cheek for every lesson learned.
at least a rose tattoo doesn't bare it's thorns after the needle leaves your arm.

so remember me before you go.
the night is wild, the lights are low.
i wrote this song just so you know.
remember me before you go.

so remember me before you go.
the night is wild, the lights are low.
i wrote this song just so you know.
remember me before you go.

i've got time on my side, and that much i know
but i can't hold my tongue in this cold taillight glow.
i gave you my heart. i gave you my bones, and what do i have to show?
just a song in my lungs, an old hope in my chest.
it's time to exhale. let the moment pass.
i know what you want, and i did what you asked.
so as this goodbye fades to glass, take one for the road.

and remember me before you go.
Tags: writing, music, late nights, album 3
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after all
06/10/10 at 10:48 PM by Matt Chylak
someone very close to me told me that this the best song i've ever written.

after all

i know a couple down on market street that stabs you in the back
with the kindest smile you ever saw
they'll look you in the eyes and pump you full of lies,
then in their bedroom, they'll shoot your dog.
momma she makes the snowballs,
tells the old man where to throw,
but am i any better? after all, i'm the one laying in the snow.

she tends her garden like an autocrat, cuts the stems down just right,
he paces the brick walk slow.
the forget-me-nots look fine, but after a couple flasks of wine
they're not the roses you used to know:
i heard they say "don't plant your roots too deep,
if you want to see your saplings grow,"
but am i any better? after all, i'm the one who reaps what they sow.

one day you'll wake up in that big old house down the way,
and realize you've driven your friends and your family away.
i don't know how else to say it,
if i even want to fight back the dawn.
but am i any better? after all, i'm the one who cries when you're gone.

so now i sit at the bar with the rest of my kind, we say we don't wanna be like them.
we laugh and trade jokes through the music and smoke,
but blood runs thicker than red wine and remember whens.
and i strum my guitar as we sip our drinks,
ache about the ways they've done us wrong.
but am i any better? after all, i'm the one singing the song.
yeah, am i any better? after all, i'm the one singing the song.
Tags: writing, music, late nights, album 3
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Big Surprise
01/18/10 at 09:10 PM by Matt Chylak
Check out my positive review for Ke$ha's album "Animal." Everybody hates it:

http://absolutepunk.net/showthread.p...post60473 101

In March 2009, Manchester Orchestra released AP.net's Album of the Year Mean Everything to Nothing, which combined intelligent, introspective lyrics with raw, unpolished, dynamic rock. Critics hailed them for their imagination, emotional charge, and willingness to push the boundaries of the radio rock genre.

Ke$ha's debut album Animal shares none of these qualities, and it's the breakout pop debut of the year.

Taking cues from Lady Gaga's success in 2009, Ke$ha stomped onto the pop music scene with "Tik Tok," a pre-game anthem to getting drunk with your girlfriends and going out to party. Lyrics like "brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack" and "don't have a plan in the world, but got plenty of beer" are delivered so matter-of-factly and...happily (more on that later) that the listener is forced to consider that Ke$ha's songs are autobiographical. Make no mistake, there isn't a single intelligent or introspective phrase on her entire album, but the sheer vapidity and (dare I say it) "swagger" of Ke$ha's delivery makes her assertions of "kick [men] to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger" believable.

Nearly all of the songs on "Animal" are infectiously catchy. From the kick stomp Katy Perry stylings of "Your Love Is My Drug" to the piano rain echoes of the title track, our drunken star delivers polished dance music with only a few missteps (3OH!3's further degradation of the English language in "Blah Blah Blah" reaffirms my hatred of them and completely ruins a great track). The song titles show the limited range of topics: "Take It Off," Hungover," "Party at a Rich Dude's House," etc. Despite the odd out-of-place ballad (Ke$ha's at her best in full party mode), there's not much variety either, with synthesizer and computer beats and nursery rhyme melodies. But it works. Over half of this album has single potential, and as Rihanna, Madonna, or Michael Jackson can tell you, that's all that matters in the world of pop music.

Intelligent, introspective lyrics? Nope.

Raw? Not in the unpolished sense. Maybe the morning after these songs feel a bit raw.

Dynamic rock? Went out the window as soon as 3OH!3 was invited to the party.

Imagination, emotional charge, and willingness to push the boundaries of radio? Nope. Ke$ha plays it safe by releasing dance music that's easy to latch onto, and that's all anyone's asking.
Tags: writing, album, review
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Trip (Early Morning Grace)
12/09/09 at 05:40 PM by Matt Chylak
a song I wrote today. lately music's been flowing pretty well.

Trip (Early Morning Grace)

Of all the things I'd want to see,
From caves in puddles on the street
To dandelion trees blowing away,
From mountain tops in open water
To Christ-like pigs lead straight to slaughter,
Least of all, I'd like to see your face.
But we never did much talking anyway.

I once danced with a scarecrow; he ran straight across the sky,
Off his pole and down a hole to find a place to lie
And get some sleep.
So I got on my hands and knees, dug and asked him why.
He said "I just wanna hide. These birds are tearing my insides."
I told him about you and he held me close to weep,
Saying "Son, you're in the same place as me."

And when I slept in your basement, I started clawing the linoleum walls.
Your head melted into your neck, and you grew fourteen feet tall.

Of all the things I could describe
That I have seen with my kaleidoscope eyes,
The moment I would fry right from my brain
Was the last time that I saw your pretty face.

<3 matt
Tags: writing, music
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AP Posted My First Album Review!
11/24/09 at 11:03 PM by Matt Chylak


Finally home for break today. Relaxing and watching HBO's documentary "By the People: The Election of Barack Obama"
pretty good.

EDIT 11/30/09: got featured on the home page today. sweet(er)
Tags: writing, reviews, john mayer, hbo
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Ode to Brand New
11/11/09 at 07:13 PM by Matt Chylak
Dear Brand New,

You've been my favorite band for a long long time,
From the Shower Scene to Play Crack the Sky.
From Jesus Christ to Bought A Bride,
Your music has always been at my side.

From Sowing Season toms to Lucabombs
You know I'm a sucker for all of your songs.
I've screamed "You Won't Know" at the top of my lungs
And mistakenly downloaded "The Break-Up Song."

But highs and lows, albums or shows,
I know you'll stay with me wherever I go.
On this warm college bed, when my head feels like lead
Or on a sinking ship off the Montauk coast.

So Jesse, Fight Off The Demons Raging Inside of You.
Vinnie, don't mind the 'Handcuffs' jokes.
Garret, Brian, and Derrick, you guys are cool too,
Though I don't know much about you folks.
If I tried to put the fire out that your music started in my heart...
Well, you know the rest. Guys, you're the best, even if you never reach the top of the charts. (Woo, rhyme stretch!)

You screamed at me once that Glory Fades
But I hope that isn't true for you.
Because honestly guys, this poem can't come close
To how much I care about you.

The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot
Tags: brand new, writing, poetry
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Paperweight Fantasies
11/03/09 at 12:24 AM by Matt Chylak
spur of the moment poem writing.

Paperweight Fantasies

I have paperweight fantasies,
Dreams of holding the intangible down.
A motive, a standard, an ideal, an angel
Wrestling with me on the ground.

I have paperweight fantasies,
Visions of stability, strength.
Thrusting my chin into gravity's face
Instead of collapsing against its weight.

I have paperweight fantasies,
Passions of purpose and stone.
Though this labor seems blunt and unfeeling
It rewards my existence alone.

Yes, I have paperweight fantasies,
And these words strive to meet them each day.
I realize I am not yet a rock,
But nor are my feet cast from clay.

goodnight, AP.
Tags: writing, poetry, existence, goals
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Is This Your Life?
10/25/09 at 11:56 PM by Matt Chylak
Convoluted scrambled text, breaking concentration like xylophone chimes.
Prostituted mangled hex, taking masturbation to the riled stone water.
Mis-polluted wrangled necks shaking, hesitation through wire, stone, silence.


And now, a song:

Brown Eyes

Break the bones in the camel's back;
His thirst isn't deep enough
To compensate or elaborate
From this weeping well, this trying trough.

And if I asked you to compromise, would you scream and seethe and sigh,
Or just let my words cut through your thighs? Be still, brown eyes.

It's not the gold that's in the hills
Or the green in that other grass.
It's the warmest feeling or the cheapest thrill
When you remove that plastic mask.

And I noticed you've got this show. Well, I really want to know
How different the stage is on that side of town. Brown eyes, calm down.

It's time to rest. We're half-dead at best: Broken, Cheated, Robbed.
Like the world on a string I'm her diamond ring, Ready to be cast off.

And if I asked you to compromise, baby what would you reply?
Don't drink the water, love, it's poison tonight. Good night, brown eyes,
For good this time.
Tags: writing, music, prose, confusion, babble, life
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The Knights of Consumerism
10/14/09 at 10:00 PM by Matt Chylak
Paper I wrote last year for an English class. Compared Fight Club to 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.' Some troll had a Tyler Durden username and it made me think of this essay for some reason. Read if you like, enjoy if you can.

The Knights of Consumerism

You are not your job.
You are not how much you have in the bank.
You are not the contents of your wallet.
You are not your fucking Khakis.
You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.
You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.
~Tyler Durden, Fight Club

The societies of medieval knighthood and modern consumerism boast remarkably similar characteristics. They both value courtesy, a preoccupation with appearances, and a sense of brotherhood. However, King Arthur’s knights and the men of Fight Club respond to their cultures’ expectations differently. The knights validate their society’s perceptions of knighthood by feigning chivalry, while the members of fight club rip apart their culture’s shackles by creating anarchy.

Both the knights in Arthur’s castle and the members of fight club are expected to behave courteously to others as a way of staying useful to society. The knightly code of honor encompasses the five noble traits of friendship, generosity, chastity, courtesy, and piety. Each warrior supposedly exemplifies these qualities to uphold the dignity of their king’s court. At the opening feast in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the author makes reference to King Arthur’s “nobility,” citing that he was “not to be seated at a festive table until he’d been told a tale of adventures” (92-93). This scene introduces the Arthurian idea of nobility; not only a gentrified position, but also a way of living one’s life by a distinct set of rules. People are ranked in court according to their mastery of certain words or manners, and knights advance in society by meeting these expectations. This acceptance of one’s role echoes in Fight Club, as members of the baby boomer generation are encouraged to submit and conform to the belief that the population should be polite and profitable, resigned to their mediocre roles in society’s middle class. The creator of the fight clubs, Tyler Durden, initially reflects the wasted life that is the effect of late 90’s consumerism through his role as a “slave with a white collar” at a major car insurance company. His job in Liability and Compliance compels him to initiate only profitable recalls on malfunctioning cars while politely explaining to customers that he carries their best interests at heart. The fight club members rebel against the institution that forces them into “polite servitude” by destroying buildings, contaminating food, and starting fights with random people on the street. The anarchy is their way of announcing that they are more useful than their world allows them to be and allows them to come to terms with the rampant consumerism in their culture.

The materialistic fixations of the medieval and consumer societies stem from a desire to advance. Arthur’s knights place great weight on appearances because they enjoy the attention and prestige that materializes with such a facade. Lavish descriptions of food, castles, armor, and horses are interspersed through Sir Gawain’s tale as a way of attributing importance to the nobility and prowess of the knights: "There where Gringolet stood ready, his saddle of gleaming leather, hung with gold, studded with new nails, and a striped bridle, trimmed and tied with gold. And Gringolet’s breast-plates, and shining saddle-skirts, and tail-armor, and the cloth on his back, matched his saddle-bows, all set on a background of rich gold nails that glittered like the sun." (597-604). By painstakingly detailing the dressings of a horse, the author distinguishes the knights as superior in their society because they own superior items. This practice of defining oneself through material goods extends to the consumer culture of Fight Club. At the beginning of the film, Tyler embodies his society’s consumerist qualities, a materialistic shell of what he could or should be: “I flipped through catalogs and wondered: What kind of dining set defines me as a person?” His apartment is an IKEA showplace, with every piece of useless furniture selected from a catalog at an inflated price. His furnishings are, in fact, barely functional. They stand as a collection of status symbols, indicating Tyler's status as a well-off middle-class apartment-dweller. Tyler owns this furniture not because he wants it, but because he is supposed to possess it and foolishly believed that he could define himself with catalog garbage. Enlightened, he eventually decimates the materialism in his society by blowing up the records of every major credit card company in his city, spiraling all debts to zero in a form of economic equilibrium.

An overwhelming sense of brotherhood exists at the root of the knights and fight clubs, but their cultures force the two groups to demonstrate their brotherhood in different ways. The warriors embody knightly qualities to remain in the king’s high graces, as nobles that bring honor to Arthur’s Court. They confirm that knights are superior members of the class structure by remaining “gracefully evasive” in their chivalry (1551). The consumer society takes an opposite approach to brotherhood, deeming people who band together in a manner that challenges society “devious” and worthy of “rigorous investigations.” As a result, the members of the fight clubs take their anti-society underground to keep them safe and secret. The fight clubs become sacred to the men involved, more like a family than the society they are raised in. They live together, planning the downfall of materialism in total secrecy: “The first rule of Fight Club is – you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is – you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.” Their unaccepting culture forces them underground.

The disparity between social standings highlights the fundamental difference between the knights of Camelot and the fight clubbers: the knights believe in their society because they stand at the apex of the social order while the fight clubbers, no longer resigned to their middle-class fate, believe in something greater than society. The knights flaunt their masculinity, while the men of the fight clubs rediscover their own in a materialistic world where they feel emasculated. By breaking jaws and bombing java cafés, the men of Fight Club subvert the consumer culture on which the knights thrive.
Tags: writing, essay, fight club, king arthur
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Artie Dimmesdale
10/11/09 at 12:49 AM by Matt Chylak
new song (for the next album). sound of summer EP comes out this week in iTunes! (www.myspace.com/mattchylak)

Artie Dimmesdale

Won't you take a second look around
From that time you're spending on your knees?
Choke a whisper through the outer aisle
Fur-worn stoles as dead as leaves.

"Taste and see" they sing. Well, I can't see.

Have you learned where and what you are?
Have you learned what you're gonna be?
Breaking bread like a mystic's chains
You're bound tight to eternity,
Letting go of reality.

Well, I might not be better than any of you.
I don't have a purpose and I substitute a flock
Swept in the night for one huddled 'round a lake of fire,
Crowding the cavern walls as the flames reach higher.

And I don't know what to choose
Because at least you've got company, while I've just got nothing lose.

And now I've got time on my mind.
You open the windows, I'm closing the blinds.
And I've got nothing to hide
But still I'm here shaking and breaking inside.
And I've got time on my mind.
You open the windows, I'm closing the blinds.
And I thought I had nothing to hide
So why am I shaking and breaking inside?
Tags: writing, music, matt chylak
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Quadrangle Blues
09/22/09 at 08:42 PM by Matt Chylak
walking back from class tonight, was humming a song and decided to sit and write a poem
line or two borrowed from 'daisy' to help me start

quadrangle blues

It's getting hard to stay up,
I think I hear God calling my name.
Red lights o'er the rooftops
Wait on the whir of chopper blades.

And they're calling my name.

Circled stiff by turnstiles,
Boxed by metal, glass, and lawn.
It's strange; This castle prison's
My only buffer left from harm.

The streets are calling my name.

I'm living in a jar and the lid's the sky.
My limbs are feeling restless and I don't know why.
Stretch my muscles to the heavens as I sit outside.

I think I hear God calling my name.
Tags: writing, poetry, music, brand new, daisy, college
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choke a whisper
09/17/09 at 09:36 PM by Matt Chylak
a song i wrote a little while ago.

choke a whisper

i hear whispers in the night. they bite into me like fireflies rising from the back lawn,
their tiny flames burnt out, like i've felt all along.
bite the hand that carried you away. i've done nothing as forward as that.

i fear whispers in the night, pulling me inside the darkness i hide behind,
a child wrestling sleep without doorlight.
bite the hand that carries you away. i've done nothing so forward in my whole life.

and when i feel god looking down on me as i crane my neck to the sky,
i wonder if his touch is just the tense of my muscles against my throat
as i choke a whisper to sing "don't go anywhere, my dear. don't go any..."

why do i only love sad sad songs?
why do i only love sad sad songs?
Tags: writing, poetry, music
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