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I don’t remember the bandage being uncomfortable on the plane to Florida. I only remember stuffing myself into the middle seat and watching 70 percent of Meet the Parents. Robert De Niro had just realized Ben Stiller had spray-painted the cat’s tail. Then we landed.

A week before that, in the dermatologist’s office, I fainted while my new doctor scraped a patch of skin off my back with a sharp tool. He’d found something and wanted to get it biopsied right away. I was cool with the whole thing until he walked in front of me and I caught a glimpse of the metal blade he was about to use. I started getting lightheaded but tried to keep it together so we didn’t have to do the whole thing twice. As soon as he told me he was done, I told him I had to lie down, and I did. He cleared the room and a nurse draped a damp cloth on my forehead while I re-centered myself. When I got up 10 minutes later, a narrow blood streak colored the center of the exam room table. …


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I’ve been trying to write this piece for four months. The initial idea was to capture the moment we’re in, back when that moment felt novel. Now more than ever, people said, it was important to stay connected. So we did.

A friend sent me a collaborative Spotify playlist called “Strawberry Songs” full of songs by Tim Buckley and Natalie Prass and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. We texted about how good it felt to disappear into walls of guitar noise. I listened to this music when Haley and I unfolded the stowed-away flap of our Ikea kitchen table to create a larger shared workspace as we began spending 9–5 on our laptops at home. …


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How do you make God laugh? Make a plan.

So goes the old Yiddish proverb that’s been a notable source of inspiration for everyone from Ben Gibbard to Joseph Fiennes to Public Enemy. But what if your job—a higher calling that places you at the head of His church, in charge of all decisions and the safeguarding of it from, as you see it, circling intruders—is quite literally to make his plans? To lay down the very manual for how we’re supposed to talk to God? To talk to Him, and to listen? …


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This year’s list differs considerably from that of 2016 and 2017 and 2018 in that 2019 was the first year studios actually sent me awards-ready, buzzy DVD screeners, mistaking me for someone with any actual influence in the industry. (Although I did join the WGA East this year, so I guess actually I do.) I have a friend who saw Phantom Thread upwards of five times in theaters because he loved it so much that it consumed him. For reasons I haven’t quite parsed yet, that’s me with The Two Popes. Here’s that, plus everything else I saw this year, in the order in which I preferred it. …


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The band was called Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s. At the time of the song’s release, there were apparently eight musicians in the band, though it’s hard to pin down a precise number. Some decent live videos from 2008 appear to show seven onstage, adding two violinists, a cellist, and a trumpeter to a standard guitar-drums-keyboard indie arrangement. The exact figure doesn’t matter. This band, like Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire before it, was a cyclone of bodies and chamber instruments. They were meant to overwhelm you.

Given the panorama of personnel, you might’ve mistaken them for Canadian. But their demeanor suggested something more grizzled and American: Midwestern flannel folkies who likely drank too much and didn’t get nearly enough sunlight. It was only nine hours east from Conor Oberst’s Omaha to the Indianapolis of Margot’s leader, Richard Edwards. On “Jen Is Bringin the Drugs,” Edwards drops something, maybe, or breaks a string merely 20 seconds from the end; instead of cutting another take, he left it on the album, complete with the ragged “fuck it” he sighs slightly off-mic. He had a bright but broken voice, the kind necessary to deliver the song’s crushing nihilism: “‘Cause love is an inkless pen / It’s a tavern, it’s sin / It’s a horrible way to begin.” …


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I think this is all of them, anyway. No way to be sure. And here’s the order in which I preferred them, like I did in 2016 and 2017. I didn’t see too much Oscar bait yet. Who knows if I will. Enjoy!

  1. Paddington 2 / First Reformed [tie]

2. Wildlife

3. Eighth Grade

4. Hereditary

5. Tully

6. A Star Is Born

7. Roma

8. If Beale Street Could Talk

9. The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

10. Support The Girls

11. Sorry To Bother You

12. Juliet, Naked

13. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

14. Mission: Impossible — Fallout

15…


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The criteria for this list is simple: The music had to knock me on my ass. Guitars tend to do that the quickest, so most of the below music is rock-based. Please note that I also liked the Big Ones this year — Kacey Musgraves and Snail Mail and Janelle Monae and The 1975 and Ariana Grande and Camila Cabello in particular — but I didn’t listen to those ones as much as I listened to what’s on this list. Below are 10 albums that, if you asked me what I actually listened to the most in 2018, I could choose from and not be a liar. …


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Let me say up front that The White Album (officially known as The Beatles and released this week 50 years ago) is my favorite Beatles album. I love nearly every song on it. However, as it will quickly become clear, some are better than others. In honor of the album’s new Super Deluxe 50th anniversary release (out now), here’s my ranking of the songs, which is the correct one. Don’t even think about disagreeing!

30) “Wild Honey Pie”

There are no bad songs on The White Album. But this grating pass at psychedelia, one that repeatedly bounces the chorus of the superior “Honey Pie” (found on Side Four), doesn’t contribute much and should’ve been left to discover on a reissue 50 years later, if at all. …


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When The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie died in October 2017, my former editor Simon Vozick-Levinson memorialized him in The New York Times writing that as Americans, it’s hard to quantify just how massive a figure Downie was in his home country of Canada.

“The place of honor that Mr. Downie occupies in Canada’s national imagination has no parallel in the United States,” he wrote, and continued: “Imagine Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Michael Stipe combined into one sensitive, oblique poet-philosopher, and you’re getting close.”

Dylan and Springsteen. For as long as I’ve been paying attention, it’s been Dylan and Springsteen as America’s de facto musical poet laureates. That’s what rockist Boomer lore has handed down, anyway, though we have to leave some room for their new incarnations John Darnielle and Craig Finn, as the rules stipulate. Bob and Bruce have long been established as literary, narrative juggernauts whose impact on culture transcends their music. They’re characters. …


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Right now, my turntable would give any audiophile a heart attack. Not only is it one of those vinyl-to-MP3 setups, but without a proper sound system, my remaining option was to rig it through old Logitech desktop computer speakers. I know, I know—but it gets worse. The turntable itself spins too quickly, pitching songs up nearly a half-step and completing a three-minute song in about 2:50. It’s not as bad as listening to podcasts at 1.25x speed, something some particularly freakish people do willingly, but it’s not ideal listening, either.

I’m not proud of any of this, and I don’t bring it up for ironic purposes. The sole benefit of my laziness and reluctance to read how to fix it is, simply, that it helps me hear things I otherwise wouldn’t. A spin of Goo Goo Dolls’ 1998 album Dizzy Up the Girl, for example—yes, the one with “Iris”—reveals something important, something I’d never considered before, on the song “Broadway.” Throughout, singer Johnny Rzeznik fills his scenes of factory drunks praying for penance along Buffalo’s east side with the sounds of Midwestern ache, hot guitar licks that weep as they throw a punch at you in the neon bar light. At one point, he reveals that “Friday night’s gone too far” for those poor bastards. I’ve heard it maybe 200 times in my life. I could sing along even when I, too, am quite loaded. …

About

Patrick Hosken

I write and edit for @MTVNews and still listen to nü-metal.

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