Friday, December 21, 2007

Underrated's Top Twenty Albums Of 2007

It was an interesting year. I always am keen to the discovery of new music, which is why most of my top albums are debuts from unsigned or relatively new bands. There's nothing like that first try, and when succeeded, it will always be how they will be remembered. So without further adieu, my top 20 albums of the year, with a brief one-sentence recap, and a zip file of a selected track from each album below. See you in '08!

01. Port O’Brien – The Wind And The Swell
Never have I had such a visceral reaction to an album, where its lo-fi screams and yelps from start to finish prove this young band has so much more to give.

02. Radiohead – In Rainbows
A combination of its execution and actual sound, Radiohead's latest album marks revolution in the music and its most melodic effort to date.

03. White Rabbits – Fort Nightly
A late-night booze brawl, complete with a piano and dueling guitars, is what best defines White Rabbit’s debut Fort Nightly—the strong debut from this clean-cut six piece teeters between innocence and mystery with the slight tweak of a minor chord.

04. Ra Ra Riot – Ra Ra Riot EP
Ra Ra Riot's long awaited EP breathes new life into a sound that is attempted upon by so many bands, but never sounds as polished as each song this rowdy six-piece creates.

05. Tim Williams – When Work Is Done
Confidence shouldn't be a worry for this young troubadour, as his second effort is as thoughtful and honest as his previous one, but for the first time the songs are full of hopeful resolution.

06. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
An orchestra masterpiece from beginning to end, Arcade Fire prove once again why they have become one of the more important acts of our generation.

07. Kate Nash – Made Of Bricks
The quick witted Nash brings a dark side to pop music, seamlessly combining cocky lyrics with playful tunes.

08. Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
Thanks to Pat, this album demanded repeat listens, as Lekman delves deeper into story-telling arrangements with his classic vocals.

09. Tegan And Sara – The Con
Pure pop perfection from start to finish, the Canadian twins do it again with their more complex and rash fifth album

10. A Brief Smile – Now We All Have Horns
This band never ceases to amaze me, as they seem to have found their stride—and epic sound—on their self-produced and self-released LP

Best Of The Rest:
11. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
12. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga
13. Georgie James – Places
14. Kanye West – Graduation
15. Wakey!Wakey – Silent As A Movie
16. Ryan Adams – Easy, Tiger
17. Los Campesinos! – Sticking Fingers Into Sockets
18. Coconut Records – Nighttiming
19. Interpol – Our Love To Admire
20. The Shins – Wincing The Night Away

DOWNLOAD: Underrated Top Twenty Albums Of 2007 [zip]

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Heroes Volume III Sneak Peek

Thanks to TV Squad for this video. Tim Kring presented this at the Jules Verne Adventure Film Festival of Los Angeles, which includes scenes from episode 12 and 13 which were shot before the strike. And holy crap!! Sylar is ready to kick some ass next season. Please end the strike so I can get back into my TV obsession. Please?

Underrated's Top Twenty Songs Of 2007

I have had this list decided upon for some time now, but the thought of rehashing every detail about why these songs are great didn't seem worth anyone's time. In the end, they are good songs and deserve a listen, so I attempted at one-liner summations. Instead of featuring an MP3 for each song, I gave them all the merit they deserve, by providing a zip file at the end. Enjoy!

01. Jukebox The Ghost – Good Day
Yes, its true—every time I listen to this song, I seem to automatically have a good day.

02. Ingrid Michaelson – The Way I Am
Old Navy sweaters or not, Michaelson's sweet romantic song is cozy enough for repeat listens.

03. Mika – Grace Kelly
I had a bit of an obsession with this song when it first came out, and for good reason—the Freddy Mercury-esque stylings of Mika are both nostalgic and impressive

04. Rhianna – Umbrella
Any time you can get "ella ella ella" stuck in your head for all of eternity is a success in my book.

05. Wakey!Wakey! – Clinton Street Girl
I was one block away from pretending this song was about me, but nonetheless its a heart-on-your sleeves tune and ode to the greatest neighborhood of New York.

06. Feist – 1, 2, 3, 4
I don't think there is anyone in the whole world—thanks in part to Apple—that didn't fall in love with this playful ditty.

07. Justice – D.A.N.C.E.
Bringing in the best of old and new dance techniques, Justice's song complemented the mainstream fans and hipsters alike.

08. Kaiser Chiefs – Ruby
This chorus became part of my regular vocabulary for a long time.

09. Ra Ra Riot – Suspended In Gaffa
For some reason, this Kate Bush cover became an immediate favorite—highlighting singer Wesley Miles' impressive falsetto and the stomping orchestral talents of this young band.

10. Vampire Weekend – Oxford Comma
For a band who has jumped into the limelight so quickly, this song shows exactly that reason why.

11. Fujia & Miyagi – Collarbone
I heard this song having no idea who it was, and yet sung it in my head for months afterwards...try sitting still, I dare you.

12. M.I.A. – Paper Planes
I'm not totally sold on Kala, but this powerful and innovative dance number makes the whole disc worthwhile...gun shots and all.

13. Sia – The Girl You Lost To Cocaine
Sia's back with a vengeance with one of the tracks off her impressive new disc, a favorite to belt out when no one else is around.

14. Rilo Kiley – The Moneymaker
I wasn't keen on this side of Miss Jenny Lewis until I saw her perform it live—she owns up to every purr and rasp on the risky tune.

15. Architecture In Helsinki – Heart It Races
Thanks to Pat, I was introduced to this highly intoxicating number, where a simple "bum" will get you moving.

16. Tim Fite – It’s All Right Here
As someone who isn't a fan of hip hop, I have to say I'm quite taken by Mr. Tim Fite and his sarcastic rhymes.

17. The Diggs – Careen
Local boys the Diggs never cease to amaze me, especially in this emotional track off their upcoming sophomore album.

18. Datarock – Fa Fa Fa Fa
There are certain songs I want to turn up really loud and dance like a maniac....this is one of them.

19. White Stripes – Icky Thump
The album wasn't the best, but this track still shows that the White Stripes have something worth holding on for.

20. The Fratellis – Flat Head
There's a certain charm about Scottish boys and this song is quintessentially charming.

DOWNLOAD: Underrated Top Twenty Songs Of 2007 [zip]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Underrated's Top Ten Movies Of 2007

This year turned out to be a quality year all around in both TV, music, and film. I wish that films weren't as expensive (or someone would like to hook me up with my screenings, hint hint) because there's so many I haven't had the chance to see yet, and are just waiting to become available on Netflix. Regardless, I think the 10 below were all worthwhile investments of the ones I did get out to the big screen to enjoy. Keep close watch here, as Top Songs and Top Albums are still yet to come!

01. Juno
Having just seem this film on Friday, it may be considered a bit quick to put this at the top of my list. But when you put the genius that is Ellen Page on screen with some of my favorite Arrested Development-ers (Michael Cera and Jason Bateman), and throw in some great tunes from Kimya Dawson, there's really no doing wrong. In a understated tale of a women going through some, er, changes Juno plays at every emotion in the most genuine way. I wanted to be Juno throughout most of the film, and yet also identified with her misplacement among a suburban world. Every actor (yes, even Jennifer Garner) played their characters in the most un-stereotypical way, and yet even invoked a kind of familiar laugh. I'd like to see this film again, not only for the free orange tic tacs at the end, but for the heart, and music that feels so inviting.

02. Lars And The Real Girl
Ryan Gosling is, hands down, one of the most talented actors of our generation. Ever since Half Nelson I've looked at this Canadian as a breath of fresh air into a somewhat mundane collection of young talents. Lars And The Real Girl showed Gosling at his most vulnerable. Somehow, some way, this film turned a perverse subject of a blow up doll as a girlfriend, into something heartwarming and purse. Gosling's every facial expression invoked a new emotion, and it was an absolute pleasure to see him, as Lars, working through his mental state on screen. Often times hilarious, this emotionally driven ensemble piece is one that shouldn't be overlooked by prejudgment. Now Mr. Gosling, I'm rather curious to see how you will manage to top this.

03. Control
This film left me speechless. And now, almost two months later I still don't know how to put into words the experience of seeing Control. Directed by the fabulous Anton Corbijn, and staring newcomer Sam Riley, the film tells the tale of the infamous Ian Curtis, however it isn't a typical biopic. The film is mostly from the perspective of his wife Debroah (and based off her memoirs) and the always wonderful Samantha Morton plays the role with such force and apt that you feel physically uncomfortable at numerous times during the film. Paying homage to the music, and with a tasteful, yet horrifying take on Curtis' eventual demise, Control is a film worthy of high praise, personally putting it up right against Sid And Nancy in top musical films.

04. Waitress
It's no shocker that I'm a huge Keri Russell. She was my hero growing up, watching her on the Mickey Mouse Club and finding solace in our shared curly hair. Felicity may have been my biggest obsession to date—all I'll say is MTV's FANatic— and while watching Mission Impossible III last week, I couldn't stop asking Pat if Felicity was going to come back to life. Needless to say, I was excited about her latest project Waitress a dark comedy about a lonely housewife who becomes pregnant and yearns for a new life. Russell is at her top game here, playing with fellow castmates emotions, doing what Jennifer Aniston should have done in The Good Girl and she does it with grace. Equal parts humorous and heartbreaking Waitress is one of those rare film gems, where you are happy to escape to someone else's world—which may or may not be better than your own—just to root for the protagonist. Plus, it never hurts to have Six Feet Under's Jeremy Sisto in the mix.

05. Knocked Up
As a huge fan of Freaks And Geeks, I basically adore everything Judd Apatow has a part in. Although still a bit hesitant of casting Izzie, I mean Katherine Heigl in the lead female role, Knocked Up was a hodgepodge of familiar faces, grotesque laughs, and water cooler moments. Personally I think the relationship between Paul Rudd and Apatow's real-life wife Leslie Mann stole the show, but each character and scene was perfectly pieced together for an almost realistic view of the worst fear of a one-night stand. Seth Rogen did a stand up job altering his character throughout the film to show a genuine growing up, while still keeping it light and fresh. And let's be honest, any chance to have Martin Starr in a film, is a-okay with me. Give that guy a leading role already!

06. Wind That Shakes The Barley
I actually saw this film two summers ago in London, but it was released in the US here, so we'll stick to that release date. I'm not a huge fan of historical flicks, but this one seemed to successful portray a real life event with a compelling tale. A sympathetic look at Republicans in early 20th century Ireland, two brothers, played brilliantly by Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney are torn apart by anti-Brit rebellion over the years. I'm not one to get super emotional during films—okay, kind of a lie—but watching it with my mother, who knows first-hand the after-effects of this time, was a bit surreal. Played by real Irish, the tale will leave you stunned and shocked, in an un-traditional film with outstanding performances.

07. Superbad
Two things we need to get straight: I am not a 17 year old boy, and I don't typically like gross-out humor. With that said, I throughouly enjoyed Superbad because even in spite of the two previous statements, the quick wit and hilarity of Michael Cera and Jonah Hill's night out is enough for any skeptics to be won over. And sure, I will forever be disgusted at the stain on Hill's pants, and certain crude references could have been left behind, but in the end, I was left satisfied with a film that borders on immature and sophisticated humor the entire length of the film. That takes skill. And it seems like I'm always more of a fan of the b-plot, this flick is no different. Christopher Mintz-Plasse's McLovin deserves a big high-five for the convenience store scene alone, and is only heightened with the addition of director and writer Seth Rogen and his partner in crime SNL's Bill Hader.

08. Ratatouille
I had to keep reminding myself that the rats in Ratatouille were not real. The computer animation in this film are at top-notch, and its ability to write a sophisticated children's story in a way that doesn't have some jokes for adults and some for kids (a la Shrek), instead making a wholesome film that everyone can enjoy. Complete with a great collection of guest voices from less-obvious choices like Patton Oswalt, Will Arnett, and Ian Holm, in the end, it's not the most hysterical film ever made, no, but it is one of the more entertaining ones. And that, I think, always should win out in the end.

09. Hot Fuzz
Pat introduced me to the wonder that is Shaun Of The Dead earlier this year, so I was pumped to catch the second coming off the duo, this time as police officers heading to a strange town in Hot Fuzz. While it did not live up to the former, it did have its moments—the usual homage to classics with smart one liners and clever references. The film succeeded in both working as a action film and as a comedy, which is hard to come by these days.

10. The Simpsons Movie
The Simpsons Movie wouldn't stand up to some of the episode greats of the iconic television series, but seeing our favorite yellow family on the big screen was enough to warrant this movie a favorite. From the opening scenes, of seeing the entire town of Springfield, to the classic story line of Homer screwing up and then trying to make right, the film was a nice celebration of what we've come to expect—unexpectedly sophisticated story telling and a moral to every tale. It was a long time coming, and well worth the wait, and I have a sneaking suspicion this film, like most Simpsons episodes will stand the test of time.

Monday, December 17, 2007

After The Jump's New Years Eve

After the Jump presents New Year's Eve 2007
New York City
taking over two levels of the
Knitting Factory
in support of
Education Through Music

Dirty Projectors
Foreign Islands
Care Bears on Fire
after-party hosted by Cex, with special guests Ecstatic Sunshine, Alan Astor, Wzt Hearts

Tickets on sale now via ticketweb or ShopText through the Knitting Factory site

curated by the people behind:
themusicslut . batteringroom . disconap . earfarm . ryspace . irockiroll . musicsnobbery . merryswankster . softcommunication . theunderratedblog . sitdownstandup . watercoolergossip . bumpershine . themodernage . productshopnyc . yetidontdance . slapyouinpublic . subinev . punkphoto . poptartssucktoasted . stereoactivenyc . fingeronthepulse

for more information, please email:


Milo Ventimiglia's 'Winter Tales'

Heroes' Milo Ventimiglia isn't sitting still during the writer's strike, instead, he's out promoting AE Winter Tales a strange off-beat clamation series that tells true-life tales of the actor's life. Co-star and Miss Veronica Mars herself Kirsten Bell, alongside Pete Wentz, Lil John, and Friday Night Lights' Adrianne Palicki narrate the five shorts that are available now at (yes, American Eagle Outfitters). After watching the first one, entitled "Home for the Holidays'" where Ventimiglia recounts a flight from hell, I'm surprised at the level of wit and sarcasm coming from a sponsored-project. The Gilmore Girls referenced-line "'Why did you grow your hair out so long, Jess? Was it because Dean made fun of your pompadour 'do?" was enough to win me over.

Check out the first one here:

Friday, December 14, 2007

LOST Season Four Trailers, Cloverfield

I cannot wait until this show comes back. Check out the trailer for Season Four; it's a nice little recap with a couple upcoming shots. February cant come soon enough!

Another one:

And while we are at it, check out the trailer to J.J. Abrams' Cloverfield. I hope two hours of hand-held cameras wont make me nauseas.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Top Ten TV Shows Of 2007

Sorry for the brief hiatus...things in my world have been a bit busy lately, as I have now started blogging for the Limewire Blog, while still working at CMJ. It's been fun to write in the new home over there, so keep checking back for more old-school Underrated style posts. But don't worry, I'm here to stay. I'm going to be rolling out my top 10 lists over the next few weeks (although I am not as ambitious as my very talented boyfriend), so I figured I'd start with something more familiar. While this blog is and always will be a music blog, since I spend so much of my time writing about music I've used this space to delve deeper into my other entertainment loves. Recently, it's been a lot of TV, so here are my top ten. Since it looks like this strike may last for a while, go ahead and rent some of these shows on DVD. You will not be disappointed!

10. How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
In the age where new sitcoms are less than inviting, CBS's HIMYM somehow manages to turn formulaic plot lines into hearty laughs. It comes down to the fluidity of this fantastic cast, as each plays off each other in a way that isn't contrite. Everything, from a New Year's Eve limo ride to a slap count, doesn't try too hard to be funny and instead feels an experience you could have had, however without as witty of a banter. Neil Patrick Harris has done a superb job playing Barney, carefully hovering over the thin line between awesome and exaggerated. In the end, you don't care if Ted stays with Robin or who the actual overarching mother is. It's an episode by episode enjoyment, with never a low point. Even if one night you think it will be dragging, there will be one line that will leave you chuckling until well past Monday night.

09. Weeds (Showtime)
Sure, it wasn't the best season of the critically acclaimed Showtime season, but even when Weeds is at its worst, it still beats out 90% of what is on TV. Mary Louise Parker is, hands down, one of the greatest female actresses of our time, and with each mistake Nancy brings on upon herself, you want to root for her to keep being sassy and sarcastic and incredibly strong—all at the same time. Who would have thought that a show about a pot dealing suburban mom would be so socially aware without being preachy? This season's finale left a lot to be wondered about where the family will go, but as long as Mary-Kate stays out of too many scenes and the wonderful Kevin Nealon is in more, I'll be just fine.

08. Top Chef (Bravo)
Okay so I'm not the best cook, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a good cooking show once in a while. So when I'm not feeling gathering inspiration from the food network, I'm watching aspiring chefs duke it out on Bravo's most delicious reality show, Top Chef. This network knows how to do reality TV, focusing more on the competition than the drama and letting true talents, rather than true crazies, shine. This season didn't have the Ilan I fell in love with, but it did have a fantastic grouping of odd flavors and spices. Yes, I wasn't thrilled that Hung took the top prize (was rooting for the underdog Dale), you can't argue with that boy's knife skills. Wowee.

07. House (FOX)
Hugh Laurie can do no wrong. How is it that I completely adore an arrogant pompous Vicodin popping loner? Because he's a genius, that is. Both Laurie and the character he plays make a somewhat redundant show increasingly entertaining with one quip-witted line. Someone will always have a seizure and they will always (well most of the time) solve the mysterious case, but no matter how ridiculous the story lines seem to get, Laurie and his team's banter keep me tuning in each week. This season's Survivor-esque showdown created some humorous moments, and although it was quite obvious who he was going to pick at the end, the rose/tribal ceremonies made it all worthwhile.

06. The Sopranos (HBO)
It had to come to an end, and in the final moments of a black screen all I could think of is how truly remarkable this show is. Get over the initial shock and it all becomes so clear. David Chase's mob drama was easily one of the best television shows of our time, with its complex story arches and metaphors growing deeper with each season of the show. Violence became art, as Tony and his crew reminded us what old-school justice is all about. Growing up in Jersey it was easy to see how genuine the show attempted to be—no, I'm not in the mob—while still revolutionizing hour-long dramas on the small screen. Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" will always be remembered as my final farewell to the Soprano clan, and whatever your interpretation is of how this fantastic show came to a close, just think about how refreshing that lack of clarity really is.

05. The Office (NBC)
What can I say about this gem of a show that hasn't already been said? There's nothing better than an awkward laugh at the folks at Dunder Mifflin sure know how to make an experience awkward. I cant help but laugh out loud as Michael tries to do his best and fails, while Dwight stands noble and Jim gives funny looks to Pam. It's as formulaic of a show as you are going to be, which makes its location even the more appropriate. Offices are a humorous thing when you really think about it, but this remarkable cast has gone above and beyond to deliver crafty lines on a regular basis. Sure, I wasn't thrilled with the Pam and Jim story line this season, but even so—I never, ever, stopped laughing.

04. Californication (Showtime)
Hands down the best new show of the year, Califonication successfully brings back the screwed up world of shows like Six Feet Under where dark comedy rules, and characters are flawed. Hank Moody, played so well by the enjoyable David Duchovney can't get his life together, and he shouldn't. Because while he's screwing up everything around him he's helping us look at a world that isn't perfect and isn't supposed to be. From the first minute that I watched the show all I wanted to do was get back into writing creativily because the mind of a writer is something so relatable. We're all trying to figure out the meaning of life, and if I had a choice, I'd let Moody be my guide.

03. Heroes (NBC)
Stop your complaining. Stop expecting everything to happen all at once. Think about reality television. Think about the idea of a comic book series on TV. Think about the number and diversity of the cast and think about the success of a silly tagline like "Save The Cheerleader, Save The World." It really bothers me sometimes when viewers will not have patience with television shows. If you loved the first season, trust the writers and creators the next time around. Sure, there were some mistakes (ahem, Wonder Twins) and interesting dialogue but it is always worthwhile in the end. Remember that Heroes is divided into "Chapters" and not every page of every chapter in a book will be some crazy fight scene. We're beginning to unravel the scale of what we've grown accustomed to in this show, so take a deep breath, ogle at Peter's pecs, and just enjoy this show.

02. Lost (ABC)
Oh Lost how I love you so. My relationship with this show is much like any close relationship in life, it has its ups and it has its down. But I always admire intelligence and passion, and this show has proved that you can have both on primetime TV. The second half of the third season proved to be its most ambitious yet, with the reveal of Jacob, the flash-forwards, and Dharma's intentions. Locke and Ben are easily the most intriguing characters out there, with a very weary confusion between good and evil. With its grand themes and carefully places references to pop culture's past, Lost continues to wow me with each twist and turn, and you can bet I'll be sticking with it to the very end.

01. Dexter (Showtime)
I didn't watch the first season of Dexter when it aired on Showtime, but sometime during the summer I decided to give this strange show a try. What I discovered is now a deep obsession with the most complex character I've grown to love, played so brilliantly by Michael C. Hall. I can't even begin to explain the trials me as a viewer goes through on a weekly basis trying to understand the workings of a serial killer. But he's a justified serial killer, we think, but as Season Two has unwound we are not so sure. I sit on the edge of my couch with every piece of evidence shown, as its growing closer and closer to our dear Dex getting caught. A cast of characters that are both in tune and out to the world around them is terribly interesting, and its deathly disturbing not knowing how it will all play out.

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