Thursday, December 31, 2009

Moon Top 10 Albums of the Decade

The best thing I ever did for my music listening this decade was to start the decade off on the right foot by marrying Dawnell. Adding her CD collection to my home broadened my horizons and introduced me to some spectacular music. Knowing that I had been unaware of such great music led me to increasingly seek out more. Before I begin this list, there are two caveats: 1) I'm a busy guy, there is a ridiculous amount of music that I haven't listened to; and 2) Some of the stuff that I just realized ruled this decade doesn't make the list because it was released earlier, so even though I've fallen in love with The Stone Roses' eponymous debut album, it isn't making this list because it was released in 1989.

And so, with apologies to Fountains of Wayne, Vampire Weekend, Eminem, Kanye West, The Strokes, Mana, Cerys Matthews, Julieta Venegas, the Police, and Natalia y La Forquetina, here are my Top 10 Albums of the Decade (I'd apologize to a couple other people as well, but they already have a spot in the top 10...)

10. Equally Cursed and Blessed by Catatonia

The music I listen to skews across the pond and across the border. The Spanish language albums make sense, as I learned the language while serving a mission in Argentina. The love of all things British I blame on Dawnell, who spent a year as a foreign exchange student in Wales, bringing back a nose ring and tons of great CDs.

International Velvet is my favorite Catatonia album by quite a bit, but this is still a great pop rock album, with the crashing abruptness of Londoninium giving way to the soaring heights ofValerian. Great stuff.

9.Home by the Dixie Chicks

I promise I won't compare every album on this list with an album by the same artist, but sometimes the Grammys are just stupid. You shouldn't give album of the year to a band just because they say they don't like George W. Bush. Oh, and you should never nominate Lady Gaga or the Black Eyed Peas for anything. Anyway, the Dixie Chicks' 2002 country album was great. If only they had chosen to rip on W in 2006 maybe they wouldn't have needed to try out the pop stuff. Well, given their core audience maybe not.

8. Un Dia Normal by Juanes

It was a coin flip for my favorite Latin album of the decade, and maybe Juanes is #8 because I thought it was weird that I would have had 3 female acts then 7 male acts. Iif you had asked me at the start of the decade if I would have had any Latin acts in my top 10 at the end of the decade I would have answered in the affirmative. However, I'm sure I would have been anticipating new stuff by the artist formerly known to me as Shakira or upcoming albums by Mana, whose stuff this decade was great, but not as good as this spectacular album full of hits by the Colombian superstar Juanes.

7. Gozo Poderoso by Aterciopelados

And Juanes was not as good as Aterciopelados. Thank you Colombia, for providing me with two of my top 10 albums of the decade as well as memories of the good Shakira.

Here is what Amazon has to say about this album:

There's an alternately ethereal and electric power pulsing through Gozo Poderoso, the stellar fifth album from Colombian duo Aterciopelados. Maybe that's because the team of vocalist-guitarist Andrea Echeverri and bassist Hector Buitrago have rooted their sound in traditional rhythms while deftly dipping it in some of today's most exciting genres. Each track on the album flows effortlessly into the next, but there's nary a hint of repetition. It's all tied together by intricate production and a spiritual intelligence that flows through many of the song lyrics. "Luz Azul," "Esmeralda," and "El Album" (the first single) are stand-outs, anchored by Echeverri's slyly seductive vocals. Cumbia, salsa, and vallenato intermingle with alt-rock riffs, electronica flourishes, and bossa nova rhythms. It's an intoxicating mix that's impossible to classify--and resist. --Joey Guerra

6. Hot Fuss by the Killers

What can I say...I got soul, but I'm not a soldier.

5. High Fidelity Soundtrack by Various Artists

Is it fair to include a soundtrack in the best albums of the decade? Probably, as a lot of the lists I've seen have included the soundtracks to Juno or O, Brother, Where Art Thou? What if most of the songs were recorded decades ago? I say yes. One of my favorite movies of the decade, about a man who owns a record store and loves to make Top 5 lists, provided me with an introduction to The Velvet Underground and Stevie Wonder that doesn't suck.

The only thing this album is missing is the haunting cover of Baby I Love Your Way by Cosby kid Lisa Bonet, which is in a perpetual battle with Alive by Joey Lauren Adams (from Chasing Amy) for "best song from a good movie sung by an actress that you had no idea could sing so awesome."

4. Silent Alarm by Bloc Party

This rocks. Then it doesn't. Then it mid-level rocks. But it is always challenging.

3. Gold by Ryan Adams

True story: in 2000/2001 I attended an Alanis Morrissette concert and Ryan Adams was the opening act. Even in Salt Lake there must have been hundreds of folks who were there just to see Ryan and who were trying to spread the word, handing out fliers about this album. And the entire time I made (admittedly humorous) jokes about how I wanted him to sing Summer of 69 or Everything I Do I Do It For You.

A couple of years later I realized I was a musical idiot when I rediscovered this album, and I've kept coming back all decade.

2. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco

Paste Magazine has a Top 50 Albums of the Decade that is great. Here's the link to their Top 10 And here's what they say about their #2 album of the decade, which is also my #2. Click the link for the full review...

"By now, the story of this album has become rock ’n’ roll lore like Brian Wilson’s sandbox and “Paul is dead.” In brief: Once upon a time, the acclaimed Chicago rock band Wilco delivered an album called Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to Reprise, its longtime label, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Terrified by the album’s squalling feedback and abstract songcraft, Reprise executives ran screaming from the room. Ultimately, they decided to let the band go. Soon after, Wilco streamed the record for free online. The album was met with raves from both fans and critics, and was eventually picked up by Nonesuch, an artier subsidiary of the same parent company. “There was a common perception and irony,” Nonesuch senior VP David Bither says today, “of one Warner label passing on the record and letting the band go out of its contract for very little cost, and another Warner label picking it up and putting it out. In other words, paying for it twice.”

1. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not by the Arctic Monkeys

These guys were, apparently, the next big thing in Great Britain. I don't know, I missed the hype. All I know is that Alex Turner has the confidence to start this album by telling everyone that "anticipation has the habit to set you up for disappointment," then proceed to show everyone that one night out on the town can result in 13 songs ranging from "The View From the Afternoon" to "A Certain Romance." And if I were to do a top 10 songs of the decade, probably half of them would be from this album.

I'm not a club-goer from England, so it doesn't speak to me as though it were talking about me, but then again, a perfect story doesn't need to talk about me, it just needs to tell me the story of them. And so the Arctic Monkeys did, with 4 minute stories of guys telling their "Fake Tales of San Francisco" and "Mardy Bums" and menacing gentleman who change when the sun goes down. And through it all they had the wit to observe that music as art is challenged every day by those who believe that "there's only music, so that there's new ringtones."

That's why this is my album of the decade.

Edit to add p.s. - This list doesn't speak for Dawnell, but I believe our choice at the top is unanimous.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It was a good year at the Moon house. Between Black Friday, mommy getting better at sewing and knitting, and lots of involved and loving relatives the kids made out pretty well for Christmas.

But before we get to Christmas we have to give you the count down to it.

Thanks again to Olivia Beckett decided we needed a tree topper. I agree, we did need that, but I hadn't been able to find one I liked. However, it was really bugging Beckett that we didn't have a star on our tree like Olivia. So on December 23 Beckett and Daddy went out in an attempt to find a tree topper. As you can imagine pickings are a little slim at that date. However they returned triumphant, kind of, with one giant and one tiny option.

Mommy decided bigger was better so I switched them later.

Christmas Eve we went to our friend's house and had a lovely and ENORMOUS dinner with three other couples. (None of whom are pictured as we were too busy eating to photograph people. Here's a little menu sampler: bacon wrapped dates, spinach artichoke dip, garlic cheese bread, enchilada dip, meatballs, twice baked potatoes, sausage stuffed pears, butternut squash soup and yummy salad, fruit and vegetables.)

After our big party we went home to bed and before you know it, we awoke and it was

Christmas Morning

Here is the big loot.

And here is the moment when Beckett first sees it all. (In a side note I made his pajamas and I think they turned out pretty cute.)

Ciaran was in a festive mood.

He enjoyed his new jumper, but didn't do a ton of jumping. He took a nap for most of the present opening.

Beckett declared, "I am the king!" as soon as he put this crown on.

He likes his new bike (that I got FREE!!! Now we just need warmer weather or a longer hall.)

Here's a new fun playmat he got and in the corner by the bouncy chair you can see this cute car caddy I made from a pattern my friend Jill had. I am quite proud of it.

Beckett immediately asked to take a bath when he opened his bath basketball set. We got him to wait until we had finished opening presents, but then he disappeared and I found him in the bathroom with his pants off and the diaper half off. We agreed to his wish for a bath at that point.

Chris and I actually managed some presents in the midst of all this too. Thank you to all of you who sent such wonderful and thoughtful gifts. It's been a wonderful day, but we miss you terribly.

Love, Chris Dawnell, Beckett and Ciaran.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Mouth Snowman

Beckett loves the "Olivia Helps With Christmas" book. We read it every night. And every night when we get to the part of the story where Olivia builds a snowman Beckett says, "I wanna build a happy mouth snowman." As you can see from the image below the snowman Olivia builds is less than jolly.

We had snow on Saturday night and we tried to build on Sunday but it didn't work. The snow was light and fluffy and not at all sticky. So we thought we'd give it a couple of days and try again. The snow still didn't want to stick but we made a valiant effort to stack the snow since rolling balls was out. Here are the results.

The stacking commences.

Nose insertion.

These lips came from a snow woman kit my sister Jil sent me last year. Beckett deemed them happy enough to adorn our snowman.

Hat placement.

"He needs shoes, he needs shoes!"

Dead garden stick arms.

The final product.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jazz Buddies

Chris opted out of attending the Jazz/Nets game but of course he had to watch. And if you're going to support your team you might as well wear team regalia. Beckett is learning this lesson early. When he saw Daddy in his jersey and shorts he had to run and get clothes to put on over his pajamas so they matched.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

They're Boodle and the Dude

Ciaran was being a bundle of energy this afternoon, talking up a storm. Finally I decided to get the camera and take some video and pictures. As soon as I returned from retrieving the camera he began to cry and get fussy for naptime. So, some good pics, but not nearly as many as I thought I'd get...

These two turned out pretty cute.

I even tried going to black and white and letting Boodle play with a ball to get him happy again. That led to a series of pictures with a ball in front of Boodle's face. In case you haven't noticed, we've taken to calling Ciaran by the nickname Boodle.

This is the only b&w that turned out okay.

Here's one of Beckett with two of his favorite things, his baby brother and his "meat." That's what he calls his blanket. Ciaran's pretty cute here, but Beckett looks like he's still halfway asleep.

And here's one from a week ago of Beckett looking cool on his way to the playground.

December and the Dudes

Busy life, busy world, and kids that keep getting cuter and cuter. Ciaran had his 6 month appointment this past week and the news continues to be good. Ciaran is up to 13 and 1/2 pounds. He's still not quite big enough to get onto the 6 month charts, but his head is down in the bottom 10%, so he's slowly catching up.

Here are some pictures of the adorable hat dudes...

We had our ward Christmas party on Saturday. Lighting wasn't very great so we didn't get a lot of pictures. Ciaran dressed up as an elf.

Somehow the only picture I got of Beckett at the party occurred right after he had eaten a green sugar cookie. He isn't really ill, he just looks like it.

Earlier this same day, we went to visit a ward member who has a really cool train setup at his house. As you can see, Beckett thought it was awesome. Our friend had lots of levers set up around the tracks and he let Beckett play with the levers, dumping little peppermint logs and turning on Christmas tree lights. Lots of fun.

Ciaran and mom didn't quite know what was going on, but they were cute.

Our friend has a train set that includes a boxcar for all 50 states. Dawnell and I are in agreement with this train.

Beckett was certainly happy after playing with the trains.