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Showing posts from 2019

"Writing Lots!" by Dawn Vogel

Hi, I'm Dawn, and I'm doing guest post here on Kurt's blog. I write fantasy, steampunk, YA, and pretty much anything else that looks shiny for a moment. You can learn more about me here! Today, I'm talking about how I write as much as I do.

I've been writing since I knew how to do so, but I've been writing with an eye toward publication for about eleven years. As I've gotten more comfortable with the craft of writing, my productivity has increased dramatically. In the first six years I was writing seriously, I wrote fewer than twenty short stories, all told. Over the next three years, I increased my output and wrote about a dozen stories a year (with an occasional poem mixed in). Last year, I wrote 38 short stories/flash and 6 poems. This year, I've already surpassed that, and it's only September.

In analyzing how I've increased my output so dramatically, I've found three main keys to my prolific writing: 1) planning, 2) stolen moments, and 3)…

100 Albums Supplemental: Anticipointments

So every now and then you have an album you really and truly love from an artist who's really impressed you. You were looking forward to the follow-up so much, and then you get let down hard. You know the feeling. It was the feeling you got after watching Star Wars, Episode I or The Matrix: Reloaded. It's especially pervasive in music because of a phenomenon called the "sophomore slump" in which an artist has spent years on the underground circuit cultivating a playlist and their debut album is essentially a greatest hits of their pre-contract work. Then they go into the studio to record a follow up and what they put together is... Sam's Town.

So here's a list of albums that I was really looking forward to and then hated.

Hospitality - Trouble

Hospitality's eponymous debut is a little indie-pop gem with a fantastic single in Friends Of Friends. They're a little twee, sure, but it was a fun bite-sized nugget of a record and I was anxious to see what the…

100 Albums: "Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?" by of Montreal

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: of Montreal
Title:Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
Released: 2007
Genre: indie glam dance-pop


of Montreal is one of my favorite bands to see live. Every time I've seen them it's just been a giant over-the-top dance party that was as weird as it was fun. The band is primarily the project of singer/composer Kevin Barnes and came out of the mid-90s Athens, Georgia pop scene--keeping in mind that this is the same college town that produced REM and The B-52's over a decade prior (both of whom have already been featured in this list!). of Montreal borrows a lot from psychedelic rock and glam, but their sound is pretty uniquely their own. of Montreal songs don't have chord progressions so much as they have sequences that modulate around. Barnes doesn't so much sing as strut around with lyrics. The music is infectiously danceable but resists sticking in your head. It's anot…

100 Albums: "Missile Toe" by Pspazz

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Pspazz
Title:Missile Toe
Released: 1995
Genre: sophomoric christian surf-punk



This one is obscure enough that I can't even find a video for it. You're just going to have to take my word (or listen to some extremely low quality samples here) (or just do the minimal amount of googling required to download the thing for free). The 90s saw a surge in the Christian rock movement spearheaded by dc Talk's Jesus Freak and crossover success from Christian bands like Jars of Clay and Christian-influenced bands like Collective Soul. Riding this wave, a lot of Christian bands were marketed to parents of teens as wholesome alternatives to mainstream rock. Youth pastors would get promo CDs to share and one-sheets of an entire record label's catalog saying "if your teen likes Stone Temple Pilots, you should get them an album from Third Day." In 1995, my youth pastor heard this oddbal…

100 Albums: "The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill" by Lauryn Hill

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Lauryn Hill
Title:The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Released: 1998
Genre: neo-soul hip-hop r&b reggae


Hill broke in the mainstream as a member of the Fugees, alongside Pras and Wyclef Jean. She was the featured vocalist on the group's most successful hit, a cover of Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly that blended the original soulful melody with hip-hop and reggae influences. After the group rocketed to stardom on the success of their album The Score, they immediately split up to pursue solo projects. Miseducation is Hill's only solo studio album, and is something of a minor masterpiece--a deeply personal record that features commentary on motherhood, race, and culture (while she is dedicated to equality, Hill's personal politics are, not to put to fine a point on it, reactionary). The ostensible main theme of the record is capital-L Love. As was trendy in late 90s hip-hop, the…

100 Albums: "Broken Bells" by Broken Bells

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Broken Bells
Title:Broken Bells
Released: 2010
Genre: retro indie alt-funk... or, you know, whatever it is Danger Mouse does


Indie hip-hop producer/Wunderkind Danger Mouse has collaborated with a number of artists in this list. In addition to producing albums like Beck's Modern Guilt or Portugal. The Man's Evil Friends, he's also worked on collab projects like Danger Doom with MF Doom and Gnarls Barkley with Cee-Lo Green. One gets the impression that people just walk up to Danger Mouse and say "Hey, I loved The Gray Album, wanna work on something together?" and he keeps saying yes. Which, if that's the case, good for him! Broken Bells is another one of these projects, this time working with James Mercer of The Shins after the two met at a music festival. The combination is not as flashy as Gnarls Barkley, but Danger Mouse's retro-spaghetti-western sample libraries …

100 Albums: "Stankonia" by OutKast

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: OutKast
Title:Stankonia
Released: 2000
Genre: southern hip-hop


Born out of the Dungeon Family collective in the early 90s, OutKast was the group that broke the "Dirty South" sound into the mainstream. They paved the way for acts like Ludacris and T.I. and emerged at a time when the rap community was focused on a rivalry between the East and West coasts. The duo's sound was a blend of Antwan "Big Boi" Patton's more traditional MC style and André "André 3000" Benjamin's observational lyrics and funk-rock instrumentation.

Stankonia marked a stylistic change for the duo. It's more up-tempo and driving than previous records. The lead single B.O.B. (embedded above) is a six-minute anthem that runs at a break-neck pace with touches of techno, funk, and even a church choir. The album spawned additional singles in So Fresh, So Clean and Ms. Jackson. In the 90…

100 Albums: "Warp And Weft" by Laura Veirs

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Laura Veirs
Title:Warp And Weft
Released: 2013
Genre: singer/songwriter alt-folk


This album came onto my radar by way of the Next Music podcast, which is where I discover a lot of new music, frankly. I'd heard of Veirs before--she'd been recommended by Vienna Teng on social media--but hadn't gotten around to actually listening. When I heard That Alice (embedded above), I knew I needed to hear more. That Alice, it should be noted, is not particularly representative of the record. It's an up-tempo rock number in the middle of a very low-key album. The opener, Sun Song, does a better job of setting the right tone.

Veirs' work here feels very restrained. Her vocal melodies are bright but she never belts. The guitars always feel very controlled, whether it's the gentle arpeggios of Ten Bridges or the electric thrum of America. She describes her lyrics as personal without bein…

100 Albums: "Gone In 60 Seconds: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack"

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Various
Title:Gone In 60 Seconds original motion picture soundtrack
Released: 2000
Genre: tunes for cruisin'


Summer 2000 saw the release of the Nic Cage vehicle (ahem) Gone In 60 Seconds, a goofy, okay-enough-I-guess action flick about professional car thieves that featured what we used to think of as impressive stunt driving before The Fast And The Furious came out a year later. I remember enjoying it well enough for a vapid summer blockbuster, and I remember that the biggest takeaway I had leaving the theater was that I very much wanted to own the accompanying soundtrack, and that is a decision I have never regretted. It was a blend of rock, EDM, and rap that was the perfect album to listen to in the car. Who knew?

The lead track and only single is The Cult's Painted On My Heart, a slow rock 90s power ballad in the vein of Our Lady Peace or Fuel. It's a solid starter, but for my m…

100 Albums: "Violent Femmes" by Violent Femmes

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Violent Femmes
Title:Violent Femmes
Released: 1983
Genre: alternative acoustic teen angst


Violent Femmes' debut album was written by lead singer Gordon Gano while he was still in high school. The songs are goofy and sometimes childish, but they have a heart-on-sleeve earnestness that I find compelling. It didn't chart at all when it came out, but eventually went platinum in 1991 when several of its tracks found their way into radio rotation in the growing alternative movement. Gano's high, whiny voice and the stripped down arrangements--most of the songs are entirely played on acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, and a snare drum with brushes--give it a distinctive and instantly-recognizable aesthetic.

It has all of the Femmes' most popular songs, including the iconic Blister In The Sun. The intro to that song is one of the first four or five things a guitar player learns when pickin…

100 Albums: "Thirteenth Step" by A Perfect Circle

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: A Perfect Circle
Title:Thirteenth Step
Released: 2003
Genre: alt-metal


During a hiatus from Tool, singer Maynard James Keenan got involved with a side project being orchestrated by his roommate, guitar-tech Billy Howerdel. Howerdel's instrumental demo tape was richly textured (what would you expect from an album composed by a guitar tech) but still missing something, so Keenan and some other friends--including drummers Josh Freese and Tim Alexander, bassist Paz Lenchantin, and guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen--to put together an album. The result was 2000's Mer De Noms, a radio-friendlier version of the kind of art-metal Keenan was otherwise associated with. It spawned a few successful singles, but when Tool released their masterpiece Lateralus in 2001, we assumed that APC had been a one-off. But we were wrong. In 2003, APC put out a follow-up that felt less like a side-project and more like …

100 Albums: "Bargainville" by Moxy Früvous

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Moxy Früvous
Title:Bargainville
Released: 1993
Genre: folk-pop


It's the kind of project that can only be created by bored college kids: a not-quite-a-cappella satirical band who sing about progressive politics, ecology, Spiderman, running a video store, and everything in between. The band formed in 1989 in Toronto and named themselves with a nonsense phrase that was difficult to remember, impossible to spell, and adorned with a heavy-metal umlaut. Bargainville is a charming goofball of a record in the vein of They Might Be Giants--although a bit more straightforward than TMBG.

The highlight is definitely King Of Spain in which a prince-and-pauper story ends up with the literal king of Spain becoming a pizza chef in Canada. The Drinking Song was the lullaby I sang to my kids for years and is one of my absolute favorite songs ever. River Valley is an excellent opener that sets the tone perfec…

100 Albums: "In Absentia" by Porcupine Tree

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Porcupine Tree
Title:In Absentia
Released: 2002
Genre: prog-rock


Once upon a time, a friend handed me a burned copy of this CD, saying "You like Tool, right? Check this out." That was my introduction to British prog-rockers Porcupine Tree. While the comparisons to Tool are fair, PT is a little poppier and a great deal more mellow. I went with Trains for the embed because it captures a little bit of both worlds of what I like about this album. It's got a little of the precision math-rock chicanery, but a little of that smooth atmospheric low-key vibe as well, despite its brisk tempo.

The hardest-rockers are this album are probably the single Strip The Soul and the mid-album instrumental Wedding Nails, and they're also my least favorite songs (not bad songs, but my least favorite). The best songs are Trains, Collapse The Light Into Earth, Blackest Eyes (as solid an opener as any…

100 Albums: "Yes, Virginia..." by The Dresden Dolls

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The Dresden Dolls
Title:Yes, Virginia...
Released: 2006
Genre: Brechtian punk cabaret



Before Amanda Palmer was Amanda-Fuckin'-Palmer, she was the pianist and frontwoman for a bizarre dark cabaret duo who wore white grease paint and bowler hats on stage and gained momentum in the early aughts. They put on energetic shows (I've seen them three times, and they're just incredible live) and sing about back-alley abortions, transitioning, evolution, domestic abuse, alcoholism, and even Holocaust deniers. Their music was dark and yet hopeful, bright and poppy despite the oftentimes cynical subject matter.

Yes, Virginia... is the quintessential The Dresden Dolls record. It has seat-of-your-pants rockers like Necessary Evil, jarring stagger-stop piano in Sex Changes, heartbreaking pathos in Delilah, and unrelenting optimism in Sing. Although, optimism in a very Dresden Dolls mould: "you …

Sale: "Autoimmune" (And Related Updates)

Hey everybody!

DreamForge Magazine have purchased my story Autoimmune for an upcoming issue. They are a print and online magazine, and it's likely the story will be paywalled to anyone without a subscription. This is one of my favorite of my own stories, as well as being the second-longest one I've sold, so I'm very excited to be able to make this announcement. I don't know when it's going to be running, but expect me to post more details when they are available.

Because I'm nothing if not a ferocious braggart!

In other news about things I don't know, I also don't know when Carpools & Coworkers is going to run at Daily Science Fiction, other than "soonish." However, A Punk Rock Future (with my story Wailsong) has been sent out to Kickstarter backers, so a number of people (myself included) already have their copies. Print and ebook copies are available for pre-order on Amazon and should be out in early October.

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100 Albums: "Rockin' The Suburbs" by Ben Folds

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Ben Folds
Title:Rockin' The Suburbs
Released: 2001
Genre: piano-driven alternative jazz-rock with jokes


Ben Folds is one of my favorite artists. I've seen him in concert I want to say six times now and will be seeing him again in February. Every show is a little bit different--I've seen him do a 5-piece rock production, a stripped down 3-piece, an 8-piece jazz ensemble, once accompanied by an orchestra, and twice solo with a piano--the most recent of those shows without even a complete set-list. The last half of that show was requests delivered via paper airplane. He's a brilliant musician and unapologetically silly. After his band Ben Folds Five split in 2000, he started work on a solo project that would become Rockin' The Suburbs. It's a weird hodgepodge of a record, although all of it sounds unquestionably like it was written by Ben Folds. The arrangements are... unor…

100 Albums: "Music" by Madonna

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Madonna
Title:Music
Released: 2000
Genre: dance pop


In my last post I mentioned spending a summer listening to Cake's Fashion Nugget and one other album while playing Super Bomber Man (college... it was a simpler time). Madonna's Music was that other album. I've never considered myself a capital-F fan of Madonna, her radio singles are typically catchy as hell, and she's certainly earned her status as a pop icon. Music is going for a very specific aesthetic, and for whatever reason I am absolutely on board for it, and that aesthetic is Swedish bubblegum in the style of DenniZ PoP and Max Martin. As mentioned in the Ace of Base post, The Sign was the prototype album from a music factory that would completely dominate the pop revival of the late 90s and early aughts, a revival that was in full swing by the time Madonna started work on this album. And while she's drawing from th…

100 Albums: "Fashion Nugget" by Cake

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Cake
Title:Fashion Nugget
Released: 1996
Genre: lo-fi indie alt-rock


There was a summer when I was in college that I spent every spare minute playing Super Bomber Man on the SNES and listening to Cake's Fashion Nugget (and one other album that I will get to shortly). Cake broke in the late era of grunge with The Distance, a--ahem--driving song about a man racing to get back to his love, or something like that. The metaphor was unclear, but the song was catchy as hell. They followed it up with a cover of I Will Survive that was much more indicative of Cake's sound: lo-fi vintage guitar, a lead trumpet, John McCrea's deadpan just-off-rhythm singing and sarcastic lyrics, and Victor Damiani's frenetic bass-playing.

Fashion Nugget was independently produced under the ethos of "if you can't make it sound clean, make it sound dirty in an interesting way." It's extremel…

100 Albums: "Policy" by Will Butler

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Will Butler
Title:Policy
Released: 2015
Genre: indie garage rock


Will Butler is better known as a member of The Arcade Fire, though not to be confused with his brother Win Butler who is the lead singer of that same band. Policy is Butler's first solo album, which--at only eight tracks and twenty-seven minutes--is really a glorified EP. Despite it's brevity it feels like a complete statement and oozes with self-assured swagger, as well as a fairly unique sound centered more around piano and saxophone than your normal guitar-and-bass rock setup. The lead single, Anna (embedded above) bounces and grooves around a staccato synth line accented with smashed-piano fills. It's also a favorite of my kids'.

Butler's voice is often thin and warbly--which I'm generally not a fan of, but he pulls it off. Anna is the standout track, but Son Of God, Witness, and What I Want are also ex…

100 Albums: "Flood" by They Might Be Giants

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: They Might Be Giants
Title:Flood
Released: 1990
Genre: alt-indie experimental whatever-passed-for-folk-in-the-80s college rock


There's a spectrum, you might say, that goes from "art" to "novelty" and They Might Be Giants sit squarely at its center. A duo based in New York, Johns Linnell and Flansburgh have been doing their own thing for forty years now, and Flood represents the best of whatever that thing is. It has their best-known songs Birdhouse In Your Soul, Particle Man, and their cover of Istanbul (Not Constantinople) alongside a host of other ear-worms like Whistling In The Dark, Twisting, Women & Men, the mostly instrumental Minimum Wage, the orchestral-hit-heavy Road Movie To Berlin, et al. Some of the songs feel like nonsense, such as We Want A Rock, which tells that "everybody wants prosthetic foreheads on their real heads", but others like Lucky…

100 Albums: "Odelay" by Beck

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Beck
Title:Odelay
Released: 1996
Genre: dadaist electro-country alternative-folk singer-songwriter rap


Beck was totally going to be a one-hit wonder, right? Loser was a great song, but it was also a complete novelty of song whose album, Mellow Gold, didn't spawn any more singles. The aesthetic was fresh, but it was also incredibly weird. It was the kind of lightning-in-a-bottle sound that would never and could never be replicated. And then Where It's At hit radio and not only did it sound completely different than Loser, but it was pretty incredible in its own right. Never one to repeat himself, Beck teamed with producers The Dust Brothers who were at that time best known for the dense, sample-heavy Beastie Boys album Paul's Boutique.

The resulting album is kind of amazing. It's both stranger than more accessible than Mellow GoldWhere It's At remains a staple of alt-rock r…

100 Albums: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (Soundtrack from & Inspired by the Motion Picture)

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Various
Title:Spider-Man: Into The Spider Verse (Soundtrack from & Inspired by the Motion Picture)
Released: 2018
Genre: kid-friendly hip-hop


I almost didn't include this in the list because it's too new to me. I only discovered it in the last few months. And now that I have, I wish I'd gotten to it sooner so I could put it higher on the list. Oh well.

I don't have much to say about this album other than that it--like the younger audience it's targeting--is relatively short, full of energy, and tons of fun. The lyrics are free of cursing or adult themes, which means I can listen to it with my four-year-old without worrying he's going to pick up something he can't repeat at school. And it's generally optimistic and inspirational--these are songs about fighting for what you believe, defending your family, and being heroic. The movie that it's tied to is one…

100 Albums: "August And Everything After" by Counting Crows

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Counting Crows
Title:August and Everything After
Released: 1993
Genre: adult contemporary roots rock


In retrospect, one of the real benefits of the 90s "alternative" label was that it could be applied to basically anything, which made for a lot of variety on rock radio. I've talked before about how "grunge" was a pastiche of glam-rock, hard rock, heavy metal, and punk; "alternative" not only included all of that, but it also fit in funk-rock acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers, post-punk arty groups like Talking Heads, and rootsy college/jam acts like Dave Matthews Band. So in 1993, on the strength of a bopping lead single Mr. Jones, Counting Crows--with its prominent mandolin, organ, and accordion--got to be on rock radio.

I picked up the album for Mr. Jones and the hypnotic follow-up Round Here and was immediately taken with it. It was slow, but it felt deep and …

100 Albums Supplemental: Childhood Faves (That I Just Don't Like Anymore)

We're halfway through the list, which means it's time for another supplemental. The last few weeks have been heavy on albums or artists I discovered in my childhood and still listen to today. So here are a few that I don't feel the same way about. And I want to distinguish this from the Christian rock supplemental where the problem is that my beliefs have changed and that makes it difficult to listen to anymore. These are albums or artists where my tastes have changed or the times have changed and I no longer enjoy them, ranked from greatest to least.

Jimi Hendrix - The Ultimate Experience

Any guitar player (which I have been) is going to go through a phase where they worship Hendrix. I got this album in high school and listened to it on repeat in the car. I still have a lot of affection for Hendrix, but unfortunately he's an incredible artist whose retrospectives greatly lack cohesion and whose individual albums are only good, not great. To give a random example, Are Y…

100 Albums: "The Transformers The Movie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack"

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Vince DiCola, et al
Title:The Transformer The Movie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Released: 1986
Genre: kid-friendly synth-metal


This is one of the first tapes I remember owning, although I don't know how I ended up with it. I suspect one of my parents saw it and picked it up because they knew how much I enjoyed the property. I had a birthday party where all six (!) of the Constructicons were used to decorate my cake. So this is one I listened to a lot. And, much like the movie it's attached to, it's way better than it has any right to be. The Transformers: The Movie was supposed to be a cynical cash-grab, in which the older lines of toys were wiped out an a new generation of toy characters were introduced. It never occurred to the muckety-mucks at Hasbro that grade-school kids would think of these robots as characters. Ergo, a huge number of the children in my cohort at the a…

100 Albums: "Extraordinary Machine" by Fiona Apple

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Fiona Apple
Title:Extraordinary Machine
Released: 2005
Genre: adult contemporary jazz pop


I was a fan of Fiona Apple's album When The Pawn... but had kind of forgotten about her by 2005. So when I happened to spot a new album from Apple--her first in six years--on the rack at a Best Buy, I excitedly picked it up and popped it into the player. I listened to the eponymous opening track, and my initial reaction was "What the hell did I just listen to?" After that song, the over-compressed drum machine kicked in and it started to sound more like the Fiona Apple I was familiar with, and by the time I got to the end I was completely won over. It got me wondering why there was such a gap between the two albums. It turns out Extraordinary Machine was finished and ready to be released in 2003, but it sat on the shelf for a few years. The reasons aren't known, but it's widely believ…

Sale: Water Seekers

Hey y'all,

My story Water Seekers has been purchased by Nature Magazine for their Futures feature. It should be appearing in the next few months. This is my third sale to Nature and I can't wait for y'all to read it.

For Science!
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100 Albums: "Dookie" by Green Day

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Green Day
Title:Dookie
Released: 1994
Genre: punk pop


Green Day was one of the standard bearers for the second wave of grunge, playing music that wasn't technically grunge and completely eschewing all of the movement's faux sophistication. (Remember when Smashing Pumpkins came out against moshing? Yeah, that was a thing!) Instead, Green Day broke with a dry punk aesthetic, a lead single about masturbation, and an album named after poop. Green Day got major label interest after their second album Kerplunk made waves in the indie scene. The demo for Dookie landed on the desk of producer Rick Cavallo who immediately recognized that it had potential to be huge. Supposedly (read as: I read this somewhere and can't remember where) he recorded most of the album during the band's rehearsals and tracked all of singer Billie Joe Armstrong's vocals in two days.

Dookie has one of the gre…

100 Albums: "Crimes Of Passion" by Crocodiles

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Crocodiles
Title:Crimes Of Passion
Released: 2013
Genre: lo-fi indie rock


Crocodiles was born out of the mid-aughts punk movement, tied to bands like Some Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower. They got some buzz in late 2010 with an instrumental song called Kill Joe Arpaio, which drew the ire of the actual Joe Arpaio, who thought he would show them by tweeting his disdain at them. You know, like an idiot. (He also misattributed the song to Alligators. You know, like an idiot.)

Crimes Of Passion is a breezy thirty-four minute jaunt through lo-fi noise pop. The songs are a soup of guitars and horns, held together by catchy guitar leads and staticky vocals slathered in reverb and delay. In the garage rock tradition, the writing has just the tiniest hint of surf-rock in it, enough to give it a little bit of old-timey shimmer that belies the stylistically rough production va…

100 Albums: "Seal (1994)" by Seal

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Seal
Title:Seal
Released: 1994
Genre: adult contemporary


Seal came to international prominence in 1991 with the song Crazy off his self-titled debut. He followed it up with another self-title album three years later, one that propelled him to superstardom, featuring Kiss From A Rose, his best-known song that was also features on the Batman Forever soundtrack and promoted alongside the movie. Seal is almost the textbook definition of adult contemporary. If you scaled back the R&B influence, this could almost be a Sting album (Sting being the actual textbook definition of "adult contemporary music"). It's got a lot of inventiveness buried under a ton of polish, but if you don't mind a record with some gloss on it, this one is solid.

Seal's got an incredible voice and puts together some very strong music here. The best tracks are the singles, and if you like them, you'…