The Best Albums of the Decade

As a data scientist, applying machine learning to my listening patterns has led to this quantitative analysis of the albums of the decade. I can therefore reveal that these are officially the best albums released during the previous ten year period:

Dani Siciliano

Dani Siciliano

Black Cab

Games of the XXI Olympiad

Anohni

Hopelessness

Grumbling Fur

Preternaturals

Cat Power

Sun

Kate Bush

50 Words For Snow

Pet Shop Boys

Electric

Véronique Vincent & Aksak Maboul

Ex-Futur Album

Telebossa

Garagen Aurora

Men

Talk About Body

Deerhoof

Breakup Song

Krim U

1981-83

Laura Jean

Laura Jean

Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang

En yah say

Joanna Newsom

Divers

New Order

Music Complete

Or rather, I had Emacs tally up which albums I’d listened to most over the previous decade. However, that just led to the oldest albums winning, of course, since they’ve had most time to be listened to.

So I experimented with various way to apply decays. The question is: If I listened to an album ten times per year since 2010, is that an album that should have the same rating as an album that I’ve listened to ten times this year? Probably… not? My default mode of listening is to direct Emacs to play me the newest music I’ve bought, so I listen to almost all things I buy 5-8 times, whether I like them or not.

Like any data scientist, the solution is obvious: Fiddle with the hyperparameters until I get a list I kinda agree with.

Right?

Right.

The result is above. The album I listened most to was 50 Words For Snow by Kate Bush at a whopping 50 times (which ended up as number 6, but was bought in 2011), and the winner here, Dani Siciliano, I’ve only listened to 28 times (but bought in 2016).

Science is hard!

For giggles, while we’re gazing into the abyss of my navel, here’s the list of albums I listened the most to, in total, no matter how old they are:

Talking Heads

Remain In Light

Kate Bush

The Dreaming

Kate Bush

Never For Ever

Kate Bush

The Kick Inside

Talking Heads

Fear Of Music

Kate Bush

Hounds of Love

Kate Bush

Lionheart

David Bowie

“Heroes”

David Bowie

Low

Laura Jean

Eden Land

David Bowie

Diamond Dogs

Geez! You’d almost think I like Talking Heads and Kate Bush or something. (The winner, Remain in Light I listened to 100 times this decade, and Diamond Dogs, at number 12, I listened to 51 times.)

So are there any further ways to torture this data set? Uhm… OK, let’s look at albums I bought this decade, but were made earlier. (But this time I removed the weights, just because.)

Circlesquare

Songs About Dancing And Drugs

Prince

Controversy

Zazou, Bikaye & Cy1

Noir et Blanc

Various

Crammed Global Soundclash 1980-89, Part One: World Fusion

Joe Jackson

Look Sharp!

Various

Crammed Global Soundcrash 1980-89, Part 2: Electrowave

Tracey Thorn

King’s Cross

Siouxsie and the Banshees

Kaleidoscope

Commando M. Pigg

Commando M. Pigg

Joe Jackson

I’m The Man

Ruth

Polaroïd-Roman-Photo

Hype Williams

Untitled

Ultra Naté

Situation: Critical

Lal & Mike Waterson

Bright Phoebus

There.

NFLX2019 December 6th: Marriage Story

Marriage Story. Noah Baumbach. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

Oh, I’ve seen reviews of this movie in all the newspapers. And it’s always that way: A Netflix movie either has no presence whatsoever in mass media or it’s absolutely everywhere. So I guess that there’s certain Netflix movies that Netflix pushes really hard, and the rest they just drop into the void without any trace?

Scarlett Johansson is a great actor, of course, and Adam Driver is… er… a big name at the moment?

It starts off well with a double monologue thing that’s intriguing, but it’s over a bed of schmaltzy classicalish music that absolutely drives me nuts. How can anybody stand that stuff?

So I’m conflicted right from the start.

Emacs tells me that I’ve seen one of Baumbach’s movies before: Frances Ha at 20150411T211713. But that was before I was blogging about any random movie, so I have no idea what I thought of it.

See? All The Reviewers. Hm… OK, it had a very limited theatrical release — sixteen cinemas? But that’s enough to get all these newspapers to write about it?

Fortunately the musical bed disappears. I would have gone totally nuts.

Hey, this is pretty funny! One good line after another.

Adam Driver is surprisingly good. The constant stream of really famous actors doing supporting roles gets a bit “wha but wha” after a while… perhaps it’s too much? But I don’t mind. It’s fun.

Laura Dern is pure awesomeness.

Except the cringe comedy passages. I just can’t deal with that.

I think this movie worked perfectly for the first hour, and then it takes a nose dive. In between the interesting scenes, there’s scenes of pure tedium. I kinda started hating this movie at certain points.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 December 5th: A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby. John Schultz. 2019. ☆☆★★★

Oh, this is part of a series? At least, while searching for it, there seemed to be some other movies with suspiciously similar names.

And it starts with a recap.

Check.

Man, it just immediately seems like a super-cheap film: The early crowd scenes seems to have a whopping 30 extras.

It’s supposed to be set in an obscure kingdom in Europe, so of course all the actors (except the princess I mean queen) talk Estuary. So this is supposed to be kinda Britishish but more freeform?

Savage!

I want to say that this is easy, breezy, Xmas fun-zy, but it’s not. It’s a rather annoying movie; schmaltzy performances fully scored by the Now That’s What I Call Generic Copyright-Free Xmas Music vol XIII. I mean, I may not be the target audience for this, but… I almost am? I like silly, romantic nonsense? But this is just so uninspired and unfunny.

I guess Netflix is trying to stock up on these unoffensive movies? The ones you can have on at Xmas without actually watching? But this is not going to be one of those movies, because it’s just too bland.

I do like that they use really bright colours. It’s so unusual these days when everything is colour-corrected into blue/orange or teal/er orange, and the rest is shades of grey. Are? Is. I mean, look at this:

That’s a lot of colour.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 November 28th: Holiday Rush

Holiday Rush. Leslie Small. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

I think we’re getting to a certain … time of year. I think Netflix has done at least half a dozen Xmas movies this year? But interestingly enough, each one seems to target a lightly different genres. Or audiences.

So this is the black one.

Uh-oh. OK, but these day with all the racist brigading going on you can never trust audience scores.

That’s a weirdly specific reference! Who hurt you, Jeffrey! Who!

Well, nobody likes mild language; we all want some fucking swearing.

If I’m reading the director’s imdb right, he’s only done one feature movie before (in 2004). The rest of them are TV episodes, comedy specials and documentaries about famous comedians? I can see that. It’s got a slight TV vibe going on, and while it’s not about a stand-up comedian, it’s about a radio host.

That said, there’s things here I like. I like the slightly restless camera work: It’s not frantic or anything, but it sort of slides around a bit in many scenes; very attractive framing. The performances are good, especially the lead and his producer are fun to watch.

It’s kinda really extremely boring, though.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

Stereo

So I’ve been futzing with my living room stereo setup lately after getting new speakers, and things look a bit too… stacked?

So I thought I’d at least slim down the box the stereo is sitting on:

That’s an Ikea box, and it’s too wide and too high and too deep. Inside that box is a bunch of electronics, so I have to have… something… but perhaps not that big of a something?

So today the new Montana box arrived, and I got started disassembling the stereo (and stuff), which I was not looking forward to. Something always stops working when touching equipment that’s been just sitting there for half a decade.

And the main problem, this time, was with the DA/AD matrix mixer I use for distributing music (on different sound levels) to the various rooms: The RME Hammerfell DSP Multiface II *phew*. At first it didn’t work… but then it worked… and then it didn’t work… and then the computer says that it works but no sound comes out of it…

It turns out that if I touch the 1394a cable (aka six pin Firewire, which is what the RME PCI Express card uses to communicate with the box (but it speaks a proprietary protocol, not Firewire)) in a certain spot, it loses connection. So it seems like the cable is faulty, somehow, and I don’t have any other 1394a cables (just four pin cables).

But if I leave it just… so… I’m now getting music again, after a hellish two hours of silence.

Oh the humanity.

See? That’s… totally… different… from what it was before…

Totally… worth… it…

But at least this one rolls on castor wheels, so I can poke at the cables more easily when I need to.

So there! Worth it!

NFLX2019 November 27th: The Irishman

The Irishman. Martin Scorsese. 2019. ☆☆☆☆★★

So here it is: Netflix claim to cinematic greatness. They shovelled a whole lot more money in Scorsese’s way than anybody else would have, and they got a movie (shown in actual cinemas (for a couple of weeks)) that all the newspapers in the entire world wrote think pieces about.

I think! I never read anything about movies that I’m going to watch, so the that’s the only thing I know. Except that it’s… mafia related? As usual?

Let’s find out.

OK, it’s Robert De Niro… I like him… and those actors playing the wives are just perfect,… and…

AAAAAAAAHHH! WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT! WHAT IS THAT! WHAT! AAAARGHRHGH!

*takes a deep breath*

OK, they’ve youngified De Niro by slapping him with some kind of CGI mask? It’s horrifying! Absolutely horrifying. It’s like the faces even don’t match up to their bodies when they move. It’s like a saran wrap strangling the actors. And seeing these … leather masks poking up off of these old, old, old bodies, standing like old bodies, is just mind-boggling.

OK, OK… suspend disbelief… suspend disbelief…

I’m sitting here wondering, scene by scene, whether the reason this particular actor’s face looks like a horrible unnatural mess is because 1) it’s been CGI’d younger or 2) it’s just a whole lot of botox going on. Which, I guess, is kinda a win for the CGI. But it’s not really helping me pay attention to what’s going on.

OK, reset! This is an animated feature, not a live action movie. OK, let’s see whether that helps.

Geez, being a mobster sure is cool. Scorsese tries to dial it back by putting in these things:

But it doesn’t really help that much. Everything they do still seems cool. I mean, when they’re rigging an election or blowing up some cabs, it’s got cool jazz playing and cool camera dolly moves.

OK, I’ve now watched the first nine hours of this movie, and I got used to the rubbery faces. Sort of. All the bad wigs, not so much. All the celebrity cameos are fun, of course, but this is mostly just kinda pedestrian. I mean, on a shot to shot basis. It feels like a New Age Of Quality TV show that’s been edited into a movie. Perhaps because the plot is so obvious? I mean, just fifteen hours after De Niro met Hoffa, it was totally obvs what’s going to happen, but then it takes thirty five hours for that to happen. So you sit there waiting.

And then it happens and it’s like “not even a twist? They just did what was obvious?”

There’s barely a movie here, which means that everything rests on the CGI faces of the cast and whether the mise en scene is great. And the rubber is too squishy and the mise isn’t. It’s all so pedestrian.

So it’s no surprise that this is the rating:

It’s very much of its time, and nobody is going to watch this movie in five years time.

There’s one very, very special thing about it: It’s the only Netflix movie that doesn’t go to previews of something else as soon as the end titles start. You usually have to hit all the remotes to make Netflix shut the fuck up a millisecond after a movie is over, but they let this one have its subtitles.

That’s how much Netflix respects Scorsese.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 November 21st: The Knight Before Christmas

The Knight Before Christmas. Monika Mitchell. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

Uh-oh. This movie starts off with that sample of an eagle er falcon that’s used everywhere. Yeah, this one:

This doesn’t bode well for the budget.

OK, this is very high concept: A knight from the thirteen hundreds (I think?) is magically transported to the present day. Hi-jinx ensues.

It’s kinda… lame? Some of the jokes are fun, but none of them are actually funny. Everything moves sooo slowly, and there’s so much wide-eyed wonder… It’s like none of the actors take the gag seriously; their faces are saying “we’re so over it already”. When you’re watching something as silly as this, it doesn’t help when you feel that the actors are giving you the stink eye for having bad enough taste in movies to actually watch this crap.

I’m really easily moved by schmaltzy movies, but all I could muster here was a feeling of vague annoyance.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.