Author Archives: Joey Daniewicz

About Joey Daniewicz

Joey Daniewicz is a 26-year-old dude who never stops posting. He attended the University of Minnesota Morris and currently resides in Woodbury, Minnesota, posting to save the world.

Purity tests, please.

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Two days ago, Democratic Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill to ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected. Unlike some of the most draconian bills, it does contain exemptions in the case of rape and incest, and luckily this bill will only take effect if the courts uphold Mississippi’s neighboring bill. But despite these scraps of mercy in Louisiana’s bill, its signing by a Democratic governor makes it maybe the most brutal yet.

Many, of course, are quick to jump to the defense of politicians like Edwards or, say, Joe Manchin, pointing out that the alternatives are far worse and that it’s better to have imperfect friends in those offices. This is certainly true in the short term. However, these seats should be treated as luxuries in the Democratic coalition. Instead, each election cycle sees us treating them as our most important seats. In 2018, a few of the Senators given the most help from Democrats in their reelection bids were the Gorsuch-approvers Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. To make matters worse, on the legislative side these necessary-evil candidates end up with outsized power in what agenda is possible for the party to pursue.

But back to anti-abortion Democrats: while electing these candidates can prevent some amount of pain in the short term, in the long term propping up these candidates is to surrender what few values the party has left.

While times it can seem politically expedient to brand the party as “whatever is better than the Republicans that is electable,” more and more this is a move of surrender, especially as the country drifts further rightward and conservative Democrat governors just become Republicans outright, even in the age of Trump. Many nonvoting Americans need to see the message that one party is for the people and the other isn’t. Backing politicians like John Bel Edwards obscures that.

The tent is too big. Purity tests would be nice, even just one or two.

Ranking Robyn albums

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I missed seeing Robyn live in 2011 and figured it wouldn’t be too terrible of a wait until her next tour. It only took eight years, but she finally came around again so that I could relive my favorite bops from my college years. So to commemorate, let’s rank her albums.

I don’t think choosing between the original or international release of any albums would change this ranking, but I personally recommend playing the original and then treating the songs on deluxe editions and songs exclusive to the international release as a bonus disc.

1. Body Talk (2010)

“I’m in the corner watching you kiss her.” “Just don’t fall recklessly, headlessly in love with me.” “But you just met somebody new.” That Robyn fully embraced hyper-relatability at exactly the same time her music pulsed the hardest and thumped the loudest makes this a pretty easy call for not only her best, but what I hear when I close my eyes and think of the word “pop.”

On the first refrain of “Dancing On My Own,” she and her band stopped entirely and she let the crowd sing it ourselves, which was followed by around half a minute’s applause. Not an uncommon trick, I know, but I’ve never seen it work close to as well. It’s special, the way this music has find its way into not only hearts, but butts.

2. Robyn (2005)

The album that marks the true beginning of the current Robyn paradigm really deserves better than second place. It’s just as much a wonder as its successor and its peaks match it blow for blow, but a slow number or two and a little less lyrical killer instinct (though don’t tell that to “Be Mine!” or “Handle Me”) keep it a half step behind. But its vision might be more impressive: even before the addition of “With Every Heartbeat,” she brought the Silent Shout-era collab with The Knife, the string attack on “Be Mine!,” and the swagger of “Konichiwa Bitches.” This was probably the most she’s ever flexed her artistry.

3. Robyn Is Here (1995)

Robyn’s debut might seem like a pretty ordinary nineties pop album, but though it hardly resembles Robyn in her current conception, it shockingly never lets up, and the Max Martin songs, “Do You Know (What It Takes)” and later addition “Show Me Love” are up there with her best. Only Body Talk is a more consistent delight.

4. Honey (2018)

Though they’re solid offerings, “Missing U” doesn’t quite scratch the Body Talk itch that many insist it does and the assertion that “Honey” is her masterpiece deeply confuses me. I wish its dancier numbers, like the slinky groove of “Because It’s In The Music,” weren’t quite so gentle, though while “Between The Lines” doesn’t totally do it for me, I think it has the right idea.

Meanwhile, “Human Being” and “Beach2k20” feel like filler on a nine song album. All this said, forget “Honey,” “Never Again” is the real triumph here, and a more convincing inspirational note than she managed on even her best albums.

5. Don’t Stop The Music (2002)

Righting the ship after a wrong turn, much of Don’t Stop The Music isn’t particularly inspired, but it’s at least pretty consistently fun. She’d return to standout “Should Have Known,” the title track is high tier Robyn, and she’s even minded to give the ballads a zippy playfulness.

6. My Truth (1999)

You can admire the ambition, but that’s about it. She does puts herself out there – the song about her abortion kept My Truth from finding its way to markets outside of Sweden – but slowing everything down and making nearly every track push five minutes runs pretty contrary to the winning formula she’d find a decade later.

Kacey Musgraves’ ‘Golden Hour,’ ranked!

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Earlier this week, Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour became the winner of the 2018 Pazz & Jop Critics poll. It’s the first album by a woman since tUnE-yArDs’ w h o k i l l in 2011, and it’s the second country album to ever win the poll, after Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (another sorta-country album heavily favored by people who aren’t really into country music) won in 1998.

I would have liked Janelle Monáe to win this year, but I’m not mad. I voted for Golden Hour in my sixth place spot, and might put it slightly higher if I were to have voted today.

I’ve been a fan of Kacey since her 2012 debut single “Merry Go ‘Round,” and her first album Same Trailer Different Park is still my favorite, but there merely solid Pageant Material made me worried that her approach would have diminishing returns. Opener “Slow Burn” (a great song I was still surprised to find is many’s favorite) does well to dash expectations that she’d make the same album a third time, and “Lonely Weekend” follows to assure you that she’s still adept at the zippier songs that made Same Trailer Different Park such a treat.

But what really brings Golden Hour up to this level is when she flexes her creative muscles and goes for it, expertly building around a melody with her best arrangement (my #1 song below) or lifting up a powerhouse song around her best vocals (#2 below). And I haven’t even mentioned “High Horse.”

This album is a successful, ambitious leap, the sound of an artist bounding forward in her abilities to make her music sound essentially her.

If you can, catch her tour. I did last weekend and it’s a real treat.

All songs here are at least solid. “Happy & Sad” and “Mother” stans, please be nice.

Yee haw. 🤠

13. “Happy & Sad”
12. “Mother”
11. “Rainbow”
10. “Oh, What A World”
09. “Golden Hour”
08. “Velvet Elvis”
07. “Wonder Woman”
06. “Butterflies”
05. “Slow Burn”
04. “High Horse”
03. “Lonely Weekend”
02. “Space Cowboy”
01. “Love Is A Wild Thing”

Farewell, 2018: Celeste

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Last year, I embarked on a very fun project and wrote about twelve pieces of media that touched me (#1 entry with full list included here), but 2018 didn’t shake out as neat as 2017. I could write about how Better Call Saul is still great or how Riverdale is still bonkers, and maybe fill out a list again, but it doesn’t feel quite right. So I’ll just highlight a few things that came out in 2018 I think you should treat yourself to. I’ll be keeping these brief!

Celeste (Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows, macOS, Linux)

“Just breathe. You can do this.”

What grabbed me the most about Celeste is that it holds your hand.

Not in the usual way, though. No, Celeste joins the ranks of Super Meat Boy and Cave Story in the ranks of ultra-tough indie platformers, but it takes a noticeably different attitude about this status. Super Meat Boy in particular always felt proud about itself, reveling in its status as a sadistic game For Serious Players.

Celeste instantly reassures you that, yeah, it’s hard…but you’ll get there.

Even aside from a storyline about accepting all aspects of who you are in order to truly realize your potential, the gameplay of Celeste instills an emotional throughline in the player that’s awfully rare in games. Especially over the past few years I’ve had too many friends that I’ve felt could use this sort of experience. I know I did.

It’s special to play a game that believes in you.

An article that’s the product of much more effort by Eryk Banatt is here. I’m sure he would also appreciate if you follow him on Twitter. Meanwhile, Celeste’s soundtrack is also wonderful! Lena Raine’s compositions for it are available on her YouTube channel.

Joey’s Top Ten Albums of 2018

Expect some deeper writing from me about 2018 stuff in this space soon!

I listened to a ton of albums this year, and I think these are the ten best!

10. boygenius: boygenius

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I know they all have their own perfectly great things going on, but I’d be more than down for a full length of this. I have friends and family who went to their show, and with time I’m growing more and more annoyed with myself that I missed it. If they’re still coming through your neck of the woods, don’t make the mistake I made.

9. Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy

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A lot to say here, like how I didn’t expect this album to have as much variety as it does, but I wasn’t sure this would be on this list until the other day it hit me just how strong a piece of storytelling “Thru Your Phone” is.

8. Snail Mail: Lush

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She’s nineteen! What the fuck! Anyway, some might think that the rest of the album doesn’t stand up to “Pristine” or “Heat Wave,” and so did I, but all of the songs pretty much live up to the latter. One day you just realize that the “Full Control” refrain is with you forever, little things like that.

7. The Beths: Future Me Hates Me

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So it’s down here at #7, but hearing The Beths’ album was probably the most excited I’ve been about music all year, the way I felt hearing Alex Lahey the first time last year. I’m so eager to follow them in the years to come.

6. Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour

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Yeah, yeah, country for people who don’t actually like country, whatever. But not a lot calms me like a Kacey Musgraves melody, and that remains true even as she’s become more concerned with atmosphere and dropped her punchline-after-punchline approach. She’s classic in the right way.

5. SOPHIE: OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES

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PC Music mocked and lightly ribbed pop music. Here, SOPHIE has melted its pretty face off.

4. noname: Room 25

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There’s something so gentle about noname’s nimble wordplay. And already she’s put out an ambitious album worthy of her easily apparent talent. It’s cliché to point to it at this point, but, man, “My pussy wrote a thesis on colonialism.”

3. Mitski: Be The Cowboy

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I was definitely of two minds when Mitski ditched her DIY sound for a polish that reminded me of, I dunno, St. Vincent? But no, this approach brings her storytelling to the fore in a way it just wasn’t before, and she’s been rightly recognized as finding a breakthrough.

2. Parquet Courts: Wide Awaaaaake!

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The political rock album of the Trump era. Unless we’ve got six more years of this. How exciting!

1. Janelle Monáe: Dirty Computer

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A lot to say about this album! I’ll keep it to one thing. Look, I love her other two albums. But I’m very happy that she released a shorter album. Instant classic.

!!!

Honorable Mentions
IDLES: Joy as an Act of Resistance.
The 1975: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel
Pusha T: Daytona
Kali Uchis: Isolation
Kendrick Lamar & Various Artists: Black Panther The Album
Let’s Eat Grandma: I’m All Ears
Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy (Face To Face)
cupcakKe: Ephorize

Joey’s Top Ten Songs of 2018

It’s been a great year for music! I don’t have a ton to say. I’m too busy! Look at at the pretty single cover art! That’s always my favorite part of these lists. Unless they didn’t make cover art for the song. That always makes me sad.

10. “Powerglide” by Rae Sremmurd (ft. Juicy J)

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That backing track.

9. “Screwed” by Janelle Monáe (ft. Zöe Kravitz)

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“You’ve fucked the world up now. We’ll fuck it all back down.” Yeah.

8. “Shoota” by Playboi Carti (ft. Lil Uzi Vert)

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There’s just something too glorious about that triumphant, high-riding beat and the way Carti and Vert go off on it.

7. “How Simple” by Hop Along

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Some Hop Along songs sound fiercer, but none sound freer, and I adore the way that bounces off its bittersweet refrain.

6. “Venice Bitch” by Lana Del Rey

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Lana’s fallen off pretty hard from her severely underrated modern classic Born to Die, so I never really expected her to capture my attention quite this much ever again. She did so by totally bamboozling my expectations of what I think she’s willing to try.

5. “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande

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Broke: Kanye West pretending he’s Pickle Rick. Woke: Ariana Grande pretending she’s Regina George.

4. “The Story of Adidon” by Pusha T

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Yeah, it’s problematic. Yeah, the shots at 40 are too much. Yeah, I probably won’t go back and reach for this one time and time again. But if you weren’t a little stunned by the Mortal Kombat fatality Push pulled here, I don’t know what to tell you.

Drake telling LeBron that he created a response so brutal to this that it was beneath him is so funny. Like, yeah right dude.

I like this as much as I do because I feel like more than any diss track in history it’s tormented the object of its ire.

3. “Nobody” by Mitski

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I have nothing to say about “Nobody”!

2. “Nice For What” by Drake

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Fucking Drake. The charts point to him basically being the current King of Pop, and even in a year in which his reputation got brutalized (see #4, also Google “Bella Harris”), he not only arguably comes away from 2018 more powerful than ever, but he releases a song that has me playing the best-since game. Best since “Just Hold On”? Since Take Care? “Best I Ever Had”? Maybe his best outright.

I’m never happy loving a Drake song.

1. “Pristine” by Snail Mail

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This was never a particularly close race. I suspect I’m going to write more about this one in its own article pretty soon, so I’ll just say what I always say: I don’t know the last time I’ve been this in love with a guitar sound. Please listen to it.

Joey’s August 2018 Playlist: “Cleanskin Wine & Watch Mullholand Drive”

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I decided that I wanted to put a more concerted effort back into my music listening by reviving one of my favorite exercises: creating a mix, or a “playlist” as the youths say, just a bit under a CD’s limit of 80 minutes. The plan was to release one per month on the first of the month, and Alfred just told me to throw the next one on here, but I’m rather proud of this one as it is, so I’ll just throw this one up there too, with some commentary added.

1. Alex Lahey: “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me”

The night I put out this playlist, I actually saw Melbourne’s Alex Lahey at the 7th Street Entry play nearly every one of her songs. Fantastic set. Her I Love You Like A Brother is the 2017 that I reach for by far the most often, but this track from her 2016 EP B-Grade University is my pick for her best track, and this playlist’s namesake.

2. Low Cut Connie: “Rio”

Yet again, I reach for the band responsible for Obama likely seeing me shirtless.

3. Miranda Lambert: “Me And Your Cigarettes”
4. Paramore: “Rose-Colored Boy”
5. Robyn: “Cry When You Get Older”

It will always hurt that this is absent from Body Talk.

6. Yeasayer: “O.N.E.”

I gotta admit, I’m surprised at how seldom I see this song given its due. It’s got hooks coming out of its ears.

7. Solange: “Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work”

I still prefer True to A Seat At The Table.

8. Green Day: “Stay The Night”

Those who’ve spoken with me extensively about music know that much of my sensibility comes from an early Green Day fandom, a sense that renders my relationship with their latter day work a fairly interesting one. “Stay The Night” is by far their best song on their three-but-should-be-one 2012 albums.

9. SOPHIE: “JUST LIKE WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE”
10. Lissie: “Wild West (Roadhouse Mix)”

A top three moment from my top one experience of 2017.

11. Rilo Kiley: “The Frug”
12. Mitski: “Your Best American Girl”
13. Broken Social Scene: “Almost Crimes (Radio Kills Remix)”

For a time during the past few years, I’d been shamed away from expressing the adoration for this album I feel it deserves. Still perhaps my top album of 2002, here’s the song easiest to take in isolation (aside from maybe “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl”), carried by the best performance of Feist’s career.

14. Linkin Park: “Breaking The Habit”

Along with My Chemical Romance, I wanted to use this playlist to change the way I heard another artist. Linkin Park actually was a band I took to when I was younger, and was as foundational to me as Green Day. But whereas I never became ashamed of Green Day, I eventually spurned Linkin Park. I’d indulged a bit since then, but my listening became unabashed when Chester Bennington took his life a year ago. The video to “Breaking The Habit,” the first song Linkin Park put out with just Chester’s voice given no assist by Mike Shinoda, is one of the best, certainly one of the neatest, videos of its decade. So I wanted to see if I could couch it between the cool kids of Broken Social Scene and TV on the Radio. I could.

15. TV On The Radio: “DLZ”

This is me being lazy. I’ve included “DLZ” on so many playlists for so long. It’s just really, really easy to slip in there. I’m excited for Dear Science to turn ten.

16. Snail Mail: “Pristine”

Song of the year. It’s over.

17. My Chemical Romance: “Welcome To The Black Parade”

Thanks to the comics of Kieron Gillen, in which I frequently find myself trying to live, I wind up listening to music from 2006 more than any year. Perhaps this trend will snap once The Wicked + The Divine finishes up next year, but that’s a ways out, and September’s playlist finds me returning yet again. One of many musical gifts Gillen’Phonogram has given me is the chance to reevaluate My Chemical Romance, a perfectly wonderful band I was too stupid and snobbish as a teenager to give its due. I began this series to end a playlist with “Welcome To The Black Parade,” assisted by my father’s recent-ish death giving this song an extra punch, and I’m very satisfied wit the result.