The Top 20 Albums of 2010, and a whole lot more

This was a tough year to try and rank the albums.  The rough rankings I kept all year switched around so often that I felt like I was trying to  write daily NHL power rankings.  I admit that I'm not happy about this list because a week or two into 2011 I'd probably make major changes to the bottom thirteen or fourteen albums.  But, I have to stick with what I'm feeling.  To start here is a incredibly long list of albums that I wanted to be in the Top 20 but got crowded out:
Honorable Mentions: The Dopamines – Expect the Worst, Defiance, Ohio – Midwestern Minutes, Creepshow – They All Fall Down, Mayflower – Second Best Sunsets, Green Room Rockers – ST, Bedouin Soundclash – Light The Horizon, Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Records, Vampire Weekend – Contra, Atlantic/Pacific – Meet Your New Love, Blacklist Royals – Semper Liberi, The Measure [sa] – Notes, Metroplex – Decade Diary
Alright then.  I always miss a few albums or never get around to some albums that I know would've shaken up this list.  Here's a quick list of bands that put out new music that I still look forward to getting my hands on:
The New Pornographers, Arcade Fire, Make Do and Mend, Riot Before
 Next, we have some EPs that I listened to that make me excited for the future
1. Amping Copper – Demo 
2. Dead to Me – Wait For It 
3. Let Me Run – Broken Strings 
4. The Postelles – White Night  
5. Sundials – First Six Songs
Finally, before we hit the big list I can announce my Favorite Album of 2009 That I Didn't Hear Until 2010!

Metric - Fantasies
Seriously.... wow....  When I picked up Old World Underground, Where Are You Now I knew that Metric was a band with tremendous talent.  I soon lost track of the band, but rediscovered them thanks to Scott Pilgrim writer/artist Brian Lee O'Malley and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World writer/director Edgar Wright.  Their inclusion of the Metric song "Black Sheep" lead me back to the band and the wondrous music.  Fantasies captures my ear and imagination from start to finish and swear that Emily Haines's voice was created just for me, its perfect in every way.

and then it was time...

Link's Top 20 Albums of 2010!

20. Beach House – Teen Dream 
If you described a band as ambient or atmospheric and I will gladly cover my ears and hum the theme from power rangers. Yet I love this album. Listening to this inspires quite cuddling or soft kissing with your significant, or maybe a really friendly hooker with some time to spare. The whole thing is inspired and beautiful and the perfect thing for rainy days. One oddly appealing element is the androgynous vocals.

19. The Wonder Years – The Upsides 

This is a pure Pop-Punk beauty. There is no hardcore, ska, twee, or anything else to break the classic pop and punk mixture. Its really a treat to sink into this album and laugh and nod along to each of the tracks. One thing that I appreciate is that songs about broken hearts and such don't find much of a home on this album. Sometimes I really want to listening to stereotypical pop-punk vocals without the stereotypical lyrics.

18. Iron Chic – Not Like This 
Not a ton to say here besides this is pretty straight forward melodic punk (aka orgcore), but it just sounds so damn good.  The nice thing about having a style dominating a genre is that a few bands resonant with the "rules" and create an amazing piece of art.

15. Bad Religion – Dissent of Man
I've never been a huge Bad Religion fan, but I picked up The Dissent of Man because I think I've always wanted to be a fan of the band. I have to say that no matter the song length, album length, or song structure, every track on here is engaging in one form or another.

16. Look Mexico – To Bed To Battle 
Since putting this album on the short list for this list I've had an asterisk next to the album to try and remind myself that I need to write a little blurb.  Well, here I am making the actual list and I still haven't written anything.  So... This is just a really beautiful album and is always a joy to listen to.  The melodies also have a tendency to get stuck in your head when you least except them and will stick with you until the next time you can immerse yourself in the album.

15. Gogol Bordello – Trans-Continental Hustle 
I've always enjoyed Gogol Bordello in doses. I could listen to a bit of an album here and there, but I would quickly tire of the gimmick. On their newest album I feel like Hütz and his band have reined in and focused their sound into a complete, cohesive experience. For the first time I really feel like the album flows from song to song and doesn't lose itself in the wild-eyed cacophony that dominated Gogol's previous full-lengths 

14. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang 

American Slang holds more moderate tempo than the previous releases and focuses more on Brian Fallon's personal struggles and feelings about himself and his life rather on looking back over fields of golden wheat, classic cars, and all the other jokes people make about the band. I found the entire album immediately gratifying and I seem to pick out a new set of favorite tracks every time I listen. I do favor track seven Boxer since its got some nice clean and simple riffs and some fun vocal melodies. My favorite thing about the album are the few times when Brian Fallon really lets his voice loose. Sure he doesn't have a huge range, but he's got this great howl, especially on Diamond Church Street Choir, that makes my skin tingle every time I heard it.

13. Off With Their Heads – In Desolation 

I had listened to OWTH albums in the past with a passing interest but not much more. With this new release I've found myself plowing back into their catalogue and eating up everything that I can find. The lyrics are often just flat-out cynical and depressing, but the band's energy elevates them into the realm of fun. This is definitely an album that's worth blasting at high volume. Also, I love Ryan Young's vocals, they are just great.

12. Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught On Tape

Honestly… this album is good. I like the songs. I like the lyrics. I like the overall theme. I don't like that the album lacks the signature energy that was born on the bands first two albums and then came into its own and defined Fake Problems's more recent It's Great To Be Alive. I've come to appreciate that album since I overcame the shock of the softer, indie-pop sound.  In fact, after placing this album in my regular rotation I've fallen in love with the thing.  The band continues to improve lyrically and musically, although I still miss the intensity of the previous release.

11. The Flatliners - Cavalcade 
On the Flatliners's sophomore album my fellow punk snobs and I bemoaned the disappearance on the band's heavy use of ska riffs.  Not long after that we realized that the boys were even better without the bouncing staccato.  On Cavalcade the Flatliners come out stronger than ever and deliver a power house album that not only flirts with greatness, but convinces greatness to have a threesome with stunning.  The only reasons that this album isn't in the Top 10 is because this has been a truly special year for music.

10. None More Black - Icons

This may be the heaviest album that Jason has ever been involved with, even taking Kid Dynamite into account. The whole album sounds like Jason and None More Black, but it sounds like elements from the sort lived Ram and Ox found their way into the NMB's new album. The added intensity only compliments Jason's signature vocals and I love the album more and more with each listen.

9. Ted Leo and the Rx – The Brutalist Bricks

I've held a theory about Ted Leo every since I listened through Shake the Sheets a couple of times; Ted Leo is slowly turning his band into a more rock oriented version of Chisel. Well, with the Brutalist Bricks Ted Leo smashed that idea over my head and hit all of us with a traditional Pharmacists album, but chock full of punk rock goodness. Bands like Rx Bandits and American Steel have long straddled punk and indie rock, but Ted Leo takes those pretentious twits by the throats, twists them together into a guitar grown from your nightmares, and proceeds to melt faces like the Ark of The Covenant.

8. Two Cow Garage – Sweet Saint Me 
Lucero's raucous younger cousin, Two Cow Garage continues to pump out top-notch alt-country punk gold. Its not difficult to say that this album keeps you roped in from start to finish. Two Cow Garage has always presented several down beat, somber, doubtful, remorseful, etc. tracks. This album feels like they've left that all behind and are just going to stomp around and rock out with swagger, piss, and vinegar. One reviewer said that this album felt like the bad was rebooting and couldn't really be easily compared to the band's previous work, and I agree to an degree. I think this is the bands finest albums which means that this release has to rank near the top of my 2010 list. 

7. AM Taxi – We Don’t Stand a Chance 

Do you like rock and roll? Do you like huge hooks that make you want to pump your fists in the air? Well, then dammit you need to listen to this album. Every song has huge guitars, huge choruses, and just a general hugeness. This is a rock album with just enough pop and just enough punk to appeal to a huge audience, and enough "hook-age" to someday get an arena rocking out and moving. Finally, with all the hugeness its amazing to me that each song is distinctive, which keeps the album fresh, so wonderfully fresh.

6. Dessa – A Badly Broken Code 
Another artist that I just wrote about in detail a few weeks ago, and there isn't much to add.  Mixing rapping with singing may not seem all that special, and in most cases it isn't, until the artist doing the mixing is Dessa.  Dessa deserves any and all attention now that she's shown that she may be the best performer to come out of the Doomtree crew.

5. River City Extension – The Unmistakable Man 
In competition with AM Taxi for best debut album is River City Extension. This band can be difficult to describe as times, but is basically an indie pop/rock band that go lost when hiking the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail and then for a minute the entire band got cabin fever and sing a sea shanty. Seriously, one track has the band transitioning from indie-pop to sea shanty, to something along the lines of Modest Mouse and Wolf Parade before dropping back into the pleasant indie-pop. There is a real sense of fun and energy that permeates the album and prevents any ugly pretense growths from latching onto the refreshing sound that they've stuck in plastic for us to consume.

4. Tim Barry – 28th & Stonewall
I am not worthy to talk about Tim Barry. The man is a story teller, a poet, and, trust me on this, an American hero. Yeah, I know I wrote this a few weeks ago, but come on!

3. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor 
Titus Andronicus, eh? This is a hard band and an even harder album about which to write. A concept album in which parallels are drawn between living and growing in New Jersey and the nightmare period in US history known as the Civil War is a tough thing to approach and break down. Somehow TA manages to write a ten track, sixty minute album while keeping the whole thing fresh. The story, lyrics, and music is all pretty stunning in scope and execution. I want to like the vocals more but they're run through some weird filter and at time I have trouble getting past that element. 

2. Fang Island – Fang Island

Oh mah gawh. This may be the single happiest album I've heard. The worse my mood is the more awesome this album gets and more it seems to cheer you up. I almost want terrible shit to happen to me just so that I can put this album on and then jump around like a fool. Instrumental rock isn't typically my thing, but damn! When people try and describe this album they always fall back on simile. Fang Island are like… 
...Everyone in the room high fiving 
...Waking up to the smell of bacon and realizing that your new roommate is a sexy professional baker from Belgium. 
…Angels using their halos as mouth harps while Jesus and his apostles write angry letters to trees telling them how irritatingly wonderful it is to sit beneath their leafy branches on a spring afternoon.

1. The Menzingers – Chamberlain Waits
One of my early picks for Album of the Year, Chamberlain Waits only slightly resembles the Menzingers's previous album. I admittedly love everything about this release. The lyrics, the instrumentation, the sing/scream vocals, and the sing/scream vocals that aren't whinny and about how anonymous and evil women are ruining their lives. In a year in which high quality music has been champagne blasting out the bottle, Chamberlain Waits has remained fresh and enjoyable.


The Complete NHL Color Scale

Though I've been meaning to compile all of my colors scales into a single image for a while, I finally was able to blink away the color boxes that had been burned into my retinas and actually do it.  Below you'll find a pretty high resolution image that contains the scales, complete with labels and dividers for easy viewing.

Looking back on this project I have to say I'm pretty please with how the product turned out.  Being able to pull all the various colors out of their respective team contexts and just perusing them was a ton of fun.  If this is your first time looking at these scales, then I invite you to look back at my commentaries (BlueRed, Gold, and Orange; Purple, Green, Gray, Natural), although just interpreting them for yourselves is a great exercise and a lot of fun.  Once again, thanks to The Hockey Uniform Database for making my life so much easier.  

The Complete NHL Color Scales


Feature Friday The Third

This will be the last Feature Friday of the December because I will be working on finishing my end of the year music list(s).  Due to the mass quantity of excellent music that has been released this year my head is spinning at the thought of trying to numerically list albums.  I think I may try to, but I'm certain to find a way to make it easier.  It also means that when Feature Fridays return, I'll be drawing from my entire collection rather than just 2010 releases.  I figure that I can still note 2010 releases but since they just appeared in the Best Of list(s) I won't need to emphasize them quite as much.  Enough uninformative chatter, let's move on to the music.  Oh, and I'm going to do three bands this week.

River City Extension - The Unmistakable Man (iTunes link)

Courtesy XOXO Records
River City Extension are one of those bands that caught me completely by surprise.  You look at the picture and you can see your basic hipster band complete with a female back-up vocalist, bad haircuts, bad sweaters, and one hell of an unruly beard.  Fortunately for the world as a whole the band doesn't produce the sounds that one would except for such a troupe.  RCE instead combine folk, indie rock, and world-beat with a bit of punk flare.  The resulting songs tend to be dynamic combinations of percussion, guitars, trumpet, and vocals that waiver between smooth croons and elevate to gritty snarls (raw vocals as the band describes it).  Each song is so distinctive that I continue to be unsure of how to describe the overall feel and sound of the album.  Start to finish The Unmistakable Man is backed with quality music that often basks in elation or drunkenly reflective and raucous.

River City Extension - Something Salty Something Sweet from Chris Loupos on Vimeo.

AM Taxi - We Don't Stand a Chance (iTunes link)

Smoking is bad, kids.
I guess today's theme is "big surprises of 2010" because AM Taxi are another band that I wasn't excepted to strike me like they did.  First of all, I think this is the first album featured on my blog that was released by a major record label, specifically Virgin Records.  After listening to We Don't Stand a Chance I can easily see why AM Taxi got tagged and signed to a big ol' deal.  Overall this album sounds huge and simply rocks from start to finish.  Every song is built around a massive, hook-laden chorus that had me singing about by the time it rolled around for the second time.  The driving force behind the sound is bold combination of accessible modern pop-rock with some old-school traditional punk rock sounds.  The result is just over forty minutes of fist pumping awesomeness.  Highlights for me include The Mistake, Tanner Boyle vs. The 7th Grade, and Champagne Toast, but every song has its merits and, again, the massively huge hooks and choruses

AM Taxi - The Mistake from Down on Vimeo.

Dessa - A Badly Broken Code (iTunes link)

I don't profess to know a lot about hip hop beyond knowing what I like.  Years ago I was turned onto punk rock rapper P.O.S. and his Minnesota based Doomtree crew and self- and socially conscious sounds.  After getting totally swallowed up by rhymes and rhythm totally unlike the mainstream sounds, and I quickly digested much of their catalogue.  Dessa had a few guest spots and an EP length release, all it did was create anticipation for her first full length.  Fast forward to 2010 and A Badly Broken Code.

A Badly Broken Code features Dessa with the most mature, literary, and beautiful music that she's ever produced.  Her smooth, sometimes sing-song, flow melds beautifully with her strong, but pensive, singing.  Dessa is really more of a poet who raps than anything else.  Like I said, I'd like to say more, but my hip hop knowledge isn't really what it could be.  Instead I'll finish by saying that this is a beautiful, moving, rawly emotional album that's just a treat to just sit back and let it wash over you.

Dessa "Dixon's Girl" from Doomtree Records on Vimeo.


Smashville's Newest Song... Unfortunately

I was wondering what was going to pop up this week for me to write about.  Sometimes I think that nothing in the hockey world will grab me and drive me into a epileptic fit that results in many lines of words and punctuations.  Fortunately for me something has come to my attention thanks to Dirk Hoag and the fans in attendance in the Nashville Predators 0-5 drubbing of the New York Islanders.

Obliterating the Islanders is hardly something to brag about, I know, I'm a part-time Flyers fan, but its certainly something about which I can be excited.  What was less exciting was finding out through Twitter that the Preds were had replaced the an excellent video and Jay-Z song, probably the best intro combo I've seen the team have, with a brand new song that was written just for the Predators and the entire Smashville branding  (It was pointed out that the new intro song, while country, is not the song that I'm discussing).  This sounds like it could be really great, I mean it certainly worked for the Flyers with the anthemic The Orange and The Black by The Boils, but today I got to listen to track in its entirety.  Here's a sample :

I'll tell you want if you want to subject yourself to the entire song you can hit up Lewis Copeland's website and download the mp3 using any e-mail address that you feel like subjecting yourself to his panty melting sexy eyes, lyrical tragedy, and Keith Urban meets Miley Cyrus style vocals.

I'm no fan of Country music.  Granted I love stuff like the Old '97s, Lucero, Ninja Gun, and Two Cow Garage, but Pop-Country and stuff like that just isn't my thing.  I am a fan of the Predators goal song, a re-tooled Tim McGraw hit, because its different from other teams and its radio friendly, familiar melody are infectious in the arena.  What Copeland put together was a clumsy tribute to the Nashville Predators with uninspired lyrics and as much Pop-Country sound as he could fit into 2 minutes and 31 seconds.  Its got a fiddle solo and a guitar solo that boarders on rock and roll without actually being interesting.  Even the song structure and melody are typical Pop-Country.  The track even opens with a buzzer and ends with what sounds like a body crumpling after a check and a voice out of nowhere saying "Oh, I ain't dying."  The whole thing is boring and embarrassing and only goes to reinforce the hillbilly stereotype that the song projects.

Finally, I'm going to post the lyrics, as I transcribed them, below with a few small comments.

Music City
U-S-A (the "A" is stretched out for several beats)
Step on the ice, you're gonna pay
of course you are, all non-NFL pro-athletes have to pay a tax to play in Tennessee 
Touch the puck, you're outta luck
You won't be skating long (I'm pretty sure the word is long)
You're only going to skate what, 15 minutes during the game?
The Preds are here, the fans cheer
It would've been embarrassing if the team had gone to the other team's arena)
In this Hockey Tonk
I really hate that phrase, I would burn Hockey Tonk if it was a physical thing

Here in
In the heart of the South
The Preds are going to knock you down
Its what we said we do!
Passionate gang they're going do the thing
I keep listening to it, but I just keep hearing "the" and not "their".  Also... 'thing' and 'gang' /shudder
Feel the thrill down in

FIDDLE SOLO, awesome....

You'll get checked
No outside food or drink allowed in the arena, catfish are fine
Lights out
You'll get wrecked
Not if Kevin Weekes is around
In this house
Only if child services finds out....
Sticks pop, gloves drop, give a rebel yell
I just don't even know....
Fans roar, Preds score
At a rate of 2.48 goals per game, so we don't roar that often, but still pretty frequently
Ring that Southern bell
I hear a loud air horn, Tim McGraw, and then Rock and Roll Part II, but I could be really wrong.

Guitar Solo, woo....

Then they sing the chorus a few more times and it sucks and is really depressing.  Yep, ok


Extend Commentary On Shea Weber's Contract Negotiations

I wanted to see if I could flesh out a comment I posted in response to a FanShot that the good Chris Burton posted over at OnTheForecheck. Here’s what Mr. Custance had to say in regards to contract negotiations between the Nashville Predators and Shea Weber:

"Fair or not, there's a growing perception that of the three biggest restricted free agent negotiations going on right now — Drew Doughty, Steven Stamkos and Shea Weber — the one least likely to result in a long-term deal is with Weber and the Predators.” 

Now, I am a practical person I can understand that negotiations are ongoing and Weber still has not publicly stated that he will resign with the team. It’s obviously a complex process that is still likely in its infancy, as both the team and Weber have stated their interests lie in playing hockey and not contract negotiations. Ok, that was just a qualifier so that no one thinks I’m going all homer because it pleases my ever-so-rosy outlook on life.

The crux of my problem with Custance’s quote is that it lacks a qualifier and it lacks substance. Simply, what does Less Likely actually mean? It’s an incredibly vague statement that fills words and creates a sense that something somewhere may be doing something. I could easily say that I’m less likely less likely to burn my record collection than I am to grill a nice piece of tuna with some fresh baby bok choy, but that statement doesn’t mean a damned thing. Now, I should try to steer things back into the realm of hockey relevancy.

The other two young stars mentioned in the quote are Drew Doughty and Steven Stamkos or the LA Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively. If we look at those two teams you see solid management, solid coaching, and bright futures with line-ups packed with talent. What reasons would talents like Doughty and Stamkos have for leaving teams that are going to be cup contenders if not now, then soon? The only things you could offer them would be stupid money or a nigh-certain promise to win a cup in the following season. Since in the modern NHL you can’t put any guarantee on the latter and the Kings and Lightning probably have a good idea about how to keep those two guys around for at least a few more years. All that leaves us with is how the Weber situation sits in comparison to the two that I’ve just discussed.

Weber plays for a team that is consistently a playoff spot contender that hasn’t shown that they can be in serious contention for the Stanley Cup. What you have then is an elite two-way defensive talent that has room to move to a team that is a more obvious contender, or, again, he could be offered stupid money. Weber may also be guaranteed to sign with the Preds, but the situation would suggest that he is less likely to do so.

Custance’s quote isn’t inherently false or misleading, but it is ambiguous. It strikes me as a journalist trying to drum up a story out of little to nothing. Not to mention what about short-term deals? I do wonder what kind of response he would get if the quote had run, as “Doughty and Stamkos are more likely to result in a long-term deal than Weber.”

Feature Friday 002

After a week of explosive web traffic, explosive for me that is, it is time to tone thing down with the second edition of Feature Friday.  Today we'll be taking brief looks at ever so smooth Green Room Rockers and the every incredible Tim Barry.

Green Room Rockers - "Green Room Rockers" (iTunes link)

The gentlemen behind Green Room Rockers quickly established themselves as one of the best traditional ska/reggae revival bands.  The band's hallmark is a fusion of the classic sounds of ska and reggae with ultra-smooth soul sounds.  The crooning vocals fit equally well in the upbeat dance numbers and the ska-inflected ballads and is perfectly backed by the clean guitar, horns, and keys.  While I stand behind all my music, Green Room Rockers have crafted an album that truly a pleasure to listen to.  I could wax on about the beauty of this record, but I'll just let you hear it for yourself.

"You and I"

Tim Barry - 28th & Stonewall (iTunes link)

What can I really say about Tim Barry.  The man fronted the legendary punk rock band Avail, putting out six full-length albums and another five EPs before striking out on his own.  Then, since his first release on the wonderful Suburban Home Records he has been wowing the underground music scene with impassioned folk music and some of the finest storytelling since the days of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.  Tim Barry is passionate about everything he feels and does, and that sense bleeds into every word he cries, line he sings, and chord he plays.  Though he'd probably disagree, just because he's that kind of guy, I may not even be worthy to talk about Tim Barry. The man is a story teller, a poet, and, trust me on this, an American hero.

His most recent album, released earlier this year, finds Tim refining his voice and diversifying his sound.  The most notable addition are added instrumentation to arrangements that used to primarily consist of acoustic guitars.  His songs go between raucous songs about travelling the roads and living life, to slower numbers simply moving in their melancholy.  Even on this album there is still a standout track.  Prosser's Gabriel is the incredible story of little talked about slave revolt lead by the titular Gabriel Prosser.  I won't bother trying to describe the song, rather I've included a live performance of the song that appears on youtube.  I also strong recommend the song South Hill from his previous album. WARNING: NSFW or language sensitive people, South Hill is written from the point of view of a soldier in Iraq and in the chorus he drops some f-bombs.

"Prosser's Gabriel (live)"


The NHL Color Scale: Purple, Green, Gray, and Natural

Its Thursday and we're down to the final four color scales.  First, a quick thanks to Buddy Oakes at the View From 111 for the re-tweets and links.  Speaking of which, you can follow me on twitter here.  Finally you can see the first two color scale blogs here (blue) and here (Red/Gold/Orange).

These are smallest of all the scales, and its a bit of a shame in my opinion.  I think the NHL as a whole seriously lacks greens, and purples are almost unheard of outside of Los Angeles.

Some would argue that Colorado should've appeared in the red scale, but the maroon-ish color they has enough purple for me to keep Los Angeles from being the sole user of purple in the league.  Despite the loudness of the Kings's throwbacks worn this season, the current purple worn on their primary jerseys is actually a brighter shade.  Again on the green side you see San Jose which could've found a home on the blue scale but ultimately fit better on the green scale.  Looking at Dallas's green, I really wish they had kept more of the color when the switched to their current jerseys.

And to round off the whole series we have two scales that are almost exclusively secondary, tertiary, or accent colors.  Its worth noting that Edmonton's and Nashville's blocks are both metallics.  We have our first shared shade with Minnesota and Phoenix using the same sand color for their uniforms, numbering, and lettering.  If you've looked at all the other scales then you can see that Columbus uses a ton of colors in their new third jerseys.  Finally you can the Rangers's "antique white" or throwback white, or whatever you want to call it.

And those are the color scales.  For those who are interested I can throw together a large image of all the scales together or provide the scales on this page individually.  Other than that I'm going to put these guys on the back burner in case I come up with any swell ideas for them.  I hoped you enjoyed taking a look at what colors are used in the NHL and how each team uses them.  One of my favorite exercises that went along with this project is seeing how different the shades often looked when paired with the other color(s) in a team's uniform.

Look for my Feature Friday artist/album profiles tomorrow for some recommended listening and some new music to hate or love.


The NHL Color Scale: Red, Yellow/Gold, And Orange

Before I post the next set of scales I just wanted to thanks to the people that have been spreading my blog around amongst other hockey folks.  Special thanks to Matt Wagner over at Jackets Cannon for mentioning me in a fan post, it was a a treat to see that traffic.  The response yesterday was great so I'm going to go ahead and post a trio of color scales.

First of all, you can instantly see that while red is the second most popular color in league, the color still pales (he he) in comparison to the number of teams that use Blue.  Part of that can be accounted for by the number of teams introducing new shades of blue in their palettes with 3rd jerseys.  I admit I was shocked that Phoenix and Atlanta's reds were the same and that the red outlines on the Oilers's current alternate (old regular home) jerseys is also the same.  Also of the 14 teams using red as part of their jersey design, only two use unique colors.  Its interesting how similar the shades of red are between the 4 Original Six teams that appear on this scale. 

When I first started this project I had a separate category for "metallic" colors, but in the end that just didn't work as well as I had hoped.  So, instead we've got the Yellow/Gold category.  Not a lot of similarities when its comes to yellows and golds in the NHL.  What's most interesting is that all of the teams on this scale simply tag their shade as "gold" despite the obviously difference.  Atlanta decided to call theirs Peachtree Gold, so I guess they win the contest for originality, stupid names, and reasons why I hate driving around Atlanta.

As we move on the scales get smaller and smaller....  Now we're going to take a look at the orange scale.  And there's a great question, did you know that orange is the fourth most utilized color in the league?  I included the shade that the Flyers's up until last year for the added diversity and point out that I love how much red there is in that shade.  San Jose shows us why that orange is used just for outlining, its great as what it does and makes the Sharks's jerseys look great but its just muddy.  Biggest surprise for me, that Edmonton and Philly both use the same shade of orange.  Clearly the Oilers stole the Flyers orange.

And that wraps us up for today.  Tomorrow I'll post the last four scales (the baby scales) and that'll wrap up this brief look at the color with the NHL.  Then there will be another Feature Friday, so check that out and take a break from hockey blogs to listen to some music that you might have never heard.

Also check the first and last scales.


The NHL Color Scale: Blue

Don't forget to check out the rest of the series: Red, Yellow, and Orange and Purple, Green, Gray, and Natural

I broke my furious blogging pace to work on a project that's actually taking some serious time.  I happen to really love color.  I spent a decent amount of my time in psychology consuming and analyzing all I could about how we process and are effected by color.  You look at the hockey world and the NHL is ablaze with more color than even many hardcore hockey fans would admit.  In the spirit I set out to create color scales for all of the major colors that we see on NHL jerseys.

All of the colors I used were extracted from the galleries over at one of the best, and possibly my favorite, hockey jersey resources NHLUniforms.com.  To do the extraction I used a Google Chrome extension called Color Pick.  The colors that I'm looking at ignore those found in crests and patches and focus only on the body of the jersey.  And below I present a break down of the use of the most popular color in the entire NHL, blue.  A few things to note: Nashville's third jersey and New York Rangers's third jersey use a navy blue that is barely different another blue that is actually the most popular shade in the entire league.  If you've got good eyes or a good monitor then you can likely zoom in and see the line between the two Navies.  What I also found interesting is huge differences between all the light blues found on the various third jerseys.

This is just the first of color scales that I produced.  I choose to post the blue scale by itself due to its size.  As the week goes on I'll post more of the scales.


Feature Friday #1

Here is my first "Feature Friday" where I'm going to present some of the music to which I've been listening.  Typically The band and album will link to the bands website or store and I'll provide a second link that should take you to iTunes if that's your thing.

Today we've got two very different bands in the indie pop sounds of Washington and the punk fueled rock and roll of the Blacklist Royals.

Washington is a one woman indie pop project that works really hard to be an indie pop project.  Dense, upbeat instrumentation and interesting musical arrangement carry the fun lyrics and genre adequate singing.  Not to say that Ms. Washington does have vocal talent, its just not exemplary in the world of female indie rockers.  Overall its a good album, except things get a little dull starting with track nine.  The first eight tracks are either incredibly fun numbers or stripped down, soft pieces that are shocking beautiful in their simple nature.  After that the album gains an "already done that, and done it better" feel.

One of the best things I can say about this debut album is that Washington is totally honest about what she's presenting you, an unabashed indie pop album.  That being said it feels kind of pretentious at times, but seeing that she made this album on her own I think she earned that right.  In the end I've got high hopes for her future work because there is potential for Washington to stake out her own little indie pop corner in the world.

Blacklist Royals - Semper Liberi (iTunes link)

I discovered these Nashville boys earlier this year in my never ending quest for un-distilled rock music. Blacklist Royals occupy a broad genre of punk-and-roll that was really popularized by the instant classic Gaslight Anthem. The band definitely falls more on the punk end of the spectrum with the crunchy guitar, gruff vocals, and occasional cursing and sneering. Oh, and these boys definitely have some Nashville country/southern rock flavor that lets everyone know that they as know as much about Springsteen as they do about the sounds that define their city.

One of my favorite things about this album is the seamless integration of a piano instead of you know… more guitars. When a punk band throws in a novel instrument I always get concerned that it will either turn into a gimmick or it will be lost in the cacophony, distortion, and reverb. BR step right around there and just allow the whole thing to work and add a refreshing flair to the album. Tennessee Blues is a stand out track on the album since it not only features the wonderful piano work, but also some fun fiddling that fits right into the heart of the band's sound 

And since some will wonder, Semper Liberi translates to Always Free.


The Current State of Fans and Body Contact in the NHL

Watching and listening to Predators games this season I've noticed a common topic that frequently crops up between play-by-play man Pete Weber and color commentator Terry Crisp.  Crispy was consistently noted the strong fan reaction when the home town crowd sees one of their boys leveled with a hit.  The gist of Crispy's comments are along the lines of current NHL fans believing that any body contact between two players should result in penalties or retaliation.  Further, he believes that the NHL hockey culture as cultivated by the central NHL officers are, at least in part, to blame for current fan-reactions to body contact.  As with most things there is a grain of truth in what Terry Crisp has been saying recently, but as always I'd like to spend some time thinking about what may actually be gone on in the minds of fans.

Whether for better or worse every hockey fan can agree that the game has changed since the league entered the post-lockout world.  Grappling and constant body crippling hits have either decreased or been totally eliminated from the game and as fans we're now experiencing traditional North American hockey with some added European style flavors.  The NHL have also placed a greater emphasis on player safety with rules that try and protect players from head shots and other plays that result in high probability of injury.  The easiest thing to say about the fans is that when you and your friends or family are sitting in the stands all you can see is the hit.  Like with many potential penalties, the fans can't see every detail.  Sometimes the fans see a trip, but the hometown guy just stepped on a stick.  The same thing happens to referees.  Predators fans may recall a penalty last year called against (I think) Kevin Klein.  He was called for a slash after Klein's opponent broke his stick by clashing Klein's.  The same thing can happen with hits of all types, but I don't think that is the essence of the issue nor what Crispy has noted in his commentary.

I think the fan unrest that we're see when it comes from hits stems from two things: perceived inconsistency of rule enforcement and sensitization.  As always this isn't a commentary on how people are doing their jobs, but rather a hopefully objective exploration of a hypothesis.  With the NHL's closed door, window, and vent policy fans know little to nothing about injuries, rule making, and rule enforcement outside of what is directly observable in public settings.  It is therefore difficult to neigh impossible to comprehend how the NHL deals with supplemental punishment.  After several seasons of confusion on the parts of fans as to why and how certain suspensions and fines are doled out we're becoming acutely aware inconsistencies.  Its tough when you see a fan favorite penalty killer and fourth line grinder go into the boards face first and watch the guilty party skate away and face no consequences, then days later see a player get suspended for two games after trying to squeeze an opposition player through the cracks in the glass.  I could illustrate more instances, but if you're a hockey fan I'm sure you're aware of a dozen examples on your own.

What you're see is the perceived inconsistencies in enforced discipline is causing fans to become hyper-sensitive to hits and any other type of body contact.  Fans have started to look at and mentally break down each and every hit trying to determine not if its clean or dirty, but rather to what degree of dirty was that hit.  The problem is then only compounded as similar hits are treated differently and further complicated by fans trying to figure out what the equation that is used to determine how justice is doled out, or not doled out as the case may be, based off an equation whose variables are the very players involved.  At some point fans might as well boo any hit because no one really knows when or if a hit will be considered dirty by the NHL.

As a final note, the whole Crosby/slew-foot topic could also be included in the above blog, but I won't be addressing that topic.