Monday, December 31, 2012

Comics-and-More Podcast: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine

On the latest Comics-and-More Podcast, Patrick Markfort and I discuss Buffy, the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine, along with its various satellite series.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine
Andrew Chambliss, Georges Jeanty & Various

Angel & Faith
Christos Gage & Rebekah Isaacs

Spike: A Dark Place
Victor Gischler & Paul Lee

Willow: Wonderland
Jeff Parker & Brian Ching

For further reading:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight Library Edition (Vol. 1-4) HC
Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Karl Moline, Brian K. Vaughan, Jane Espenson, Drew Goddard, Brad Meltzer & Various

Tales of the Vampires TP
Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard, Paul Lee, Cameron Stewart & Various

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best Covers of 2012

I'm sure that I'm missing some great comic book covers, but these are some of the best that I recall seeing throughout the year.  Feel free to leave a comment if you know of any that I missed!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best Superhero Comics of 2012

It's that time of year again to look back at the best that the year has brought us.  Of course there are titles that I didn't get a chance to check out that may have been included if I had, but that's how it goes.  I can't read everthing.  These are my ten favorite superhero comics from 2012, the top of which will also be featured on my forthcoming best comics of the year list.  This is purely my opinion, so obviously people will not agree with me on all of these titles, and that's cool.  Many lists I find out there certainly make me scratch my head.  But I find that if a book has only released even two issues and I really enjoyed them, then it will make this list if it's one of the most enjoyable comics-reading experiences I had in the superhero realm.  Some people may not agree, but I think that after two issues, you have the feel of a comic down even if you don't have a complete story quite yet.  Anyways, this is meant to point you toward enjoyable material that you may have missed this year, and I hope you enjoy it.  If you've read some superhero comics that you think others may enjoy as well, please feel free to mention them in the comments!!

1. Wolverine and the X-Men (Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo & Nick Bradshaw) - In one of the more unique superhero comics coming out currently, Jason Aaron produces a blend of action and humor, perfectly suited by alternating artists Bachalo and Bradshaw.  Even when caught up in crossover events, Aaron manages to steer this book into high quality territory, evolving his characters during that conflict, and producing some great dynamics and relationships from out of it.  Of course, it's best when he's left to his own devices and is able to focus on the interesting students at the Jean Grey School, as well as the oddball faculty.  This year saw micro-Brood invade Kitty Pryde, Wolverine venture to an intergalactic casino with Quentin Quire, and a beloved student shot down, along with all of the Avengers vs. X-Men craziness.  But it's really the amount of character Aaron injects into subjects like Kid Gladiator, Broo and Rachel Grey, and the artists drawing the hell out of this book, that pushes it into the category of a "classic."   It's fun, whimsical and surprisingly moving at times, and it's easily the best superhero title of the year in my eyes.

2. Avengers vs. X-Men (Various) - It's not very often that company-wide crossovers are executed well.  Usually many "tie-in" titles are bogged down with it for months upon months of half-cooked stories for a semi-interesting final product.  Not so for Avengers vs. X-Men.  In this thoughtful mini-series event, not only were there great story notes that they hit along the way, from shocking moments to great character scenes, but any books tied into the main story could easily create a story around a pretty basic premise: battles between mutants and Avengers.  And books like Uncanny X-Men and Avengers Academy shined amidst the chaos.  But the real winner was the main story in the mini-series that pit Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and friends against the likes of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus, Namor and Magik.  It highlighted some epic fights people have been waiting to see, and had shocking moments and a satisfying conclusion, with plenty of gray area left in the dust of battle.  This is perhaps the single best crossover in superhero history, as it worked on so many levels, and so well.

3. Angel and Faith (Christos Gage & Rebekah Isaacs) - One of the most consistently well-executed books out there currently is this spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine, and what I think is the best thing to come out of Buffy in comic form period.  This book has a lot of heart and while it draws from its past, it's not bogged down by it like Buffy: Season Eight seemed to be.  Angel and Faith is a focused comic, circling the death of Giles, Buffy's watcher.  Angel feels guilty for his death and Faith is helping him to find a way to resurrect him, and so they are searching for ingredients and fragments of his soul to make that happen.  Along the way, they meet familiar faces like Druscilla and Conner, and Faith confronts her own troubled past, but even the new characters are fresh and welcome, like Giles' family.  This is just a really thoughtful character-focused work that is beautifully executed on every scale.

4. Uncanny X-Force (Rick Remender, Billy Tan, Mark Brooks, Greg Tocchini & Phil Noto) - I was a little late to the party on this title, but this black-ops X-Men title is one helluva book.  Remender really puts these characters through the wringer on his run of this title, but the wealth of imagination poured into this title really demonstrates that Remender understands the various corners of the Marvel Universe and can use them for great show-stopping stories.  He puts his own unique twists on familiar concepts while he has this team of X-Men confront horrible creatures, as well as their dark pasts.  There's a lot of blood and death in this book, but if you can take it, this is one crazy-fun journey.

5. Batman (Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo) - Relaunching Batman as part of DC's New 52 without one of Batman's famous villains was a bold choice for Snyder, but one that worked shockingly well, earning praise for originality and innovation. Through solid storytelling and focusing the lens on Bruce Wayne's past, Snyder created a sense of mystery and paranoia in this book that drew readers in and hasn't allowed them to leave since. Gotham City and her secrets haven't been this exciting in a long time.

6. All-New X-Men (Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen) - An intriguing premise, that of the original five X-Men coming to confront the modern Marvel Universe, is an intriguing one, and seeing as how the current state of the X-Men is pretty disastrous, it's like their worst fears have come true as they look at their future selves.  There are a lot of cool ideas bouncing around in this comic, and what we've seen so far has been an absolute blast.

7. Thor: God of Thunder (Jason Aaron & Esad Ribic) - Probably one of the new Marvel NOW! titles that I was least excited about has become one of my favorites.  I love Esad Ribic's art, that gives Aaron's mythic story weight, a perfect pairing for a tale about gods and magic.  And Jason Aaron knows how to build a villain, slowly revealing Thor's past experiences with a god killer, and uncovering its devastation in current time (not to mention the bleak future he is painting).  This is a tense comic that feels epic in scope and is drawn flawlessly.

8. Avengers Arena (Dennis Hopeless & Kev Walker) - I was quite a fan of the early days of Avengers Academy, so with its end, I was happy to hear that a new title would be taking its place, and I have to say, even with the new crazy premise, a complete one-eighty from that previous title, this is a fantastic read.  Borrowing teenagers from across the Marvel Universe and throwing them into Arcade's latest Murder World, Hopeless creates a battle royale for the young superheroes of this book, where only one will come out alive in the end.  From its bloody, shocking beginning, it promises quite a roller coaster ride, with cool new characters introduced, alliances being struck and death lingering around every corner.

9. Glory (Joe Keatinge & Ross Campbell) - Having little resemblance to its previous incarnation as part of Awesome Comics, this comic took a little time to find its footing, but once it did, it has only risen in quality with each passing week.  The hulking warrior Glory and her back story are interesting enough of a thread to carry the book, but it's really the current circumstances that Glory and her friends find themselves in that is cool, and the action and artwork that Ross Campbell depicts is at the heart of what makes this a successful book.  Full of great character and creature designs, this is a rip-roaring action title that's edgy, cool and visually stunning.

10. Wonder Woman (Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang) - Azzarello's stories and Chiang's stunning drawings of otherworldly gods brings this book of gods and mortals to a level that Wonder Woman has rarely seen before.  Consistent, full of danger and deception and a fun cast of supporting characters with motives of their own, this is just a delightful read every month.

Honorable Mentions
Aquaman (Geoff Johns & Ivan Ries)
Captain America (Rick Remender & John Romita Jr.)
Demon Knights (Paul Cornell & Diogenes Neves)
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (Jeff Lemire & Alberto Ponticelli)
Uncanny X-Men (Kieron Gillen & Carlos Pacheco)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pick of the Week 12/26

It's an extremely light week, which is probably good considering the amount of comics that came out last week.  Here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops today...

Mara #1 - A new mini-series debuts from Brian Wood and Ming Doyle, about a future world obsessed with physical prowess, and the star athlete whose world shatters when she demonstrates uncanny abilities on live television.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Amazing Spider-Man #700
Eerie Present El Cid HC

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pick of the Week 12/19

Here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops tomorrow!

Cursed Pirate Girl (Volume 1) HC - My favorite book of 2011 is now being released in a deserving hardcover edition with new content, and with wider distribution than previously, so people can actually get their hands on it this time around, thank to Archaia.  A beautiful, beautiful book that will enchant you, this is one you really shouldn't miss.

Other Noteworthy Releases
The Alliance of the Curious HC
Archie: Best of Dan Decarlo (Volume 1) TP
Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk TPBest of Sonic the Hedgehog (Volume 1) TP
Captain Marvel (Volume 1): In Pursuit of Flight TP
Danza GN
Iron: Or, the War After GN
Judge Dread: Complete Brian Bolland HC
Nancy Likes Christmas: The Complete Dailies 1946-1948
Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Strips (Volume 2): "Bona Fide Balderdash" HC
Sharaz-De HC
True Blood Ongoing (Volume 1) HC

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Avengers Arena #1

Dennis Hopeless & Kev Walker

Fair warning: there will be spoilers in this post.  I was a big fan of several of the books that Avengers Arena assembles its characters from, in a battle to the death, where only one will survive.  Avengers Academy is the one that this seems to really follow up on, beginning with the students of that book, but we see characters from Runaways and Annihilation, among others, with characters like X-23, Darkhawk, Nico, Reptile and Juston from Sentinel up for the slaughter.  There are several students that are obviously cannon fodder, but the stakes are high, as there are some big names that, well, I don't want to see die here. 

And who's behind this game?  Arcade, of course, referencing the teen books that this is obviously borrowing the idea from.  And if it's not apparent enough that people will die here, Arcade kills off a big character right off the bat, in a pretty dramatic scene.  I should have seen it coming, given that in any Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode where a couple is happy, one of them dies, but given that the character was one that had a big role in Avengers Academy, and he had a really cool design, I just didn't see it coming.

The story is told through the eyes of Hazmat, another character with a cool character design, and perhaps my favorite of the bunch.  We begin at "Day 29" (Arcade says that the game will last thirty days), and Hazmat is battling X-23 to the death, so we know of two characters who will be around until the end.  Flashback to Day 1 and we see the students awakening in this horrible game, where many of them don't believe the situation.  Arcade makes it clear that they will kill each other to survive, even if they don't believe it now, proving his case by asking for the least powerful among them to die first and asking for that person's name.  No one caves, but Hazmat's temper sets her up as the candidate, until Mettle stands up to his death in her place.  A very heartfelt scene, as the two have just become happy, having shared their first intimate moments together before this all happened, with years of waiting for it through the pages of Avengers Academy.

Hopeless and Walker prove with this debut issue that they're not messing around, and quickly establish this as an exciting new series with dire consequences.  Despite the fact that the idea isn't exactly original these days, they manage to make it feel fresh and populate the title with characters that fans are already invested in, which is a smart way to begin a book like this.  I will be curious about how the creators get the players to really turn on each other, as they are all heroes, but it's sure to be an interesting read, if anything.  This first issue is really well-executed, paced to perfection, with hints of horrible days in the future for the teenagers here.  And I have to admit, I loved every minute of it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pick of the Week 12/12

Here is the book you should be paying attention to, in comic shops tomorrow...

Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something GN - From Kaoru Mori, the beloved manga creator of series such as Emma and A Bride's Story, comes a hardcover collection of short stories, certain to be a welcome addition to any fan's library.

Other Noteworthy Releases
Archie: The Best of Sam Schwartz (Volume 2) HC
Atomic Robo: Real Science Adventures TP
Avengers Arena #1
Blood Lad (Volume 1)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight Library Edition (Volume 3) HC
Cable and X-Force #1
The Couriers: Complete Collection TP
DC Comics: The New 52 Zero Omnibus HC
Dominique Laveau, Voodoo Child (Volume 1) TP
Fear Agent (Volume 1) TP
Ferals (Volume 1)
Giants Beware GN
Grandville: Bete Noire HC
Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth Omnibus (Volume 2) HC
Star Trek: The Newspaper Strip (Volume 1) HC
Rust (Volume 2) HC
Tarzan: The Russ Manning Years (Volume 1) HC

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Comics-and-More Podcast: Marvel NOW! Part Four

On our final Comics-and-More Podcast dedicated to Marvel NOW! titles, Patrick Markfort and I take a look at three new Marvel books.

Avengers #1
Jonathan Hickman & Jerome Opena

Thunderbolts #1
Daniel Way & Steve Dillon

FF #1
Matt Fraction & Mike Allred

For further reading:
Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman (Volume 1)
Jonathan Hickman, Dale Eaglesham & Neil Edwards

New Avengers Omnibus (Volume 1)
Brian Michael Bendis, David Finch & Various

Thunderbolts by Warren Ellis (Volume 1): Faith In Monsters
Warren Ellis & Mike Deodato

Thunderbolts Classic (Volume 1)
Kurt Busiek, Peter David, Mark Bagley & Various

FF by Jonathan Hickman (Volume 1)
Jonathan Hickman, Steve Epting & Barry Kitson

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Best in Music 2012

The following are my favorite songs and albums of 2012, another great year in music. For songs, I kept it to one song per artist to feature the most talent, and overall, it makes for one hell of a mixed CD if anyone's looking for some great tunes. I do tend to gravitate toward female singers, but there are some guys in there to mix it up. Enjoy!

10 Best Albums of 2012

1. "Born To Die" by Lana Del Rey - Love her or hate her, Lana Del Rey has released an impressive record with a unique sound, with her debut "Born To Die."  Boasting haunting melodies and dark lyrics wrapped in a beautiful dreamy voice, "Born To Die" is one of those rare albums that has a consistent point of view and a variety of amazing tracks.  "Video Games," a song tinted with dreamy nostalgia, put her on the map, but it's hardly the best offering here.  "Off To the Races" is a fantastic song unlike anything you've heard before, while "Summertime Sadness" has a chorus that's tough to get out of your head once you hear it.  The more I listened to the tracks, the more I fell in love with the album, my favorites constantly rotating from one to another.  This CD easily rises above the competition to claim the number one slot this year.

Key Tracks: Off To the Races, Blue Jeans, Radio, Carmen, Summertime Sadness, Lolita.

2. "Synthetica" by Metric - Metric is one of the coolest bands working right now, offering playful beats and dark themes in a seeming endless stream of amazing sounds.  From the rock vibe of the first single off this CD, "Youth Without Youth," or the impossible-not-to-love fun of "The Void," there's something here for everyone, "Synthetica" is another work of art from a talented group of musicians who really know how to craft a tune.

Key Tracks: Speed the Collapse, Youth Without Youth, Breathing Underwater, The Void, Synthetica

3. "The Lion the Beast the Beat" by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - Grace Potter sings her heart out in the latest offering from her band, belting out refrains from an array of top-notch rock songs.  They manage to keep the album sounding fresh and relevant while referring to a more classic age of rock, speckling this album with great sounds.  This CD is full of gems, and I would be surprised if they managed to top this album in the future, as this is bound to go down as a classic.

Key Tracks: The Lion the Beast the Beat, Never Go Back, Parachute Heart, Loneliest Soul, Runaway

4. "Felony Flats" by Anya Marina - Anya Marina has a sound that's instantly recognizable, a little rough and raw, with a husky voice that gives her songs an edge.  On her latest effort, Marina produces a lineup that tops her previous works, with songs that demand you turn them up and rock out to them.

Key Tracks: Notice Me, Flinty, Heart Stops

5. "Red" by Taylor Swift - Song after song off of Taylor Swift's new album prove that she is an amazing songwriter, and that she's grown a lot in recent years from when her songs offered little variety.  "Red" is full of hits, catchy numbers that speak to her audience with great hooks.  Swift has also taken the time to experiment with her voice and different sounds, resulting in the interesting, yet undeniably lovely hits "We Are Never Getting Back Together" and "I Knew You Were Trouble."  If her music is really fueled by famous ex-boyfriends, I hope she's jaded by plenty more men in the coming years.

Key Tracks: Red, I Knew You Were Trouble, We Are Never Getting Back Together

6. "Frank + Derol EP" by Frank + Derol - The duo Frank + Derol came out of nowhere with this EP of catchy songs that showcase their honey-sweet voices and great sound.  Even now, I have trouble deciding what my favorite song from this EP is, but it has me salivating for a full-length album in the future.

Key Tracks: Lightning + Gold, Barely Love You Too, Let It Go

7. "My Stadium Electric" by Erin McCarley - Erin McCarley's latest album still has that feel-good vibe to it that her debut CD "Love, Save the Empty" had, and certainly retains a pop sensibility, but it's also a little more rock, and a little more rough around the edges, resulting in a sound that's more mature and more interesting, which seems a good fit for her, as she has created plenty of gems on "My Stadium Electric."

Key Tracks: Vertigo, Survey, Amber Waves, Just Another Day

8. "You & I" by The Pierces - The Pierces boast a more traditional sound than most of the artists on this list, but one thing that really sets them apart from the competition is that their songwriting is just so solid.  The duo has created a CD full of simple, but beautiful songs with catchy sounds and spot-on lyrics.  They may easily float under the radar, but given a listen, their sound will stay with you and have you tapping your feet.

Key Tracks: You'll Be Mine, It Will Not Be Forgotten, Love You More

9. "Night Visions" by Imagine Dragons - This debut album from quartet Imagine Dragons is one of the great rock albums of the year, boasting an impressive lead vocalist and an insane amount of talent.  Many of the songs sound like classics, especially "Hear Me" and "Demons," which stick with you long after you've heard them.

Key Tracks: Radioactive, Demons, Hear Me

10. "The Night the Sun Came Up" by Dev - Dev has a funky sound, and is a lot of fun to listen to, from the hella-auto-tuned "In My Trunk" to the throbbing beat of "Lightspeed."  She keeps up to the fast pace of her songs with a quick tongue, and captures listeners with her great sound (who knew coughing in a sound could be such a highlight?).  My big gripe is that her amazing song "Take Her From You," was not included in the US release of the album (see it in my list of best songs below), but the rest of the tracks are still strong enough to lift this CD into my list of best albums of the year.

Key Tracks: In My Trunk, Lightspeed, In the Dark

30 Best Songs of 2012

1. "My Blood" by Ellie Goulding - This song is epic, reaching a fever pitch at its peak.  It's dark, moody and simply beautiful.  This is a stunning song that's completely immersive, and deserves to be at the top of this list of best songs of 2012.

2. "Give Your Heart a Break" by Demi Lovato - There were definitely plenty of pop songs that stood out this year, and this was the cream of the crop, with a great lead in to a fun, flashy refrain, provided by an artist with a voice that stands out among the competition.

3. "Want U Back" by Cher Lloyd - This flirty song is sung by Lloyd with a wink and a smile.  She embraces the "bad girl" aspect of this song and just conquers it, nailing every beat, including those delicious grunts.

4. "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen - People are probably, and understandably, sick to death of this song, as it was everywhere this summer, but it was played over and over for a reason.  It's the epitome of catchy pop songs - once you hear it, it's nearly impossible to get out of your head.  I love the strings, the goofy lyrics and of course, that damn refrain.

5. "Blown Away" by Carrie Underwood - This broody country song is a dark song that you can't help but admire.  Underwood sings about an abusive household being torn asunder, while showcasing her amazing vocal range, belting out the chorus with stunning results.

6. "We Are Never Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift - This was perhaps Taylor Swift's year, as she dominated the charts with her spunky pop spirit.  This song in particular showcases her songwriting sense, as she plays with her vocals to make for a unique-sounding number that's as catchy as anything she's released so far, if not more so.

7. "Hear Me" by Imagine Dragons - The highest spot to be graced by a male lead vocalist is from the band Imagine Dragons, who boast strong vocals, solid lyrics and a really well-constructed song.  It's a fantastic rock song with a lot of energy.

8. "Disparate Youth" by Santigold - Santigold proved with her new CD that she's as innovative as ever, with more unique beats on her sophomore album, "Disparate Youth" being the stand-out song, with layered sounds for a great music experience.

9. "Proserpina" by Martha Wainwright - This song is filled with strings and piano, swelling into an operatic refrain.  It's very atmospheric and it has the feeling of a classic with its mythological subject and well-chosen lyrics.

10. "Meant" by Elizaveta - Classically trained Elizaveta released a real gem with this song, with a unique chorus, utilizing both vocals and strings in lovely ways for a stunning product.

11. "To the End" by Florrie - This dance number has a great sound.  I love dance songs that can really build toward a refrain and this one brings it to a frenzy.

12. "Sky's Still Blue" by Andrew Belle - More of a quiet song, Belle's song is elegantly constructed with beautiful lyrics and an achingly gorgeous sound that feels lovingly stitched from a myriad of emotions.

13. "All the Rowboats" by Regina Spektor - I love piano in a song, and this one sounds like it's chasing the vocals all the way through this song.  It's playful yet moody, and I like a song that focuses on fine art like this one does.

14. "Take Her From You" by Dev - From the whistling, to the "whoo-whoo" of the refrain, this is a fantastic song that's all about playfulness.  It makes you smile and want to listen to its easy beat over and over again.

15. "Timebomb" by Kylie Minogue - Kylie proves once more why she has such a fan base in the club scene.  This ridiculously danceable song shows that Kylie has her music down to an art, with quiet lead-ins, explosive refrains and tons of fun injected into her beats.

16. "Better In a Black Dress" by Katie Armiger - The only traditional country song to grace this list is another flirty number, as Armiger turns in her wedding gown for a black dress, professing her love of youth and wanting to enjoy it.  Great sound and hook.

17. "Tip Toes" by Jayme Dee - Listening to this song is like having your ears filled with sunshine and honey.  It's bright and cheerful and just makes you feel happy and tapping your toes.

18. "Come Back Down" by Greg Laswell, featuring Sara Bareilles - This duet has the sound of a great anthem, with a great pairing of lyrics with the chorus that raises it into something much more than the sum of its parts.

19. "You Never Know" by Jon McLaughlin - Jon's voice is lovely and sexy, and he sings this love song flawlessly.  It's not as flashy as some of the songs on this list, but it has this innate quality to it that you can't help but admire.

20. "My Oh My" by Tristan Prettyman - This is just a solid song from a very talented songwriter.  It has a groove to it that's very melodic and just cool.  I'm very glad that I came across this artist this year - she just has soul and I love what she's done, especially this song.

21. "I Can Love" by Vicci Martinez - This has an incredible chorus that just sort of sweeps you along with it.  It's powerful and commands attention.

22. "Miriam" by Norah Jones - This slow beautiful song is hypnotic and just lovely, a nice contrast to the unexpectedly dark lyrics.

23. "Gold" by Neon Hitch, featuring Tyga - Another fantastic dance song, which Neon Hitch is no stranger to.  Tyga's little cameo adds a nice little touch to a pretty perfect song, complete with sassy lyrics and an exciting delivery of vocals.

24. "Brokenhearted" by Karmin - There's no doubt that the lead singer of Karmin is a gifted singer.  She keeps up with the fast pace of this song with little effort, and soars through the chorus with equal ease.

25. "Glorified High" by Sarah Jaffe - I love interesting sounds in music and Sarah Jaffe offers just that in a cool song with neat sounds that elevate the chorus, a contrast to the muffled quality of much of the song.

26. "Vampire Smile" by Kyla La Grange  - A deliciously Gothic sound that goes hand in hand with the lyrics, sung by a deceptively sweet voice.

27. "Castles" by of Verona - This song has a lot going on in it, and those elements all add up to a very polished sound that can't help but feel a little epic.

28. "Gone Gone Gone" by Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke's song feels like a dance party, but it's also really hip and somehow organic sounding.

29. "I Hate Love" by Garbage - I'm a huge Garbage fan, and this is one of their best songs.  It proves that they still have that edge that made them such a huge band in the 90's. 

30. "Tenderest" by Val Emmich - A melancholy song, Val Emmich sings this in a rumbly sexy voice, oozing depression and heartache.