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Detroit 2014: The New Cars and Trucks You Need To Know About From The North American International Automobile Show


The latest  NAIAS  show blew into Cobo Hall in Detroit last week and bought a slew of major production and concept car debuts. They included a new version of the best selling vehicle in North America, a hot variant of one of 2013′s biggest debuts, and a new design direction from a major brand. Here are the cars and trucks you need to know about to be “vehicle literate” in the coming months.



Ford F150

What’s the big deal?  This is the all-new version of America’s best-selling vehicle. Ford took styling cues from last year’s acclaimed Atlas concept including the sculpted bracket-style headlamps and radical side window profile. While this is arguably the handsomest truck in the market, Ford saves the real radicalism for what’s under the skin, and the skin itself. Aluminum, once the province of high end makes like Audi, Jaguar, and Cadillac, goes mainstream with use throughout the F-150 with an eye towards massive weight savings. Coupled with an advanced lineup of 4 and 6 cylinder power plants Ford is on track to wring great fuel economy out of these rigs.

Will people buy it? The only thing that could hold this juggernaut back is a glitch in all the new technology at launch, so Ford has to get the rollout right. They sell 500k plus of these things every year in a segment with high customer loyalty so expect pent-up demand to be satiated. One potential wrinkle is the lack of expertise and equipment to fix dents and dings in aluminum body panels at most body shops around the country – leading to potentially more costly repairs and insurance. Nevertheless Ford says this will merely bring rates into line with the rest of the industry and have the clout to get shops to invest in the needed tools. Expect a huge marketing blitz on this truck.



The 20 Coolest Cars and Trucks of 2013



How do we define coolest? In this case it’s about the LOOK of the vehicle. It’s not about how it drives, who drives it, or whether it’s in an arctic zone. Solely about the communication between eyeballs and brainstem. I’ve mixed production models with concepts so deal with it.

Ford Atlas


1. Ford Atlas Concept

Ford’s grown up Tonka truck concept is thought to be a pretty good preview of the upcoming new F-Series due to be revealed at the Detroit show in a few weeks. It was also a shot over the bow of GM who unveiled their new pickups to yawns from the design community.

Corvette Stingray


2. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

For three generations Corvettes have been locked into the design language set forth by the 1968-1982 C3, with its glass bubble rear glass, circular quad tail-lamps, single side window and sloping hood. Thousands of midlife crisis purchases later Chevy finally evolves the Vette’s look with an aggressive new front end look, side quarter windows and roofline and a dramatic rear end.



The Best Music of 2011 – The Year of the Sax


2011 was an OK year for music unless you happened to be a sax player. Those guys had a great year, even the “Big Man” Clarence Clemons, who got to play on a hit single from Lady Gaga which was pretty cool for him but then died, which was less cool. The sax was wielded on albums from such indie stalwarts as Iron & Wine, Destroyer, P.J. Harvey and countless others. It may even be safe now to play the solo from Foreigner’s “Urgent” in public again.

Here are my100  favorite songs of 2011 on a Spotify playlist – dig it!

100 Best Tracks of 2011

And below are my 50  favorite albums of the year:

50. Clams Casino – Instrumentals

49. Fucked Up – David Comes To Life

48. Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2



Music: The 500 Best Albums of the Last 40 Years Part V 100- 1

This is the end my friends, the final installment in my big birthday capping list. To see the previous entries click here for 101-200, here for 201-300, here for 301-400, and here for 401-500.


100. Minutemen – Double Nickels on The Dime (1984)

San Pedro’s finest was a;also one of the greatest bands to come out of the American hardcore punk scene, a three piece influenced as much by Captain Beefheart and Bob Dylan as by The Ramones. This is their magnum opus, 43 songs that show off their passion, heart, brains and humor. For them this is stretching out with several songs over their vaunted 1 minute mark and a few over two.

99. Camper Van Beethoven – Key Lime Pie (1989)

This was an atypical record for CVD, violinist Jonathan Segal had left and his pan-global approach to the instrument went with him as Morgan Fichter took over. David Lowery was more in contol than ever and the lyrics were the densest and most compelling he’d ever written. The band complied with a bigger widescreen sound that hewed more towards rock without becoming generic. It’s a song cycle about the hottest, sweatiest part of summer and the feeling of oppressive humidity is palpable. Bonus points for being available on a lime green cassette back when I first bought it.

98. Radiohead – The Bends (1995)

Radiohead seemed destined to be a one-hit wonder after their success with the song “Creep” a blatant if effective Pixies rip-off that was not matched by anything else on their uneven debut. Thus expectations were low for this slow burning follow up that began  to build a reputation through word of mouth and a string of clever videos. The songs were much more mature, musically varied but accessible. The tone is one they would perfect, ennui with depression lingering around the edges but the music and Thom Yorke’s incisive lyrics keep it from feeling like a pity party. Instead it’s moving, rousing stuff.



Music: The 500 Best Albums of the Last 40 Years Part IV 200-101


Here it is, the latest installment in my countdown of the best albums made over the last 40 years. As we close in on my actual 40th birthday, so too do we close in on the end of the list. You can see 201 -300 here. Here is 301-400. And here is 401-500.

200. Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

Due to a lawsuit and perhaps overall freaked-outedness over the overwhelming reception to Born To Run, Broooooooce took a few years to put out this follow-up. Perhaps tinged by this experience it’s like the dark underbelly of that previous record with many of the same themes but explored from a more resigned and embittered angle. While this makes it less of a fun listen, it adds to the rewards the record unlocks over time.


199. Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1991)

Primal Scream may or may not have signaled a big watershed in British rock with this amalgam of house, Stonesy rock, and other dance music that was in the air at the time. Shuffle beats were already all the rage among Britain’s baggy-pants set (I’m looking at you, Chameleons UK and Happy Mondays) and Stone Roses made it safe to shake ones ass back in 1989 with “Fools Gold.” Still this was a triumph from start to finish and doubly so for being completely unexpected given the ordinariness of their previous two records.

198. Faces – Ohh La La (1973)

As Rod the Bod increasingly looked to his solo stardom to provide him with opportunities to deflower virgins, his tenure with The Faces began to draw to a close. On their last album he gets in some great moments but it’s Ronnie Laine who shines all over the second half on songs like the title track. Ron Wood of course would go on to join the Stones.  A raucous, appropriately boozy valedictory for a great band.

197. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema (2005)
No longer the world’s most humble supergroup, Neko Case and Destroyer’s Dan Bejar were becoming better known in their own right by the time the New Porno’s third record came out, plus their second album had gained them a wider following as well. So, time to switch it up with bigger more detailed production and arrangements that are decidedly edgier from main songwriter Carl Newman. Tracks like “Falling Through Your Clothes” and “Three or Four” are much more intricate than before, but there are still power pop home runs like “Sing Me Spanish Techno.”