Podcasts ruled my car’s stereo for the majority of 2014 (Serial, anyone?)
Even so, I did listen to plenty of tremendous musical creations through those well-worn speakers. Nothing received as many replays as Withered Hand, the solo project of 30-somthing Scottish wannabe-loser Dan Wilson. His songwriting is incisive, catchy, self-deprecating and filled with candor and wit. His voice sounds like the lilt of Billy Boyd’s Pippin singing to Denethor, steward of Gondor. He plays guitar. He waxes poetic about California and In-N-Out Burger. He is the world’s most interesting singer/songwriter.
Top Albums of 2014
Withered Hand – New Gods
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son
In my mind, it seems like I was just sitting down to write this very same list from last year. Time flies when you’re wearing tank tops. This year marks the first time listening to music in my car eclipsed listening to it in any other setting. Also, I blew through a few zillion podcasts in the Honda. Podcasts are awesome.
I present, without further comment, the songs I most enjoyed listening to in Anno 2013:
Grammy by Purity Ring
Free At Dawn by Small Black
The Possessed by Glass Candy
Livin’ It Up by Ciara
Beloved by Say Lou Lou
In Real Life by The Ruby Suns
Graceless by The National
Golden Wake by Mutual Benefit
Line of Fire by Junip
Blue Crystal Fire (Originally released in 1978) by Robbie Basho
Beta Love by Ra Ra Riot
Sonsick (Magic Man Remix) by San Fermin
Born at 5:00 by Bombadil
One Half by Julianna Barwick
Childhood’s End by Majical Cloudz
Something About You by Dornik
Fool of Me (feat. Chet Faker) by Say Lou Lou
Recollection by Keep Shelly In Athens
Without You My Life Would Be Boring by The Knife
Sea of Love by The National
Mute by Youth Lagoon
God’s Children (The Kinks cover) by Woods
Boring Country Song by Bombadil
Demon To Lean On by Wavves
Tonight We Fall by ADULT.
No Stranger by Small Black
Stone Cold Coup d’Etat by They Might Be Giants
I Take Comfort In Your Ignorance (Tycho Remix) by Ulrich Schnauss
I Am a [REDACTED] by Kanye West
WIIW by Kirin J Callinan
Drive by Beacon
Let’s Kiss by Mirage
Science/Visions by Chvrches
A Violent Sky by Apparat
One More Ring by Bombadil
Branches by Chrome Canyons
Hurricane (Chvrches Remix) by MS MR
Madmen Love by Keep Shelly In Athens
Into Eternity by Farah
Just Desserts by Marina & The Diamonds & Charli XCX
I Take Comfort In Your Ignorance by Ulrich Schnauss
Youth by Daughter
Compliment Your Soul by Dan Croll
Varsity by Smith Westerns
Street of Dreams by Frankie Rose
Wanderlust by Polly Scattergood
Atlantis by Postiljonen
Menswear by The 1975
Oostende by Keep Shelly in Athens
Unbreakable (feat. Baaba Maal and The Very Best) (Baio Vocal Mix) by Yadi
Behold, I haven’t written a dratted thing on here for months.
I would like to remedy that with a Soundcloud (no, not Spotify or Grooveshark or Rdio) playlist of songs that I consider to be on the shortlist for the best of 2013. Put on your headphones and push play or turn up your speakers and go clean your house/office/bedroom or something.
At best, this list is a poor representation of the great material artists have been churning out this year. I hope to have a list that better represents the total scope of my interests by the end of the year. It’s hard work keeping up with this “music”- as they call it- moving across the Internet at the speed of fiber-optics.
2012 was a “thinner” year for me, as I maintained a fairly strong connection to the channels through which I received my music-culture input, while at the same time withdrawing to a place where I spent less time seeking to find, and more time learning to redirect my own creative energies towards building stability for my family. Does this make sense?
There was a time when I bent the majority of my intellectual energy toward the uncovering of new artists and songs. It was hard work, long hours spent deeply absorbed in a world of sounds. I invested inordinate amounts of time just hearing things I never would have had the patience for if I hadn’t believed that there was some value to be discovered within the cacophony of the potentially-sublime creative output of some kids in a bedroom half a world away.
Upon moving to California, I adopted something of a passive attitude about such things. I was determined to remain in the dark about all of the shows I was now missing out on, mere miles away. I did go to a few, mind you, but nowhere near the number I would have gone to, had I not been so committed to pinching every penny we had. I locked up my input streams, and let the music flow to me, and flow it did. In pleasantly manageable quantities, too.
I won a spot on the guest list for Damien Jurado’s show in San Diego, and later I was able to tag along to a VIP hangout with Mutemath. Those were my concert-going activities for 2012. Will 2013 be more eventful? I fully expect it to be so.
Here is my list of top albums from 2012. Someday, an expansion on why Maraqopa was chosen will be due. I chose it very early in the year. Nothing has eclipsed my decision since.
And a couple of honorable mentions. Why are these two honorables mentioned? Well, for one, Silver & Gold is a compilation of Soof’s past 5 Christmas albums. Also, it is a masterwork of staggering genius. Small Black’s Moon Killer Mixtape was released on 11/11/11 and was missed by yours truly (as a whole). I wound up digging on the title track a heck of a lot in 2012, so, I place this mixtape here as an honorable mention.
Sufjan Stevens – Silver & Gold
Small Black – Moon Killer Mixtape
I don’t know what to expect from Sufjan, anymore. I just don’t.
Best un-owned (not unheard) albums from 2012. These are albums which I listened to- in this age of Rdio, Spotify, Grooveshark, and Soundcloud- and was highly impressed with, but hitherto have not been so moved as to purchase them. I would like to, though.
Purity Ring – Shrines
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Jessie Ware – Devotion
Liars – WIXIW
Chairlift – Something
Passion Pit – Gossamer
Woods – Bend Beyond
Memory Tapes – Grace / Confusion
The Fresh & Onlys – Long Slow Dance
Crystal Castles – (III)
And finally, here is my list of favorite songs from 2012.