Monday, December 8, 2014

Favorite Records of 2014

Look, every year I feel like I say the same thing: this year was disappointing. But something was very off about how I listened to music in 2014. Typically, I find my "January," a band or an artist I fall madly in love with, binge on for at least the first half of the year, see at least once live, and buy all of their back catalog on vinyl. That didn't happen this year. Well, technically it didn't. See, I think part of the reason was that I'm still binging on Frightened Rabbit, my artist of 2013. And another part of it is because although my favorite record of the year was released in January, I didn't find myself becoming too attached to the artist. In fact, I didn't actually binge on any particular band until October rolled around, and it's not fair to say that 2014 was the year of The Twilight Sad.

2014 also felt like the year of "Pretty Good But Still a Disappointing Follow-ups" That is to say that I enjoyed a lot of albums by artists I loved but they just weren't as great as their predecessors. 2014: the year of disappointment.

Anyway, onto the list...

1. James Vincent McMorrow-Post Tropical
I think I initially fell in love with this record because it was like some beautiful cross between Bon Iver and James Blake. It was also very different from JVM's first record, which I thought was fine but unforgettable (I still haven't warmed up to it.) But from the moment I pressed play on that January evening, I was hooked (well, it was really the first time I heard "The Lakes" but we'll let that go). This was probably the record I listened to the most this year, and it is truly a stunner. Aside from JVM's beautiful voice, there are just so many stunning little moments (sort of like Grizzly Bear's Shields from a few years back) throughout the album. It really is a all-encompassing listening experience, and honestly, I found it really accessible right off the bat. This record has been out almost a year and I'm still listening to it regularly.

Favorite Tracks: Repeating, Red Dust, Outside, Digging

2. Owl John-Owl John
I really went back and forth about my number one this year. As much as I love Post Tropical, I didn't feel an emotional connection to it. But with Owl John, I clearly did because Scott Hutchison is basically my favorite musician. I likened it to reading a brand new book as opposed to reading the next book in a beloved series. It's always a lovely surprise when you pick up something you don't know, with new characters, and end up loving it, whereas you're pretty certain you're going to really enjoy a book in a series filled with characters and plots you already adore. So I thought, well, which record really shaped your 2014? To be honest, neither. But for me, it's a matter of two things: I genuinely like every song on Post Tropical, whereas I really don't care for "Los Angeles Be Kind" on Owl John, and well, I don't know if I could recommend the latter to everyone. It feels like a special record for people who are already fans of Hutchison's work. Does it sound like a Frightened Rabbit record? No, it does not. But it's not an immediate record, and I think you have to go into with already liking (or loving) the guy's music.

Anywho, with that being said, I was still pretty apprehensive about this when I listened to it the first time. I'm always kind of nervous about pressing play on a new record by an artist I love but to be honest, I didn't love "Hate Music" or "Red Hand" when I initially heard them, so I was pretty convinced I'd be disappointed with the whole record. But then I heard "Cold Creeps" and holy shit, all apprehension was completely erased. That song, I mean, it's like nothing Scott has ever written before, and it's absolutely incredible. And for some reason, that last chorus always makes me smile and remember just what it is I love about his music. Never let it be said the man can't write a killer opening track.

The rest of the album took a bit of time to grow on me (seeing him live definitely helped) but I think it's all pretty much perfect (not you, "Los Angeles Be Kind"), especially "Stupid Boy." (Jesus Christ, "Stupid Boy" is so so so so good.)  Even something like "Don't Take Off the Gloves," which initially struck me as really bizarre and kind of off-putting, became one of my favorite songs of the year.

Bottom line: this is a really, really solid album by a really, really talented songwriter.

Favorite Tracks: Cold Creeps, Stupid Boy, Don't Take Off the Gloves

3. The Twilight Sad-Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
This record is one of my most rewarding listening experiences of 2014, and proves that sometimes you really have to have patience with a record or else you'll miss out on a gem. When "There's a Girl In the Corner" was first released, I was like, "where's the chase and how can I cut to it?" And then when the whole thing was streaming on Stereogum, I tried my hardest to get into it but it just did not capture my attention at all. Nothing stood out for me. I tried, and tried, and tried, really I did. (I also have this problem with The National sometimes.) But for some reason, I really kept trying. And suddenly, it all clicked and I realized, "Dammit, this is amazing!" I mean really, the A side is stellar (and the B side but that's neither here nor there), and I think this is The Twilight Sad's most accessible (jeez, there's that word again) record, and certainly their catchiest album. (Catchy seems really reductive but I suppose it's better to say that their clearest melodies are on this record.) And uh, let's talk about James Graham's vocals. They really are quite beautiful on this record (see: "Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep") and I don't think he's ever sounded better.

I mean I could go on forever about how great I think this album is, about how amazing the way "There's a Girl in the Corner" builds, or how "Last January" should've been a bigger song than it was (a la "The Woodpile"), or how amazing the vocals in the first chorus of "It Was Never the Same" are. But the bottom line is that the album is a great achievement and everyone should listen to it.

Favorite Tracks: There's a Girl In the Corner, It Was Never The Same, Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep

4. Spoon-They Want My Soul
Perfect record is perfect. Like "Nobody Want to Be Here...," I wasn't completely enamored with this right away. I really liked "Inside Out" and "Knock Knock Knock" but it all blended together for me, and upon initially listens I was just like, "meh, whatever. Spoon." And again, I gave it a few more tries and once again, it clicked and suddenly it was like, "WHOA! WHAT AN ALBUM!" As I've already said, it is perfect. And "Inside Out" is probably the most perfect song released this year. Not to mention, Britt Daniels' vocals are so killer. He's truly one of the best frontmen in music today.

Favorite Tracks: Inside Out, Knock Knock Knock, Rainy Taxi

5. tUnE-yArDs-Nikki Nack
Like I've said before, I adore Merrill Garbus. She is an outstanding talent and her music is so original and creative. She manages to be confident and vulnerable at the same time, sexy and insecure. She's also one of the most consistent artists these days. I may not have loved this one as much as w h o k i l l  but it was still incredibly enjoyable, with amazing vocals and amazing lyrics. I rank this only at #5 because I've kind of stopped listening to it, so I don't know how great its lasting power is but as a complete work, it's very, very good.

Favorite Tracks: Real Thing, Hey Life, Left Behind

6. Sylvan Esso-Sylvan Esso
This record was a complete surprise, and a delightful one at that. It's catchy, infectious, and Amelia Meathe's vocals are amazing. It also reminds me of the good old days of CocoRosie.

Favorite Tracks: Coffee, Could I Be, Dress

7. The Antlers-Familiars
The Antlers are such a solid, consistent band, and consequently, one of my favorites. Okay, so this record wasn't as immediate as Burst Apart (but Burst Apart is perfection), and I was a wee bit disappointed by it but it's an album that quietly reveals its greatness. And there's a lot of beauty in it. Peter Silberman has one of my favorite voices in music at the moment, and he never fails to devastate me with his vocals (and his lyrics too). A lot of people slept on this record, and I don't think The Antlers get the attention they deserve.

Favorite Tracks: Revisited, Director, Hotel

8. We Were Promised Jetpacks-Unravelling
I love We Were Promised Jetpacks but my biggest complaint about them has always been a lack of variety in their music. All of their songs were very loud, and emotional, and fast-paced. I wanted a bit more nuance from them (and this is coming from someone who loves Japandroids). Well, they delivered it on Unravelling. As much as I love These Four Walls, I think their third album is most certainly their best. Their songwriting alone is way stronger than on their first two releases. Maybe it's not as immediate but it's also far more rewarding, and way less repetitive.

(I rank this so low simply because it's fallen out of rotation a bit.)

Favorite Tracks: I Keep It Composed, Night Terror, A Part of It

9. St. Vincent-St. Vincent
Annie Clark, what am I going to do with you? Yes, I think she's one of the most talented musicians making music right now, and I think St. Vincent is superficially a great album but it left me so cold. The songs are great, don't get me wrong, but nothing on in comes close to "Marrow" or "The Party" or "Surgeon" or "Neutered Fruit." Nothing hits emotionally on St. Vincent (maybe "Prince Johnny" comes close.) I was so disappointed in this album, especially since Actor and Strange Mercy are two of my favorite albums of all-time. But at the same time, I do really like it. Am I contradicting myself You get me, right?

Part of it is that I don't really buy this persona Annie Clark has constructed for this album. It doesn't quite feel genuine to me, and if I can't find genuineness in your music, I can't really love it.

Favorite Tracks: Prince Johnny, Regret, Every Tear Disappears

10. The War On Drugs-Lost in the Dream
Obligatory The War on Drugs mention.

I'm kidding. This is a great album. I mean, very well-written and executed. Another one that kind of leaves me cold but still a really good work of art. That's just the best way to describe it for me. It's nothing I can get really into but I can acknowledge that it's a great album.

Favorite Tracks: Under the Pressure, Red Eyes

Honorable Mentions:
First Aid Kit-Stay Gold
FKA Twigs-LP1
Dry the River-Alarms In the Heart
Kevin Drew-Darlings

Albums Released in Previous Years That I Want to Mention Anyway:
We Were Promised Jetpacks-These Four Walls
The Twilight Sad- Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters
Chvrches-The Bones of What You Believe
Dry the River-Shallow Bed

Most Disappointing Records:
Damien Rice-My Favorite Faded Fantasy
Future Islands-Singles (I even bought this record and I still can't find it in me to enjoy it. Glad everyone else does. It is sort of unfair to say it was disappointing because I had no expectations for it and I've never been a huge fan of theirs. It's more of a "I bought this but I don't get it" thing.)
Wye Oak-Shriek (After loving their last record, this was such a let down. I barely listened to it after it was released.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Favorite Concerts/Sets of 2014

1. Owl John + Mike Pace and the Child Actors//The Bell House
(Note: the opening act for this show is completely irrelevant. Completely.) Sometimes I just know a concert is going to be amazing before it even starts. This was one of those shows. Two hours of Scott Hutchison and a guitar, pretty much playing only requests, in a room that only stood 500? It doesn't, and won't, get any better than that. (I mean, if you're a big Scott Hutchison fan, of course.) I remember walking out of The Bell House in complete shock and awe that night. And the set! "Scottish Winds?" "Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms?" "Floating the Forth?" "Footshooter?" Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And "The Loneliness and the Scream" and "The Woodpile" are pretty much the most perfect songs in a live setting. And I won't even get into all of the other amazing songs played that night. I walked out of the venue thinking, "Jesus Christ, Hutchison is the best songwriter right now." He's also one of the better performers I've seen (I immediately likened him to Glen Hansard, so you know I'm serious about it. Thou shall not bare false comparisons to Glen Hansard. That's my second commandment, after "He is Glen Hansard, there is nobody better than Glen Hansard.") Everyone deserves to see their favorite musician play solo in an intimate space.

It also helps that I managed to meet Scott before the show. I'm not sure how it happened or what I said to him but it happened. And I'm still fangirling about it.

2. We Were Promised Jetpacks + The Twilight Sad//Webster Hall
I'm putting this out there right now: this show happened at just the right time for me. I basically listened to only the new Twilight Sad record in the weeks leading up to this show. So I was really psyched to see The Twilight Sad (even though I had seen them the month before, I don't know, it's very complicated, I suppose). Throw in WWPJ (who were one of my favorite bands of 2014) and you've got one hell of a bill.

I saw WWPJ back in March and it was kind of an odd show. They didn't have it, and the tone of the show seemed off to me. They'd do songs like "Quiet Little Voices" and "Ships With Holes Will Sink" and the crowd would get really into it but then they'd do new songs and the crowd would just shut down completely. There was no momentum. I felt like they had the capacity to be a great band, they just needed a bit more charisma and personality. Well, fast forward eight months and it was like a totally different band on that stage. All of their songs worked so well (especially the new ones), and they sounded very tight. They looked like they really wanted to be up on that stage, and that they were having fun. I still can't quite figure out their fans, and why they don't respond to some great songs (i.e. "I Keep It Composed) but lose their shit for stuff on These Four Walls (I know, that's a killer album). I still think they lack something, maybe whatever it is but I really enjoy them and I think they are really improving with every record.

But for me, this show was about The Twilight Sad. Now, I've been a casual listener/fan of theirs since 2012 (does this all sound like a song and dance I gave about another Scottish band?), and for some ungodly reason I got tickets to their show at Rough Trade because well...Scotland. (Scottish men, you are my weakness.) But holy shit, if I didn't fall in love with Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave. And I enjoyed every damn second of their set at Webster Hall (as I held said album in my hands because I just had to buy it and worried it was going to sell out after the show.) They're sort of an intense live experience, and I know they get compared to Frightened Rabbit all the time (I don't see nor hear it), but I feel like watching James Graham is similar to watching Matt Berninger.  They are a really great, unfairly underrated band (I suspect accessibility is the case with them but fuck that) and let me just say, I haven't listened to anyone but them in the two weeks since this show. You know it's love when I binge on you after seeing you live (see: Andrew Bird in the summer of 2009).

This has nothing to do with how much I enjoyed this entire night but...I met James Graham after the show and he was very, very lovely.

3. Kevin Drew + Andy Kim//The Bowery Ballroom
2014 was the year of impulse concert going (see: The Twilight Sad at Rough Trade). I also thought 2014 was going to be the year of Kevin Drew (it was more like the month of Kevin Drew) but regardless, this was an incredibly fun show. Wanna talk about personality! I'd seen Kevin with Broken Social Scene open for TV on the Radio, which is one of my favorite sets I've ever seen, so I know he is a great performer. No, "Darlings" isn't as great as any of the BSS stuff but the live show was, as I just said, very, very fun. Complete with crowd spooning and hugs!

Andy Kim, while a bizarre pick for an opener, was also strangely very fun. Sometimes all I want is a fun concert and to have a good time.

4. Phosphorescent//Webster Hall
I often get annoyed when I see a band and their songs sound exactly the same live as they do on the album (looking at you, Bell x1). Well, Phosphorescent changes his songs up so much to the point where some of them are unrecognizable, and frankly, it's amazing. Matthew Houck is truly amazing live, period, end of story, and really, he's just so damn talented. And look, "Wolves," "Song for Zula" (that song will never not be incredible in any context), and "Ride On/Right On" back to back to back just about killed me.

I also saw Phosphorescent open for The National about a month later (this was a running theme of the year I see), and they were still pretty damn awesome.

5. James Vincent McMorrow//Town Hall
I was very apprehensive about this show. For one, it was at a seated venue, which I always find can be hit or miss when it comes to enjoyment. I like to feel like an active participant at shows. I like that feeling of collectivity. The feeling of being in the same room with your favorite artists. For me, seated shows can often just feel like I'm there, sitting, watching you play. If I wanted that, I'd go to the theater. Another reason I was a bit apprehensive was that although I love Post Tropical, I don't love his first record and wasn't super familiar with it.

Well, the show began and JVM is just playing song after song and I guess the crowd was into it,  but JVM wasn't really doing much in terms of entertaining us. But then something changed, and I was suddenly really enjoying myself. I think it has to do with his voice. Jesus Christ, that voice! And once he started talking and interacting with the crowd, I found him very engaging and the show became a bit more intimate. Look, not everyone needs to be like Glen Hansard or Scott Hutchison when it comes to stage banter but I do like it when artists acknowledge their crowds. When they don't, it almost feels invasive on the part of the audience. Or like they don't want us to be there. I also find it very uncomfortable as well. But anyway...back to James Vincent McMorrow. He just came off so charming, and with a voice (again, my goodness, that voice!) and those excellent, excellent songs, it made for a great night.

He also did one of his new songs, "When I Leave," and it was so frickin' good that I bought it right away. It's a bit more straightforward than his stuff on Post Tropical but I'm excited for whatever direction he goes in.

6. Sylvan Esso//Webster Hall
This was actually in support of tUnE-yArDs, and you know me with tUnE-yArDs: I cannot say a bad thing about Merrill Garbus. She is fantastic live. Really, her live shows are practically unparalleled. But that night, I wasn't feeling the whole atmosphere. It was really crowded, and there were a few people around me who were very, very annoying, and in total disregard for the people around them, and that pretty much soured me on the whole show. (Let it be known that tUnE-yArDs sounded really fantastic anyway. It wasn't them, not at all.)

Sylvan Esso however...boy are they a blast live. I know a lot of people are turned off by the whole karaoke singer vibe (look, I get it; it's one of the reasons I haven't seen Chvrches live) but when the songs are that fantastic, fuck it, just go along for the ride.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I don't want to change you

Damien Rice's new album is being released on Tuesday.

For someone, or anyone, who has been a fan of his since O, that phrase should seem pretty surreal. Nobody supposes that their favorite singer (which he was, for me, eight years ago) will take another eight years to release his or her next record. But that was a reality Damien Rice fans had to live with. And I bemoaned his absence, constantly asking, "What happened to Damien Rice? When is he going to put another album out? What's he doing with his time? Why can't he at least go on tour? WHAT IS HE DOING? WHY WON'T HE PUT ANOTHER ALBUM OUT!?" Eventually it just became a joke, something I would just say because well, why not? I did miss him. I barely listened to his music over the last five years or so, just because I was tired of it but yeah, I would've welcomed a new album wholeheartedly. Or so I imagined.Wanting a new Damien Rice was just something I was supposed to do, and I said I wanted it more the more it seemed like weren't going to get it. Damien Rice was just some dude from Ireland who used to make music, whom I used to see in concert, whom I used to enjoy a lot, and whose music meant a lot to me but it all seemed like a different lifetime. And that part of my life was over and it was time to say good-bye to Damien Rice and wanting his third album.

But then a third album was announced! I was pleased but not ecstatic. The announcement had the misfortune of coming a few days after I bought tickets to see Owl John, and I was pretty freaking excited about that. The joy I felt about that is best described by a word the English language has not created yet. And yes, I suppose it's silly to be that excited for someone you'd be seeing for the fourth time in eighteen months, for someone who has had a release every year for the last three years. One of the problems was I was pretty indifferent to the singles Damien had released (yes, indifference is exactly how I feel about "I Don't Want to Change You.") To make matters worse, Damien then announced some tours dates in NYC and they were...the exact same week I was going to see Owl John. I would've been thrilled about that show (erm, maybe...) had it been any other week. I knew Scott Hutchison was going to blow me away before I even went to the show (and I was right), and it was going to be really tough for anyone to top that show.

Damien didn't. Look, it was wonderful to see him again, in an "intimate" space (I guess, whatever, Warsaw is a craphole) but other than making me feel nostalgic, the show didn't do anything for me (until Glen Hansard stepped on stage but you know, he's a legend in my book). Damien sounded great, he looked great, and everything was technically great but I just didn't feel anything. Yes, it's great to have him back but it's making me feel nothing. It probably had to do with the concert I went to earlier in the week, sure, but maybe I am right: Damien Rice's music belonged to another part of my life.

I am still trying to get excited about the third album. I've listened to it three or four times in its entirety and it did not grab me right away. But hey, sometimes that happens. It usually happens to albums I end up really, really liking. And look, I didn't press play the first time with intentions of disliking but nothing grabbed me, I was especially taken aback by how dreadful the lyrics are. I've always liked Damien as a lyricist; some of his lyrics on O are truly amazing. The lyrics on My Favorite Faded Fantasy are plodding and I can his rhymes coming a mile away. There's no sharpness to them. And the whole damn album just feels so unnecessarily long (it's only eight songs but runs about fifty minutes). Nothing is exciting or compelling. It all feels like it's been done before. It's not something worth waiting eight years for. It feels like he's been stunted, creatively. It's nothing new for him at all. It seems he hasn't grown at all musically. Does everyone have to reinvent their sound with every album? No. Just look at Spoon or Beach House or The National. They've perfected their sound and do it all really well. But they do it well. Compare it to Fiona Apple's last record; that album was incredible and worth waiting seven years for. Damien's is just such a disappointment.

But I refuse to give up. Mostly because I feel like Charlie Brown at Christmastime about it. Everyone else is excited but I just don't get it. I'm not a party pooper. I want to reiterate that I am really, really glad Damien is back. I hope he does a bigger tour next year because I'm going to pay to see him. I'm even going to buy his record on Tuesday on vinyl. But I think it's just for nostalgia reasons. Because I waited too long for this all to happen, and I've earned my right to be a part of it.

Know whose new album is really, really fantastic? The Twilight Sad's. I mention them simply because I saw them live between Owl John and Damien Rice. Also because Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave is a great example of records growing on you, records that are really rewarding after being a challenge, records that take some time to reveal how great they truly are.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Favorite Albums of 2013

2013 was a pretty disappointing year for me, musically. I did not like a lot of the overhyped records or a lot of the ones that people raved about. I didn't even like a lot of records by artists I've loved for years. I can't quite figure out why; was it me or the music? I didn't even binge on too many artists (which is something I tend to do).

Well, anyway, onto the music...

1. Frightened Rabbit-Pedestrian Verse
Sigh. What more can I say? This was a complete surprise but let me tell you, from the first listen to "Acts of Man," I was hooked. It was really fun coming home after work on those February nights and popping this record on. It is just a really well-written, well-produced record, and it shows just how much and how well the band has grown musically. It's a real shame this record went virtually unrecognized by everyone, and it's an even bigger shame that Frightened Rabbit is generally unrecognized and underrated.

Favorite Tracks: Acts of Man, The Woodpile, State Hospital.

2. Frightened Rabbit-The Midnight Organ Fight
Yes, I'm being controversial by putting a five year old record on this list but I always believe that you won't realize how great a piece of music is until you're still listening to it years later or you can still listen to it years after its release. Of course this doesn't apply fully to The Midnight Organ Fight but I really can't get over how brilliant this record is. Every song is just fantastic, and it blows my mind that a band could release something so good and still be unknown. Anyway, I stuck this on my list because it truly was my second favorite record of the year. When I think back on 2013 and the music I listened to, I think about Frightened Rabbit and listening to "The Modern Leper" and "Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms" and "Old Old Fashioned" (and "The Loneliness and the Scream" but don't worry, The Winter of Mixed Drinks will not be on this list).

Favorite Tracks: Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms, The Modern Leper, Keep Yourself Warm 

3. Phosphorescent-Muchacho
What a beautiful record. It's subtle but intricate and has an addicting quality to it. Matthew Houck's vocals on it remind of a Southern Glen Hansard. Probably the most beautiful record released in 2013.

Favorite Tracks: Song For Zula, The Quotidian Beasts, Sun, Arise!

4. Neko Case-The Worst Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
2013 was the year Neko Case became one of my favorite artists. I've always really liked her and her music but this record was just all-around fantastic. Her vocals are incredible (duh), her lyrics are amazing (another duh) and I think this is definitely her best album. After Pedestrian Verse, I think this record was the one I listened to the most this year.

Favorite Tracks: Man, Calling Cards, Ragtime

5. Volcano Choir-Repave
Shouty Justin Vernon! I think that's why I love this record so much. Look, I miss Bon Iver just as much as the next person but if he's going to put out records like this, he never has to perform/record as Bon Iver again as far as I'm concerned.

Favorite Tracks: Acetate, Comrade, Dancepack

6. Haim-Days Are Gone
At first I was very dismissive of Haim because of all the hype. I didn't quite get why they were getting so much attention. Do I think they're truly something spectacular? No. Are they fun and catchy and very well-written pop music? Sure they are. I just enjoy listening to their music, plain and simple.

Favorite Tracks: Forever, My Song 5, Don't Save Me

7. Laura Marling-Once I Was An Eagle
Laura Marling has always sounded beyond her years. She's always been such a mature song-writer. However, I think Once I Was An Eagle is her best record; her music is still mature, still well-written but this collection of songs was dark and elegant and just plain beautiful.

Favorite Tracks: I Was an Eagle, You Know, Breathe

8. Baths-Obsidian 
This record is a dark one too. But dark in an unsettling way; Baths isn't someone with whom I'd want to be alone in a room after listening to this album. It's still a perfect mix of electronics and emotions (something I feel is missing in electronic-oriented music).

Favorite Tracks: No Eyes, Incompatible, Worsening

9. Austra-Olympia
I described this record as a "dancier" Beach House. (I suppose "dancier" isn't a word but you get my drift.)

Favorite Tracks: Home, Fire, Forgive Me

10. Tegan and Sara-Heartthrob
A return to form for a duo that means a whole lot to me. I love their poppier sound, and I hope they expand on it.

Favorite Tracks: Closer, Now I'm All Messed Up, How Come You Don't Want Me Now

Honorable Mentions:
James Blake-Retrograde
Jim James-Regions of Light and Sound of God
Majical Cloudz-Impersonator
Chvrches-The Bones of What You Believe

Two Artists Who Deserve to Be Mentioned in My Recap of 2013:

1. Frank Turner
The only artist I binged on in 2013, other than Frightened Rabbit, was Frank Turner. Yeah, I liked Tape Deck Heart alright but not enough to put it in my top ten, unfortunately. It doesn't matter because I grew to adore Frank and his music. He gets compared to Frabbits a lot (which is how I came to find him, I believe) and while I get it, I don't necessarily agree. He reminds me more of Flogging Molly/The Pogues/The Frames but it doesn't matter, he is awesome. A great songwriter and a great, great performer. I've never seen someone with such strong stage presence. Honestly, he makes you feel like you're in his living room.

2. Ellie Goulding
Am I supposed to consider her a guilty pleasure? Screw that. Ellie makes fun, catchy pop music that isn't dumb. She always makes me want to dance. Plus she seems completely likeable and can actually perform.

Records I Found Disappointing:
Josh Ritter-The Beast In Its Tracks (so boring!)
The National-Trouble Will Find Me (look, I liked enough of it but it's definitely their weakest record)
Bell x1-Chop Chop ("A Thousand Little Downers," or what the hell has become of Bell x1?)
Cloud Cult-Love (I liked this record but after Light Chasers, this is a complete disappointment)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I'm struggling, and I'm stumbling, I need you in my heart

I missed this one on my Favorite Songs of 2013 (because I only heard it for the first time on 12/30!) but I cannot stop listening to this. The Districts were the best opening act I saw in 2013 and I have a feeling they are going to be big.