My 2014 in music

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This year was pretty neat. I thought about all the ways I could sum it up, and I started thinking about all the awesome shows I went to this year, and how hard it was to come up with a list of albums I thought were great (it took some digging). AND, I didn’t get around to listening to most records that came out this year.  But I at least know my favorite album(s):

Eagulls – Eagulls
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was a Spotify recommendation, IIRC. Within seconds of the opening track “Nerve Endings,” all the hair on my arms was standing up. They evoke Magazine and Joy Division but in a grittier, more frantic way.  I like this post-punk renassaince — like honest to god post-punk. Not like the super glossy post-punk sounds of Interpol (who had an alright album this year). At the end of the day, maybe Eagulls are just pretenders, but for me, their debut was face melting.



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Runner up: The Fresh & Onlys – House of Spirits
I first hear The Fresh & Onlys at our friend Andrew’s house in Chicago. I dug the album art but dug the band’s sound even more. It was clearly Smiths-inspired, which is how I judge all bands. House of Spirits encompasses different, slightly more diverse sounds, all fuzzily wrapped in a neat package. Opening strong with constant, toe-tapping, driving guitar-and-drum riff on “Home is Where,” it drifts into a soundscape that incorporates garage rock, post-punk & dream pop. But there’s no need trying to define it.


THE REST (Lightly Ranked)
Jeremy Messersmith – Heart Murmurs
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Cheatahs – Cheatahs
Lykke Li – I Never Learn

Beck – Morning Phase
Johnny Marr – Playland
Coldplay – Ghost Stories
Temples – Sun Structures

Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for no Witness
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Drowners – Drowners
Howler – World of Joy


The Year of Shows
GRAMS


Saw so many good shows this year. Probably not as many as I would like. I took a hiatus in the Summer when there were definitely some shows I would’ve loved to see. And I didn’t get to see Eagulls because I was flying back from my honeymoon! Oh well. This year was also especially noteworthy because I didn’t get tickets for many of these shows until the last minute. Arcade Fire was sold out for a long time before Target Center, without much warning, released a bunch of general admission tickets the week before. I secured tickets to Rock the Garden through my sick media hookups; bought tickets for the Paul McCartney on stubhub two days before; got hookups through my DJ employer for Buzzcocks and Peter Hook; Replacements tickets were found the night before through sheer luck on Twitter; and mere hours before Interpol, I checked First Avenue’s twitter which said they had just released limited tickets only to be picked up in person, and I had them within 20 minutes. NETWORKING AND SAVVY, KIDS… I barely used traditional channels for show tickets at all this year, which I feel makes 2014 particularly notable for me, show-wise. (God, was this just needlessly rambling or WHAT?)


Favorite Song
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Tycho – “Awake” (Awake)
I am very late to the Tycho train. BUT, I’ve always wanted his (Scott Hansen) job. Graphic Designer-Turned-Electronic-Recording-Artist. Sweeeeet! That Tycho is also a Graphic Designer makes  a lot of sense because to me this song feels super designed to evoke a strong sense of wonder. When I was atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii in June, being all up on top of the world like that, like a scene out of Star Wars, the atmosphere felt a lot like what a Tycho song was trying to convey. I even thought about sending him some of my photos for his blog. His aesthetic and interests seem to blend the beauty of nature with the cold technical aspects of music and art. The result, Awake, makes me feel like I’m staring deep, deep into the Night Sky.

Just for fun, here’s my 2014 playlist:

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas Eve from our little Flopsy up there. I imagine this moment here is Arya’s least favorite part of any year. She really hates those antlers. Though she’s not as averse as she is to this little Christmas tree hat I got for her. That one didn’t work out so well.
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“Why… Why are you doing this to me?”
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Poor ragamuffin. It’s worth noting that “Christmas Time is Here” from Charlie Brown was playing during all this. Very apropos.

I hope you all have merry holidays, however you wish to celebrate, or not celebrate. We never did get that snowfall, but we’re grateful to have a light and warm house at this time of year, and good friends and family to spend this time with. #BLESSED.

So this is Christmas?

 Image-1Look at it. Miserable. I’m trying not to let this weather get to me. But this Drab December Dreariness might be too much. At the time of writing this, it’s 49 degrees in Minneapolis. Gross! I wrapped some presents while listening to Christmas music and that was sort of working to get me into the spirit but then I looked into the yard and I see brown-green grass and dour gray clouds. Come onnnn Christmas! I’m going to watch David Fincher’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, where Sweden is cold and covered in snow and they do Christmas correctly.  Honestly, it is one of my favorite movies to watch at Christmas. What kind of stuff gets you into the spirit of the season? Or maybe you’re not really into Christmas, in which case, get the hell outta here.

The Frozen Shore

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(Ahem)
When driving back down from Lutsen on Sunday, we stopped off at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. One thing we both agreed on after spending time on the North Coast (as I’m now calling it) that we want to get up there as much as possible in the future. I like the secluded state park in winter. It’s really quiet, except for the sounds of nature.
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Walking through these birches was surreal and weird because it was so quiet and open and bright. Like walking through a nuclear holocaust site.
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We eventually made our way up to the Lighthouse, and by then the sun had disappeared and the quiet structural environment (and *barb-wire fence*) made the whole compound feel like Shutter Island.
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The only photo I got of myself on this trip. Besides this one:
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Well, we tried!
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Standing on the rocky shore sure did remind me a lot of our time in Hawaii, albeit in a totally different climate 6 months later. I like the idea of those sort of being bookends on our marriage so far.  I’ve spent a lot of time with old rocks this year. (Can’t wait to do that round up on the blog. )

Standing on the rocky shore also reminded me of the time Alan and I went to Big Bay State Park on Madeleine Island when we were first dating. We sure have come a long way. Lake Superior has been a kind of totem in our relationship. Let’s not forget that cruise back in September, shall we? We’ve been on this lake in three states. Next up: Canada.

All I Want For Christmas…

…Are these things:
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This is kinda theme-y. Basically every method of listening to music, plus some things to stir my newfound outdoorsiness, a couple statement style pieces.. And a water bottle? To be fair I threw that in as a cheap option.

1. Shoreditch  Boots (size 9, black leather) 2. UrbanEars Headphones (black)  3. Ken Burns’ National Parks  4. Nixon Small Time Teller P  5. Infusion Water Bottle  6. MEElectronics Earbuds (pearl)  7. The Outsiders: The New Outdoor Creativity  and 8. Sangean AM/FM radio (y’know, for both of us).

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