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
Eagulls 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.
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
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?)
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: