2014 – Year in Review

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Hello folks,

and welcome to my good old fashioned year in review, 2014 edition! So grab a select beer or favourite cognac and join me in celebration for the end of a great year and the beginning of a new one. As I’m writing this thing I’m getting ready for a New Years celebration of my own, and I’ve started my drinking a little early (so if my sentences don’t quite make sense or I’m rambling more than usual just stop me). I find if I slowly roll into my drink count instead of plummeting into a desperate sprint around 11:00, I’m a little more socially tolerable. I’ve picked up the Mill St. Seasonal Sampler and I am hyped. I was drinking the new 100th Meridian from Mill St. last weekend and it was amazing. It’s an amber ale (which I love) with the Mill St. signature organic flavour. It’s probably my new favourite beer. But the sampler has traditional Organic, Tankhouse, and three other selections that I’m stoked to try out.

Hell, I think I’m going to have to start a beer blog… or do what I usually do and forget to post altogether but have high hopes of making a new segment on this here blog. Ah well, New Years Resolution anyone? If anyone has read my ramblings in the past you know I hate… hate, New Years resolutions. But I was listening to Indie 88 on the way to grab beer and, I think it was Matt talking about average attainable resolutions, which I thought was hilarious. He mentioned that he’s never been to Swiss Chalet so that was his resolution to eat there. I think my average attainable resolution will be that if I ever see a penny on the ground I have to stick it my shoe, so I’ll have good luck all day through. That will guarantee a great 2015.

Coming up with New Years plan is always a huge chore. There are a thousand options, and most of them quite frankly will suck, we all know this; Don’t kid yourself. But alas we ask our friends and family, “what are you doin’ for New Years” and we weigh the options and choose the best plan. This year I’m going bowling with the family and hopefully finding an after party not family related for the remainder of the evening.

Okay, on to the topic of the evening, music!
This year has been huge for music, as it always is. But for me especially with the discovery of Spotify my music listening and collection has gone through the roof. With the ability to grab any record as soon as it gets released, generate a playlist and shoot it over to my smart-phone to listen on the go; we as music listeners could not be more stoked. Now, I’m not too invested in how Spotify treats developers and musicians but as a consumer it’s a god sent service.

My favourite record of 2014 was from this band called Alvvays. They’re from Toronto and they embody this perfect blend of surf-rock and modern indie. Surf-rock and indie are my jams. It’s easy to listen to, it’s fun and it doesn’t take itself seriously. That is me allover. Lyrics are never my thing. I love certain lines in songs that mean something to me, but I don’t really care what the musicians intended. That’s their business. If I wrote songs it would be for me, and I wouldn’t care if people understood them or not, I would just want them to like the song. I alvvays catch these little snippets (see what I did there?) of lyrics from their songs, like the intro of Adult Diversion “How do I get close to you, even if you don’t notice as I admire you on the subway” and it just warms me up. I’m a pretty quiet passive dude and that’s totally something I would do. Admire someone and just be too scared to say anything about it. It just reminds me that we all always have growing to do, no matter how old we are.

Anyway that’s my pick for favourite record and you can see my list of 20 albums that I loved this year below. I usually make a playlist on 8Track but, I think I’ll just post my spotify playlist and maybe that’ll force you to download the service… do. it. now.

Alright, thanks everyone and have a killer New Years!
Later.

Favourite Records of 2014:

  1. Alvvays: Self Titled
  2. Rural Alberta Advantage: Mended With Gold
  3. Hey Rosetta!: Second Sight
  4. Shakey Graves: And The War Came
  5. Mimicking Birds: Eons
  6. Real Estate: Atlas
  7. The War On Drugs: Lost in the Dream
  8. Generationals: Alix
  9. Bleachers: Strange Desire
  10. Allah-Las: Worship The Sun
  1. MacDemarco: Salad Days
  2. The New Pornographers: Brill Bruisers
  3. Jungle: Self Titled
  4. Yellow Ostrich: Cosmos
  5. Temples: Sun Structures
  6. Andrew Bird: Things Are Really Great Here, Sort of…
  7. Angus and Julia Stone: Self Titled
  8. Bahamas: Bahamas is Alfie
  9. Manchester Orchestra
  10. Sylvan Esso: Self Titled

Favourite Tracks of 2014

  1. Black Keys: Gotta Get Away
  2. Alvvays: Marry Me Archie
  3. Bleachers: Rollercoaster
  4. Shakey Graves: Dearly Departed
  5. Mark Ronson: Uptown Funk

 

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April 1st – Mac Demarco, Cloud Nothings releases

Whew, that was a lot of class updates. Haven’t been on here in a while so I figured I would share a few things I’ve been working on! At some point I’ll have to start developing a portfolio and fully document these things… but I’ll save that for when I actually want to engage in the professional world. For now I’m content just sitting here and minding my own business. I tend to be in the blogging mood just after Religion class; gets my philosophical mojo going.

So there are about three weeks left of class and man, what a year it’s been. I really hope I’ll make it through these next few weeks but I’ve been working pretty hard lately – especially in comparison to the first part of my year in Interaction Design… #slack – so I think I’ll be just fine. I have three more years to work on my anti-slacking skills anyway.

Hopefully I’ll be posting on here a little more since my stress level has all but depleted. I have a few more assignments like actually coding that app design I’ve been working on, but I’m feeling much more calm.

Speaking of calm…(nice segway amiright?) today is April the 1st, and for some reason everyone decided to release amazing records today! I’m talkin, Mac Demarco, Cloud Nothings, Manchester Orchestra! So much solid listening. I’m trying to think of a good way to share these records with you fine folks… does anyone read WordPress posts anyway?

Serious question here.

I’ll just make a little handy list for starters.

1. Mac Demarco – Salad days

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Vancouver born, New York… raised? Whatever, he lives in New York, he’s Canadian and makes rad records, check it out!

2. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else

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Garage punk-rock with a new emo twist. I akin them towards the likes of Japandroids… but maybe that’s just me. Listen. Love it. Tell me what cha think.

3. Manchester Orchestra – Cope

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Holy crap, been waiting for this record since I listened the crap out of their last one while on over seas journeys. Always great. Never not great. I really hope I don’t have to explain this one. Haven’t fully dove into it yet; because it came out today, but I do not doubt it’s glory. And also Kim and I are seeing them on May 19th! Way hyped.

Those are the three to come out today… all in one day. Simmer down. But there are two others I’ve been super stoked about so I’ll post those as well.

4. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

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Super killer chillwave tunes. Psychedelic vibe with airy vocals. I’ve been hyped on psychedelic tunes like Kurt Vile (former of War on Drugs) and Allah-las recently, so this was a welcomed new album for 2014. Really dig this record; easy listening and really growing away from post Kurt Vile blues.

Not really sure if they had blues, it was just an assumption… because Kurt Vile is rad.

5. Real Estate – Atlas

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Cannot say enough great things about Real Estate but they never disappoint. And I love their record covers. Super simple and really well formatted. I can see the grids.

Obviously I have a trend of chill, airy tunes going here but seriously great records released this year so far. I think I say that about every year. There’s just always something else to look forward to and I like to keep my tunes all in the family. Here is a quick taste of Mac Demarco’s new record but seriously, just go buy it.

If I wasn’t a starving student I would as well. I take cash or cheque…

Part 3. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends

Portugal. The Man, Evil Friends

If you want a seriously great album to listen to right now, check out Portugal. The Man’s latest record Evil Friends which was released June 4.  I have been listening to these dudes since The Majestic Majesty in 2009 and I’ve seen them play at Osheaga last year, and this is my favourite record of theirs so far.  It was produced by Danger Mouse and it is such a wholesome record.  I am a huge fan of continuity and the idea of a concept album and Evil Friends delivers.

They still have their velvety vocals with all the echo and reverberation you might come to expect but with a new cohesion of one track to the next really creates the whole package that I appreciate, and especially eight albums into their catalog.  If you haven’t listened to Portugal. The Man before they have a sort of psychedelic pop sound.

I’ve said it before but I really love a track that bleeds through into the next, because I feel like that gives the record a sense of thought; like the lifespan of their music was taken into account, and the it was thought of as a whole instead of just one single after the other.  The beauty of this record is that each track can be individual but it works best all together.

At the end of the record they put this slow climb song Smile where they tie in the first track of the album Plastic Soldiers.   “Plastic soldiers slowly growing older.”  In Smile they portray a global awareness, talking about issues and that’s reflected in their lyrics.  I love the direction they took the album and the ties that helped sew it all together.

“I don’t need to talk about the world alright; I just wanna sleep with a Smile tonight. I don’t wanna talk about the hungry people, people down and out, sleep when the sun goes down.”

In Creep in a T-Shirt they tie in the lyrics from the song after it.  “It’s not because the light here, is brighter and it’s not that I’m evil I just don’t like to pretend.”  We don’t even know that that’s going to happen until we hear the next track but it just adds this unity.

It feels like a collective piece of art instead of just another record on the shelf, which is why I highly recommend Evil Friends.

As an added side, I have decided to include an album to avoid! I recently chose to return to a few albums that I  thought I did not give enough chance.  The Strokes‘ Comedown Machine, Phoenix’s Bankrupt! and Born Ruffians‘ Birthmarks.  I listened to all three albums a few times and I have decided that The Strokes’ and Phoenix’s are actually pretty sick once you get used to them.  BUT Born Ruffians’ sucks out loud.  It is still terrible.  If there is one album I think you should avoid, it’s Birthmarks.  It is way overproduced in the worst way possible.  All the rawness of Born Ruffians is replaced with crap hooks and an empty pallet.  I really really don’t like it, and that is partially due to the fact that I loved their last two records.  Especially Red, Yellow and Blue.  They will always have a place in my heart… but Birthmarks can cease to exist.

All of Portugal. The Man’s new record is streaming on Soundcloud so I featured it below.  You’re welcome.

Part 2. Locke and Key

Okay, so I was in Toronto a couple days ago and I went to the Silver Snail — the big comic book store down there! It’s sweet, but a) I can never find what I want quickly, and b) they are always sold out of stuff that I want! … I still love you Silver Snail — and I picked up the first volume of Locke and Key! Oh man, this is such a  great series.

If you follow comics at all you will most likely know about this series, and if you haven’t GET ON IT. It’s a horror/supernatural comic by writer Joe Hill — son of Steven and Tabitha King, and writer of Heart Shaped Box — and it’s gritty, and graphic and awesome! I don’t want to give anything away, but lets just say… keys are involved.  Read it. Love it. And if you’ve already read it, DON”T SPOIL ANYTHING FOR ME… Please.

Joe Hill does a great job of presenting his literary chops with great transitions between concepts and panels that gives the comic the suspense that makes it unsettlingly uncomfortable to find out where the Locke family is headed next.

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The characters that are the focus of the story are all kids, which plays into the theme of imagination and youth holding the keys for future change.  Pun intended.  Only the kids can see use the keys — as far as I know anyway — and once you get too old you forget about the power they hold.

I was really impressed with what Joe Hill accomplishes with the supernatural comic medium and am stoked to read the rest.

I think they are on the last volume of the series and then it’s finished.  I have heard that they might be making a movie adaptation though?  Anyway, good stuff.  Give it a read.