2014 – Year in Review

Alvvays_-_Alvvays

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

 

Favourite Albums of 2013, etc.

Here we go!

Alright so this has been an insane year for tunes. Huge bands making even larger records.  Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys… actually we’re missing a Black Keys record this year.  That’ll come next year for sure.  The National and Vampire Weekend! and a slew of new talent.

Whew! I know what you’re thinking.  You’re sitting there in your comfy chair, surfing the web and asking yourself, “where do I even start?” Well, I’m here to help.  Here are my top twenty records of 2013, with a few extra categories thrown in to give some variety to the mix.  I hope you agree with at least a few bands and support them by checking out a show when they swing by or even picking up the record at your local distributor!

Cheers!

Trouble Will Find Me

The National – Trouble Will Find Me

1. The National – Trouble Will Find Me 

2. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

3. Generationals – Heza

4. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends

5. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse 

6. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

7. The Front BottomsTalon of the Hawk  

Reflektor

Arcade Fire – Reflektor

8. Youth LagoonWonderous Bughouse

9. Cage the Elephant – Melophobia

10. Yuck – Glow & Behold

11. Arctic Monkeys – AM

12. Beach FossilsClash The Truth

13. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt 

 14. Smith WesternsSoft Will

Heza

Generationals – Heza

15. Wavves – Afraid of Heights

16. Surfer BloodPythons

17. The Head and the HeartLet’s Be Still

18. Jake Bugg – Shangri La

19. The Dodos – Carrier

20. Dinosaur Bones – Shaky Dream

 

Favourite Record Not Released in 2013

Evil Friends

Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends

Saint Motel – Voyeur

Late Entry:

Hebronix – Unreal

Best Canadian Record:

Royal Canoe – Today We’re Believers

Best Track:

Varsity – Smith Westerns

Honourable Mentions:

Pedestrian Verse

Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

Foals – Holy Fire

Dr. Dog – B-Room

July Talk – Self Titled

DIIV – Oshin

Sigur Ros – Valtari

8track playlist coming soon…

Tune Recomendation Diiv – Doused – Oshin

So I know I just posted about The Front Bottoms, so I should probably recommend their stuff, which I do, but as I said bellow, I’m a little burnt out and wanted to recommend something that I just check out today.  It’s a band called DIIV and the album is called Oshin, I don’t know anything about this band… but they have great weekend hangover tunes.  Giver a listen.

  • Diiv (dirlmusic.wordpress.com)

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.

Locke and Key Locke and Key 2

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.

Band/album Rec’ of the Day – The Cave Singers – Naomi

Hey there!

I don’t have too much time to write a post today, but I wanted to put something down.  I’ve been creating a folk playlist all morning and I’ve found a few new records from some great bands, and one of them was The Caver Singers, making them my Band of the Day.  I can’t find out exactly when they realsed the latest record titled Naomi, but it was definitely this year.  They signed to Jagjaguwar records for their last record No Witch (same label as Bon Iver, Dinosaur Jr, Julie Doiron, and other great artists.

They are coming through Toronto on June 17th, which happens to be the same day the Japandroids are coming, so I’m going to have a hard choice to make.  I’m leaning more towards Cave Singers at this point, because they’re playing at the Horseshoe… and I love the horseshoe.

I had a chance to see these guys play in Bristol, England, about two years ago and I had to pass up the opportunity  so it would be wicked to actually see them play.

They have a great raw folk sound, with all the twang and raspy vocals you could ever want.
So check them out, you wont be dissapointed.