Wednesday, December 18, 2013
With the close of another year, it’s that time once again to reflect on accomplishments, areas of improvement and generally - things that were most enjoyable. For me, I set off last January with a handful of goals in mind...some were realized, others will rollover to next year. But for the purposes of this here 2013 wrap up, I’m going to focus on two of them.
Running a full marathon has been at the top of my bucketlist for quite some time and I’m happy to report that I accomplished said feat soon after the new year.
Secondly, I wanted to further develop the level of my other physical pursuit...surfing. And, I’m also quite satisfied with my results following a regimented - couple sessions a week - schedule.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself - why the hell do you bring this up in a year end best of tunes list? Well, I’ll tell you.
Music (playing, listening, watching, writing, etc.) takes up a vast amount of time in my life. Additionally, running and surfing also take up a lot of my time... And, though not overtly musical by nature - both activities are enhanced by all that I listen to (while not actually listening).
How does that work?
First, a little background…
I’m one of those old school runners - no iPod, no earbuds, no pump-up playlists. Just the road and my thoughts. I use it as a time to clear my head and ponder what’s going on. Surfing of course, doesn’t offer much by way of water friendly electronic devices. Waves, sea beasts and sun...a total communion with nature (and, I hope it stays that way).
However, with that said (and here it comes full circle), I find myself constantly thinking about, humming, whistling, singing and consuming music - aside from the actual listening bit - while occupying my time with both of these activities. Basically, music is an inescapable aspect of my life and proves to inspire and complement all that I take part in, day-to-day. Whether it be crossing the finish line at mile 26.2 with an earworm melody in my head or waiting for a set of waves while whistling a Kurt Vile track...it happens subconsciously, precipitously and without question - heightens the experience.
Apparently I’m not the only one…
Photographer Ansel Adams: “I can look at a fine art photograph and sometimes I can hear music…”
Philosopher Thomas Carlyle: “If you look deep enough you will see music; the heart of nature being everywhere music…”
Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Music causes us to think eloquently…”
Philosopher Plato: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything…”
You get the idea.
Music has the ability to aid any pursuit, no matter what that may be. Painting, writing, cooking, brewing, crafting...you name it.
I can’t think of another art that so freely inspires, while allowing one to accomplish something entirely unrelated.
Anyhow, lest I get carried away talking about trivial things without mentioning that the music this year was pretty damn outstanding. Some big hitters stepped up to the plate and (for the most part) delivered. There were a a couple big surprises, too (see: Vampire Weekend)...hell, even those My Bloody Valentine folks woke up after a 20 some-odd year slumber. They along with Arcade Fire created a communal listening experience that connected people across the world in a manner that just doesn't happen very often these days.
I am completely amazed by the way artists continually push the boundary on methods of connecting with their audience. Interactive videos, purposeful album leaks, NSFW this and that, novel live shows and settings...the list goes on and on.
It’s a ripe time, y’all. Let’s soak it up.
Let me know how music accompanies your day-to-day life and what inspired you this year.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a great start to 2014.
Now, without further ado…here’s the soundtrack that followed me around this year (whether I was listening or not).
Top 10 Songs of 2013
(in order 10 to 1)
Best Albums of 2013
10) Ex Cops - True Hallucinations
9) Bill Callahan - Dream River
8) Paul McCartney - New
7) Arcade Fire - Reflektor
6) Ty Segall - Sleeper
5) Arctic Monkeys - AM
4) Phosphorescent - Muchacho
3) Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze
2) The National - Trouble Will Find Me
1) Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
Local Natives - Hummingbird
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II
Phoenix - Bankrupt!
Hanni El Khatib - Head In the Dirt
Foxygen - We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
Haim - Days Are Gone
Deerhunter - Monomania
Mikal Cronin - MCII
Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold
Darkside - Psychic
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013
Monday, September 30, 2013
Tucked into the dusty environs of Pappy & Harriet's...the Woodsist crew rolled through the desert like a peaceful posse. Pitching camp in the perfect of settings, for a musical lineup that included: Ducktails, White Fence, The Babies, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, The Fresh & Onlys, Woods and Real Estate.
Amongst the performers, Alex Bleeker proved the most dynamic. Pulling from his shiny and happy recent realease, How Far Away, he brought the sun down against the Joshua Tree laden backdrop...inspiring a crowd-wide dance party to a well timed cover of, Walking on Sunshine. But, his duties didn't end there. He showed up for a track with Woods (which was one of the best moments of the evening...more on that below) and then sticking around to wrap up the outdoor portion of the festival with his day job, as bass player for Real Estate. Very talented (and friendly) dude.
San Francisco's The Fresh & Only's set the tone for the moonlit portion of the show with a hooky, straight-ahead performance. Their full and catchy catalogue was an ice-cold PBR to the whiskey chaser of Woods.
The festival's namesake band, Woods - paired so well with the vibe and ambience, that it will go down as one of my personal favorite musical memories. If you are unfamiliar with their campfire brand of jammy folk rock ... start with their album, Bend Beyond. Following a meticulous (and admittedly exhausting soundcheck), the band roared into their set. Weaving Jeremy Earl's signature falsetto with layered reverb, keys, stringy guitar lines and buoyant rhythms - their sneaky melodies rose to the surface and blanketed the audience. From crescendoing, freaky jam-outs to taut sing-alongs...the band honed in on the setting and the setting honed in on the band. In fact, with Alex Bleeker in tow - Woods wrapped things up, asking the dusty landscape of Pioneertown, CCR's age old question - Have You Ever Seen the Rain? A proper segue to the coastal vibes Real Estate would bring to the stage.
Real Estate zigzagged through a set of their signature laidback, breezy tracks. Inspiring the occasional crowd surfer and hands-in-the-air dance party. It felt good and thanks to the friendliest of audiences, it also felt like your friend's backyard party. In fact, it was lead-singer Martin Courtney's birthday...he blew out the candles and the crowd's expectations of how a tight-knit community of artists should perform and commune with an audience.
The whole event was a wonderful celebration that had us drinking every bit of Cali in a Cup.