Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best of 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 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, 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

Honorable Mentions

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

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