2013 had some incredible bright spots for me. I was able to find new music from new artists and relived some classics. My first obsession of 2013 was actually Tears for Fears of all things. One morning I woke up singing a melody that I could not shake. The only words that came to mind were “head over heals” which didn’t really seem to make sense to me. I wasn’t sure where that had come from. I googled the lyrics and quickly found that not only was I right but the band was Tears for Fears. Around 2004 Tears for Fears put out a new album and it was generally well received. I thought that it was time to give the band a shot and delve deeper into their catalog. Bit by bit I started sampling different songs from their greatest hits album Shout: The Very best of Tears for Fears. I soon found that I enjoyed almost every song equally on the disk.
I consider myself a Radiohead/Thom Yorke fan so I purchased Amok by Atoms for Peace. It took me a while to get into and I never really took to the album like I thought I would. It was a dud, but not a total waste. The real problem for me was that I received an advance copy of Random Access Memories to write for the Fiddleback. I quickly dropped Amok and began to swoon over Daft Punk. The song that really stood out to me was the track Doing it Right Featuring Panda Bear of Animal Collective.
I decided that since I heard so much about Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective, I needed to give it a try. At first all my brain could take in was scarce fragments of songs drowned in blender of noise. I couldn’t find anything to grasp on to… except for this fragment of a lyrics” I don’t want to seem like I care about material things”. I thought it was an insightful lyric and something that I could identify with. It took several weeks but I eventually that the entire album was a pure delight. It quickly and quietly supplanted my addiction to Daft Punk.
And then… and then… I got into country music. I think I was nostalgic for an earlier time from my life. I picked up Loretta Lynn’s greatest hits, The Judds greatest hits, Randy Travis and a new band called “The Civil Wars”. I wasn’t going to let my musical prejudices keep me from enjoying new music. I did catch a performance by The Civil Wars when they did a tribute to the Beach Boys. I thought they had a great sound and I thought it would be worth looking into at some future point. I was also poised to write a review of the band for the Fiddleback but that never really panned out. It took some time for me to adjust my expectations of the album to the reality of what I heard. I believe I was expecting something similar to the Fleet Foxes. Instead the first track really gave the impression that it was going to be a full blown modern country album. It was jarring and somewhat disappointing. It didn’t take long before my prejudices slipped away and I began to fully enjoy the album. There’s a lot of solid tracks on the record, but perhaps the most beautiful is the French laden http://youtu.be/9hkhrmmlDeI.
After picking up a stack of records I then delved into the world of Dwight Yoakam. Easing in with the Live Greatest hits album and then taking the dive with This Time.
I’d been listening to album reviews via theneedledrop.com for a good six months when Anthony did a video cross over with Joel from The Daily Guru. I found Joel’s frank attitude about rock music to be refreshing and decided to subscribe to his youtube channel. Joel had listed the new Pearl Jam album as a definite buy. I’ve been a big Pearl Jam fan in the past but have found myself pulling away from certain bands (i.e. Smashing Pumpkins, Moby, Stone Temple Pilots). In theory I love what these guys can do but after a while I just don’t care. I have sense decided that if I’m infrequently putting an artist into current rotation it might be a safe bet that the band does little for me. Pearl Jam’s last album Backspacer just didn’t hold my attention and the album before that suffered the same fate. While Lightning Bolt is quite possibly Pearl Jam’s best album in ten years I can’t seem to work up any enthusiasm for the group. As I mentioned earlier this isn’t a singular occurrence. It’s easy to dismiss Moby and Stone Temple Pilots because they’ve always been one trick ponies. I did however come to the heavy realization that a band I’ve followed with intensity for more than half my life no longer made me excited. That band is the Smashing Pumpkins. It became clear to me that when I bought their live compilation album I was simply buying out of habit and not for the love of the band. Now when someone asks “Who’s your favorite band?” I can’t give an answer. The Pumpkins still have a big place in my heart but that coveted #1 position is now vacant. It’s a debate on what might fill that whole. I do believe that the Beach Boys, Fleet Foxes, and Daft Punk are all solid contenders.
Then for some reason some of the old standbys seemed critically important to listen to again. I put on Pink Floyd’s The Wall and found myself heavily addicted. I dug out all my cds and vinyl and spun nothing but Pink Floyd for 2 weeks.
A friend invited me to his house to listen to some old Paul McCartney solo albums. Amongst them was McCartney II. I’d never ventured too far into McCartney’s solo catalog simply because he did create a lot of unnecessary rubbish. While McCartney II is no masterpiece it did have one song that immediately captured my attention. As soon as the synthesizer loop began my brain started to feel an overwhelming sense of familiarity. I could scarcely comprehend that I was listening to both a Paul McCartney song and a techno song at the same time. I knew I heard it before but completely out of context. It was Temporary Secretary and I made it my quest to find a copy. I did and do still love every minute of it’s insanity.
Towards the end of the year everyone began to make their year end lists. On the top of many was album called Modern Vampires of the City. On a whim I bought both the first Vampire Weekend and Phoenix’s breakout album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. My wife and I loved the Phoneix record but promptly forgot about Vampire Weekend. (It had something do with the F-Bomb being a part of the chorus of a certain catchy song). I was hesitant to buy Modern Vampires of the City but after it received so much attention I thought it might be worth checking out. I bought 3 other cd’s that same night (none of them bad) Arcade Fire’s Funeral and Reflector, as well as Billy Joel and Norah Jone’s Foreverly. I even waited to listen to Vampire Weekend last because I was sure I’d be disappointed with it. As it would turn out, Modern Vampires of the City would go on to be the best of the group and one of my favorite cds of the year.
What was truly unexpected was to find a cover of Animal Collective’s My Girls by the band that began the year. I found it odd that an 80s band that no one has talked about in years would come out of the wood work and cover a great song in such a beautiful way. That of course would be Tears for Fears and that song would be My Girls.
All in all it was a great year for rediscovering the past, letting go of dead weight, and embracing the future. Here’s to a wonderful 2014.