Another Blog Falls Victim To The Hype Machine: I Made A Year End List
The last thing I wrote here was a letter to the Music Internet. I wanted to turn it off. But who am I kidding? I couldn’t look away. It’s easy to preach Don’t Believe The Hype but it’s harder to ignore it.
It’s been quite a year for me. I quit my job at Sirius XM, moved to New York and started an MFA program. Along the way I’ve realized a lot about life, people, family, the human condition and subcultures that aren’t my own. And for the first time in a long time, years, I lost my interest in The Great Hustle and new music. (Hey, it was only for a few months. Clearly, I’m back.) It was weird and still is. But now as I look back on the year in releases and the records I put on my Year End List back in August, I think about what a good year it was for music. Also, I can’t say no to Year End List season.
I spent a lot of time this year listening to hip hop. It is, after all, The Year Of Yeezus. Yeezus is a record I can only listen to all the way through. (But sometimes I do skip right to “Send It Up” because if I had to pick a favorite track, that would be it.) I remember watching SNL and thinking, this record is going to be great. And it is. It always will be. Last month I passed up the ($70) chance to see the Yeezus tour in NYC and I still regret not going every second of every hour of every day. But then I think about my complicated relationship with hip hop (that may or may not be turning into my thesis – which you can read about here and here) and I feel better off. And even though I missed out on it, I’m satisfied just hearing about others experiencing said spectacle. You can read my review of Yeezus here. (Also, recently Kanye said his next record is going to be his “Born In The U.S.A.” Despite my hate for Bruce, I can’t wait to find out what that means.)
So, considering how much I love – and everyone else loves – Yeezus (perhaps an unmeasurable amount), this next sentence isn’t even hard for me to write. Chance The Rapper made my favorite record of the year. I found Acid Rap through my, I can’t lie/you already know, favorite music site, Noisey Music. Then it was my hip hop spirit mother, Briana, who threatened me if I didn’t stop what I was doing and listen to Acid Rap. I remember walking down Florida Ave into the deep Northeast of Washington, DC listening to it for the first time. Every track blew my mind, one after another. I had no idea hip hop could sound this way, that it could sound this good. I can sing along to every lyric on this record. I love it more than life itself. If you can imagine, sometimes I got sick of it, but distance only makes the heart grow fonder. On Halloween I had the privilege of seeing him on the Lower West Side. I can say that the Social Experiment Tour is one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. I could spend the next 1000 words talking about Chance The Rapper and Acid Rap but instead you should go download it here if you haven’t heard it (my god, what I would give to hear it again for the first time) and read my Live Blog of #10Day, his previous release. (And also, his recent collab with James Blake, who is definitely MEH City, is excellent.)
Last year I was so bored in my cube space that I decided I would write something different every day about a different artist. (You can find all of that here.) But you aren’t that lucky this year. Instead you got to experience some weird times I’ve been through.
Like that time I decided to Live Blog Born To Run as I listened to it for the first time ever.
Or when I read ‘Mo Meta Blues: The World According to ?uestlove (and stupidly didn’t write a review of it) and started listening to Prince for the first time ever. I Live Blogged Prince and Purple Rain. Then the back-listening continued and I wrote about Stankonia and The Chronic. (Reader’s note: if you need a last minute gift for anyone buy them ?ustlove’s book because it is incredible.)
I bitched about Haim a lot this year, especially when that single of theirs “The Wire” was all over Sirius XMU. It sounds so much like The Eagles, I just want to hate them and look away but then their record came out and I COULDN’T. Their record is excellent and I cannot wait for more Haim. So, pretty much how everyone else feels about them. Highlight: “My Song 5.” Also, this live cover of Sheryl Crow kills.
I wrote this review after seeing Titus Andronicus live for the first time at The Black Cat in DC and got in a twitter fight with Patrick Stickles. We came out friends, so don’t worry about it. And if I can find it/ever figure out how to get to those pages that threads an entire twitter conversation, I will post it here. I love everything about Titus Andronicus. I love this too-long, self-indulgent (because DUH) review Stickles wrote for SPIN after seeing The Replacements live. 9,000 words is impressive not because it’s readable but because SPIN published it in the first place. Apparently, next year they’re releasing a rock opera Stickles wrote/is writing and it’s going to be a great time for America.
I got my nerd on because of Devon Powers‘ Writing The Record – which can be flowery and intimidating, because she’s so smart and well researched – but anyone who enjoys music on any level needs to read this book. She explores the history of rock criticism and The Village Voice.
Philly.com let me publish a piece about how dumb Jay Z’s record and its release was. I don’t like Jay Z for a number of reasons (yes, I know that’s hip hop sacrilege, but different strokes, people) and the MCHG nonsense sealed the deal.
So while you’re back-reading my site from this year, because let’s face it, it’s been a good year here at hippiesandhipsters, you can also listen to some of my other favorite records too.
I love everything about Milk Music. They’re an Olympia, WA band that’s been mostly, self-releasing their music – until now. Fat Possum put out Cruise Your Illusion this year and it is so fucking heavy. It reminds me why loose bass strings are my boyfriend.
And speaking of heavy, loose bass strings, it’s weird to me that the few Year End Lists that have come out so far haven’t included Savages’ Silence Yourself. Which is the dumbest thing ever because that record is major. Even though in the beginning I hated it a lot. I couldn’t get over Jenny Beth’s voice and how much it sounded like Geddy Lee’s voice – which is now a ridiculous thought, let alone comparison. I didn’t write about it, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t spend time losing my hearing to this record. Plus, the cover photograph might be my favorite album cover of the year.
Ty Segall’s Sleeper is so good, the only thing I can tell you to do is listen to it. Because he is a genius/acoustic genius/thank god for Ty Segall.
Yesterday I spent most of the day listening to Vampire Weekend. Modern Vampires Of The City is great. It’s about growing up, New York City, money, ideas ….I don’t need to tell you any of this because you already know. I hope Ezra and the boys win the Grammy (even though Grammys are dumb.)
Before I go any further/my apologies this didn’t come up sooner, I’d like to say: DORIS. When I wrote about Earl Sweatshirt’s debut, I ended with a question wondering who Doris is. But now I know: it’s his grandma. Consider my idiocy on the matter retracted. I love everything about Earl. And that being said, I super love Tyler, The Creator’s Wolf because he is a genius producer and knows how to write a narrative unlike any other. (If you haven’t read Nosiey’s Conspiracy Theorists’ Guide on his artistic output, stop reading this and go read that.) I love everything about OFWGKTA. (ALSO, if you have heard the OFWGKTA 2010 output Radical you’re doing yourself a disservice.) “Sunday” on Doris featuring Frank Ocean might be my favorite track, even though the piano hook on “Chum” is unavoidable. But I don’t want to have to choose, so DORIS.
I also spent a lot of time this year listening to Watching Movies With The Sound Off. I didn’t know Mac Miller before this release. And because I’m a sheep and trust pretty much anything Drew Millard and the crew over at Noisey tells me, I tuned in. I first heard it late at night, so if you’re listening for the first time, I recommend to listen to it at night for the first time. I don’t know why, it just works. But once it gets stuck in your head, you can listen to it at any time of day because its long, full of different timbres, has great production and features Earl Sweatshirt, Action Bronson, Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q, etc. Miller does that cool thing where he speeds up his voice for his alter ego, Delusional Thomas. (He also released an entire mixtape of it, stream it here) the same way Tyler slows his down (who is also on WMWTSO.)
Are you sick of me yet? Because I’m almost done.
Other records released this year I cannot live my life without/superb records you should listen to if you haven’t already:
Waxahatchee’s Cerulean Salt, a Joni Mitchell meets Liz Phair type. EXCELLENT live.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s II – I saw them live and they kill/put you in a trance. I can’t stop listening to this record.
King Krule – 6 Feet Below The Moon. It took me some time to like this record. The King, Sasha Frere-Jones sold me on Archy Marshall, the 19 year old English kid behind King Krule. “A Lizard State” is one of my favorite songs of the year.
Fuzz s/t – if you like Zeppelin, s/t Black Sabbath. Ty Segall plays drums on this record and his genius gets all over you.
Man Man’s On Oni Pond
Wavves’ Afraid Of Heights. I love surf rock and you should too.
Danny Brown’s Old
Disclosure’s Settle, “When A Fire Starts To Burn” is all you need.
Kurt Vile (HEYO, Philadelphia!)’s Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze
Arcade Fire’s Reflektor
Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, ‘nuff said.
The Strokes – Comedown Machine and that time I wrote a personal history about The Strokes. (For some weird reason, that is the most read thing on this blog in its three year history.)
Elvis Costello and The Roots – Wise Up Ghost
Action Bronson & Party Supplies – Blue Chips 2. This man knows how to make a mixtape. Download it for free here.
Starfucker – Miracle Mile
The Stepkids – Troubadour. This record is really diverse. Its basically a sonic grab-bag. You can stream it here.
I didn’t really dig Dr. Dog’s newest, B-Room, but I did write about my obsessive personal history I have with that band.
So, 1800+ words later, there we have it. I spent all morning on this, so now I’m going to go listen to records all day (probably Haim first, because god dammit, Sarah), stare at the snow, not leave my apartment and work on my New Years Resolutions. And even though I hate Beyonce, shout out to her marketing team for their efforts on keeping the record quiet. 2013 has been real. Next year we get new Cloud Nothings (!!), Grimes (I think?), Titus Andronicus, St. Vincent (that new track has me excited even though I didn’t really care for Strange Mercy, I know, I know) and maybe even that Kanye “Born In The U.S.A.” record or whatever. Cheers and Happy New Years.
I’ll leave you with this, the funniest shit ever.
Ps, have you started your blog yet?