Happy first Friday of the new year! It is a happy day for me - big ass blizzard outside has shut down the city so here I am sitting at home. (I'm not sure why the city is shut down - there is not that much snow down, 10-12 inches - I think it is a new thing, cities, and businesses, shut down quicker, stay shut longer, trying to make sure things are working again before loosing the public on the world. Businesses can get away with it because of technology - people work from home anyway, a bit of snow doesn't have to change anything. 20 years ago - 10 even - you could get 2 feet of snow [over a couple days], and the office stayed open. I don't mean to pass judgment - but it is an under-remarked change...)
Enough of that (for now - I plan to go out in a bit, walk around, take some pictures, maybe post them...) I will spare you another year of snow songs - since this is the first Friday of the new year, and the time for a best of 2013 post.
Which, I am sorry to say, is almost completely pointless. It's been that way for the last couple years - it is odd; I go in cycles of listening to music - this is a down cycle, and it's lasted a while now. I don't know if this year was as bad as last year - I did spend a fair amount of time listening to music for my band of the month posts, and bought quite a bit of music for that (this was a year I ended up buying a lot of things I have on vinyl from iTunes) - I didn't buy much new, though. 17 records, I think it is - but unlike last year, I think I managed to listen to them. Most of them. At least once. I think.
So this isn't anything like a real list or rank or anything else - it's just naming some names - the records I did listen to, some of them quite a bit, that made an impression....
1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away: this one I listened to a lot - not surprising, I suppose, as I have become a passionate fan of Nick Cave lately - of current Nick Cave, too - I got plenty of records by old favorites this year (Richard Thompson; Pere Ubu - those two about as favorite as it gets), records I like well enough, but that aren't really at the top of their body of work. But Cave - for the past 15 years or so - just keeps getting better and better. I didn't love Nick Cave in the 80s, and don't really love 80s Nick Cave even now - but I love 2000s Nick Cave, almost all of it. This is no exception. Great record.
2. Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady: I don't think this made as much an impression as Archandroid, but - still - damn, it's catchy, and clever, smart, writing - likely to hold up as the best thing of the year (along with the Bad Seeds: they are on top of their game.)
3. Grant Hart - The Argument: this is an odd one - based on Paradise Lost - um, okay. It's not bad though - I've listened to it a couple times, the songs come up on shuffle a couple times, and it's really rather cool. And - you know - having someone like Hart come back, make new music, now - makes me very happy.
4. Richard Thompson - Electric: these latter day Richard Thompson records tend to all sound alike to me - they fade into one another - the songs fade into one another... but when you listen to them, you know, somewhere in there, you are going to hear the best guitar playing of the year. With a couple big guitar solos that leave you helpless.
5. Pere Ubu - Lady from Shanghai: an odd record, all electric beeps and burps and David Thomas mumbling in his way... it's not quite vintage Pere Ubu, but it's a fascinating record, as they always are.
And? that's about all I have - there are a couple records here I have to listen to to judge, though I expect I would like them if I gave them the attention they deserve (Sigur Rus; Melvins; Neko Case; My Bloody Valentine) - records I feel guilty about not spending enough time with. Others - Lee Renaldo's record, MBV - I liked enough, though I can't quite say more.
Enough. The truth is, I wallowed in nostalgia this year, when I did listen to music - so... until things change (and I expect it will - my music listening runs in cycles, and there is bound to be an up cycle sooner or later) these kinds of posts will have to be pretty perfunctory. I'll leave you with 5 songs that I made a point of listening to more than once, then some video.
1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - We No Who U R
2. Janelle Monae - Dance Apocalytic
3. Richard Thompson - Good Things Happen to Bad People
4. Grant Hart - The Argument
5. Lee Renaldo & The Dust - Blackt Out
Video - Nick Cave:
Janelle Monae - the hardest working woman in show business: