One of my favourite things about being alive is music festivals. Those crazy, sacred places where you get a sense of a different kind of world void of normal society’s rules, and where you know that all the glow-sticked, muddy-footed fellow revellers are there for a common purpose: for the love of music and fun. At festivals, the new norms include smiling and saying hi when you make eye contact with someone, and if this happens during a show, you have to have a mini boogie together. And if you’re me, you whip out your stash of glitter and shiny stars to stick on friends you make while waiting in line for the loo. The first ever Eaux Claires fest in Eau Claire, Wisconsin was one of my favourites of all time, maybe because there was something extra special about all of us taking a chance on an inaugural affair, or perhaps because most of the acts hadn’t been featured on the big festival circuit like Coachella and Bonnaroo. It was like one big campout with 22, 000 of your mates who are mates with all the coolest bands. And that may be what I liked the most – the chance to hear good music live and fall in love with something new. It’s hard to narrow down the highest highlights after two days filled with jam after jam, but these are the ones that will forever be imprinted in my festival heart.
Today, I thought about living in the age of album leaks and what an unnecessarily destructive act of vandalism it is – Bjork’s album was released yesterday instead of sometime in March because of internet bean spillers, and Madonna had to do the same a few weeks ago. As a fan of music, I don’t understand why anyone would want to take the joy out anticipation and release-date countdowns, and why you wouldn’t want to respect that the artist wants to share their work only once they feel it’s completely ready? Album leaking is like breaking into a photographer’s dark room and publishing all the undeveloped images (I know this example probably isn’t the best in the digital age), and should be treated like a crime. I also want to know who the actual leakers are – is it someone on the inside with a specific agenda or an individual with so much loathing that they want to take the simple joys out of life for everybody else? Somebody help me understand!!
Rant over. Now I’d like to turn the attention to my Musical Cupcakes – delicious ear treats that are like rainbows on a cloudy day:
First, one of my favourite acts of 2014 remixed a track on the debut album of one of my other favourite acts of 2014. (That’s Wye Oak and Sylvan Esso respectively).
I rediscoverd this sing-out-loud (not a) guilty pleasure by Daniel Bedingfield circa 2009. The song does get many cool points though because the track was produced by Mark Ronson, one of the actual coolest people on the planet.
I’m fairly new to the music of Rubblebucket, and this KEXP performance made me officially fall in love, mainly because of all the brass bedazzled tunes. Also, as anyone knows, I’m a sucker for female led bands, and Kalmia Traver is extra awesome because she has an awesome voice, a tambourine strapped to her shoe and a history of kicking cancer’s ass.
Ok, so before this year gets steamrolling with music I really love (I’m already smitten with an EP of dance tracks that samples space sounds recorded by NASA and an upcoming album by a band whose oldest member is only 16 (!)) I must share the tracks I loved in 2014. The year can be summed up as a musical dream come true, mainly because La Roux finally released an album after FIVE YEARS of luminous electro-poplessness and I could once again dote on her fabulous falsetto. And then,to add to the dream, I got to see her perform live: she was amazing and cool and she danced and played guitar and threw a sweat towel into the audience.
So this playlist obviously includes my Queen of Pop (La Roux’s pop perfection is a whole ‘nother post) and many ditties that are contenders to be my personal Song of the Year. Ultimately, I’d have to give that title to ‘Hey Mami’ by Sylvan Esso, because even though I’ve listened to it an abusive number of times, the tune actually still physically gets me every time Amelia Meath starts singing and the electronics drop a few seconds later. Plus, ‘Hey Mami’ is a bit of a feminist anthem calling out cat calling, and there’s nothing I like more than a good jam with a good point.
As for Album of the Year, I want to say Chet Faker’s Built on Glass for it’s albuminess (take that The Album is Dead theorists!). The collection of tracks works best when listened to as a whole, and though there are single songs, like ‘Talk is Cheap’, that could be played on their own all day, most are best in the context of the thoughtful 51 minutes. Chet Faker also appears twice in this playlist because ‘Lesson in Patience’ is just the perfect track to wind down a party or listening session, and my favourite thing about it is that the song is so named because Faker doubts his sax playing skills (for no reason!).
So here’s my 2014 in a nutshell.The best thing about the beginning of a new year is the thought of all the music that is going to embellish the seasons, and the thought of a soundtrack to remind you of those that have been.