Welcome, audiophiles, to a different kind of Wandering than I usually do around here. As we mind down our 2013 we find ourselves in a good time to reflect on what has happened to us over the last year. I have decided to wander back through this year to give you folk a bit of an overview of what this year was for me in terms of the music I listened to. My precise times may be somewhat inaccurate, and I will definitely leave a few things out accidentally. I will also bring to you a little Christmas music on this Christmas day, in the form of Hey Rosetta!’s EP from last year entitled A Cup of Kindness Yet. Without further ado, let’s step back in time to January 2013.
Last Winter is certainly the hardest part of this year to remember, but a few things stick out about that season. The album that really had me listening on repeat early in the year was Tame Impala’s Lonerism. I started listening to that record in December, but with an upcoming concert in Montreal I could not stop listening to it. Shortly after came the release of Jim James’ Regions of Light and Sound of God. I have a bit of a man-crush on Jim James, and this record was just what I needed to start the year. Other than that I honestly don’t remember much of what I was listening to at that time, but I do remember finally coming to terms with Animal Collective as something I could actually listen to. I had been pointed in the direction of Strawberry Jam from a friend of mine, but try as I might I could not access the depth of that record. I decided to catch Animal Collective while they were touring for Centipede Hz (which I am not particularly fond of), which completely turned the band around for me. In the live moment I was fully able to tap into the wall of synthesizers and noise that is Animal Collective. The result was a few weeks of seriously delving into both Strawberry Jam and Merriweather Post Pavilion. Moving on.
Spring primarily means one thing for me: Phish season is coming. With that on my mind, I searched for other things to temporarily distract me from the obsessive desire to see Phish again. At this time I was also taking a course in popular music. This led me to revisit a few of my old loves; Jimi Hendrix (Band of Gypsys), The Band (Music From Big Pink, The Last Waltz), and most importantly, The Beatles (Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, Revolver). This revisiting of The Beatles made them take on a whole new life for me, despite the fact that I have been listening to their albums for as long as I can remember. Additionally, this pop music class made me start really listening to Marvin Gaye, with his work of wonder entitled What’s Going On. I also had the good fortune of seeing Sigur Ros live, which probably ranks as the second best band I have ever seen in concert.There was one other extremely important musical event in late spring. I began writing for this blog. Beginning with the release of Jaron Freeman-Fox’s newest album, I needed to start looking into more indie bands to write about. Up until now, this more than anything has shaped my listening habits of this year. Every week I go searching for a band that receives too little love, which caused some other major albums of the year fall by the wayside, but I have no regrets. This just meant that I had less time to be repeating the same records over and over, and it gave me more time to discover.
I ushered in the summer with my graduation from university, celebrated appropriately by seeing D’Angelo in Montreal. The show was too much fun, and forced me to put Voodoo on with regularity. Next came the full resurgence of my Phish obsession. As it crept up, I saved some time to start listening to tUnE-yArDs, and their masterful album, W H O K I L L. A few new album releases managed to crack through the wall of Phish, including Sigur Ros’ Kveikur and Boards of Canada’s Tomorrow’s Harvest. Then it happened. A three-night Phish run in Saratoga Springs, with an additional one-hitter in Toronto. This return to my Phish stomping grounds of the previous summer cannot truly be put into words. Just like every other time I saw Phish (the count is now at 14 shows), I listened to almost nothing else for several weeks. So wind down the summer I travelled to Guatemala through August. The bands that kept me company though this trip were Phish (duh), Boards of Canada (Tomorrow’s Harvest, Geogaddi), a few Grateful Dead shows, tUnE-yArDs, and a new acquaintance in Nujabes. My Nujabes phase remains ongoing, with Metaphorical Music, Modal Soul, and the Ristorante Mixtape on frequent rotation.
Returning from Guatemala put me in a strange zone. I had taken all of my recent favourites with me across the border, and with ample free time I needed something new to come home to, but I was out of the loop in terms of people’s recommendations and new releases. I listened to some old favourites but struggled to find an album to latch onto. That’s when I checked out Plants and Animals’ second album, La La Land. I love Plants and Animals, but for whatever reason I had only listened to this album once, but this rerun of the album absolutely grabbed me. As that wore down I started digging even deeper into this blog. I began to search more seriously. I started talking to record labels, who started sending me to shows as a so-called “member of the press” and setting me up with interviews. I listened to more submissions sent to the blog, which made me listen to many fresh voices who have not yet had a chance to break the surface yet. I mixed in a few bands into the indie mix, such as Bombay Bicycle Club (A Different Kind of Fix), Modest Mouse (The Lonesome Crowded West, The Moon and Antarctica), and lots more Nujabes. A few new releases also caught my attention with Royal Canoe’s Today We’re Believers, Lucius’ Wildewoman, and Misteur Valaire`s Bellevue. The last few weeks have seen me beginning to listen to a few long neglected artists, such as The National, St. Vincent, and Fiona Apple. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this Fall I started doing something very unique. I have been recording my own music in a very basic home studio. Hopefully in the new year I might have a few things to share with you lovely folk.
OK now I’m sure you people have heard enough from me in this, my most self-indulgent and long-winded blog post yet. To wrap things up I would just like to say thanks to this blog, thanks to Marc for including me, and most of all thanks to you for coming along with us and supporting our work here at The Indie Blender. It has been an incredible year. Get ready for some shenanigans in 2014, because we are not going to be slowing down.
Much Love, Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year to all you wonderful audiophiles out there!