Gush: THE DETROIT PARTY MARCHING BAND do Toronto for New Year’s Eve 2014

What are you doing New Year’s eve? 

Like most, I have a full plate of commitments. I am however most excited to see my friend’s band take over Toronto for the second time this year.

You’ve probably read me gush about them before, but I am super excited to see them play the Opera House on Wednesday night. Secret word is they go around 10pm and are one of the Lemon Bucket Orkestra’s “special guests”.

Check em’ out:

2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014

A three-parter list here. The first is comprised of six albums that have spent enough time with me to deserve my articulated thoughts. The second is a list of albums that I really enjoyed this year that I feel require no explanation. The third is a list of albums that I plan to listen to well into 2015. Slow down 2014, I can’t keep up!

Best Albums of 2014:

Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Angel Olsen won my heart this year. I hopped on this album real fast, beating the Pitchfork buzz and formulating my opinion on my very own. Olsen is a Mid-Western gal with heavy country influences and has an astonishing resume at only twenty-seven years of age touring as a backing singer for Bonnie “Prince” Billy and the Cairo Gang. This album is full of sorrow and pity, but finds humour and greatness in crappy things. Listen to “Hi-Five” if you’re feeling in the dumps, but just want to shrug it off (“Are you lonely too? Hi-five, so am I”). Or beat the winter blues with the lovely album closer “Windows” and it’s bizarre video that I don’t think I’ll ever get.

Andrew Bird – Things Are Pretty Great Here, Sort Of…
2014 is the year I fell in love with Andrew Bird. Bird’s music has always been in my life, but the song “Three White Horses” (a 2012 release) pulled me in with full force. Things Are Pretty Great Here, Sort Of… is a collection of covers from The Handsome Family, a band Bird has both covered and toured with in the past. This album is ode to Bird’s country tendencies and even calls in Hands of Glory bandmate and solo artist Tift Merritt for an extra layer of vocals on most tracks.

Caribou – Our Love
I have to get real here, I haven’t really listened to anything Dan Snaith since 2007’s Andorra. In the Spring, I got my ears on the album’s opening tune “I Can’t Do Without You,” a simple tune with an eloquent build up and subsequent swell, a very Caribou-esq framework. A friend linked me with a leak of the album and I found myself listening to the album’s opening track on repeat, which led to a full listen of the entire album. It’s not really a sound I find myself in love with, but it’s a great listen from start to finish. Welcome back, Snaith!

Tennis – Ritual in Repeat
I bought this CD full price in anticipation for a new album-heavy Toronto set at the Mod Club. My assumptions were correct, nearly the entire October set was comprised of Ritual in Repeat tunes. It seems that with Ritual in Repeat the band has tried to stretch away from the comforts of surf rock. The album pulls its listeners in with hooks from past songs, see: “Needle and a Knife” and its uncanny resemblance to Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” One thing I’ll give to the husband-wife effort is their ability to make fun pop music, see “Night Vision” and “Bad Girls,” two tunes that have made my list of favourite songs of 2014.

Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Are We There is a simple album with predictable song structures, melodies and lyrics. If it were put out by anyone other than Sharon Van Etten, I probably wouldn’t think twice. However Van Etten brings life to even the most dull tunes. Van Etten seems mousey and shy at first glance and sometimes even listen, but live both she and her tunes light up. This album is not her best, but tunes “Your Love is Killing Me” and “Break Me” are winners.

Shopkeeper – Terror Blessed
I tend to like my food local, but my music exported. I’ve subscribed to this mentality as a result of overexposure to bad local music. Shopkeeper is a three-piece where the girls out number the guys, which perhaps allows the album to be playful and lighthearted.

Cursive – The Ugly Organ (Re-issue)
Re-issues are golden because they give the opportunity to praise an album that perhaps got big long after its release, or just deserves a second applause. Eleven years after its release the album, the album’s release includes a second disc with eight bonus tracks. I was surprised to find that The Ugly Organ the band’s frontman, Tim Kasher, is the “most alienating” in describing how the album made him feel about himself. For its intensity and scrappy sound, The Ugly Organ album may not be the most accessible listen for most, but for flawless lyrics and Greta Cohen’s awesome cello, you better get your paws on this one (again).

Quality Music:

Beck Morning Phase
Sondre Lerche – Please
Jenny Lewis – Voyageur
Real Estate – Atlas
Bry Webb – Free Will
The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
Doug Paisley – Strong Feelings
Damien Rice – My Favourite Twisted Fantasy
The Antlers – Familiars

Albums that need my attention:

S. Carey – Range of Light
Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like a Bell
Tweedy – Sukierae
Perfume Genius – Too Bright
Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
FKA twigs – LP1
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Hamilton Leithauser – Black Hours
First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
Tycho – Awake
Alvvays – Alvvays
Spoon – They Want My Soul
Ty Segall – Manipulator
Karen O – Crush Songs
Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World
My Brightest Diamond – This Is My Hand
Alt-J This Is All Yours
Foxygen …And Star Power
Foo Fighters Sonic Highways
TV on the Radio Seeds
D’Angelo and the Vanguard Black Messiah
Mogwai Rave Tapes
Temples Sun Structures
St Vincent St Vincent
Elbow The Take Off and Landing of Everything
Future Islands Singles
Timber Timbre Hot Dreams
Whitehorse Éphémère sans repère
Badbadnotgood III
Bahamas Bahamas Is Afie
Jennifer Castle Pink City
Tony Dekker Sings 10 Years of Zunior
Jenn Grant Compostela
Zeus Classic Zeus

Gush: Kathleen Edwards

Back in 2011, my dream couple came into fruition… That’s Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon and folky Canadian wonder Kathleen Edwards. Somewhere along the way, I missed this moment at the Dakota Tavern:

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Vernon produced Edwards’ perfect album Voyageur at his studio in Wisconsin. Years later the couple split… Edwards took a break from music and eventually led to her hiatus. She posted a ridiculous bid adieu to music earlier this year with much outcry from the internet. I’m happy to report that from this newspaper article, she still identifies as a singer, but happens to now own and run a coffee shop. Meet Quitters, a coffee shop I should have glowed about sooner on here.

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In an interview with the Toronto Star, Edwards outright says that she’s not exactly where she saw her self at thirty-six. She pictured a family, kids and a home, which in this article she says she thought would be in Wisconsin (!!!). I can’t wait to meet Edwards’ shop in Ottawa… If I ever do find myself up there.

I found myself in a nostalgic spiral this evening starting off with Edwards, then Wintersleep, then high school pop punk. Yikes, I digress.

Throwback: Wintersleep 2007

Throwback to Fall 2007. Wintersleep had just put out their third disc titled Welcome to the Night Sky. In support of their new release they played a free album release show at the Horseshoe Tavern. I stumbled in with no expectations other than my love for this tune from which I got my ears on through an advanced album leak where the song was called something else completely. This song is completely unfriendly to the radio with fuzzy guitars and an unconventional song structure, featuring a gorgeous exit.

Wild eyes, I feel the teeth again Gnawing and imminent In the lost, lonely night Oh my, give me the words again Paint it aluminum Make it white, make it white

Gush: Bon Iver’s Michael Noyce

Ever wonder who the little guitarist that plays with Bon Iver and many other Justin Vernon-related projects is? Well, it’s probably Michael Noyce.

After an unexpected step back through some of Bon Iver’s older tunes at a coffee shop yesterday, I got to thinking what happened to Noyce.

After five years of extensive touring with Vernon, Noyce has settled down in Madison, Wisconsin to work on some other passions, including gardening, cooking and hiking. Fresh Independence caught up with him earlier this year to talk shop.

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Gush: She & Him ‘Classics’

She & Him have changed their sound. They’ve always had a bit of the flowery, fifties class that Volume One‘s “Sweet Darlin'” did so well. It’s good, but I think things sound best stripped down and Classics does no such thing as it’s packed with bells and tons of string arrangements (see cover of “Fools Rush In”).

Deschanel and Ward are certainly channeling a vintage sweet sound that would make the cast of Singin’ in the Rain proud, but I doubt it will get much attention from today’s music lovers.

Anyways, I know I talked it down, but you should probably give it a chance yourself.

And bask in the album’s gorgeous artwork, which I just know will be made of the same weird smelling paper as this album… And I’m totally stoked to get a copy in my paws!

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