Best Music Of 2014 (a little more, a little less)

There are so many firsts for this year. This is the first year that I’ve felt really overwhelmed with the amount of albums I didn’t get a chance to listen to. This is the first year with a with a toddler in the house. This is the first year I’m posting a Best Songs playlist (see the end of the post), and in some respects I feel like I had more time for songs than for albums.

So with that introduction, the 2014 albums that went from a blossoming romance to lifelong partners are:

1. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

war-on-drugs

2. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

angel-olsen

3. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams

ryan-adams-new-album

These albums got under my skin. Ryan Adams was
the incredible soundtrack to my first trip to the US (where I also saw him live). Angel Olsen’s beautiful voice held my hand while I made some difficult decisions this year. The War On Drugs was my constant companion through my most challenging professional, and most rewarding personal year. I bought all these albums on vinyl.

All the runner-up lovers, in no particular order

  • Beck – Morning Phase
  • Hozier – Hozier
  • Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
  • Elbow – The Take Off And Landing Of Everything
  • Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music
  • Weezer – Everything Will Be All Right in the End
  • Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

The nice albums that just didn’t stick

  • Jenny Lewis – The Voyager
  • First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
  • Rosanne Cash – River & the Thread
  • Jack White – Lazaretto
  • Conor Oberst – Upside Down Mountain

Albums that went over my head

  • St. Vincent – St. Vincent
  • FKA Twigs – LP1
  • Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
  • Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
  • The Black Keys – Turn Blue

Albums I still need to listen to. Some of these may have made THE list, but…toddler

  • Lucinda Williams – Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone
  • Swans – To Be Kind
  • Sun Kil Moon – Benji
  • Luluc – Passerby
  • Rodrigo Amarante – Cavalo
  • The Antlers – Familiars
  • Tweedy – Sukierae
  • Hurray for the Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes
  • Flying Lotus – You’re Dead
  • Alvvays – Alvvays
  • Thurston Moore – The Best Day
  • Ty Segall – Manipulator
  • Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems
  • Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
  • Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes
  • Mogwai – Rave Tapes
  • Eagulls – Eagulls
  • Robert Plant – Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar
  • The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
  • Damien Jurado – Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son
  • Foxygen – …And Star Power
  • The Flaming Lips – With A Little Help From My Fwends

For the rest, here’s my Best Songs of 2014 playlist

I leave you with a 2 hour playlist of my Top 30 Tracks. Technically a Top 29, because GRMLN’s “Of Nothing” isn’t available on YouTube (yes, this is still happening). You can however listen to it on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/carparkrecords/07-of-nothing

A last final note…

The Decemberists snuck in two tracks this year from their forthcoming album (January 2015). I thought it was a little unfair to include it into the top tracks because they’ve just come along, but yeah, this is my new crush…

Late Again: The Best Albums of 2013

I’ll never live it down if I don’t document the best albums of the year that my son was born in, so here goes…

1. David Bowie – The Next Day

David_Bowie_-_The_Next_Day

2. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away

Push_the_Sky_Away

3. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

vampire-weekend

4. Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

Queens_of_the_Stone_Age_-_…Like_Clockwork

Low – The Invisible Way

low

6. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

the national

7. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Random_Access_Memories

8. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

ArcadeFireReflektor

9. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

Neko Case

10. Dawes – Stories Don’t End

dawes-stories-dont-end

Special mention to Haim and 65daysofstatic for great albums that just didn’t make the top 10.Haim+65

Better Late Than Never: Best Albums of 2012

1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend Ascend 

1. Godspeed

2. Shearwater – Animal Life

2. Shearwater

3. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

3. Fiona Apple

4. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas

4. Leonard Cohen

5. Tame Impala – Lonerism

5. Tame Impala

6. Richard Hawley – Standing At The Sky’s Edge

6. Richard Hawley

7. Animal Collective – Centipede Hz

7. Animal Collective

8. Dry The River – Shallow Bed

8. Dry The River

9. The Lumineers – The Lumineers

9. Lumineers

10. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls

10. Alabama Shakes

Special mentions go to Japandroids and Alt-J for almost making the list.

special-mentions

Best Albums of 2011

1. My Morning Jacket – Circuital

my morning jacket

2. Wilco – The Whole Love

wilco

3. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

iron and wine

4. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

fleet foxes

5. The Black Keys – El Camino

black keys

6. Decemberists – The King Is Dead

decemberists

7. The Antlers – Burst Apart

antlers

8. Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Rome

rome

9. TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light

tvotr

10. Lady Gaga – Born This Way

lady gaga

Special mention goes to The Naked And Famous for their debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You. It really is a gem, but it missed the top 10 by a drum beat.

naked and famous

KONGOS. Rock. Pretoria.

This weekend past the KONGOS killed at Park Acoustics. If you were there, good on you. You’re part of a crowing number of people joining the movement. If you weren’t able to make it, perhaps you’ll join us next year for a Sunday picnic with great music in our beautiful city.

The KONGOS are four brothers: Danny, Dylan, Jesse and Johnny (Kongos) from Phoenix, Arizona. Their song “I’m Only Joking” has been cutting through the airwaves everywhere recently, and I suspect their new single, “Come With Me Now” might do the same. Their dad John Kongos is a South African who looks a little like John Lennon and wrote a few international hits in his day.

The KONGOS debut album ‘Lunatic’ is so much more than the sound of “I’m Only Joking” though, and so is their live performance. You can expect everything from world music and folk inspired melodies to foot-stomping, powerful drum-driven rock.

Check out the snaps I took of their gig at Park Acoustics below. Since they’re here they’ll be doing a few shows, so while you’re checking out their tour dates on www.kongos.com sign up with your email address. The KONGOS are such nice guys, they’ll give you 5 free tracks! Win!

They also did a great interview with Blimpfilms for us!

Park Acoustics have an event every month at the Voortrekker Monument. Unfortunately this was the last one for the year, but join the conversation with us at www.facebook.com/park.acoustics

Drugs with benefits

I’ve just written my marketing exam. It’s the second exam since I was a student squillion years ago. It’ll probably be at least another 5-7 years for the course I’m doing, and this is where I’ll record the sometimes horrible but hugely rewarding experience.

It’s been a little difficult getting back into the swing of studying, but there are a few things that make it more tolerable. These are summer, NRG and Biral.

Herbalife’s NRG is the student’s best friend, made of guarana powder with some other stuff that’s good for you. Drink it and focus for 3 hours solid. Best known as a coffee substitute, it works much better than you’d think a health product would, and it’s also really great for hangovers.

Due to stupid standards of excellence, I stress about the exam a lot, which is where Biral steps in. It allows one to calm the hell down and blurt everything you know out on paper in a coherent and logical fashion. Priceless clarity during an exam.

Summer of course needs no explanation, because everything is just better during an African summer. Braais outside, watermelon and Christmas, summer is always where the fun is at (after the exam). I’m not sure what subject I’ll do next, but summer probably won’t be part of the equasion.

Postmodernism is dead. Let’s dance.

Postmodernism is Dead. Let's Dance.

Google Trends tells me that Postmodernism has been in the news again recently. Apparently, on the 24th of September, Postmodernism is officially over. This makes me very happy.

From the 24th of September 2011 to the 15th of January 2012, the Victoria and Albert Museum open “the first comprehensive retrospective” on the movement: “Postmodernism – Style and Subversion 1970-1990.” It’s about time too, Postmodernism has overstayed its welcome. In South Africa it was on its last legs when I finished art school almost 10 year ago. Evidently in the sea of confusion, those in the know assumed we were still in Postmodernism (woops). But regardless of whatever movement we’re in or have been moving towards, does anyone care about defining the beginning and end of Postmodernism?

I do, but only because I studied the bollocks and I want to see the ass end of it. This post is not a lesson on Postmodernism, go read the Wikipedia entry or this article. Postmodernism and its wide definition of art, where anything can be justified, became a self-fulfilling prophecy. If anything can be put forward as art simply by writing a paper with big words in it and making academic references, then nothing is art.

I used to care about art, but Postmodernism killed that for me. As a philosophical movement it was great, teaching us that commentary on society can occur anywhere (and so much more). As a movement associated with artworks I believe it had an unintended, negative influence on artists, the craft and the works produced.

The man in the street doesn’t care. He or she just wants something pretty to put on the wall. The casual art observer wants something that isn’t too offensive and is sure to be an investment. These days I get my fill of social commentary from the internet and Southpark, and I look forward to the next art movement that doesn’t contain the word ‘modernism.’

This comic proudly stolen from Dinosaur Comics