It’s been a while since I’ve done an unboxing video, but I knew this record would be a great one to unveil on YouTube. Watch below to see the gorgeous vinyl for The Decemberists’ new album, I’ll Be Your Girl, hear a snippet of the best track on the record, and listen to me ramble on about my love for this band.
It’s time again, time for looking back at the year in music and trying to distill it into a list of the best albums that 2017 had to offer.
This was an incredible year for music. There were so many wonderful new albums that I could hardly keep up. I kept a list of albums released that I enjoyed, and that list ended up being 76 albums long. And those are just the ones I felt were noteworthy. As I’ve been reading various publications’ year-end lists, I’ve been struck by how many albums I hadn’t even listened to yet. I might never catch up on 2017. But that’s okay, because I’ve got plenty of music to keep me busy.
Without further ado, here are my top 25 albums of 2017:
25. Partner, “In Search of Lost Time”
24. Alvvays, “Antisocialites”
23. Gordi, “Reservoir”
22. Diet Cig, “Swear I’m Good at This”
21. Julie Byrne, “Not Even Happiness”
20. St Vincent, “Masseduction”
19. Palehound, “A Place I’ll Always Go”
18. Offa Rex, “Queen of Hearts”
17. Marika Hackman, “I’m Not Your Man”
16. Jay Som, “Everybody Works”
15. MUNA, “About U”
14. Allison Crutchfield, “Tourist in This Town”
13. Aimee Mann, “Mental Illness”
12. Stars, “There is No Love in Fluorescent Light”
11. Girlpool, “Powerplant”
10. The New Pornographers, “Whiteout Conditions”
9. The Dove & The Wolf, “I Don’t Know What to Feel”
8. Adult Mom, “Soft Spots”
7. Big Thief, “Capacity”
6. Julien Baker, “Turn Out the Lights”
…and check out my video below for my top 5 of 2017!
It’s been a pretty good week for new releases. We got new tunes from The National, Prawn, Florist, P!nk. We even got a new track from a favorite of mine, Tori Amos, though I can’t say I’m crazy about the song. It feels too sterile, too produced, to hit me in the gut the way Tori normally does. And I suppose you could say the same for the new P!nk track — it is fairly predictable, a standard pop tune. But her voice is strong enough to pull me in.
If you haven’t had a chance to check any of these songs out, give ’em a listen. And happy Friday!
I’ll be back in the PNW in a couple of weeks, and by some crazy awesome luck, I’ll also be seeing two fantastic bands perform while I’m there: Filthy Friends, and Wimps. When I booked my airfare eight months ago, I hoped that there would be some good shows taking place while I was out that way. There’s always great music happening in Portland and Seattle, but I didn’t expect to see some of my faves. When I found out Filthy Friends (the supergroup headed by Corin Tucker and Peter Buck) was performing in Eugene, I grabbed tickets. We’d planned a day in Eugene anyway to check out the local record shops, so it worked out perfectly. And then I found out Wimps would be opening for them — hooooo, that’s gonna be a good show.
On March 21, 2016, a keening sound rose into the air over Canada as music lovers learned that that summer’s Wolfe Island Music Festival had been cancelled. Fans and artists alike worried that the small but passionately beloved festival was gone for good: No more basking in music from favourite bands under the extra-blue skies of Marysville, Wolfe Island, Ontario? No more discovering new favourites to follow after the fest? No more communing with fellow festivalgoers? We all went into mourning.
Artistic director Virginia Clark promised it was a hiatus, not a permanent goodbye, but it was hard not to wonder: Would WIMF really ever return?
Well, we can all rejoice, because it’s back! And it’s soon. The festival will be held Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11 and 12, in Marysville, Wolfe Island, Ontario.
This is a special fest. It’s held on a baseball diamond in a small village on an island where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario. You take a 20-minute ferry ride from Kingston, Ontario, and walk or bike (or drive your camper) a couple blocks to the site. You get to camp on the grounds, if you want, so you can live a night of musical magic and then cuddle up under the summer stars; alternatively, you can take the ferry back to Kingston and crash on a friend’s couch (or in a hotel or rental nearby). Everyone is friendly and carefree. And Clark brings in top-notch acts, from well-known artists to artists who will be well-known very soon. As the sun goes down, everyone revels in the music, the beauty, the connection.
Clark makes a point of bringing in Canadian musicians for the festival, and why not? Canada has always has a rich musical landscape. “It’s a large country, but a [small] music community,” she told the Queen’s Journal in a June 2017 article. “We support each other. It’s the only way it should be.”
Even better: Women and female-fronted bands comprise nearly half of this year’s lineup, which includes perennial Vinyl Hysteria favourites Land of Talk, Hannah Georgas, and Forty Seven Teeth. Here’s a peek at the artists:
FRIDAY, AUG. 11
The Waterkeeper Showcase: Swim Drink Fish Canada presents:
It’s almost time for my vacation in the Pacific Northwest, so I’ve been busy creating playlists of all my favorite PNW bands, and deciding what albums off my want list I’d like to look for when I visit all those amazing record shops in Portland and Seattle. I’ve had so much awesome ’90s music in my head that I thought I’d share a few of my favorites for this week’s Friday Five. Now, I could easily just lay down five Sleater-Kinney tracks, because you know they’re my favorite PNW band. But I’ll refrain. For now.
I’ve been trying to slow myself down a little these days. I’m spending less time online and more time outdoors. I’m trying to rush less and pause more and allow time to pass at its own pace instead of urging it forward. And with this change, I’ve found myself drawn to more soothing music. I used to require the urgency of punk or good, driving indie rock to get me through the workday. But these days, I fill my eight hours with a softer sound (with the occasional burst of Sleater-Kinney for the moments that need some electricity).
For this week’s Friday Five, I thought I’d share some of the quieter sounds I go to when I’m trying to stay grounded in the moment.
I’m new to Gordi, but dang, I’m loving the Imogen Heap vibes. I spent Wednesday listening to hours of her music, and I’m hooked.
Charly Bliss – “Westermarck”
Fun tune, super fun video.
SOAR – “Fort Funston”
I kinda love music that references places (which is one of the reasons why I love Canadian music — Canadian musicians aren’t afraid to write about the places they know). Specificity never hinders music, in my opinion. So I’m digging this new tune by SOAR.
It’s late. I should be getting some sleep since I’m taking a trip tomorrow to visit a good friend and see a concert, but I couldn’t skip posting five bangers for you guys. This week has been flush with good tunes — so many that I have to save some for next week’s list.
I’m starting off with the brand new tune by Torres. I’ve been waiting for this for AGES. “Sprinter” was one of my favorite albums of 2015, and every time I listen to it, I just fall to pieces. It’s a stunning record. And I’ve been whining for months and months on Twitter, wondering when Torres would put out some new material.
And then she dropped her new track, “Skim.” I bounced around in my cube like a maniac all day. I posted gifs of a vintage Whitney Houston screaming and dancing. I was SHOOK. And the song is everything I had hoped it would be. The video is not exactly SFW, so if you’re worried about that, head on over to Spotify to stream it. But listen to it. You have to.
Call me the whitest hipster ever, but I can’t help it. Sam Beam’s voice just does something to me. I actually got teary toward the end of this video, y’all. But then again, I think that a lot of Iron & Wine songs make me cry. I’m a sensitive hipster.
Yes, the rumors are true. After many months, the Friday Five is making its triumphant return! Okay, well, triumphant might be a tad dramatic for a feature that probably has a total readership of two (my wife and my mother). But it’s long overdue, especially because of the constant flood of incredible music that this otherwise-horrid year has been producing. I’ve had to cut back significantly on my vinyl purchases (that whole building a new house thing, plus the ever-increasing cost of new vinyl), but I keep a list of everything I want so that I can slowly peck away at it when I get gift cards or have a few extra bucks. And that list is HUGE.
This week’s selections are all new releases from some excellent bands. Click on the name of the band if you like what you hear, and consider supporting them with a purchase.
The newest record from Adult Mom, “Soft Spots,” has been in heavy rotation for the past few weeks. It’s an incredibly strong, solid offering, and I love the way the sound expands and contracts and expands again as the album progresses. This song takes the cake, though.
I hadn’t heard Big Thief before the release of their recent hit, “Mythological Beauty.” I consider that one of my favorite songs of the year, and hoped that each subsequent track premiered would also drag me in and slay me with equal brutality. I can’t say “Mary” destroyed me quite as completely as “Mythological Beauty,” but I’m weakened and crawling.
Tall Friend is another new band to me, but I was immediately drawn to the sound. It reminded me of Told Slant, and O, and Florist. And then I found out that Emily Sprague (of Florist) was actually involved in the performance and production of Tall Friend’s upcoming album, so it suddenly made sense. This song alone has me itching to click that pre-order button.
I’m down for anything The Decemberists do. When they first announced their collaboration with Olivia Chaney, Offa Rex, I knew that I’d love it. The band is really at its best when paying homage to the sea shanty or Appalachian music, and Offa Rex continues in that tradition, covering old British folk standards. Seriously, if you didn’t know any better, you would think “Blackleg Miner” was a bonus track from “Castaways and Cutouts.”