A lot has happened in the last seven months: I joined a gym and have gone like eight times. I saw the Baltimore Orioles defeat the Chicago White Sox 5-1 on August 19th. I learned how to play "Mary Jane's Last Dance" on the guitar. I received a refrigerator magnet set of the most commonly used words in Kanye West's Yeezus at a holiday gift exchange. And I ate a really, really good burrito. I also thought about posting on this blog a fair amount! Below are the top five posts I never quite got around to making.
5. Songs From My Work Year
I worked at a school last year that would always blast music at the beginning and end of each day. And for this, I am grateful. For otherwise, I would have forgotten about Des'ree.
4. Various Concert Reviews
Well, I did write that Bonnaroo concert rundown, but otherwise I failed miserably at reviewing any of the 38(!) concerts I went to last year. I did manage to take the time to rank those concerts so I'll post that list soon.
3. Stepdad Songs: The Primitives- Lovely
Hey remember when my stepdad gave me a few hundred records? That was pretty great. Well, he is now my former stepdad. But I remain eternally grateful for his contribution to my record collection. Back in May, I pulled out a random album he gave me by this band The Primitives and meant to review it on the blog because I really enjoyed it. Lovely is a delightful indie pop record. The song "Crash" was a minor hit when the album was released in 1988, but the song that has stuck with me most is called "Spacehead." So catchy! See for yourself.
2. Concerts of Yore: The National at The Metro in Chicago, June 7th 2007
I had this idea a few months ago that I would review important concerts from my past. I still like that idea and maybe will do something with it someday. Anyway, this show by The National was one of the more memorable concerts I have ever been to. First of all, 2007 was the year I discovered that good music was created after 1975. Up to that point I had never been to a concert with less than 2-3,000 people in attendance (turns out Eric Clapton doesn't tend to book shows at Schubas). In the months leading up to this concert, I consumed an insane amount of new music at a rate that has never been surpassed by me in the ensuing eight years. The National's Boxer leaked about a month before this show, and I was just blown away. Completely obsessed. And then I realized they were playing at The Metro a day after I returned home from college. I quickly snatched up tickets and brought my friend Scott along with me. As 20-year-olds are wont to do, we showed up 30 minutes before doors opened and ended up right against the stage. I remember one of the Dessner brothers coming on stage before the show started to set up his gear, and he was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME which was not a feeling I was used to at a concert. And then the show started and it was just wonderful. Boxer and Alligator remain two of my favorite albums and this concert almost entirely consisted of songs from those two records. And then during the encore, they played "Mr. November" and Matt Berninger jumped into the crowd right next to me and oh my god a video of this exists on youtube! I love the internet sometimes. You can see the back of my head directly below the guitarist for the first 45 seconds or so of the video. Anyway, this was an amazing concert, and it created a thirst for being right up front at concerts that lasted until....eh, 2012 or so. Now I am more comfortable in the back away from all the 20-year-olds. But let me tell you, being one of those 20-year-olds was really fun.
1. July-August West Coast Trip Rundown
I spent about two weeks out west last summer (San Francisco, Davis, Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver). It was ridiculously fun. Being from Chicago, I relish every opportunity I can to go places with mountains and an ocean. There were several musical highlights on this trip. For instance, I learned that Aquarius Records in San Francisco is one of the best-curated record stores I have ever visited (and that they write amazingly wonderful and detailed descriptions on the front of each record), and that Zulu Records in Vancouver has an excellent selection of used vinyl. I also caught two shows while I was out there: Parquet Courts at the Vera Project in Seattle, and GRMLN at The Electric Owl in Vancouver. The Parquet Courts show was fun though in retrospect I wish we'd instead gone to see Diarrhea Planet, who were tragically playing that same night. Lesson learned: always choose Diarrhea Planet. As for the GRMLN show, I'm not really a fan and was more looking for something to do as I was in town by myself. But it was a good show, and the venue was really cool. I also went to the Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum in Seattle, which was fantastic (thank you dad for the recommendation). Look at this guitar sculpture!!
While in Seattle, I also paid tribute to its most revered former resident, Shawn Kemp...err...Kurt Cobain. In addition to viewing an excellent gallery about Nirvana at the EMP museum, I trekked over to the Madrona neighborhood to see the house where Kurt and Courtney were living at the time of his death. Naturally, I also visited Viretta Park next door, which has become the city's unofficial shrine to Cobain- with two park benches scrawled with tributes to the grunge legend.
And there you have it: the top five posts I meant to write over the past seven months. Surely America will be debating these selections for months to come. Next up: as mentioned above, I wrote out a list of all the shows I went to last year so I'll post that with some descriptions. And then after that I'll post my "best of 2014" list! And then "27 Jazz Metal Albums You NEED to Hear Before You Die" (I forgot to mention that Buzzfeed bought my blog).