Sunday, December 15, 2013

And the winners of my 2013 music awards are?

The last "concert pic" of my show going career (The National at Riverside Theater in Milwaukee)

Welcome to my annual year end music review post. If you have the patience to read all of it, you will see:
- My ten awards with winners and runners up
- Embedded Spotify Playlist of my Favorite Tracks
- More explanation of how I chose my award winners
- Photos of note I posted to Instagram from the shows I attended
[Previous Year End Reviews: 2012, 2011]

1. The “Perpetual Repeat” Song of the Year: "A New Life" by Jim James
Runner up: "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams

Jim James - A New Life - Jimmy Fallon from Robert McMahan on Vimeo.

2. The “Share with All Friends” Album of the Year: Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
Runner up: Hummingbird by Local Natives

3. The “If Every One Could Be Like This” Concert of the Year: Jim James at Pabst Theatre
Runner up: Björk at Pitchfork Music Festival

4. The “Phoenix” Becoming Too Big To Not Easily See Again: Junip
Runner up: Phoenix *note- award established a few years ago, they are still growing*

5. The “Franz Ferdinand” Must Now See Every Time They’re In Town: Savages
Runner up: Pet Lions

6. The “Bon Iver” Regret of the Year: Not seeing The Postal Service's final performance
Runner up: Staying for STRFKR after Blackbird Blackbird

7. The “Medulla” Most Disappointing Album: Bankrupt! by Phoenix
Runner up: Reflector by Arcade Fire

8. The “Should I Quit You” Most Disappointing Concert: PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL RAIN!
Runner up: Janelle Monáe

9. The “Shadenfradue” Guilty Pleasure Track of the Year: "Harlem Shake" by Baauer
Runner up: "Clarity" by Zedd featuring Foxes!

10. The "Buy an iPod stereo for the car" Best Decision I made in 2013: Quitting all in-concert photography.
Runner up: The last minute decision to drive to Milwaukee to see The National.

1. 2013 is the year I escaped Suburbia and moved into the city limits of Chicago. "A New Life" by Jim James was intentionally the first song I played in my new apartment. Little did I know when I first heard the song in February it would have the meaning I eventually assigned. The above clip from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon instantly floored me and seeing the song performed live early in the year cemented it atop my personal standings.

In any other year, "Get Lucky" would have ran away with this award. I will be playing and loving it forever. Other songs that would've been tops in other years include "Husbands" by Savages and "Hidden Xs" by Fuck Buttons.

2. Many of my favorites came back with new recordings this year, but none was more anticipated than the promise of new Daft Punk. And where some others fell short of expectation - I felt no such disappointment with Random Access Memories. I enjoyed the new-retro sound and think it was the response the Electronic Dance Music world needed after 2012's rise of Dubstep.

My opinion on Local Natives used to be, "ah, they're okay, I like'em." But their Hummingbird album is just too good to be ignored, as I would end up listening it front to back over the majority of the year.

3. I would've paid $100 for a recording of Jim James at Pabst Theatre at the end of that concert. The first six songs were especially jaw dropping. The only thing that could have stopped this show from being #1 was a natural disaster, which is actually what happened: Björk was building to a crescendo I had been waiting patiently for 20 years to see before an incoming storm prompted the Pitchfork Music Festival to end early

4. If you see an act at Lincoln Hall that sells out quickly, you just know you won't get that opportunity again. Junip, please take your place along LH greats such as The xx, Foster the People, and M83.

5. Every band that has a breakout hit like Savages should take advice from Savages. The version of "Husbands" I heard wasn't the version from their album, but a super sized version worthy of it's place high atop my Songs of the Year playlist. Especially awesome about Savages: they had the confidence to close their set with a new song not heard by most in attendance. No band I saw in 2013 had more balls than the all female Savages.

*Pet Lions is a tough label to assign "every time they are in town" because they are a local Chicago band. This runner-up place usually goes to the supporting act that ended up having a better set than the headliner. My 2014 goal is to check out / support more local talent.

6. If I'm going to complain about anything music related in 2013, it's that I wasn't able to see The Postal Service's farewell performance at Metro. Maybe I should not have tuned into XRT to hear the live feed, because it was the sonic equivalent of eating sour grapes... My STRFKR regret is entirely based on not making the decision to leave earlier - which would've prevented my friend from becoming the unfortunate victim of a crowdsurfer.

7. Please don't misunderstand: I like both new albums by Phoenix and Arcade Fire... But in the year of Daft Punk and Jim James (and Foals) homeruns, I expected more from my favorites.

8. Will Björk ever come back to play? Indoors please? Overall, it was still an amazing experience as 59 minutes of her is better than zero. If only her legion of Icelandic backup singers/dancers could've consoled me in my time of post-pop-princess need? In other sadness, I bought tickets to Janelle Monáe before hearing her second album, which is quite inferior to previous efforts. Even her amazing showmanship couldn't make up the difference.

9. I enjoyed the "Harlem Shake" meme of 2013. It was done best by Matt and Kim:

10. I was over thrilled to have Danger!Sound post the 500 word essay I wrote explaining my decision to quit all in concert photography. Please click over to D!S to read it.

Special Music Mention of 2013:
The significant moment of my music life of 2013 was my escape from suburbia. The event has much larger meaning to my life (and I will be writing a separate year in review post to address it in more depth), but it had immediate impact on my music fandom. I am now much more inclined to only purchase single tickets and have already found a small group of local friends who are as musically inclined as I.

This year had multiple songs that could have been Song of the Year had they not been competing with each other. One such song is "Hidden Xs" by Fuck Buttons because they performed the hell out of that track when I saw them live at Subterranean... But the story/environment surrounding me at that time and place will keep that song in my heart forever:
  1. I bought a single ticket because I knew I was never going to convince anybody to go see an act named Fuck Buttons.
  2. When the show date came around, I didn't know I would be living 3 blocks away from the venue.
  3. I was able to meet up with someone who I initially "met over Twitter" and he was nice enough to introduce me to other friends his there.
  4. It was a late show on a weekday, made incredibly easier from only needing to walk 3 blocks to my apartment.

Top three crazy band names I've seen live this year:
  • STRFKR (pronounced "Starfucker")
  • Fuck Buttons
  • Diarrhea Planet

It's been an amazing year.

Finally, here are my Instragrammed concert moments of 2013. You will easily see when I made the switch in strategy to abide the promise posted in Danger!Sound. My final picture is the one I chose to also post at the top as my favorite photo (because it is my last):

Blackbird Blackbird (Metro in March)
STRFKR (Metro in March)

Pet Lions (Empty Bottle in April)
Ducktails (Empty Bottle in April)
Jim James (Pabst in April)
FUTUREBIRDS (Schubas in May)
Foals (The Vic in May)
Night Beds (S.P.A.C.E. in May)
Junip (Lincoln Hall in June)
Mac DeMarco (Union Park in July)
Wire (Union Park in July)
Björk (Union Park in July)
Foals (Park West in August)
The National (Riverside in August)
Washed Out (Metro in Septembre)
Savages (Metro in September)
Phoenix (Aragon in September)
Franz Ferdinand (The Vic in October)
Fuck Buttons (Subterranean in October)
Janelle Monáe (The Vic in October)
Holy Ghost! (Metro in November)
Cut Copy (The Riv in November)
Brendan Canning (Beat Kitchen in November)
Jon Hopkins (Lincoln Hall in November)

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