Coming next week: The best albums, tracks, and videos of 2010-2014
Pitchfork’s running lists covering the best albums, songs, and music videos of the half-decade all next week. I wrote a few blurbs for the albums and songs lists, and I’m really proud of them — I can’t wait to share them with all of you. I’m just so happy to have a hand in something like this, something that people will be reading for a long time, something that’s going to shape the taste of new and young music fans for decades to come. I’m also excited to read the work of my friends and colleagues, and to see how the final list shakes out. (I don’t have much of an idea how it looks right now.)
Keep an eye on the site next week, there’ll be lots of great stuff to read and rediscover.
I was really psyched to write about this new project from Dan Boeckner, of Wolf Parade and Divine Fits fame — I like those two bands a lot, and Wolf Parade in particular meant a lot to me when I was younger and just starting to explore the broader world of music. It was the mid-’00s, and I liked indie rock; Wolf Parade made sense to me, pushed my boundaries, felt substantive. I still feel very fondly about their run today. It’s nice to hear that Boeckner is continuing to push his own boundaries, with new bands and new moves. I’m going to keep an eye on him as long as he’s working.
Two reviews from last week that I forgot to mention here (until now):
I wrote about veteran producer Hanssen’s solid debut full-length, Seven Years Week, for Pitchfork. It’s a nice collection of playful, inquisitive, mostly ambient electronic music.
I wrote about Spoon’s excellent new album They Want My Soul for TIME’s print edition. You should be able to grab this review’s parent issue now if you’re in the U.S. — it might even be outdated — but I won’t have a copy until next Monday, I think. This is one of Earth’s greatest rock bands in top form.
I’m working on a bunch of stuff through this weekend, so this’ll remain a link dump zone until at least next week. After that, I’m hoping to get some stuff up; I have some ideas that have been rattling around for a few weeks now, and they need to be cleared off the shelves somehow. Thanks for reading, hope you’re enjoying whatever season you’re currently experiencing! (It’s summer here, and I’ll be sad to see it go.)
Decent record here, it’s heartening to see veterans playing around with new tones and ideas over a decade into their career. This is one where you can’t really get hung up on the score, I think — it’s just a really small piece of how I feel about the album, and it doesn’t really matter. If you want to sample it first, head for “Sisters” or “The Rains of May.”
My friend Martine came with me to Pitchfork’s festival this year. A few of you probably met her there; she has long, wavy red hair and great outfits, and every time I introduced her, I said something like, “We went to high school together! Up in Canada, of course.” Martine has always been a lot cooler than I am, though I suppose I don’t set the bar very high. When we were much younger, she already had a good handle on who she was and what she liked; she had better ways of finding music, she liked to watch movies that would never come within hundreds of miles of our shabby hometown theater, she could draw and paint. She could smoke those little flavoured cigarillos, the ones that come in cherry and honey, with a thoughtfulness — and even a sort of glamour — that felt shipped in from a different decade. (I tried to emulate her one summer, and smoked one after a bad date while the NBA Finals played in the background. I coughed for two days straight. It was a reminder of my limits.) I used to be jealous of her because she made growing up look very easy. Today, I just feel lucky to have her in my life. Being with her makes you feel like you’re part of something, or like you’re in on a little secret. I think you have to hold onto friends like that with all your might.
At the end of June, Justin and I rented a car and drove up to visit Martine in Ottawa. She kept us busy, and one late afternoon we fell into a half-nap in her bedroom, slipping in and out of consciousness as the sun filtered through her curtains and onto our faces. I woke up at some point and this song was barely audible, warm and weathered, slowly rising, just out of reach like a dream you’re trying to keep alive. I’ve listened to it every few days since, and I think about Martine every time: my dear friend, laptop full of little treasures like this one, one or two steps ahead of me until one of us kicks the bucket.
The last few weeks have been pretty busy with “real” work, writing, and travel, so here are some quick and dirty links to reviews that have been published during that time:
I reviewed Slow Club’s excellent new album Complete Surrender for Pitchfork.
I reviewed Woman’s Hour’s promising debut Conversations for Pitchfork.
I reviewed Jenny Lewis’ strong return to the spotlight The Voyager for Myspace.
I also had a lovely time in Chicago for Pitchfork’s music festival. It was great to see plenty of friends who come up often (or did, once) in this dashboard or my Twitter feed. I love going to P4kfest because it’s the rare chance I have to put on my music critic drag; when I went back to work on Tuesday, all I could think about was the time I spent living my second life in a different country. I can’t wait to go back next year.
I hope you’re having a nice week, and thanks for reading.
Oh, also: I’ll be in Chicago next weekend for Pitchfork’s music festival. This is the third year in a row I’ve attended; I start looking forward to the next year’s edition about a day after the previous one finishes. It’s a great time for any attendee, well-run and still relatively small and packed with good music, but there’s an added “adult summer camp” layer for music writers: lots of people you know from the Internet show up, you run into people you might not see all year (or ever) otherwise, you can drink together and talk shop and shoot the shit and hang out with all of your favourite Twitter avatars and bylines. (I don’t know if the weekend has this feel for writers who work out of major media centres, i.e. New York. But I write in isolation, connect with peers and editors online, and work full-time in a non-writing field; P4kfest is the one weekend a year where I really get to dress up in my “legitimate music journalist” drag and play around, and I love it.) I’m especially excited for this year because a) I’m bringing a friend, for the first time ever, and b) this is my first visit to the U.S. since turning 21.
I know a few of you are attending for sure, but if you’re going to make it out next weekend and you’d like to meet up and chat for a few minutes and catch a few songs or something, feel free to put a message in my askbox and we’ll sort it out. Can’t wait!
I love this song and I jumped at the chance to write something a little longer than your average track blurb, both about its musical merit and how it marks another step towards a different echelon of pop stardom for Grande. I hope you like it too!
This album largely fails to deliver on the promise of “Chandelier,” which remains an excellent single but is rendered an outlier by its quality here. But hey, maybe you’ll like this record more than I did! (I hope you do.) Thanks for reading.
This is a very minor Canadian hit right now, and I think some of you will really like it; a genre we can call post-Kiss (that’s Carly Slay Jepsen’s, natch) may only live in our hearts, but this is a great example of said genre if I’ve ever heard one. I would write more but I’m behind on a few reviews. Enjoy.
(This is also notable for its hyper-ridiculous video; I hope Duffield’s getting some of that Google gouda for all the Glass usage, she’s really earned it.)