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learning love songs

est. 2008

Month

January 2015

1/28/15

How long the nights can feel when you are alone, how grey the skies can look in the morning when you feel as empty as the day before.
How suffocating the world can be, with all its petty problems and daily difficulties compounding the very real, often exhilarating, occasionally traumatic exercise of existing.
But these times are temporary ones. These struggles will pass, just as they did before, and all that’s around you will look new again, tinted by love. The sweet sounds of morning birds will ring in your ears, the sparkle of sun will fill your eyes, and on that day, you will live like you never have before. That day is coming. It could even be tomorrow, if you let it.

“I heard the church bells from afar,
But we found each other in the dark.
And when the smoke does finally pass
We will rise above all the ash.

Cause we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live
We’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live
We’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live

At last.

So bright, the flames burned in our hearts,
That we found each other in the dark.
Like beasts out in the wilderness
We are fighting to survive and convalesce.

But we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live
We’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live
We’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live
Like the rest.

Through the black starless water,
And the cold lonely air.
On the rock restless seas,
The vessel in deep disrepair.
And I swore they started singing,
But then oh, rejoice!
I can still hear your voice.

Then I heard the church bells from afar
But we found each other in the dark.”

~We Found Each Other in the Dark 
City and Colour, Little Hell

1/26/15

“Oh no, this couldn’t be more unexpected,
And I can tell that I’ve been moving in so slow
Don’t let it throw you off too far,
Cause I’ll be running right behind you.”

Acceptance is back! Which is cool, because I really enjoyed this band back in the day. “Phantoms” is a very definitive “high school” album for me, because it wasn’t one I really ever revisited or continued to listen to beyond its moments of first discovery and obsession. But hearing these songs now, wow, they’re better than I remember. This track, anyway, is a fantastic declaration of instant, obsessive love. A slow-tempo take with a loopy, moody guitar part primed for chorus sing-a-longs and patient interludes make this one of the more classic pop punk ballads of the early 2000s, and I’m pleased, upon rediscovering it today, that it holds up over time.

Something about the vocals on this track are so representative of the era’s trends toward desperation, but the song itself has a very standard alt-rock feel that keeps it from feeling too dated. Lyrically, it’s a heartsick little gem on a record that is full of smart, sharp songs. Something about that “only one I would take a shot on” line always stuck with me in some mysterious, private way, though not one necessarily associated to any particular relationship. I never sang it to anyone, I never swore it to anyone, I don’t think I over-used it in an away message or something like that. But what a wonderful sentiment to round out a chorus. I don’t think I fully embraced this song on a personal scale the way I maybe did with some others from Acceptance back when, so what a nice find it was to come across today. What a nice feeling it was to find a sad, full little love song with words and notes familiar to me but new again after all these years. What a wonderful commemoration to that first-sight, light-headed love when it first sweeps you off your feet and convinces that you’ll do anything – anything – to stay in that moment for as long as you can.



“Could this be out of line, could this be out of line?
To say you’re the only one breaking me down like this
You’re the only one I would take a shot on
Keep me hanging on so contagiously


Oh, when I’m around you I’m predictable,
Cause I believe in loving you with first sight
I know it’s crazy but I’m hoping to
To take a hold of you.

Could this be out of line, could this be out of line?

 To say you’re the only one breaking me down like this,
You’re the only one I would take a shot on
Keep me hanging on so contagiously.

Oh you’re everything I’m wanting
Come to think of it, I’m aching
On account of my transgression

 Will you welcome this confession?
Could this be out of line, could this be out of line?
To say you’re the only one breaking me down like this
You’re the only one I would take a shot on,
Keep me hanging on so contagiously.

~So Contagiously
Acceptance, Phantoms

1/21/15

This is the second-best track on new Decemberists record. It’s called “A Beginning Song” and it’s the final track, which is a nice touch. I am listening to it a lot, because it’s pretty and uplifting, because it uses those feel-good folk instruments, because I like thinking about beginnings, and because I like the way Colin Meloy says “wanting.”

This is the second-worst blog I’ve posted this week.



“Let’s commence to coordinate our sights
And get them square to rights
Get them square to rights.

Condescend to calm this riot in your mind,
Find yourself in time,
Find yourself in time.

If I am waiting, should I be waiting?
If I am wanting, should I be wanting?
And all around me. 


Document the world inside his skin
The tenor of your shins,

The timbre of your limbs.

Now commence to kick each brick apart
To center on your heart
Starting with your heart, bright heart

If I am waiting, should I be waiting?
If I am wanting, should I be wanting?
And all around me, all around me. 

If I am waiting, should I be waiting?
If I am wanting, should I be wanting? 
If I am hopeful, should I be hopeful? 
All around me, all around me.

It’s it sunlight, it’s it shadow,
It’s the quiet, it’s the word,
It’s the beating heart, 

It’s the ocean. it’s the boys…

It’s you, my sweet love, 

My sweet love,
Oh, my love… 


And the light, bright light,
And the light, bright light,
Bright light, bright light.

It’s all around me
It’s all around me
It’s all around me.”

~A Beginning Song
The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World

1/18/15

“All human life, we may say, consists solely of these two activities: (1) bringing one’s activities into harmony with conscience, or (2) hiding from oneself the indications of conscience in order to be able to continue to live as before.” ~Leo Tolstoy

“Ain’t no point in gettin’ out of bed 
If you ain’t livin’ the dream.” 
~Living the Dream
Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

The above quote and lyrics have been circling my brain for the past few weeks, and today (like that!, when the lightening bolt of realization strikes) I realized they’re saying just about the same thing. I was driving to the store after a beautiful, rainy midday run, listening to the best singer-songwriter LP these ears have found since Isbell, and the chorus of the lead single instantly identified itself as a modern-day match to the musings of Tolstoy from more than century prior.

Sturgll Simpson, who I came across when his record was named #1 of the 2014 by American Songwriter, is becoming a fast favorite. His style is entirely his own, with roots in coal country bluegrass and folk, God-given vocal prowess and a damned honest take on living with struggle and sin and drugs and trying to maintain.  His ability to hold a note and pack it full of sorrow is something that cannot be taught, and his playing is equally steeped in soul. His attitude, in performances I’ve seen on YouTube and interviews and statements he’s given, is positively charming in a don’t give a damn fashion. His words are, even when slightly odd and disturbing, are the kind of truths found in the corners of bars with few patrons other than the sad old regulars, the kind of truths spoken by artists who are constantly struggling to say what they need and in turn, find they can say it by coming closer and closer each time. He can kill it on a couplet, see above and below for cases in point. Taken as a whole, Simpson’s breakthrough LP shows a fundamental understanding of prog and rock as much as it does country, fusing all kinds of darkness and spirituality with weird strings and syncopation. I should get this on vinyl — of course, it’s all sold out on his Bandcamp.

This song is a good way to kickstart the morning, or liven up an everyday afternoon. It gets me thinking about how lucky we all are to have the time here to do what we will with, how there is no reason other than self-perception to hold you back from becoming as fully actualized in the world as you are in your own reality. Disharmony is an illness, it infects the body and the mind, makes you swollen in ways that make self-medicating seem like an easy cure.  But there is no real fix, other than the ability to open your eyes enough to the world right in front of you and accept it as the one that can offer your heart what it needs to feel full, or you find that world elsewhere. This is what the Tolstoy quote refers to – and this is, I have found, a lesson that makes it seem very simple and clear and binary when it comes to deciding what you want to do, where you want to do and who you want to do it with. It is easy to glamorize the use of drugs and alcohol  – Simpson does this more than once on “Metamodern,” probably, though his descriptions prove he’s keenly aware of the danger it provides. It is much more difficult to will yourself into living healthily, living gracefully, living with humility and forgiveness in the face of a world full of humans as flawed and failing as you are, stumbling into one another with their heats leaking all over the place. We are bound, in these times, in any times, to deal with situations of disharmony, of discomfort, of the opposite of our dreams. It is how we navigate these moments, I think, that determines if we let them hold us back. Do we wallow in the fear, in the anxiety and let the situation overtake our greater being, or do we examine it in a new light to see its shades and colors for what they are, without letting them tint our view of the rest of the whole wide world? Can it be, with the latter approach, that we are better able to control ourselves and make whatever life we find ourselves living feel more in touch, more in tune with who we are? What a struggle it always is, and always could be, to become the best version of yourself you know in your heart to be. Yet is there anything else to do, but try?

“Been dancing with demons all my life
Every time I find my groove, they cut in like a knife.”


~It Ain’t Flowers
Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

1/14/15

Among the excellent roster at Topshelf Records, Prawn is probably one of my favorites. I can think of fewer bands in this scene with a sound this carefully constructed. I’ve loved “Kingfisher,” their 2014 release, very much, it’s perfect for late-night listening in the background to reading or writing or whatever, but it’s worth study of its own and it is excellent in headphones.

There’s a lightness that shimmers before it swallows you whole, a post-rock awesomeness matched with poetic, honest lyrics from the veins of emo realism. I love the sheer beauty they create, with tasteful notes and dancing little melodies in assertive tracks and softer takes. The album sounds as introspective as its themes reflect, themes of wrestling with the self and others. This track is from the softer side, a break in the album’s guitar-fueled action and builds, but I love the way it loops, the way it grabs onto an early hook and weaves it through heartfelt confessions of starting fresh.

I love the way they use silence, like in this song (that break before the third verse, so suspended), a momentary pause before threading a melody through a new verse from a dark place, but using silence is a tool they wield well consistently. Percussive and patient, Prawn songs have beginnings and middles and ends that are hard to define on first listen but most definitely there. I think this is part of what makes them so well-crafted, there is a completeness, up until the very last ringing chord in the final moments of the song.

Something about songs this stunning and strong and delicate make me feel clear, make me feel full of optimism. As borderline depressing as their lyrics are in standalone form, taken musically, there’s something very inspiring about them, there’s something very wide-eyed and awake, that moment of lightening in your mind that strikes you blind from whatever little manic chaos makes you tired and anxious, and on some level these are my favorite kind of songs, the kind that manage to still you into thinking clear again.

“Cold smoke in our lungs and footprints in tall grass.
We’re old souls in new skin, dragged in from the cold.
Fresh tracks trace past our old ugly bitter ways.
You finally found all the courage you needed to say.

We’re old souls in new skin,
but far from the place you’d thought we’d begin,

the place that you’d thought I’d give in.
We’re old souls in new skin,
but far from the end, just waiting, waiting to begin.
 

You can rearrange me now.
Put my feet back on the ground,
put the blood back in my veins.

I saw your scared stare sinking into me,
but I was bound by weights so I could not tread in a rising sea.
We’re desperate now with our latent fears rising from the wake.
You carry me over. You carry me through.”
 

~Old Souls
Prawn, Kingfisher

1/12/15

“Sorrow drips into your heart through a pinhole
Just like a faucet that leaks and there is comfort in the sound
But while you debate half empty or half full
It slowly rises, your love is gonna drown.”

~Marching Bands of Manhattan
Death Cab for Cutie, Plans

A new Death Cab album is coming out this March and this is the most welcome news. What an excellent band.

DCFC was among the first bands I truly embraced, the kind where I had to know everything about them and have all their CDs with me at all times. I’ve never not enjoyed them, I’ve never not had a place for them in my iPod or car stereo. I’ve never gotten tired of Ben Gibbard’s inimitable tone (or his solo work, for that matter). I am sorry to say “Codes and Keys” completely slipped by me, but listening to their back catalog reminds me why this band remains so impressive and worthy of attention. It also reminds me how much of my brain matter is devoted to the creations of musicians, so hopefully that proves worth it somehow.

Few bands are able to grow this well over the years, seasoning their sound without abandoning the perspective and tendency that made them noteworthy in the first place. What a journey this band has had. They’ve never departed from that subtle, muted build, from careful keys and simple, layered parts, from melodies and harmonics that rely on comforting repetition. Their songs are like waves, with this satisfying initial atmosphere and a delayed, lingering impact that washes over you. They’re like a bruise that doesn’t show up until later. They’ve got some kind of mastery of the emotional, epic build – from “Different Names for the Same Thing” to “Transatlanticism” to “Brothers on a Hotel Bed” to “I Will Possess Your Heart.” Just epic, epic songs, in the sort of Greek meaning of the word. Compound the stunning, sensitive approach to melodies with the immense lyrical talents of Ben Gibbard, who has an authentic literary quality, an ability to break hearts in a single scene.

Their tempered brand of indie rock, back when it started, was a premonition of the hipster scenes to come. They were the tastemaker of the early adopters but not because they were trying to be, they were simply playing their sound – and I know this because of how their sound has progressed over the years without losing its foundation. I can listen to the mellow waltzy groove of “Grapevine Fires” and hear early parallels in “A Movie Script Ending,” proof of a style and tone that’s grown more solid and shaped and mature and intellectual. Have they made some filler over the years? Sure, probably. What band hasn’t? Their excellence-to-mediocre ratio is high, and I can think of worse ways to spend an afternoon/disagree with your friends than trying to come up with the top 10 Death Cab songs. Their highs are so, so high, and it’s why the mainstream music world has embraced them as this huge band who headlines festivals and gets everyone all worked up with a (rather beautiful) album title and release date. 



“Left uninspired by the crust of railroad earth that touched the lead to the pages of your manuscript.
I took my thumb off the concrete and saved up all my strength to hammer pillars for a picket fence.

It wasn’t quiet what it seemed, a lack of pleasantries, my able body isn’t what it used to be..
I must admit I was charmed by your advances, your advantage left me helplessly into you.”

~Title Track
Death Cab for Cutie, We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes

Their own critical acclaim aside, this band is just sort of a golden thread of the past 12 years or so. My first boyfriend burned me a copy of every one of their early albums, I think I might still have them somewhere. “Something About Airplanes,” “We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes,” and “The Photo Album” sounds just like early high school, like being sullen and silent in my basement, like playing it cool in front of older friends, learning to flirt in silence with lowered eyelids and smiles to the side. “Transatlanticism” is an ode for later, creative years, when I danced all the time and wrote in secret and drew with Sharpies everywhere in the hopes of creating something beautiful, something expressive, something pained, something worth sharing. “Plans” came out at a rather emotional time in my life, I can’t really even listen it anymore because it’s so interwoven with past pain and loneliness and loss, but I still do, all the time. “Narrow Stairs” found me grown up, or at least, closer to it, after I’d made some choices and was self-aware enough to see their consequences, my eyes finally opened as wide to myself as they were the rest of the world.

I’ve found this band is one of the best soundtracks for the ambient times, those that are neither good nor evil, those times that simply must pass and can be found full of meaning in their own fleeting insignificance. A good Death Cab song is like a good short story, filling you up with something that’s much more than nothing, something worth pondering, without taking too much out of your brain to process (“Brothers on a Hotel Bed,” “Tiny Vessels,” “A Lack of Color,” “Bixby Canyon Bridge”). A great Death Cab song is like a memory you’re scared to remember, where your hesitate to press play because you know how strongly you’re likely to react if you go there (“Transatlanticism,” “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” “What Sarah Said”). I am listening to these songs now, evoking that strange sort of catharsis only the songs and souls you connect with the most and encounter the least can provide. Lately little else makes me feel. So in the name of provoking myself into new attachments, to new memories, I’m very much looking forward to what Death Cab, in its new iteration, has to offer these ears. I should probably give “Code and Keys” a full listen or two and and see how it sinks in. But until then I have plenty of the past to re-hear, especially from the perspective of writer and singer and creator, and not just listener – what a journey it has been, indeed.

“I descended a dusty gravel ridge
Beneath the Bixby Canyon Bridge
Until I eventually arrived
At the place where your soul had died.

Barefoot in the shallow creek,
I grabbed some stones from underneath
And waited for you to speak to me.

In the silence it became so very clear
That you had long ago disappeared.
I cursed myself for being surprised
That this didn’t play like it did in my mind.

All the way from San Francisco
As I chased the end of your road
‘Cause I’ve still got miles to go.

And I want to know my fate
If I keep up this way.

And it’s hard to want to stay awake
When everyone you meet, they all seem to be asleep
And you wonder if you’re missing a dream

You can’t see a dream
You can’t see a dream.
You just can’t see a dream.
A dream

And then it started getting dark.
I trudged back to where the car was parked
No closer to any kind of truth
As I assume was the case with you.”

~Bixby Canyon Bridge
Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs
 



1/1/15

So I’m sitting here alone on New Year’s Day trying to finish writing about my favorite albums of 2014, and I’m trying to care about these little moments I can remember with these songs and why they matter and why I liked them, and I keep stopping myself, thinking what is the point? What does a list like this even mean? Especially when published on a blog no one reads?

At the moment, I guess it is something to do with my hands. But I also know the importance of reflection, of finding meaning in our memories. I am so attached to my music. I am so inspired by it and connected to it, it sorts the feelings into boxes and puts them where they need to be. I am never alone when I have songs in my ears, in my head, or my heart, and this is a lifesaver, in no uncertain terms. If that sounds insipid or overdramatic to you, then you have never wrestled with emotions so intense you can’t breathe, so overwhelming you cannot think, only to be brought back down to earth by something other than yourself – for me, that something is most often music. I may be struggling today but I won’t be struggling forever, at least, not anymore than I always was or ever would be, and sitting here typing, replaying my favorite songs of the year, might be the best way to stay grounded tonight. So here goes, here’s what I loved in 2014, with the best reflection my tired, tragic memory can provide:

This Wild Life – Clouded
So emo, so angsty, and still so pretty. This was an evening record, mostly, or a Saturday afternoon jam. These songs are little stories you can wrap your head around, and harmonies you can sing along with, easy chords to strum. These songs lash out with some serious spiteful lines, but they’re so gentle in their own way.  Just a lovely little record worthy of attention, especially in sadness.


“And I just need a day, to shed this dead weight, and to get my head straight
I just want to let go, I just want to be left alone.”

Coldplay – Ghost Stories 
Chris Martin at his most maudlin gave me so much solace this year. I don’t care of the critics panned it. I thought “Ghost Stories” was beautiful, and sad, and strange and even trendy, at times. It didn’t try too hard, its muted drums and elegant little trills are so soft and rich. This record is the middle of the night and early in the morning, it is the hours no one else needs to see.

“Call it magic, cut me into two
And with all your magic, I disappear from view
And I can’t get over, can’t get over you
Still, I call it magic, such a precious truth”

Have Mercy – A Place of Our Own
Please keep pulling my heart strings, Brian Swindle. I sang-screamed so much to this record and it felt so good every time. I love how this band manages a scene-appropriate aggression with poignant, intelligent metaphors and lyrics. They’re so dramatic. I love the way they toy with dynamics, not afraid to get too loud or too soft in anticipation of what’s to come. “The Earth Pushed Back” has its own relevance in 2014 but this new release gave me something to hold onto. Expecting to play this more in 2015, starting tomorrow, probably.


“I’m the pawn and you’re the rook, 
And you played me like a crook, 
I never wanted it to end this way.”

Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
Some people are just born gifted. Ryan Adams is one of those people. No matter how long he stays away he comes back with something brilliant and beautiful, like it just pours right out of his soul to play excellent guitar and write heartfelt, resonating songs. “Gimme Something Good” was an anthem of sorts, as was “Feels like Fire,” but its the slower, very songwriter-y moments that make up the meat of Adams’ self-titled,  and he shines in this kind of arrangement. He is troubled and sad, he is older and wiser, but I will never tire of the lessons Ryan Adams has to offer, from the structure of a pre-chorus to the capacity to live with regret.

“Just so you know, you will always be the hardest thing I will let go 
Driving past your church and all the houses in a row, feeling in my chest is fire.” 

Taylor Swift – 1989
It’s so good. It’s so, so good. Of course it is. She’s something of a generational icon at this point, I’d say, and I’m not going to join the ranks of the eye-rolling haters who are probably just jealous there’s someone talented and beautiful out there. I’ve never heard a Taylor Swift record I didn’t like and “1989” is full of so many excellent, smart, full-feeling moments that prove what a great songwriter she is. This album is vulnerable and mature, but also quite hopeful, and for that I’ve found it a pretty reliable listen in most moods.  It is also draped all over my last quarter of 2014. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to this album and not remember the feel of a hand in mine, singing to someone who seemed not mind listening, the way the hillsides along the Ohio River shone in the afternoon sun.


“So it’s gonna be forever
Or it’s gonna go down in flames
You can tell me when it’s over
If the high was worth the pain.”

The Hotelier- Home, Like No Place There Is
What a fantastic find this band was….I am hooked on their tenor and tones, I am floored by their words, and I am wishing that I had more to say about this record that I’ve listened to so many times. I hope we hear more this band, because I think they’re onto something with the big-time choruses, and the drawn-out melodies, and the scathing honesty of pain and promise and self-destruction that lurks all over this record. I’m glad young, scrappy bands like The Hotelier are still out there making excellent indie rock music. I’m glad they give off something dark and just a little tormented, unashamed to be equal parts fragile and aggressive, which is really something of a combination, when you get down to it.


“I called in sick from your funeral 
The sight your family made me feel responsible.”

The Menzingers – Rented World
If I were in a band, I’d want it to be like The Menzingers. I fell hard for this band in 2013, in Pennsylvania, their home state, and I’ve only grown more attached to them. “Rented World” felt heavy and dark compared to their past productions, and maybe it was a little more serious than the pop-punk, mosh-prone crowds of their youthful fan base could handle, but I took it to heart, I embraced it fully. Really hope this band continues to tour, continues to write, continues to wow me with their mastery of the pop punk song, although their sound transcends, mostly through vocals and the hint of jams, into something a little more broad sometimes. “Rented World” is a jaded record, it is over everything, and I fucking love everything about it, because that is the kind of company that is  hard to find in a world where faking it is so damn profitable, so damn easy, so damn common.

“I’ve tried running, I’ve tried hiding, I’ve tried everything but dying
Damn the days we took for granted, never again will I let alone close to me.
Yeah, me and the rodent in the wall have more in common after all.”
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Sprawling, echoing and gorgeous, how could anyone listen to this and not fall in love? What I love most about this record is how contemplative it is, but with a layer of lonely discovery somewhere close to the foundation. It never loses its cool but dips into darkness, exploring all sorts of strange sonic places yet unheard by modern audience. There’s influences aplenty, but the sound is something of its own creation – it is so damn difficult to make something this effortless. This is easily one of the most acclaimed records of the year, but I will love it always for other reasons, too, for the wistful state its mere mention, let alone a listen, inflicts on my mind.

“Love’s the key to the things that we see
And don’t mind chasing
Leave the light on in the yard for me”


Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties – We Don’t Have Each Other
For when you heart is at your knees. For when your head is in dark places. For when inspiration can’t be found. In a critical sense, Dan Campbell’s side project is an incredible display of passion, intensity, talent and literary guise; from a personal standpoint, this album is a friend in depression, a companion for constant sadness. The scenes of New York and cars and bars are so vivid to me, and there’s something cinematic about the narrator’s desolation that I find quite a familiar story. I won’t ever forget meeting Campbell at the Four Chords Music Fest this year, and telling him how great I thought this album was. “Thank you,” he said, nodding slightly, and an hour later he’d go on to tear it the fuck up fronting The Wonder Years. I might not work in the business, I might not surround myself with musicians and bands the way I once did, but I do know a true talent when I see it. This guy’s got it.


“If I lay here long enough, maybe the bugs will eat me whole.
If I stay here long enough, maybe the night would take me home.”

Copeland – Ixora
It’s difficult for me to explain how much I’ve loved this album in the latter of this year. I can’t think of any other record that came out in 2014 that was so closely intertwined with my mornings, my nights, my thoughts and feelings. It is sad, it is sweet, it is symphonic, it is oddly experimental and it is strength is subtle. There’s no question this is my favorite album of the year, because no other has been as much a comfort. This album is hearts too heavy to sleep and knees to weak to stand, it is compassion and kindness found in the most unlikely places, it is desire mixed with perspective, which is such a strange, beautiful combination. I love how serene even the most heightened of moments are. I am so happy this band came back, especially now, at this time, when the sound of something familiar and fresh is so necessary, and also because time has only made their accomplishments more pronounced and produced. The tapestry of strings, guitars and drumskins is balanced so perfectly. You hear so much of the room on this record. I smile to think of all the studio hours spent pouring over this, because to me, that is dedication to perfection and striving to make your work shine the brightest it can, and I am inspired by that. I am in love with the love poured into this record, and its story of sensual struggle. Can’t wait to get it on vinyl. I hope to get lost in “Ixora” over and over again, hope to feel comforted by it and feel satisfied by it. Something tells me, reflecting on the moments I’ve spent with it so far, that might be the soundest start to this next year I can hope for.
“You’re still a breeze upon my skin, close my eyes, breathe you in.
I’m still the shadows in your night, taking over, until I fade into your light.
But you won’t erase me.
Heaven or hell will have to wait.
You won’t erase me.
So you just color me from grey.”

Honorable Mentions

Modern Baseball
I saw this band three times in 2014. The only other bands I’ve seen that many times are Brand New and Jimmy Eat World, which are my favorite bands ever, which is funny to me, but they tour like animals and their songs are fun as heck. Definitely a standout act of the year.

Angels & Airwaves
I am so hooked on The Wolfpack but haven’t gotten my hands on a copy of the album. Just glad they’re back, as I will never tire of this band’s spacey, delay-fueled aesthetic.

Ingrid Michaelson
“Lights Out” has some really excellent moments.  That hook in “Girls Chase Boys” is some kind of earworm. She continues to a preeminent songwriter.

letlive.
I’ll never forget the look of Jason Alan Butler dropping rose petals from his hands around the mic, and when he climbed up the speakers to the balcony at Altar Bar, latching onto the base only to shimmey across with a mic cord around his neck, then crowdsurf back to the stage. More shows like this in 2015, please.

Brand New
I saw Brand New at Stage AE in Pittsburgh this year. They continue to amaze.They continue to toy with their fanbase in these miserable little ways, teasing recordings and studio time and old-new tracks. Brand New is going to put out an album next year Actually, they probably won’t. But they could. They should. They will. I think.

Here’s to all there will be to listen to in 2015, and all the hope, comfort and companionship those albums, too, will provide.

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