2017 has come to a close, and with it comes my yearly roundup of top music! (Can you believe we're already 7 days into 2018?!)
First, here are some musical highlights from my 2017:
- I went to my first East Coast music festival, Panorama NYC, where I met my favorite band, Spoon!
- I finally made it to Red Rocks and saw Bonobo with Nick Murphy. Obviously it was amazing, and exploring Denver proved to be more fun than I could've imagined.
- Some other "staple" shows of the year were !!! (Chk chk chk) at the Echoplex, The Shins & Spoon at The Greek in Berkeley (road trip!), Beck at the Ford Theatre and El Ten Eleven at the Masonic Lodge in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery
- According to Spotify's 2017 Wrapped, I listened to 78,502 minutes of music, 7,926 songs, 2,423 artists and explored 110 genres along the way. If you haven't gotten your stats yet, try it here!
Listen along with the 2017 playlist as you make your way through my top 10 albums of the year!
TOP 10 COUNTDOWN
10. IN MIND / REAL ESTATE
Real Estate has always been the perfect band for a summer drive down the coast. Rolling down those windows and feeling the breeze through your fingertips, the salty sea air tangling into your hair and the sunlight kissing your skin. In Mind is the perfect roadside companion and a good reminder to just take it easy, you know?
Also fun lil' link to click on: there's a cool, interactive music video for "Stained Glass", featuring geometric outlined illustrations that the user can fill with color. Give it a go yourself here!
9. TI AMO / PHOENIX
The album opener J-Boy is synthesized auto-tune bliss. Not a sentence I ever thought I'd say, but seriously they know the formula to mix songs that just work.
Phoenix is a French band, known to sing in English. Not only are there dashes of French on Ti Amo, there's also Italian, Spanish and French. Each language subtly slips into the songs, blending perfectly with the rest of the lyrics.
A bit of rock, a lot of pop, perfect for the dancefloor and singing along at concerts... ti amo, Ti Amo.
8. SLEEP WELL BEAST / THE NATIONAL
On Sleep Well Beast, the first track grabs your attention by opening with an Imogen Heap-esque harmony, shifting to quick choppy drums and guitar. According to an interview with Pitchfork, "The System Dreams in Total Darkness" is "an abstract portrait of a weird time we're in."
I saw The National at the Hollywood Bowl this year when I was having a really rough day. A friend sarcastically said, "Oh good, that'll cheer you up". But it was therapeutic listening to the raw sounds of The National when my emotions were a bit raw, too. It's good to tap into your emotions and feel those feelings, even when it's tough.
Last month, The National announced a hometown music festival called "Homecoming" in Ohio. The lineup releases this Monday, January 8. Crossing my fingers it's a good group!
7. A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING / THE WAR ON DRUGS
When you listen to A Deeper Understanding, it's like a winding stream of music washing over you. There are unexpected splashes of sound and it always feels like you're floating.
The 11 minute dream-like haze that is "Thinking of a Place" feels like that completely, and I want to be lost in it forever. Hell, I want to be lost in this album forever.
6. SILVER EYE / GOLDFRAPP
"Systemagic" may have been my most played song of the year. A good, synthesized beat and soothing repetitiveness are found in this song and throughout Silver Eye as a whole.
I'll take some good electro-glam any day, and this is close to as good as it gets.
5. CRY CRY CRY / WOLF PARADE
Cry Cry Cry was worth the 10 year wait from Wolf Parade. It's indie rock at it's finest.
Don't get me wrong, I've loved Dan Boeckner's side projects with Operators (shoutout to last years top 10) and Handsome Furs but I'm glad to have Wolf Parade and their raw, gritty sound back.
These guys are the only band out of my top 10 that I've never seen live. But that's changing this month when they play at The Observatory in Santa Ana!
4. HEARTWORMS / THE SHINS
Heartworms is a pop-infused album guaranteed to make Zach Braff's character in Garden State smile.
James Mercer's skill for songwriting and making memorable songs has always been strong, and it's held the test of time judging by the tracks off of Heartworms. The only dispute to that I've ever witnessed was at their El Rey show in March of 2017 where Emily and I witnessed someone Shazam New Slang. Obviously that was a fluke and that person didn't know anything about anything. End of story.
My front-runners off of the album are: "Name For You", "Painting a Hole", "Dead Alive" and "Half a Million". The music video for "Half a Million" is awesome. It's composed of 500,000 (or half a million, get it?), hand cut stickers filmed in a stop motion fashion. Very clever.
3. COLORS / BECK
I'll admit it, when "Wow" initially came out in 2016, I laughed out loud. I had always admired Beck's experimentation with genres and his ever changing musical styles from album to album... but this felt too weird. I thought the weird shift was a predecessor of what to come from his next full length.
Now I look back at that moment and laugh, because I'm kind of into that song. It grew on me a lot. Granted it's not my absolute favorite off of Colors, but I really appreciate it for what it is. And the rest of the album blew me away with it's all around happiness.
I finally got to see Beck this year for the first time ever in his hometown of Los Angeles. He described the show as more of a "backyard barbecue filled with friends" than a concert because he was surrounded by so many people he knew. It was one of the most intimate shows I've ever been to and he owned that intimacy on stage.
Most importantly, I really connected with this album. When I was feeling down or not like myself, Colors lifted me back up.
2. MIGRATION / BONOBO
Bonobo started off strong in 2017 with the release of Migration. It's overflowing downtempo, nostalgic sounds are lifted up even further with the collaborative additions on the album of Rhye, Nicole Miglis, Innov Gnawa and Nick Murphy (previously Chet Faker).
I saw Bonobo 3 times in 2017: Coachella, The Theatre at the Ace Hotel Los Angeles, and most importantly Red Rocks Colorado.
During takeoff on the plane ride to Colorado, I listened to Migration. Watching the world shrink smaller out the window as I floated away with the music almost felt like an out-of-body experience.
1. AMERICAN DREAM / LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
Ah, LCD. The indie-electro rock-n-roller who went out with a bang was reborn this year with a long awaited reunion album.
I was lucky enough to snag a ticket for the first show at The Hollywood Palladium during their 5 night residency. I had goosebumps, and maybe even shed one single tear when I chanted along to "Tonite" with James Murphy.
"Tonite" is probably my favorite track off of American Dream. It's a bit reminiscent of "Losing My Edge" from '05, where Murphy talks about the past with that infamous line, "I was there". But instead of talking about the past, he's going on about the present. The world we live in where everybody is 'famous' (*cough, cough* Instagram) and how songs are all recreations of the same thing over and over. A world where technology is blindsiding us, changing who we are and making us question things when comparing ourselves to others. Which is something so accessible at our fingertips every day with the influx of tiny screens that act as windows into other people's lives. It's easy thinking others' lives are better, that they know better than us and are better than us. But they're not. The song closes with, "But that's all lies. That's all lies."
This album gets... really real about modern life. It makes you feel something. Or at least it does for me, and that's why it's my #1.
It's my birthday month! I'm currently headed to Hicksville in Idyllwild to stay in a Twin Peaks, "Great Northern" themed motel room. More on that later. For now, some tunes!
Here's some highlights from the September playlist:
- LCD Soundsystem's new album is out TODAY! I'm seeing them at The Palladium in November!
- There's a collab in the works with Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. Their album is set to release this fall.
- I went to my first show at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery last week with El Ten Eleven ft. Emile Mosseri, with Korey Dane. I’ve been wanting to see a concert in the cemetery for a while and this line-up just really clicked. Mellow tunes and instrumentals in a beautiful, intimate space. El Ten Eleven is typically an instrumental band, but have collaborated with Emile Mosseri on their new EP, "Unusable Love". They pair so well together. At one point during the show someone in the crowd yelled, "Make more music together!", and the band smiled. Korey Dane, is kind of an up and comer with his folksy, indie rock. I discovered his music after I heard a few of his songs on KCRW lately, and by chance he opened the show. Solid set done by all.
- The first time I listened to Cupid by The Big Moon, I mistook the singer for Alex Turner of The Arctic Monkeys. Listening further I realized it was a female's voice, who just really sounds like him, and I'm super into it.
FYF '16 /
Fuck Yeah Fest (FYF) was really good this year! I remember it being an unorganized clusterfuck when I went back in 2014; they've totally cleaned up their act since then! (A bit of bottlenecking aside).
I went both days and didn't get sunburnt! Patting myself on the back, and it doesn't even hurt.
Here's what the weekend consisted of:
- Todd Terje & the Olsens
- Gerd Janson
- Junior Boys
- Tame Impala
- Hot Chip (Live)
- Explosions in the Sky
- Moby (DJ)
We watched Classixx from the beer garden; it was good, dancy, (drinky?) music for the background. While we were there, I creeped on this guy's "Dedicated to the Craft" shirt and I whipped out the sign I made for Hot Chip.
The stage for Junior Boys was sort of tucked away in the back, and at first we ended up grooving a bit in "The Woods" before heading to "The Club" (stage names). In doing so, we stumbled on this guy named Gerd Janson who I ended up really liking.
We made our way to "The Club" and caught my favorite Junior Boys song, In the Morning, just in time! Dancing our way under the disco balls, we headed to Tame Impala. I've seen them twice before so I didn't mind ducking out early for my main obsession, Hot Chip.
Because I was front and center, guess who got the set list!?!?! Hoping I can get another one from next week's show in Wales!
Sidenote: On day 2 of the fest, I actually saw Alexis Taylor walking through the park with his wife and daughter. I choked and didn't say anything to him and I'm still slapping myself for it!
Explosions in the sky filled the stage with vivid colors while exploding peoples' minds with their sound. Instrumental music always feels like a dreamscape to me and is really, really wonderful. It's refreshing to strip away all lyrics and dig deep into the sound.
We danced to Moby and then stumbled home around 1:30. Getting a Lyft out of there was an absolute nightmare!
- Wild Nothing
- Blood Orange
- Father John Misty
- Anohni: Presents Hopelessness
- Mac Demarco
- Beach House
- LCD Soundsystem
Saturday, I went solo to the festival and Emily met up with me later in the day. I caught the middle to end of Preoccupations' set. They're previously known as Viet Cong, but changed their name for obvious reasons. Starting my day off with a bit of grungy punk felt good.
Emily found me mid-Wild Nothing set. Having purple hair really does come in handy.
Blood Orange was next. They brought out Carly Rae Jepsen and Nelly Furtado for a song each... which is quite possibly the most random combo of guests ever for Blood Orange. I mean, good, but odd.
Father John Misty always puts on a hell of a show. Talk about drama. He kept flailing himself all over the stage, falling to his knees and completely on his back.
We couldn't figure out if his graphics were malfunctioning or purposefully ironic. First, the screen quickly flashed to a desktop background of a baby with a mess of folders. Next was the software update failed message. Then a Windows start-up screen, and the set ended with a "Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival 2014" banner. It was then that we knew (or are pretty sure?) it was all on purpose.
After grabbing some Fruity Pebble churro ice cream from Ridges, we met up with my coworker Zack and his girlfriend at Anohni. Her graphics were really powerful. I turned to Zack and said, "This feels like something that would be in a back room at MOCA or LACMA for an art installation". He's a copy-writer at work and does lots of artist bios, so knows lots of fun facts about the music scene.
He explained to me that it probably was art-installation-esque because in the past, Anohni has worked with the likes of Lou Reed and Bjork on installations and projects. Plus, the show was called Anohni: Presents Hopelessness which in itself seems like an art piece with an underlying message.
We went from Anohni to Mac Demarco and met up with a few more friends. Fighting our way through the crowd, we ended up to the side of the sound booth which was a pretty good spot.
Afterwards, we caught a few Beach House tunes and moseyed our way over to LCD Soundsystem.
Hey, remember that time I waited for 8 hours to be very front row for LCD at Coachella? Me too.
Anyways, LCD was AMAZING. I danced so hard, as soon as I got out of bed and stood up the next morning I felt my legs scream, "What have you done to us?!" Worth it though. Totally worth it.
I metro-ed home, showered at like 1:30 or 2am, and tried to get some sleep for work the next morning.
Speaking of mornings, I leave tomorrow morning (6am flight) for Festival Number 6 in Wales! I'm beyond excited but man is it going to be a long trek.
Cross your fingers for us!
I told myself I wasn't going to Coachella this year. "Last year was the last time", I said. "It's getting too trendy", I said. "There's so many other better festivals out there," I said...
Then LCD Soundsystem was announced as a headliner and I changed my mind instantly. They had broken up before I ever had the chance to catch a show. This was redemption.
Jackson, Emily and I lucked out and all got Weekend 1 tickets off of friends and magically found a condo to stay in.
Here's how the weekend went down:
We rolled up just in time to catch a bit of Lapsley in the Mojave tent, then stayed there for HEALTH. Who you'll probably either love or hate. I have moments with them... sometimes they get a bit too screamy (like that time I saw them at the Echoplex and had a headache for like 4 days straight).
Then we headed over to the Coachella stage where we obviously stayed until LCD came on so we could stake out our front row spots.
Years & Years sort of kept forgetting his lyrics? Which felt weird... I'm guessing it had something to do with stage fright / shock that he was actually performing at Coachella. Other than that though he put on a good show.
Foals was awesome. The lead guy, Yannis Philippakis, ALWAYS crowdsurfs at his shows. So if you're into that I'd suggest getting front and center. (We chilled to the side a bit on this set before working our way in - the rail strategy is proven to work!)
Of Monsters and Men felt like one big sing-a-long and I loved it. M83's set was a total dream. I'm not super into her music, but Ellie Goulding REALLY knows how to work a stage.
Now for the good part.
All in all, we waited 8 hours to be front row.
Some girl in a group next to us legitimately peed into a bottle since there was no physical way she could make it out of the crowd and back to her same spot. That's commitment. But then she left to go see Jack U instead! On second thought, maybe it wasn't commitment... it was probably just drugs.
I'm sort of sad I missed The Last Shadow Puppets and Sufjan Stevens, but sacrifices had to be made for James Murphy.
The sacrifices were worth it because we got to front row for this glorious show. Look for me in this LCD Soundsystem Fans video that Coachella made: I'm the girl with the glitter smeared all over my face, obv.
He played "Losing my Edge" and it felt way too real hearing muffled sounds from Jack U's show as James sang the lyrics "The kids are coming up from behind." The festival was sort of split with people who were either there for LCD Soundsystem, or Jack U which was pretty surprising to me.
I aspire to have this giant disco ball in my life. I also really missed out on the opportunity to rock my disco ball make-up for this show.
Other song highlights were Dance Yrself Clean, Tribulations, Daft Punk is Playing at my House and New York I Love You.
I expected Daft Punk to actually show up for that song, but it was still great without that happening.
It was a legendary show; I can't wait to dance myself clean again at FYF!
On Saturday, we didn't get to the festival until 3ish. We had a nice, relaxing morning with a good amount of mimosa time.
We started off with Gary Clark Jr. who absolutely shredded it. There's SO much soul in that guy; it made it worth the fact we were standing in around 90 degree weather with no shade to see him!
Here's a video I took of a massive jam sesh moment.
The Arcs and Unknown Mortal Orchestra were definitely my favorite performances of the day.
Dan Auerbach, (of Black Keys / lead guy in The Arcs), always delivers. He also had a couple of guest appearances: Joe Walsh of The Eagles, and 78 year old Glenn Schwartz formerly from Pacific Gas and Electric.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra is a more mellow band, but they seriously step it up for a live show! Talk about a dance party.
In the midst of all the music, we also had to find time to grab some food and drinks. Below are two very opposite things: coconut water and a gin craft cocktail. Both are necessities to surviving Coachella.
If you're going weekend 2, you can find these cocktails in the Craft Beer Garden. They're $15 (yikes!) but might be a better deal than some of the beers. Pick your poison.
Here's me pre-festival (post-mimosas) with my Bando pineapple sunnies on.
The final day!
De Lux was the first show of the day; this is a band from LA with guys who look like they're fresh outta high school. I discovered them through KCRW last summer and even got to catch a free show at the Hammer Museum. They've got a Talking Heads disco-y vibe to their music and they're great!
Tei Shi was the only time we made it to the Gobi tent (the one with the ceiling covered in chandeliers). When the lead singer first came out, she looked teary eyed when saying "The band was just backstage laughing nervously that there would only be like 3 people in the audience. Thank you SO much for coming out". There was definitely A LOT more than 3 people out there.
Watching Matt and Kim from inside the beer garden was really fun. Their giant beach balls even made their way over at one point! Did you know they're together? And VERY open about their relationship?
Cold War Kids! I'd never seen them before and have always wanted to, so this was a good moment. Here's me jumping around with our totem, Cornelius the Cactus to "Hang me up to Dry".
Sia's performance was absolutely stunning. It felt as if a music video was happening right before our eyes. She had special guest appearances from Tig Notaro, Kristen Wiig and Paul Dano (ft. in this neverending gif below).
And of course, Maddie Ziegler, the little girl from all of her music videos was there too.
Miike Snow closed out our Coachella for us with a bang. I got to hear Animal, which is all I really need in life.
It felt like the weekend went by incredibly fast, and I definitely didn't want it to end.
Depending on the lineup... I'd go to Coachella again.
Something I'm really looking forward to is end of August / beginning of September. Reason being is I'm going to have 6 days filled with music! FYF is on Aug. 27 and 28 and then I'm going to Wales for a 4 day festival called Festival No. 6. The best part is Hot Chip is headlining both of them! AND it's during my birthday weekend.
'Til then I'll be going to shows here and there to tie me over; like Blackbird Blackbird tonight!