Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ice cream on a cold day

A post today on New York Magazine's site is incredulous that anyone would buy cold food on a cold day:

But on the coldest January 7 in New York City since 1896, what kind of maniac would buy fro-yo or ice cream?

This logic has never made much sense to me.  I decide what eat mostly because of how good it tastes, not to regulate my body temperature.  If I'm craving chili, I don't really care if it's 95 degrees.  Whether it's hot or cold might make a minor adjustment to what I want, but overwhelmingly it's about what I'm hungry for.  I realize I'm in the minority here, but is it really too hard to understand that ice cream is always awesome?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Best Music of 2013

My most popular post by far last year was my top 10 songs of 2012.  That is, the best songs I became familiar with that year, regardless of when they came out.

So, I've put together my top 10 for 2013.  My rule is, no artist can have more than one song on the list, even though one guy could easily have gotten a few on it this year.  Most of the songs here came out between 2011 and 2013, but I'll reach back to 1965 for one amazing song I found in a video game of all places, and another from 1970 that came from an Oscar-winning film.  This year I have not ranked the songs, just sorted them by artist name.

Hope you find a couple new ones in here that you like as well.  Love to hear your favorites in the comments or on Facebook.

The Black Keys: Gold on the Ceiling (2011)

I was a bit late to the party on these guys and am happily catching up.  First heard this one on the sound system of a notable local pie place.  Was it apple?

Elizabeth Cotten w/ Brenda Evans: Shake Sugaree (1965)

Cotten was discovered in her 60s doing domestic help for the famously musical Seeger family in the 1950s and went on to make some great records into the '60s.  I was playing Bioshock Infinite, and all of a sudden I pass by three young street urchins playing this song for donations.  The game, by the way, is one of the best I've ever played, and one of a number of reasons is the great music.  Here's the original song from the game footage.

Fatboy Slim: Brimful of Asha (2006)

The original song is by Cornershop, but was wisely remixed by Mr. Norman Cook into a nice dance track.

Father John Misty: Well, You Can Do it Without Me (2012)

One of the catchier numbers off a solid first album from the alter ego of the Fleet Foxes' drummer.  Here's a live version.

Michael Kiwanuka: Lasan (2012)

One of several tracks I could have picked off what was easily the best album I heard last year, Home Again.  The debut for the Brit is well worth a listen.  Here's a live acoustic version of the final track on the album, sung on a street corner in Brussels, complete with random sirens midway through.

Mumford & Sons: I Will Wait (2012)

I really liked the first album, but no one song stood out as amazing.  This one stood out on the also high-quality second album.  The boys in the band always look like they're having a great time when I've seen them play it.  Here it is from Saturday Night Live.

Josh Ritter: Thin Blue Flame (2006)

The Animal Years was a gem hidden from my sight until this year.  It has a couple of amazing songs on it, which I mean literally.  I sat several times absorbing the lyrics on this long track, which steadily builds in a most satisfying way.

It's a Hell of a Heaven we must go to when we die
Where even Laurel begs Hardy for vengeance please
The fat man is crying on his hands and his knees
Back in the peacetime he caught roses on the stage
Now he twists indecision takes bourbon for rage

Lead pellets peppering aluminum

Halcyon, laudanum and opium
Sings kiss thee Hardy this poisoned cup
His winding sheet is busy winding up
In darkness he looks for the light that has died
We need faith for the same reasons that it's so hard to find

Man.  If that's too much of a downer for you, it gets more optimistic after that.  Give it a once-through.

Rodriguez: Crucify Your Mind (1970)

Searching for Sugar Man is a documentary for people who don't like documentaries.  The film, which won best doc film at the Oscars last year, tells the story of Sixto Rodriguez, a Detroit musician who recorded two critically acclaimed albums in the early 1970s that didn't sell.  He faded into obscurity everywhere but South Africa, where his music achieved massive success, becoming an integral part of the national consciousness during the fight over apartheid.  Problem is, Rodriguez never knew he was famous there, and many South Africans thought he was dead.  Until two fans tracked him down in Detroit.  Seriously, you should see the movie.

The main album isn't the revolutionary piece of work the film almost necessarily portrays it as, but it's quite good.  This is the best track.

Sleigh Bells: Bitter Rivals (2013)

The band's third album doesn't have a superstar song like Reign of Terror's "Crush," but it's a stronger collection overall.  I actually like "Tiger Kit" a bit better, but I can't find a good version of it on YouTube, so here's the title track.

Richard Thompson: Saving the Good Stuff for You (2013)

Thompson somehow is able to write great songs well into his 60s.  Maybe not reached a certain level of great fame keeps one focused.  This is one of three excellent tracks on Electric, and the one likely destined to be a live favorite.

Last song cut from the list: Shake it Out, Florence + The Machine, an excellent song about moving on.

So, what were your favorite discoveries this past year?