Albums, and my favorite 15 so far in 2014

One of the things I love most about music is discovery - finding something amazing (new or old) that's gone unheard or under-appreciated among my peers. One of my biggest thrills is then sharing that music and getting others hooked too. Anyone who spent an inordinate amount of time making mixtapes, worked in a record store, or was an amateur DJ will know this thrill. As it happens, those are 3 things that helped define my teenage years... although I actually worked at a record distribution company, so I got access to albums before they hit the store shelves - which I thought was pretty much the coolest.

I have always liked sitting back and listening to full albums but, for me, sampling new music is live music or singles. An album comes after that... once I've bought in to an artist and want to hear them more & often. I still buy albums (digitally for the most part) but since I packed away my CDs, I usually access my music through shuffles or playlists.

As for finding new music: despite an appreciate for live music, I lack the time, money or youth/energy to go to a ton of shows - not to mention there still aren't many small acts making their way to Calgary. Singles are everywhere. Finding new music isn't hard and generally involves reading music websites & listening to a song they post via Soundcloud or Youtube, or finding playlists like that will feed you a bunch of new stuff at once.

Until recently, it had been a long time since the majority of the music I listened to was in the form of an album, but my wife and rdio are getting me back in to albums as a preferred way of listening to music. I've really enjoyed getting re-acquainted with so many great albums from my past that I've put aside in favour of mp3 singles, but there have been a lot of strong new albums released this year as well.

We are only at July 26th, but here are my top 15 albums so far in 2014.

This was in an Advil commercial?!

This is THE song of April 2011, and just found out they'd already "sold out". I want to say too bad, but there are a lot of great songs being used in commercials for the past couple of years. It's still great & will always remind me of Paris. Take a listen.

Best album cover of all time?

Cocorosie came up on my internet radio. They sounded distinct enough that they were worth the Google... it was well worth it. This sister duo is the definition of 'artsy'. Their Wikipedia page and their website give a hint in to their special brand of crazy.

Check out this album cover drawn up by one of the sisters for their 2005 release "Noah's Ark". Fantastic.

Their MySpace page is here:

Zach Galifianakis and Kanye West

I recently saw the Hangover for the first time. Then I saw it again a couple of days later. I was already a Galifianakis super-fan, but the fandom is at a bit of a hysteria right now. Expect to see more of his stuff here as I come across it, even if it's old (like this video which was done 3 years ago).

In the meantime, I've got to gets me a pair of orange shorts.

Really pushing this band: Fanfarlo

I've been pumping the tires of this band since I discovered them this spring, and they are likely my favorite musical-act-of-the-moment.

I got a bit of validation a couple of weeks ago when I was at a party in Austin. I met a writer for Soundcheck Magazine and when I mentioned I'd gone to SxSW we began comparing some of our favorite acts from the festival. There were a couple of bands I'd never heard of before, but I felt that I was able to keep up for the most part. I have to say I was pretty envious of his insider knowledge - he had access to a lot of bands that didn't start making a name for themselves until or after SxSW. I was most curious about who he felt I should keep my eyes on (of course the ones I remember are the ones that I already know, such as Freelance Whales).

Later in the evening he came up to me and said that the band that I absolutely needed to look in to was Fanfarlo, he had just come back from Bonnaroo and had the opportunity to interview and hang out with them a bit. He felt they were going to be huge but nobody knew who they were yet. Well I knew, and I must say I was/am hugely impressed with myself (I realize that this makes me a huge nerd).

I love to pump up music that I have an appreciation for, but also has a quality that could give it mass appeal. Sometimes it works out for me (I pushed Oasis huge in '94), other times it didn't (Kula Shaker in '95)... now that I've been validated I will definitely be increasing my PR efforts. I've had a couple of people tell me that they think the band is just 'ok' (IDIOTS!) so we'll see how it goes.

I apologize to any real life friends or acquaintances who will be annoyed with my pushing.


AMAZING Art Installation. Ghost In The Machine: musicians & celebs made out of cassette tape.

Here are just a few portraits created by Erika Iris Simmons (aka iri5) using nothing but cassette tape ribbon. I love stuff like this in general, but this is particularly great. You can check out more of the Ghost in the Machine on her Flickr page, and it also looks like she's accepting all kinds of donations (tapes, lace & a butterfly net) on her site.

I think my favorite is the Kurt Cobain portrait, but was so happy when I saw Ian Brown in there. Love those Stone Roses.