Anywhoooo, ‘tis the season to highlight the highlights of 2014. As I amassed mine, I noticed there is a common theme. No Bob Dylan. I made good on my resolution to branch out this year. The Bob fog lifted. I also noticed that my picks are somewhat dichotomous. Like matter and anti-matter, there seems to be a counterpoint to each one of my favourite things this year. Without further ado, here it is…
Best Live Show I Saw – White Denim
I did a blog post about this so I won’t go into too much detail. Suffice it to say, this band rocked us into oblivion with their highly technical brand of precise riff driven mayhem. My ears were ringing for days and days. I recently heard that the specific ring in your ears is the tone that was sacrificed by the ear damage and when that ringing stops you will never hear that tone again. It was totally worth it.
Best Live Show I Haven’t Seen Yet – St. Vincent
All year long I have heard or read that the best live show going is St. Vincent. She came out with a stellar album and I have been patiently waiting for her to swing her tour our way. She did one small outdoor gig in Toronto but that would not have sufficed. I need the real show. Well, it’s coming but not until the New Year. We have tickets. I am ever so excited.
Best Genre – Electronic
This was the year of discovering great electronic music. Stand outs include:
Flying Lotus’ “Your Dead” – This album is an inspiration. It has the same feel as early Jazz Fusion albums, but with a hip hop beat (instead of a rock beat). A Tour de Force. To me, Flying Lotus records always sound like what a rainforest would sound like if all the creatures and trees started jamming together. This one is no exception.
Dawn Golden’s “Still Life” – This was definitely the year of discovering tripped out electro hipster music for me. “Still Life” has been my number one musical selection to provide the perfect atmosphere while I sip my wine and make dinner.
Sylvan Esso’s “Sylvan Esso” – Just like DG above, SE rose to the top with her more upbeat brand of electro hipster music. Big base, loop machines, and miscellaneous farts and whistles are collected into a very listenable musical abstract.
Best Opposite of Electronic Music – Mac Demarco’s Salad Days.
This is a late entry to my list. I had to include it. It was the other (more reputable) ‘best of’ lists that tipped me off to this album. It is a beautiful collection of stark but melodic well written music. No instrumentation changes from song to song. It is obvious that this is a guy in his garage, or whatever, making music. It feels like an intimate show in front of an audience of one. He even takes the time to thank you for listening to the album at the end of the last song. To which I always respond, “no Mac, thank you”. The album smacks of early Kinks (especially the first track). Fantastic.
Funniest Podcast and T.V. Show moment – Horse Punching
Oh my goodness, this is the funniest comedic premise in 2104. Delivered by guests on the IFC show (originally from the podcast) Comedy Bang Bang (CBB). It’s the Calvins brothers, Smith and Jones portrayed by Taran Killam and Paul Brittain from Saturday Night Live. Two old and grizzled southern fight trainers (picture Micky from Rocky if he was from Alabama). Although instead of boxing with humans, they train horses to stand on their hind legs and box each other to the death. Stop for a few seconds and visualize that. So ridiculous, so horrific, and so funny. Not since CBB coined the expression “flipping through a vagina”, to describe a specific sex act, have I giggled so much. Thanks again Comedy Bang Bang.
Best Least Funny Podcast – Serial.
Confusing witness testimony, endless discussion of cell phone records, a drunk flasher who discovers the body and rehashed moment after moment of one day where a high school girl was murdered. The 12 episode long podcast that dove deep into the case of a convicted killer who many propose is innocent is riveting, but not at all funny.
Best Movie that I Can’t Get out of My Head – Under the Skin
This is one of the most F&@$ed up movies I have seen in a long while. It is awesome. I don’t want to give too much away, but, it is basically about this “woman” who habitually preys on men for some reason. An event occurs where she finds humanity and this becomes an issue for her “missions”. It is a surrealistic horror show that is a feast for the eyes in more ways than one.
Best Movie I Forgot I had Seen – Birdman
Don’t get me wrong, this is a really great movie. However I have spent no time thinking about it. It left no impression on me. I’m not too sure why. Maybe it’s the subject matter. I do find these fourth wall removing movies to be a bit narcissistic and unrelatable. It is expertly acted and amazingly filmed. Definitely worth seeing, but you might not remember that you did.
Best Thing I Thought I Would Like but Actually Didn’t – Interstellar
I was sure that I would like this movie but I actually didn’t. There are a few reasons for this. (1) The characters were not compelling at all. In fact I found them quite irritating. (2) The scientific concepts behind the movie are cool. I love to think about time and space and general relativity. Not that I understand it at all. I am only capable to expound on the bullet points and that is what this movie seemed to do. The scientists in this movie talked like I might about relativity. That doesn’t work. I want my scientist to talk like a scientist. As a result, the scientific facts seemed forced and unnatural. As lazy and incomplete as they were, it took me right out of the personal relationships that were being developed throughout the movie. (3) Finally, the main premise of the movie (which I won’t give away here) seemed thrown in without a proper build up. Almost as if we the viewers are just expected to pick up what was being put down without explaining what it was or why we should want it.
Best Thing I Didn’t Know I Loved – Weezer
Weezer’s new album “Everything will be Alright in the End” was a revelation for me. I f$&@ing love it. Everything about that album screams good time. Weezer was a band that wasn’t on my radar. I knew the hits and liked their first album when I was in University, but that was it. It inspired me to go into their back catalog. Sure there are some duds, but there are also so many gems. They are just a tonne of fun. I also congratulate Weezer for having the best album cover of 2014. With pride, I shout to the rafters I LOVE WEEZER.
Well, that’s it Pal. What is your list?