Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Best of 2014

Music 

Since the Grammys were just given out it seemed I should publish this post which I wrote up about two months ago and never felt inspired to release. Since I disagreed with every award except #10 Best Electronic/Dance Album (Syro by Aphex Twin) it seemed my list should get published to provide some counter-weight (haha, like anyone reads this blog) to the misguided Grammy judges and nominators.

Albums

  1. War on Drugs - Lost In The Dream  Why?I discovered this album in early May and have been listening to it a lot since then. It still sounds new after six months of heavy play. Jangly guitars, good vocals, interesting lyrics and a driving beat make for a good listen over and over.Under The Pressure is beautiful example of the music on this album. 
  2. Hundred Waters - The Moon Rang Like A Bell Why? Even though the voice of Nicole Miglis can sometimes be annoying due to the difficulty understanding her and the piccolo-pitch she reaches, it is the instrument-like quality of her singing meshed with the amazing musicianship of the band along with songs that paint landscapes in your mind that make this a wonderful album. As an aside, I had to put my cat of 16 years down due to a broken leg and a couple weeks later when listening to this song, I almost stopped breathing.
  3. Kelis - Food Why? I love ribs and with a song like Jerk Ribs that just smokes like the best R&B, this hit a very high rotation on my playlists this year.
  4. Courtney Barnett - A Sea Of Split Peas Why? With the funniest song of the year being Avant Gardener, this just had to be a top 10 pick.
  5. Quilt - Held In Splendor Why? Great psychedelic music that reminds me of The Jefferson Airplane and hints of other bands. Like one friend put it, listening to Quilt is like drinking a fine wine where layers of sound and musical influences peel off the more you hear it. 
Here is Pitchforks top 50 of which with the exception of the Kelis album are included. 

Singles

  1. Vic Mensa - Down On My Luck
  2. Pharrell Williams - Happy

Video 

The videos of 2014 were very strong overall reflecting the superb depth, variety and artistry of music matched with equally strong visuals that produce spellbinding interludes to reality.

Men's
Vic Mensa - Down On My Luck


I liked this video for a few reasons. Mr. Mensa employed a different kind of delivery that is unique among hiphop where the words are almost slurred together. The music has very engaging hooks. And, the video is very creative showing how life is the culmination of many small choices and when we are in the life groove the negative stuff does not manifest.

Women's

Ms Banks' video combined interesting hooks, rap, and infectious beat together with imaginative filming, props, and costumes all delivered by a confident and attractive artist who pulls off an unabashed powerful performance that can leave you speechless when played over the right video and audio equipment.



Honorable Mention for being very cool.

Books

The Ocean At The End of Lane by Neil Gaiman. I didn't read too many books this year. This is in the fantasy genre and an enjoyable read.

Meal

Capannina - Italian restaurant on Union Street in San Francisco. The grilled octopus was a revelation. I have never tasted anything so amazing and if my eyes were closed would never have known what I was eating.Great service, a table by the window onto Union Street, family, wine that matched the food, and amazing food created magic.

Movie

I did not watch many movies this year and was mostly underwhelmed by the ones I did see.  One that I have really enjoyed and have watched at least three times so far is Discovering Mavericks.  It is a movie about the surfer who first discovered the California coast location for maverick waves and the stories about the first surfers who rode them. You can watch it for free on Vimeo. It is more than a movie about surfing. The interviews go beyond the surfing into the motivations of these people and how their lives and character are shaped by the waves and experiences.

Television

 Nothing came close to The Roosevelts.  Ken Burns created a documentary about Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt that is not only a fantastic story of their lives and accomplishments, it helps you understand how different our country and world is today because of them. The expansion of Presidential executive authority, the national park system, social security, labor laws, human rights, and on and on and on are the result of these people. A must-see to understand how the world we live in today and the many things we take for granted now came about.



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