I’m only one dude. I essentially have four jobs. I have no idea when I find the time to listen to enough music to come up with 100 favorite tracks. My 2013 playlist contains more than 7 days worth of music. And that doesn’t even count all the stuff I check out on Spotify and dismiss. But even with all that listening, it’s blind, dumb, stupid luck when a certain song catches my fancy. On some occasions, a song is thrust in my face with the force of the 800 lb. mainstream music machine and those songs must endure hundreds of listens. Staying power, m’f’ers. See: Arcade Fire, Daft Punk. Other times I fall instantly in love with a record. The songs grab me immediately. Those are the easy ones. The bands and the songs I control. See: Frightened Rabbit, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Polica. And then there’s that final category. Hearing a song, being in the right frame of mind to accept its advances. You might hear a song a dozen times before it catches you at just the right moment. See: half the songs on this list. For every great song on this list, there are hundreds of equally worth songs that I just couldn’t hear. And to those songs, I’m so sorry. So, so, so sorry. Try harder next time. Everyone else, enjoy the list. Find some new music. Support great artists and so on and so forth.
The comeback had been festering, just beneath the surface, for a number of years now, but 2013 may finally have brought about a pop music renaissance. I’m not talking about Top 40 – the days that permitted consistently “good” music on the Top 40 charts have long since disappeared. The term “pop music” doesn’t need to be derogatory – it should imply a level of accessibility, not the derivative and over-produced slush we’ve come to associate with the term. The new wave has been inspired by the deep wellspring of 1980’s pop sensibilities. Hall & Oates. Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks. Tears for Fears. The Pet Shop Boys. New Order. Bands that crafted solid tunes. Lyrics. A catchy hook. A solid beat.
The holidays are the one time of year that we can and should embrace nostalgia and all of its gooey center. The holiday routines of my childhood remain some of the fondest and most pure memories. As I grew older, of course, those routines adjusted and changes and dissipated. Santa Claus and gift counting and shaking and guessing eventually give way for the comfort of family, friends, food, the records that get dusted off every year — these things become our traditions. During a certain point in my life I forgot the importance of these things. It’s not until they’re gone and reappear that we realize the odd, irrational place they hold in our hearts. I hope to share a number of my holiday traditions, both new and old over the next few weeks. Maybe something I write stirs memories of your own favorite family traditions. I’d love to hear yours too. Here are the Essential 30Hz Christmas Albums. Not the best (because let’s be honest here, Christmas music isn’t around all year for a reason), mind you. Merely the ones I can’t do without.
It’s been awhile since I dished out a new music recommendation but this guy has forced my hand. I loved this record from the first listen, but my esteem has only grown for this debut LP from the Liverpool-based producer/artist Matthew Barnes. I had this record on during a workout the other day– I know, not exactly workout tunes but I couldn’t help myself — and I had to stop what I was doing to listen. How many records do you hear each year that force you to stop… and just get lost in the music? One? Maybe two?
It’s been a few months since I was last blown away by a new record. There have been some great records, don’t get me wrong, but nothing really sent me scurrying to the bl-g to scream names from my squatty soapbox of musical superiority. Well, I’m back with a new recommendation and it did indeed send me scurrying for the soapbox. While it’s not Paul Simon’s Graceland, the fact that I’m mentioning this record in the same sentence says just about as much as I need about it’s musical pedigree.