Welcome to the third annual end-of-the-year guide to my favorite things of the year. Last year, I think I stuck to music only. This year, I will do the same and will write another post to mention a few other things that have been of influence this year. Stay tuned for that.
It really has been a big year, media-wise. After consulting my trusty iTunes play counter, it would appear that my two most listened-to bands of the year were Bon Iver and the Fleet Foxes. Big surprise there. I've posted several times about both groups--but for fun, here are two more videos for your listening enjoyment.
This performance of "re: Stacks" (my favorite song on the album) is actually from their show that I saw here in Champaign. So sweet. I just love the quite honesty of Justin Vernon's tunes. He's an inspiration.
(The song actually starts 2 minutes in on this clip if you want to skip ahead)
The Fleet Foxes have a similar vibe. I love their harmonies, percussion, and that sweet mandolin lead. Here's a link to my favorite tune "Blue Ridge Mountains" since this video won't let me embed.
The Punch Brothers, or more specifically Chris Thile--formerly of Nickel Creek and currently of the Punch Brothers--would get the third slot. My interest in bluegrass is currently in blossom mode. I recently purchased some hardware to mod my guitar into a dobro and with artists like Jerry Douglas and Chris Thile to emulate, I'm on my way!
Thile is a master musician--a respected expert on the mandolin (the guy was recording with legends before he was 20)--and a really great singer/songwriter to boot. This hasn't just been a year of solo-Thile for me, but rather one where I consumed the whole Nickel Creek catalog as well.
Here's a great quiet tune from the first Punch Brothers album (some of you may recognize the program Woodsongs that it is taken from. Our local PBS station carries it):
And if you can stand it, here's them doing an 8 minute cover of Radiohead's "Morning Bell"--the song they also ended with at the show I saw in Champaign:
So rad! That clip really shows off the band in true, pass-the-solo, bluegrass style. It will also give you a really great look at Thile's virtuosity.
It's also been a year of much Wilco, Radiohead, and other newer voices like Ray LaMontagne:
Radiohead - Weird Fishes - by Tobias Stretch
I should also mention that old favorites, Weezer and the Cure also came out with new albums this year. I was largely underwhelmed by both, though. Especially the Cure album. Both albums had some stand-outs for me though.
Underneath the Stars by the Cure might be their best song (even if not on the best album) in 10 years:
And I really love this tune, Troublemaker, from the new Weezer album. Actually, I would have to say that the "Red" album is probably the best release from my old favorite band since Pinkerton. But it just doesn't hold up against the other groups in terms of times listened last year.
Finally, a very honorable mention goes to Mates of State. They are the band that I got to meet at Lollapalooza in August and they're really great. Here's the wacky video for my favorite song on their new album Re-Arrange Us. It's called "Get Better"
Have fun jamming (and if you only chose one video to watch here, you really should check out that Morning Bell cover!).