Sunday, December 23, 2012

Top 10 of 2012

Oh hey, look at that, the world hasn't ended. Rad. The blog makes its triumphant return to proclaim my favorite albums of the year! I guess I've just been doing a lot of non-bloggy things -- and actually, I also haven't gone to see a show in a while either. But I did make some pretty baller Christmas cards for like 6 people until they got too time-consuming and I had to cut myself off. Chanukah has come and gone, but I'm leaving up the sweet pom-pom and ribbon garland I made. I'm also in the midst of editing what is currently a 7+ hour playlist for New Year's Eve (too much?), begging the eternal question: what is the first song you want to hear as 2013 starts? I have a week at home in Chicago to think about these pressing matters.

Without further ado, my 10 favorite albums of 2012:

10. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

Somehow choosing #10 on this list was harder than the first nine. First Aid Kit managed to edge out the rest of my honorable mentions with some charming Swedish folk and a tenderness to their voice and sound. Plus they did a great Tiny Desk Concert.

9. Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits

This was a shining example of what a super group can produce. With Britt on vocals it ran the risk of sounding overly Spoon-y (not that I would have minded that), but Divine Fits definitely have a sound of their own. I'm particularly fond of their slow-build jam "Shivers."

8. The Walkmen - Heaven

While more subdued than say, Bows + Arrows, this album is similarly full of passionate sentiment if not fervor. It certainly has some of the songs that have stuck in my head this year more than anything else. 

7. Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls

It really feels like these guys came out of nowhere. And thank god. Soulful in a truly genuine way. One of my regrets of the year is that I never saw them live.

6. David Byrne & St. Vincent - Love This Giant

Love them individually, love them together. It was a match made in off-beat rocker heaven, and a long time coming. Lots of horn-filled goodness. My only complaint is that I wish there was more of Annie's guitar because she's just so awesome.

5. Hospitality - Hospitality

I listened to this album a lot this year, particularly pre-fall. It's that sort of indie pop where things sound bright and sunny, but their lyrics are actually bleakly realistic when you pay attention. They were pretty charming when I saw them play at the South Street Seaport, too.

4. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange  

One of the most lauded albums of the year, and for good reason. It's hard to separate praise for his album from his personal narrative this year in coming out, which certainly adds some context. However, even without that piece of information, he has still created a beautiful album that has the power to resonate with anyone. His performance of Bad Religion on Jimmy Fallon still haunts me.

3. Japandroids - Celebration Rock

I really slept on getting into this album. It came out when I was in a very female-vocalist / folky phase of the year, so I passed over it initially. But really, it's kind of perfect and amazing. You get exactly what the title promises: celebration rock. Its high energy level reminds me of high school, except it's so much better than most of what I listened to back then.

2. Passion Pit - Gossamer

It felt like Passion Pit toured on their first album f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I was growing skeptical of whether they could avoid the 2nd album slump, but they matured lyrically in a really positive way. And added a little more...shall I say groove to their sound. The interview with Michael Angelakos on Pitchfork (ugh, sigh) was one of the more interesting and candid discussions of an artist's mental health that I've read in a while, and gives a lot of great background on how his being bipolar played a role in the creation of this album.

1. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp

I cannot, will not, get over how great this album is. Seeing her at BAM allowed me to make a strong connection between her and her work - it feels like a perfect reflection of who she is. And yeah, I have a slight bias towards artists who collaborate with the guys in The National, but even without the Dessner-boost, Sharon Van Etten is special. Her voice has that fragile-yet-powerful, haunting quality which gets me every time.

Listen to them all at once (if you have several hours available...):

Honorable mentions: Jack White - Blunderbuss, The Shins - Port of Morrow, Tame Impala - Lonerism, Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal, Father John Misty - Fear Fun, Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself.

Friday, August 31, 2012

hands up and touch the sky

See you next year, summer. I'm a little sad to see you go, but I'll be glad to see 90+ degree days leave us. It's been pretty laid back, but a lot of stuff snuck in there -- the best kind of summer I think.

Summer 2012 tally:
- 2 weddings (with #3 coming up in a few weeks!)
- 4 Lou Malnati's pizza parties
- 5 concerts in Prospect Park (Laura Marling; Ghostface Killah; Childish Gambino/Danny Brown/SchoolboyQ; Wilco; Wild Flag)
- many first times including a trip to LA, hanging out in Jersey City, standing up in a friend's wedding, swimming at a NYC beach (the Rockaways!), and going to a bachelorette party (this is that scary part of our 20's where there's some kind of snowball and everyone gets married, isn't it?)
- a visit from two of my favvvvvorite people ever
- plus, 12 weeks of fresh summer vegetables (CSA!) and subsequent super delicious stuff being made
- this also just might be known as the summer of the frozen zombie fishbowl...we had a few too many.

I have no way to quantify the number of times I actually listened to Starships, but it's way more than what I recorded on It definitely wound up being my song of the summer. I tried my hardest to avoid Call Me Maybe, but it was totally inescapable, particularly watching any sort of Olympics swimming coverage. yikes.

bring on it on, fall -- I have a sweater and some new shoes I'd love to wear. thanks. ::cue exit music::

Sunday, August 19, 2012

sky blue sky? (not quite)

Better late than never? I wrote this and forgot to post it, so...
I'm playing catch-up and am going to backtrack to a few Mondays ago when Wilco played the first of three NYC shows. This particular show was in Prospect Park, making it the fourth(?) show I've seen there this summer alone. Wilco made the space their own, with their now-standard backdrop/lighting system. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the show was that starting about 4 songs in, a steady rain began to fall. Lightning was in the area, but it never actually stormed over the bandshell. Wilco played for two and a half hours, including two multi-song encores, but no one budged an inch. They sounded great (and possibly worth noting, they were also dry because the stage area is totally covered) and checked in on the audience to make sure we weren't too wet or...chafing. Thanks? Their catalog is so extensive that of course they couldn't possibly play every single song that we wanted to hear, but everything they played was so great that I didn't even realize what was "missing" until well after. It was a lot of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and a good sampling of all the other albums. They closed the regular set with A Shot in the Arm, my all-time sentimental favorite.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

we made it in America

To wish America a happy 236th birthday, I made it a mix. It's full of newish and oldish songs and everything in between. Tributes to various states and places. Songs celebrating freedom, summer, capitalism, youth, and all those other 'merican sorts of things. I'm just hoping to not melt like I have the last two years.

Track Listing:
Hot As Day - Wye Oak
National Anthem - Lana del Ray
Rise To The Sun - Alabama Shakes
Coney Island - Death Cab for Cutie
The Great Salt Lake - Band of Horses
Summer Days - Bob Dylan
Brand New Colony - The Postal Service
Niagra Falls - Harlem Shakes
Young Americans - David Bowie
Blink and You'll Miss a Revolution - Cut Copy
Your English Is Good - Tokyo Police Club
Decatur, or, Round of Applause For Your Stepmother! - Sufjan Stevens
Freedom at 21 - Jack White
The First Single - The Format
Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National
We Almost Lost Detroit - Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
California Waiting - Kings of Leon
1000 Julys - Third Eye Blind
I'm Free (Hot Chip Remix) - The Rolling Stones
Mississippi - The Griswolds
Made in America - Jay Z/Kanye
Bonfire - Childish Gambino
Americano - Lady Gaga
Firework - Katy Perry

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

we wake up with the sun in our eyes

Photo diary of my first trip to LA this past weekend, for my friends' wedding in Long Beach. Lots of beautiful weather and touristy fun. Back in New York now, it's been raining/misting for two days, which is making me super miss California!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

just beachy

Amazingly I'm just approaching my 4 year anniversary of living in NYC, and just took my first trip to the beach! I met up with my friends in the Rockaways on Saturday, which I had previously avoided because I thought it was too far away -- in that regard, I was sort of right because I had terrible train luck and it wound up taking me an hour and 40 minutes to get there. However, I am always a fan of when the subway goes above ground, and in this case it gives you an incredible view across the channel. It hardly feels like you're in the city at all.

The boardwalk has lots of great food, though we mostly camped out by the 106th St beach and the Caracas arepas stand. There was frozen sangria and $3 Brooklyn Summer Ales because it was a Brooklyn Based/ Brooklyn Brewery sponsored day of fun (see photobooth evidence above). This beach trip coincidentally comes directly before I head off to LA for the first time, where I'm sure I will have even more sand & sun-filled tales to tell.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

all of the leches

Last week, amid all the Crossing Brooklyn Ferry madness, my friend also turned 26. So, my Saturday was spent making a Cinco de Mayo fiesta appropriate cake (not just tres leches, but muchas leches.) It was fairly involved, but I think it turned out well:
Muchas Leches birthday cake

This cake involved more whipping of various egg parts and cream than I have ever gone through before. But, I learned a lot about the massive volume increase you get from 7 egg whites... Also that making sugared almonds is insanely sticky, and cake doesn't absorb milk at the rate I thought it would (read: dripage).

All those relative non-issues aside, the cake was a big hit, and the party was a ton of fun. There were tacos and margaritas, and multiple kinds of guac. And a pinata!!

Pinata time on the roof

In addition to cake-making duties, I also made this little mix for the birthday girl. Happy birthday again, MC Manzana! ;)