The Music We Loved Most In 2013

2013 Was Not Really A Huge Music Year For LJ

2013 was not really a huge music year for me. It was a food year and a life year. I worked very hard and I got a lot of things done in the very standard way that you're supposed to; it didn't leave me too much time to do much wandering or reflecting. No sitting on too many docks of very many bays. When I think of all the songs that moved me most this past year, I think of specific moments rather than phases or vibes. Hot Love was crossing the street west-to-east on the south side of Bathurst at Bloor last February. It was late into the month, past Valentine's Day, and I was wearing one mitten. I was on my way to go buy a new pair of mittens, which made me angry- I'd been hoping I could make it through the end of winter without having to buy a pair of mittens again, and the fact that I didn't made me feel like winter was lasting longer than it should have. I resented it. As I crossed the street I pressed "next" on my iPod on shuffle and Hot Love came on. It was what Valentine's is supposed to be- happy and hoppy, hoppy like a cute bunny jumping and also hoppy like a complicated beer. It fixed things. It reminded me to care about T.Rex and caring about T.Rex overtook me like the rush you feel after smiling. Marc Bolan is one of the most important artists ever to have spoken to me and he never would have if he hadn't that one weird day. 

Daisy Glaze is from the spring. For some reason I always hear that song as if someone- Alex Chilton, I guess- is swimming in a pool and singing up at me from underneath translucent Yves Klein blue. Daisy Glaze is one of the only times in my life when the song from the album with the best name is also the one I love the most. Life is so good when that happens. 

On Cinco de Mayo I kissed my boyfriend for the first time. It was one of those times when you finally kiss the boy you've had a crush on forever and you think everything's going to happen but as it turns out nothing happens. You're all nervous-excited to see him the next day, your pupils are hearts and the animator is drawing trails of hearts flying out of your head, and then you show up and he's being dull and work-oriented and it's crushing. Then you have to live out the next week of hoping for the best but expecting the worst and accepting it and it's just a generally shitty thing to go through, especially when the dude's your boss, which he was. But oddly, the Universe sent another boy into my life to temporarily distract me- the only Leo I ever kissed. I kissed him seven summers ago and then some lame Tuesday night seven years later and he saunters into my restaurant ten minutes before the kitchen closes, smelling like a dusty bookcase and accompanied by his little brother. I gave them free drinks duh, and for about twelve days I could tell the Leo and I were both thinking "Hmm"- the allure of unfinished business enhanced by the why of "Why did life bring us back together?" and somewhere in the middle of those twelve days, I had to run to the liquor store to buy Bacardi on my break. It was a work-related errand; I would never drink Bacardi, blecch. I  rode the subway one stop to an ugly liquor store inside an ugly underground mall, and I was bumming hard because I knew I'd never love the Leo the way I loved this other guy- my boss who'd become my boyfriend- and I listened to Daisy Glaze on repeat the whole way there and the whole way back, waiting in line holding 3 squishy bottles of Bacardi made from some newfangled 2013 booze bottle material, and I misheard the lyrics and thought that Alex Chilton was singing "I'm trying to look sad about you," and I envied him- I've never had to try and look sad about anybody, I just naturally look it. But really he's singing "I'm driving alone, sad about you," so don't worry. I'm not alone. 

The rest of spring was Machu Picchu and Wakin On A Pretty Day- Machu Picchu was in April, the month I got promoted to assistant manager of my old restaurant and decided that I would openly and unapologetically love the Strokes forever- great decision. On the second day of the month the city of Toronto turned off the water in my restaurant's neighbourhood so they could repair a pipe or whatevs. We closed for lunch and dinner, and my future-boyfriend-boss and I came in to clean the entire restaurant. I got down on my hands and knees and cleaned all the muck and grit and rotten lime wedges out from underneath the bar fridges listening to the Strokes' entire discography on shuffle and every time this song came on it was like someone was feeding me a pina colada and some dirty bad-for-me cheeseburgers intravenously. Wakin On A Pretty Day fasts forward into my May, mostly just walking to work early- I served brunch then- and remarking upon how green the trees were- no. I'm selling myself, and the Universe, short- the greenness was astounding. Chill music tricking me into feeling chilled out, though today it just makes me tired. I listened to Freaks a lot then too. It's a cool song. One night I was lying down on one of the banquettes at my old restaurant waiting for Mark to finish, White Album on the speakers, and my two impish line-cooks, young people from today who don't know how to understand that Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da is actually, somehow, cool, hijacked my iPod and played Freaks loud, started dancing with their arms and knees to make some point about how the Beatles aren't good. I thought it was sort of sweet.

Miss O'Dell is my favorite song (you can read about it here), and this was the year I found it, which is a cool trait in a year: The Year I Found My Favorite Song. Isis was another very important thing that happened to me. 2013 was also The Year I Found Bob Dylan- earlier when I was writing about Marc Bolan I wrote a sentence about how Marc Bolan and Bob Dylan are the two halves of me and then I deleted it because I felt like I was being mean to Ray Davies, but now I'm thinking that maybe Ray Davies is my Sun Sign, Marc Bolan is my Moon Sign, and I'm Bob Dylan Rising. Wow. Okay, I feel like I just figured my entire life out. 

I hope to write about Isis in a more in-depth way as a part of my ongoing Ten Bob Dylan Songs I'd Rather Die Than Live Without in the future, so for the time being I'd just like to shout out the song lyrics I was thinking about turquoise, I was thinking about gold for changing my fucking life with how cool and beautiful they are as well as the part when he sings I was thinking about Isis, how she thought I was so RECKLESS, the way he sings the word RECKLESS- he tastes it, like he's eating it- you can tell he's not just being the character in the song anymore. You can tell that Bob Dylan really sees himself as a reckless guy, that every woman he's ever loved has sighed over his recklessness, and every time I feel like maybe I've grown up and moved on, that I don't care about any crazy thing I actually care about and am only A Person With A Job, his RECKLESS reminds me that I am what I am, that I haven't, that I can't be. 

(Last but not least: if you'd like to win a copy of this mix CD, along with a handful of Strawberry Fields Whatever stickers and maybe something else depending on how busy I am that day, please email a cool response to the question What's your favorite song on Blonde on Blonde and, most importantly, WHY? to laurajanefaulds at gmail by the evening of January 5th; I don't know how I'll pick a winner, but I know that I will.)

2013 Wasn't an Especially Big Music Year for Jen Either

Seeing The Punk Singer reminded me that Bikini Kill is my favorite band. In the film Johanna Fateman says something like, “they weren’t the best girl band, they were the best band”, and she’s right. The songs are as important and emotional for me today as they were when I first heard them as a really angry baby teen.

I got super into the B-52’s for a while.  The outer space/big hair thing was exactly what I needed. Mostly the first 2 albums but I also became especially obsessed by "Girl from Ipanema" goes to Greenland. The Song. The video. THE VIDEO. It  also has the most true truism in the lyrics – wherever you go, there you are, which is so comforting and depressing at the same time.

The "Theme to Female Trouble" by Divine is my #1 song of the year. Even if it had nothing to do with John Waters I would love it. Luckily it has everything to do with John Waters, the world’s most perfect man. I don’t know how to write about music in that way where you can hear it. There’s a definite groove, and amazing lyrics like, “hey spare me your morals/look everyone dies” and "I'm Berserk!/ I like it fine". I’m also pretty into Divine’s disco hit, “I’m so Beautiful."

As always, The Monster Mash remains one of my most favorite songs.

Body/head Coming Apart, is a dream of a record for me.

The songs on Weed Hounds upcoming album are all cool and lovely, but also top secret so you can’t hear them yet.

Tom Scharpling had been ending the music portion of the Best Show with a song by The Sweet for most of the year. I’ve grown to really love “Blockbuster” especially. I’ll continue listening to it at least once a week from here on out in honor of The Best Show, one of the great loves of my life. I will also listen to a lot of Led Zeppelin in 2014.

I became interested in Grimes as a person before I listened to her music. I listened to a few seconds and felt it was too sweet and not for me. It felt like swallowing sugar.  After following her on tumblr for a while I gave Visions another try and was surprised to find I really liked it. Like, a lot. It’s not so sweet and I’m not sure what my problem was but now I love Grimes.

I saw the flawless goddess Julie Klausner's cabaret show at Joe's Pub this year. She & Bridget Everett covered the Monkees song "Nine Timed Blue". I wondered - why don't I listen to this song constantly all of the time? Then I started listening to it constantly all of the time, along with other Mike Nesmith Monkees songs. 

I listen to Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk and Helium’s The Magic City repeatedly while in the studio so they are both forever and permanently on my best music of every year list. Forever.

Liz's 2013 Was Sweet Like Cinnamon

That's a picture of a fortune I got with my fried rice at a Manchu Wok at the Salt Lake City airport, on my way back to L.A. from Tennessee last May. Right before I left for my trip I finished the first draft of my book, and in Tennessee I went to Graceland and ate chess pie and drank lots of beer and whiskey with my cool buddy Alissa and saw Gram Parsons's Nudie suit and had brisket and french fries and a strawberry Coke at a barbecue place because I once saw a picture of Big Star eating there, and then when I got back to L.A. this crazy thing happened and it was crazy.

Anyway my point was it was a BIG WEEK and full of fun and steeped in the richness of life, and the fried rice was fantastic. On the drive home from the airport I stopped at an In N Out by the side of the highway and got a strawberry milkshake and listened to "Hot Burrito #2" by the Flying Burrito Brothers, which is one of the songs I put on this Spotify playlist I just made. It pretty nicely encapsulates my year and it's got songs by Dinosaur Jr. and Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers and Beyonce and Deerhunter, plus all of these fine-looking people: 

BLAKE BABIES & LANA DEL REY. My number-one song of summer 2013 was "Out There" by Blake Babies tied with "Cola" by Lana Del Rey. I associate "Cola" with the Friday afternoon in June when my little sister and her bestie were visiting, and we went to Beverly Hills and bought cupcakes and brought them to Farmers Market and ate them with champagne: it was Lana Del Rey's birthday and my cupcake was cinnamon, as in "Now my life is sweet like cinnamon/Like a fuckin dream I'm livin in." And "Out There" is driving thru the drive-thru at the Dunkin Donuts near my parents' house on a hot rainy Tuesday or Wednesday at the end of the July, and getting a big iced French vanilla coffee, and going to a used bookstore and buying a big stack of used books. Each of those songs is an anthem in its own weird way, and I like the vibe and ridiculousness of swirling together Lana Del Rey's sleazy/glamorous L.A. princess thing and Juliana Hatfield's lonely/glamorous hiding-in-her-bedroom thing and letting them mean something great and grand about me and everything.

COURTNEY BARNETT. Courtney Barnett is a 25-year-old from Australia and my favorite new music person I found this year. I dig her chill romanticism, how it's both dreamy and pragmatic, but more than anything I'm in love with her vocabulary. In "History Eraser" she sings about margaritas, "You Can't Always Get What You Want," French kissing, soccer players, ducks, dudes, vermouth, a farm. In other songs she sings about asthma attacks, radishes, schmoozing loser-y users, masturbation, marijuana, flowers and porcelain and coffee and TV. Her songs are the kind of stories I wish were little movies, and the sex scenes would be so sweetly awkward, like something from an alternate universe where Girls  is a world you actually want to know more and more about instead of less and less.

ALEX CHILTON. I feel like this is maybe a pretentious or dickish thing to say, but I don't really think about Big Star when I think of my Alex Chilton tattoo. I think of shit like the song "Walking Dead" and its fucked-up creepy nowhere-going beautiful bullshit, and of Alex looking like this - a cool sicko who can't ever help being at least a little bit wonderful:


Let's Watch 'Greenberg' Instead of 'It's a Wonderful Life' On Christmas Eve This Year


I held off on watching Greenberg because every single person/reviewer was like, "OH MY GOD SO DARK, Ben Stiller is so loathsome, just the worst." I'm not very into movies largely populated by loathsome characters; I just don't find it all that amusing or exciting to watch people be miserable assholes to each other for 90 minutes. But then a few Thursday nights ago I slept like hell and on Friday I didn't have heaps of work to do, so I took a sick day. First I watched Frances Ha, the first Greta Gerwig movie I've ever seen. Frances Ha bugged me for the first half-hour or so, but then I loved it and I loved Greta Gerwig and I wanted more of her. I watched The Dish & The Spoon (wonderful, adorable, such a weird sweet heartbreaker), and then I watched Hannah Takes the Stairs (two and a half out of four stars), and then I watched goddamn Greenberg. I put it on because it was there to be watched, and told myself I could shut it off at any time if I started hating everyone in a life-sucking sort of way.
       But I loved loved loved Greenberg; it was very much the highlight of Greta Gerwig Sick Day Film Fest. To me there is absolutely nothing loathsome about Greenberg the movie, or about Greenberg the character. I truly have zero understanding of why anyone would hate Roger Greenberg, and the only explanation I can come up with is so cynical, something about people being too ungenerous and unimaginative to feel any love for someone who has a hard time living in the world; they mistake his anxiety for aggression because it makes them anxious too. Is that it? I really don't know.
      I recognize that Roger is an asshole but I don't quite hold it against him, though I don't feel bad for him either. He's a kicked puppy who's done all the kicking himself, and he's sort of trying to stop and maybe he's going to work it out. I thought it was so sweetly hopeful. So that's the main reason why you should watch Greenberg instead of It's a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve this year, if you're into the ritual of watching edifying and delightful movies the night before Christmas. Here are four more reasons, and they don't even include Chris Messina and Mark Duplass and Serge Gainsbourg and "Jet Airliner," although of course that's all important too:

RHYS IFANS. I have three main dude types: the first is the dark-haired, slightly bug-eyed, vaguely Ichabod Crane-esque look of Ian Svenonius and the guy who played Josh on 30 Rock; the second is that sandy/pasty/hair-color-matches-skin-tone thing best represented by the Culkin Brothers and Vincent Kartheiser and the first boy I loved in L.A.; and the third is the rugged Welsh beauty of beautiful Rhys Ifans. He's the Greenberg character I'd most want to hang out with, he's so irrepressibly kind and patient with Roger; he's got lovely manners and that cool beaten-down-by-life-but-still-totally-chill vibe. I love his beard, his blondeness, his nice blonde beard. I love the first scene he's in, with Ivan and Roger's amazing conversation about the movie Gung Ho. All of Greenberg is worth watching for that goofy little 13-second chat about the movie Gung Ho, this I swear to you.

MAHLER. The best movie dog ever, maybe? Marissa made this cool point about how Roger's carefulness with Mahler is one of the things that most redeems his character, which is neat to think about in the context of Wes Anderson and that theory of how "offhand and  abrupt acts of canine disregard are examples of the slightly anti-social lack of sentimentality that runs through all of Anderson’s work." And when Roger wakes up on the floor after the party and looks up to see Mahler's cute li'l paws hanging over the edge of the couch, my heart just sings. I want a German Shepherd for Christmas. Also: a cinnamon tree.

FLORENCE. Before I saw Frances Ha my friend Rachel told me that Frances reminded her of me. And then I watched the movie and spent the first half-hour deeply worried that I'm generally perceived as someone who galumphs around acting like a complete idiot all the time. My big prob with Frances Ha, initially, was I just felt like "Nobody is this much of an idiot. You couldn't be this idiotic and exist in the world and not, like, die." But then I got over that, because it's not true, and I started to love Frances and her bonkers exuberance. In Greenberg that joie de vivre is a little tempered but it's still palpable, in Florence. They made so many brill choices with her character, like how she sings a Shawn Colvin song at her show and it's both beautiful and lame, but mostly beautiful, and how she wears her rad Henry's Tacos shirt with that big chunky cardigan, and how she's got a copy of the Sarah McLachlan album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy on CD in her car.


I Love the Best Show Forever

            BY JEN

            Last night was the last episode of the Best Show on WFMU. The show is over as we know it.  
            I love the Best Show so much I don’t know how to talk about it. I talk about it all the time and never say what I mean. It’s a radio show, yes, but it’s more than that. It’s about warmth and community and comedy and music and it’s about something else that probably doesn’t have a word because it’s so Best Show specific. Maybe it’s a mispronunciation of a word that means something all encompassing about how massively hugely loved the Best Show is.

            The Best Show has been on WFMU for 13 years and sadly I only got to listen every week for a year and change. I don’t know why I didn’t find it earlier – I was so close. I’m thankful for the short time I’ve spent with the Best Show. I’m also very thankful for the archives and for all of the Best Show Gems.
            The show is like a friend or a blanket. It’s comforting and dependable. It radiates kindness even when Tom Scharpling is hanging up on callers. I consider it a feminist show, and Scharpling is a feminist art hero to me. This may be my delusional own thing, but sexism is called out for sure and my existence is never the butt of a joke. A few weeks ago a caller called in to thank Tom for his non-sexist humor. I may have cried.

            I’m going to miss hearing Tom talking about everything and anything. How terrible Tom Waits is. Starbucks. Panera bread. Pinball. Feeling dumb.  All of it. I’ll miss hearing bad callers get Bad Companied (slow fade in of the song Bad Company by Bad Company with a hang up as the chorus kicks in). I’ll miss hearing Gary the Squirel talk about #showbiz and #snacks. I will miss seeing which demented Wurster character is calling in this week. Philly Boy Roy, I love you, shine on you crazy diamond. I’ll miss it all. I guess I can go out on Tuesday nights now, but who cares?

            I made this shrine last night while listening to the show. The show started at 9 and the sticker letters came out. It had to happen. I cracked open a Coors Light (chi-ku)  in celebration of AP Mike and listened to the last episode of this perfect show. It was hilarious and beautiful, a total victory. I cried a little but not too much. I cried a very appropriate amount. I consider the show one of the great loves of my life and thank Tom Scharpling, Jon Wurster, AP Mike, Gary the Squirrel, and  Vance the Puppet with my entire soul. I’m so excited to see what they do next. Best Show for Life.


Old Man John Lennon

I clicked on the link to this super-trashy Buzzfeed post entitled "What Deceased Music Legends Would Look Like If They'd Made It To Old Age" expecting it to be a chill mix of inaccurate and semi-offensive, but it turned out that whoever made these weird Internetty face-meld pictures did a kind of inspired job of it (although they really shit the bed on their wildly-schlumpy depiction of fortysomething Kurt Cobain; I think it's nuts to assume that 2013 Kurt would have had a goatee. Kurt Cobain had his ear to the ground, and goatees are out of fashion. Let's get real here). 

I was hoping there'd be a John Lennon one because duh, I'm obviously obsessed with the Beatles, and then there was, and it is BEAUTIFUL. He looks so English and gentle and he's wearing a) earth tones and b) a turtleneck. His gaze is loving you but also daring you. I've had a pretty good run of not having any emotional breakdowns about John Lennon's death in a couple years but this photo definitely ruined my winning streak. I think it's 100% on the money and that the people who made this picture are actually crazy psychic mystics who travelled here from a parallel Universe where John Lennon is alive to tell us all the TRUTH about what John Lennon truly grew up to look like. 

IN CONCLUSION: John Lennon was one of the coolest humans ever to happen, his death was messed up, and if he were alive I would have figured out some sort of way to be his intern, I know I would have, and we would have been a cool duo, Old Man John and I. I just want to drink wine and talk shit with the old dude in a library. Not, like, a public library- a library in a person's home. In his home. Me and John and a very musty smell and a ladder.