Best Of's - 2013
Since there are only a few more days left in the year, and any shows that I'm interested in seeing are few and far between, it's about that time for a "Best Of 2013" list. This may be a sad little list, since the habit of documenting and sharing my musical obsessions is new, but I'll give it a shot.
Album :: Can there be a 3-way tie?
Ellie Goulding - Halcyon (Halcyon Days re-release)
Her sophomore album doesn't disappoint. Some really great electronic-based songs on this album that translate well into high-energy live performances. The re-release includes some of my favorite tracks like "Burn", "You My Everything" (featured on Skins), and "How Long Will I Love You".
Biffy Clyro - Opposites
Loyal Biffy fans might think that the band is straying from their original awesomeness with this more mainstream-sounding album, but I think these songs are both rock-worthy and also re-listenable (aka it won't kill your ears to listen to this over and over again). I think the best albums are the ones with songs that don't all sound the same..and this is definitely one of those albums. (Oh yeah, it's also a double album. Even better)
Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
Gotta agree with Rolling Stone - this album is great. I love "Ya Hey". So much. Following suit with their previous albums, Vampire Weekend continues to record songs with smart lyrics and catchy yet unique melodies, borrowing from different genres and even cultures. And shoutout to their bassist, Chris Baio, who is so entertaining to watch during live shows! Definitely worthy of the hype.
Music Blog :: Consequence of Sound
Because it's local to Chicago and it has a lot of great content and browseable-for-hours type of material.
Twitterer :: @GetAlternative
This is probably due to my recent return to emo-punk rock, but this guy has turned me on to some new favorite bands like The Front Bottoms and You Blew It! I enjoy his tweets. He's also got a YouTube Channel - TheAltShow with album reviews and interviews and fun things like that. Let him help you find more alt-bands to love!
New Find :: You Me and Apollo
Saw them first at Schubas in April. Then again in June. Was slightly obsessed with them for a few months.
Now it's appreciation controlled to a normal level, ha, don't worry. They tend to play most shows out West being from Colorado, but they did go on tour this past fall. I'm sure they'll be around again once a full album is released. Oh, and they sound even better live, in my opinion. Brent Cowles' voice is both compelling and unique; the band as a whole has a really special sound. Great folk-rock/indie band to check out!
*Update - they just recorded a full-length album at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis. Sweet Honey will drop May 9!
Venue :: The Bottom Lounge
If you didn't read my posts about Biffy Clyro or Kevin Devine, let me just say the Bottom Lounge is really awesome (despite it's somewhat out-of-the-way location in West Loop/West Side). Actual concert venue is really pretty large so it's perfect for the mid-size rock artists who come through town. I really like this place, great beer, chill atmosphere. Did I mention it's also a Blackhawks bar? I'll always love Schubas, but go see a show at this venue if you can! It's pretty great.
Live Show :: Another 3 way tie? I just can't choose..
Biffy Clyro at Bottom Lounge
This show was pretty epic, just because they are a huge UK band and not that popular yet here in the US, so getting to hear them play in such close proximity was awesome. Plus, I saw their JBTV studio taping, which was a really cool (and new) experience. Crowd was really into them for the whole show - Mon the Biff!
Ellie Goulding at Aragon Ballroom
I saw Ellie Goulding twice this year - at Aragon Ballroom and Lollapalooza. I kid you not when I say that she sounds just as good, if not better, during a live performance. And she's so energetic. Few people know that she's got roots in folk/acoustic music and is a talented guitarist. Really great, and I'm glad she's getting a ton more exposure here in the US now.
Shakey Graves at Metro
Shakey Graves was a highly anticipated artist who I had wanted to see ever since I missed his performance at Schubas in the summer. Despite being the opener, he is such a talented guy that his set held its own. If it was up to me, he basically could have headlined the whole show. Plus, I just love the one-man-band idea. Shakey is definitely gaining more popularity (especially in the Southwest/TX area), and I cannot wait for an album (hopefully 2014?) that can do his live performance justice.
(PS. Can't-Wait-For Albums? Jason Mraz. Reignwolf. Shakey Graves. You Me and Apollo...come on, 2014!)