A Year Is A Long Time In Music

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Quite a year in these parts. Looking back on oh four I kinda wonder how I made it through. The year got off to a very rough start for me, stayed that way most of the year before I finally got everything headed in the right direction in the Fall.

In January, while still unemployed, I announced that my (now ex) girlfriend and I were ending our five year relationship, which also meant no more Kitty. I moved out in early February, an experience I don't hope to repeat anytime soon. In April, this website celebrated it's first birthday and in May I figured out new ways of killing my downtime by agreeing to become a Sports Editor for Gothamist. Later in the month I went back to NYC to catch Moz, not once, but twice, at the legendary Apollo Theatre. My grandmother died in June, shortly after I turned the big three-oh, and that was easily the lowest point of the year for me. I was at rock bottom, but that helped me in many ways. It motivated me to move to DC, something I did in July. Soon after, I finally (finally!) got a job. In August, I celebrated by helping Grambo turn 30 and then went to see Moz yet again; in DC in late September and in Philly in October. It only got better from their as the Red Sizzle beat the Yankees in the greatest comeback in sports history (I never get tired of saying that) and then won their first World Series in 86 years. November brought us the election results, but the best thing that happened to me all year occurred just a few weeks ago...I got Jarvis The Cat!

Before we begin the musical portion of this entry, I just want to thank everyone that comes to my little space on the interweb on a regular basis. You all helped me through the trying times I had earlier this year. I poured most of my energy into this site and it kept me going. Your support has been much appreciated. Cheers.

(somewhat in order)

Ted Leo / Shake The Sheets
Not sure what else I can say about this LP. I already declared it album of the year way back in October. My attitude hasn't really changed much. Some has dissed the record, saying Ted's earlier material was stronger. I couldn’t disagree more. This is the sound of someone that went into the studio knowing exactly how he wanted his new record to sound and simply getting it done. Not many other artists have tackled the state of the country with as much dignity or aplomb.

Sea Ray / Stars At Noon
Techincally I first heard this album in January and finally picked up a copy in July so it’s eligible for this years list. I'm sad they won’t be around to follow up this amazing record. Imagine if Ride and Coldplay combined to make a record with droney, Stereloab-like keyboards and then sprinkle some cello on top. Essential. Sea Ray is dead. Long live Sea Ray.

The Delays / Faded Seaside Glamour
After hearing this record, it’s like The La's never left. This album is chock full of hit singles, in all their Britpop influenced glory: Nearer Than Heaven, Hey Girl, One Night Away and Long Time Coming, which might come to be known as "that song in that diamond commercial." The band are said to have over 40 songs written for their follow up record. I for one cannot wait.

The Arcade Fire / Funeral
Overhyped? Maybe, but their word of mouth buzz seemed like much more of an organic thing, as opposed to say...The Killers. The most blogged about band of the year is also information leafblower approved and endorsed. Coming to DC in January.

elbow / Cast Of Thousands
Not as jammy or prog as their last record, yet Cast Of Thousands shows the band not resting on their laurels and refusing to simply stay with what got them here. Much like their debut, this record took a while to grow on me. Perhaps the worst part of the cancellation of Lollapalooza was that it kept elbow across the pond until next year. I have yet to see them live.

Ffa Coffi Pawb / Am Byth
This album is a reissue of tracks from these seminal Welsh popsters which featured a pre-SFA Gruff Rhys and Daffyd Ieuan as well as future Gorky's Zygotic Mynci guitarist Rhodri Puw. You can hear the seeds of the Super Furries being sewn on these tracks. Their Starbucks-like logo makes me laugh every time I look at it. Translated from Welsh, their name means "Everybody's Coffee Beans" although phonetically, it sounds like "Fuck Off Everyone." So best.

Luna / Rendevous
Another great band that called it quits this year. I think Luna ultimately got the short end of the stick in their career. They were just always around, and therefore, I think, a bit underrated. And, like always, you don't know what you got 'til it’s gone. I quit going to see them for the last few years because I had seen them so many times. This record was a return to form for the band, I love the organic sound. It's as if the band were all recorded while playing in the same room.

Morrissey / You Are The Quarry
Perhaps the most satisfying thing about this year was seeing the Mighty Mozzer finally get his due after laying low for so long. However, You Are The Quarry was, for me personally, a bit of a letdown. Probably because of all of the immense hype surrounding this record and Boz telling the press that it sounded like a cross between Your Arsenal and Vauxhall and I, which upon listening, it clearly is not. What it is is overproduced with a sheen and sparkle unlike any of Moz's previous work. With Jerry Finn producing, I expected a record with more rawk, instead we got drum loops and samples. Sometime it works (I Like You) but most of the time it doesn't (America Is Not The World). However some of the B-Sides from these sessions are the best thing Moz has done in 10 years. Rumours say this might have been it for Stephen Patrick Morrissey. Let's hope not.

Beta Band / Heroes To Zeroes
Fucksticks. Another one of my favorite bands that called it quit this year. Not even an opening slot for Radiohead or that unforgettable plug in High Fidelity could save the crazy Scots from obscurity. I have been all over them ever since Noel Gallagher was dropping their name (and stealing their sound in Go Let It Out) before their first ever proper CD came out.

Goldie Lookin' Chain / Greatest Hits
A cultural phenomenon in the UK and yet to be released on these shores. This Welsh rap collective turned the UK music industry on it's ear with their brash humour and crazy, infectious singles (Your Mother's Got A Penis, Guns Don't Kill People, Soap Bar). Probably too much of an in-joke to get the attention it deserves on these shores, but one can always hope. Sample Lyrics : Justin Timberlake it's time to take a fuckin' break / You touched Britney Spears, you had your piece of cake / I'd rather put my tongue across the face of Ricki Lake / than sample your music by lifting your break


1) Guided By Voices / 930 Club - I'd seen GBV twice before but they never kicked my ass like this. Pollard was in top form and the band played for three hours. T h r e e hours. I had to leave at 1:30 in the AM to catch my subway home and the band played like 9 songs after I left. Dayum.
2) Ted Leo / Black Cat (July) - This is the show that made me a believer. I took a psuedo-date to this gig and I left her to go rock out up front. That's how good it was.
3) Sea Ray / SIn-E - The show that saved music for me. Also my last show in NYC.
4) Morrissey / DAR Hall - My third Moz show of the year but by far the best. The band was much tighter than when I saw him in May and Bigmouth Strikes Again was just to die for.
5) ...Trail of Dead / 930 Club - The second loudest show I went to this year. Their sound has dramatically improved with the addition of the second drummer. Can't wait for the new record. I took the best pictures I have ever taken at a concert at this gig.
6) The Pixies / Dar Hall - The loudest gig I went to all year. Is anyone in indie rock cooler than Kim Deal? That's a rhetorical question.
7) Morrissey / Apollo Theatre (Saturday Night) - Anytime you get to hear the Mighty Mozzer belt out The Headmaster Ritual and Jack The Ripper in the same night, you just can't go wrong.
8) The Strokes / Grady Cole Center - One of the three concerts I saw in NC during my four month stay there. Only Julian's drunken rambling kept this gig so low on the list, the band were in TOP form.
9) Super Furry Animals / Cat's Cradle - Not the group's best gig, but I hadn't been to the Cat's Cradle since 1997 or so, making the night one big trip down memory lane. Also the night I met L Boogie.
10) PJ Harvey / 930 Club - Not as good as the last time I saw her, but damn she looked sexy in that little yellow dress.

I'll have my round up of the best songs of the year in January when I reveal the January playlist.

So that's it for me. I'm heading home for some R & R with the 'rents. I'll be back next week, but until then I'll leave you with a few downloads.
Sea Ray - Lashes (live) This is one of the reasons I'm so depressed about the band's break up. This is a new song (as yet unreleased) and it's easily one of the best things they've ever done. This file is in Apple's AAC format
And lastly, since it's the holidays and all:
James Dean Bradfield - Last Christmas Eff Jimmy Eat World, this acoustic version of the Wham! classic by the Manic Street Preachers frontman is FOCUSED.

PS - Did anyone else see my plug on Fimoculous? Hey now! Congrats Grambo!

catherine said:

kyle, you're definitely proof that the coolest people i know are ones i've met through blogs. i'm glad you're in town, and i hope i can live up to concert buddy status in '05. merry christmas!

Uncle Grambo said:

Dude, you love the Welsh. But no Cerys Matthews? Kidding. Excellent list, especially the high praise for The Delays. Stay bovs in `05, and you're welcome back to The D anytime! Holla atcha, Rage Kage.

marilyn said:

I can't get that Sea Ray track to work.

Coolfer said:

Jarvis rules!

So does Bradfield.

afrosam said:

Holy Shit! Luna's dead! I shan't go on...

jenny said:

that's a good list you got there.

melina said:

hi kyle,
have a great 2005! thank you for all the great info you post. your morrissey stuff and interpol posts, as well as your sports goodies, are appreciated.

hey! i got a smack on the ass from fim as well! i love his blog. that was the best christmas present (hell, practically the only christmas present) i got this year.