The Wilhelm household in Houston, TX were rudely awakened by their dogs early one morning this week. The dogs’ food had been pilfered by a raccoon that entered through the dog door then retreated to the bathroom to escape what might have been a gruesome fate at the maws of angry canines. When the humans in the house found the raccoon, they snapped this adorable picture and then cleared the way for him/her to escape. No harm, no foul.
I don’t like to talk about music with people. This is due to several traumatic experiences which showed me that people are incredibly judgmental about others’ taste in music and that, for the most part, you shouldn’t discuss music unless you are very actively maintaining the right balance of liking what’s popular and what’s obscure (but still popular.)
I’m not popular or cutting edge. I’m definitely not deep.
Here’s what I liked this year. And remember, it’s not necessarily what came out this year, just music that I discovered for myself or, in some cases, found a new appreciation for.
Did you see It Follows? It’s a pretty pretty great indie horror movie featuring a neat synth soundtrack by Disasterpiece. Then there was The Guest, a really awesome slasher flick that came out last year that had some very 80’s tracks in it. I grew up playing video games (in the 80’s), so synth music is a part of my existence. On the good side, those retro sounds are seeing something of a comeback these days, both in movies (did you get a load of Kung Fury or the infinitely superior Turbo Kid?) so there’s a bit to choose from. Here’s my first batch of picks:
Of course, I also like to keep up with artists I’ve previously enjoyed. Sadly, I don’t do a very good job of that. I turns out a few released albums recently-ish and nobody told me. It amazes me that iTunes doesn’t have a built-in feature to e-mail me when an artist who I’ve bought two or more albums from releases a new one.
And then there are the random things I come across. I like the Sound Opinions program on NPR, one of the few NPR productions I can tolerate, actually. And they occasionally bring up songs that strike my fancy, even if they’re not my usual taste. Some of this harks back to one of the best selling albums of 2014, the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack.
Every now and then I decide to delve into my meager music collection (a mere 64GB) and rediscover music I’ve previously listened to. This year, the Heathers album Kingdom caught my attention. This one is a little personal. The band was recommended to me by a former friend who was kind of a music snob. He much preferred their first album, Here, Not There, which was much less produced and hence more “real.”I’m sure I heard both of the albums back then, filed them away, and then never gave them another thought until this year. Having re-listened, I can see where that friend was coming from. The first album can very bluntly be described as “two girls and a guitar.” Their singing on that one can be … discordant. But on Kingdom? I don’t care if it’s not “real.” I’d rather listen to these tracks any day.
Based on my listening to Heathers, Apple music (I took advantage of the trial period and concluded that it sucks) suggested another band, and I actually can’t disagree with the choice! I’d never heard of HamsandwicH, but they have some really great songs, some with a slightly 60’s vibe to them. Unfortunately, they maintain my awful tradition of listening to European music. I’m an American, dammit!
I need to bring things back to video games, though. They’ve evolved considerably from the beeps and boops of yesteryear. And they have an amazing ability to elevate the gaming experience with their orchestration.
“Apotheosis” by Austin Wintory for Journey (I talk shit about this game all the time, but this really is a transcendent moment in gaming)