music mondays: 2014 favorites

As my friend Jackie pointed out, I’ve been a bit of a negligent writer recently. But since it’s still January, I don’t think it’s too late to wrap up what I was listening to in 2014. So, here is some of my favorite music from last year that I didn’t write about yet.

2014 was a year for many people to find their voice. In particular, women started to speak out against the injustices and violence committed against them. Alynda Lee Segarra has been making music with her band Hurray for the Riff Raff for a few years now, but 2014’s Small Town Heroes was the band’s major label debut. My favorite track, and the one I think was most relevant in 2014, is “The Body Electric.” Segarra has been quoted as saying she wrote the song in response to the 2012 Delhi gang rape that resulted in the death of the woman. This song is Segarra’s version of (or response to) the classic murder ballads she became so tired of hearing. It doesn’t need much explanation.

I’m going to ruffle some feathers by not claiming Run the Jewels 2 as my favorite hip hop of 2014, but I do what I want. Scotland’s Young Fathers provided my windows down summer driving music. They also shocked a lot of people by winning the Mercury Prize, beating FKA Twigs and others. Young Fathers is a three-person group, and while all the members are Scottish, one was born in Liberia and another has Nigerian parents, which gives their music an interesting edge. In a way, I think Young Fathers could be a good “gateway to hip hop” group. They are so heavily influenced by rock, trip hop, and world music, it’d be easy to find something you like. “Low” was my favorite track from their album, Dead.

Like many others, I spent the way-too-fucking-cold February and March of 2014 listening to Angel Olsen‘s Burn Your Fire for No Witness on repeat. Too hard to pick a favorite, so just watch this whole set.

It was a bummer when Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon decided to be a dick to The War on Drugs last year, but Benji was still one of my favorite albums of 2014. Yes, that Benji. benjiKozelek claims he wanted to give a lighthearted title to his album because it was so dark and sad and pretty much all about death. Nice try, Mark. You may be predisposed to like the opening track, Carissa, if you’re from Ohio, but it remains an incredibly relatable, albeit dark, song.

So now I have to give love to The War on Drugs. Not only did they put out one of my favorite albums of 2014, they also were one of my favorite live shows. Lost in the Dream has this awesome 70s/80s dad rock sound that I found so welcome in 2014. If you weren’t having solo dance parties to “Red Eyes,” you’re a dummy.

For my full list of favorite music from 2014, check out my spotify playlist. Happy listening.

breaking the cycle: congrats Malala!

Many have been waiting for Malala Yousafzai to win her Nobel Peace Prize, and this year the committee gave it to her. She’s only 17, but since she was a child, Malala has been a champion for education, in particular for girls. If you don’t know Malala’s story, this article has some background info.

Below is a short documentary from 2009 about Malala and her family, and their fight for education.

 

music mondays: what’s coming in 2014

I started writing a post about Columbus band Old Hundred, but decided to stop midway and wait until they release their new album. That decision inspired this post about albums coming in 2014!

Locals:

Old Hundred is releasing a new record that I am eagerly anticipating. A music monday post will be dedicated to them once the album is available for listening.

Maria Levitov is a Columbus singer-songwriter whose music I was just introduced to. She has an album release show this Thursday, for $5, or free if you preordered the album. Check out this video for her single “Brother”:

Allyse Huey, who I’ve written about before, is releasing her first EP this June. (Now you have to release it in June, Allyse, LOL.)

Nationals:

There’s so much hip hop coming out this year: Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and of course, the HIGHLY ANTICIPATED NEW ALBUM FROM OUTKAST.

Frank Ocean is picking the mic back up to deliver a follow-up to 2012’s Channel Orange. If I were Frank Ocean, I think it’d be really easy and tempting to leave Channel Orange as my one studio album and let my solo career be remembered for that. Glad he wants to keep pursuing his solo career.

Grimes is releasing her fourth album this year. I know that Grimes is not for everyone, but I’m a fan. I’m excited to see what kind of stuff she’s doing now. I recently learned that Grimes is a Dolly Parton fan, which surprised me, but makes me like her even more. In case you forgot what Grimes is about:

Robyn. Fun fact about Robyn. For my 5th grade music class talent show, I sang along to Robyn’s “Show Me Love”. Which means that I was too chicken to just sing by myself (because I can’t actually sing) but Robyn will always hold a special place in my heart. Looking forward to some more solid pop music from her.

Solange is putting out her third album some time this year. She moved to New Orleans in 2013 for her music (as she said), so I’m hoping there will be some good jazz and blues elements in her new stuff. Her video for “Losing You” remains one of my favorites.

Nickel Creek. Rumors have been circulating that Nickel Creek reunited to make another album, due out this spring. Nickel Creek was the first bluegrass/folk band that I fell in love with, so I hope the rumors are true.

Looks like 2014 might just be able to follow up the great year in music that was 2013.

Update:

I forgot to add Lost in the Trees. LITT’s third full album comes out next month, and I’m pretty interested by the changes they’ve made. This album doesn’t have the heavy strings presence that has been a major element in LITT’s sound, not to mention one of my favorite parts of this band. Like others, they are moving to a more electronic sound with this new album. For a sneak peak, check out this episode of All Songs Considered from a couple weeks ago, which features one of the new tracks.