There are so many people that have helped influence and shape the different types of music I listen to. I like to think that I give every genre a fair listen and then decide if it is for me or not. I try my best to not have any preconceived notions about a band or style of music and how it will make me feel or what emotions it might elicit.
It all starts with my parents, growing up my Mom listened to country music such as Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, etc. and female pop singers such as Madonna and Whitney Houston. In the meantime my Dad introduced me to classic rock groups Queen, The Who, and Alice Cooper. I can still remember being enamored with my parents’ 8-Track collection and thumbing through what they owned and thinking that all of these bands and singers were larger than life.
At the same time, my uncles, who I revered so much because they were only five and six years older than I, were into the hair metal that was so prominent at the time. Fortunately neither of them had the hair to prove their merit in the scene. Not that there was any type of scene in Newcomb in the 1980’s. From them I was introduced to Poison, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, and Motley Crue.
As I moved up through Newcomb Central School I was fortunate to have teachers who had a strong love of music and wanted to share it with their students. Mr. Stengrevics, the music teacher and conductor of the stage band, played all sorts of music for us that deviated from what was popular at the time. From him I gained an appreciation, though it would be years before I realized it, for classical, big band, and jazz music.
Mr. Duggan, the business teacher, was a huge Beatles fan who would show us their music and even pull out the guitar to play us a song or two every once in a while. Mr. Wight, the shop teacher, would let us listen to whatever cassettes he had in his room during his architectural drawing class. These cassettes contained different songs from Elvis Presley, Three Dog Night, Tommy James & The Shondells, etc. This gave me an appreciation for genres that I had completely dismissed as a know-it-all teenager.
I like to think that everyone I have come across in this life has helped shape where I am at as a music listener. I am open to all sorts of suggestions, so if you have one, never be afraid to let me know.
As for the year in music, there were a slew of great albums out there to listen to; I had trouble trying to narrow down my favorite. Modest Mouse finally returned with their first album in eight years. My Morning Jacket had a very solid album with The Waterfall. Alabama Shakes, Courtney Barnett, EL VY and Tame Impala all had albums that I considered my favorite for a spell. But my favorite album of the year was the sophomore effort from Father John Misty, I Love You, Honeybear. I have decided that my criteria for picking my favorite album consists of how many different songs I think could be my favorite off of the album. And on this album, almost every song was up for consideration as being my favorite.
When I try to describe Father John Misty to people I am not exactly sure how to go about it. It usually ends up with me describing him as an acid folk, lounge singer and I know that that description doesn’t do it justice. I Love You, Honeybear is such a raw and emotive album that bares his life and soul to the listener. As someone who went to school for English, I am particularly drawn to him as a lyricist. I enjoy that he is unabashed in his word choices and doesn’t try to censor himself for any reason. Each song on the album is unique and offers a different musical avenue to take your ears down.
Other albums from 2014 that have tickled my eardrum (along with a link to a Spotify playlist with a song from each album that stood out):
- Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
- The Arcs – Yours, Dreamily
- Beach House – Depression Cherry
- Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars
- Bully – Feels Like
- Cage The Elephant – Tell Me I’m Pretty
- Calexico – Edge of the Sun
- CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
- Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit…
- The Dead Weather – Dodge and Burn
- Drenge – Undertow
- Eagles of Death Metal – Zipper Down
- EL VY – Return To The Moon
- Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
- Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
- Hanni El Khatib – Moonlight
- Houndstooth – No News From Home
- Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free
- Justin Townes Earl – Absent Fathers
- Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
- Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m going down…
- Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon
- Langhorne Slim – The Spirit Moves
- Leon Bridges – Coming Home
- Lieutenant – If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week
- Low – Ones and Sixes
- Mac Demarco – Another One
- The Maccabees – Marks To Prove It
- Marian Hill – Sway
- Mikal Cronin – MCIII
- Modest Mouse – Strangers to Ourselves
- MS MR – How Does It Feel
- My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall
- Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass
- Neon Indian – Vegas Intl. Night School
- Pile – You’re Better Than This
- Pops Staples – Don’t Lose This
- Pond – Man It Feels Like Space Again
- Seasick Steve – Sonic Soul Surfer
- Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer
- Tame Impala – Currents
- Tanlines – Highlights
- Turbo Fruits – No Control
- Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
- Wilco – Star Wars
- Will Butler – Policy
- Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool