Photo courtesy Elena Roussakis/Creative Commons
Happy Thanksgiving and Chanukah to those who celebrate! This time of year, as we're conjuring up our best-of lists, we remember how much we music fans have to be thankful for. Here are a few of the music-related things that warm our hearts:
We know: Plenty of musicians have decried this free and subscription streaming service. And yet, these protests are generally from super-successful millionaire types with major-label contracts. So, for us plebs on the hunt for new tunes recommended by friends (or us music journalists needing to study up on the back catalog of artists we're going to interview), Spotify is a boon. And this coming from someone who're musicians ourselves. So spread the love, peeps. Music is to be shared, not to be hoarded.
2013's miraculous comebacks
Take a moment to realize how blessed we are that the Thin White Duke emerged from a 10-year hiatus to gift us with The Next Day (ISO/Columbia). Sure, he kicked ass as Nikola Tesla in 2006's The Prestige, but we preferred his musical magic. Cute Beatle and legend Paul McCartney also made a splash with the genuinely rockin' New (Hear). This year proved to be a red-letter year for the triumphant return of living gods! (Not to mention Pixies, giving us their first real release (the ill-fated Shrek 2 castoff, "Bam Thwok," doesn't count) since 1991.
The '90s sound renewed
Photo courtesy Sadie Dupuis
We were so elated when thick, joyful bass lines begin showing up again in songs. No, not the EDM kind, but that '90s alternative rock version championed by Better Than Ezra and their ilk. Looks like we weren't the only ones. Bands like Speedy Ortiz, No Age and Yuck are taking shoegaze, wonderfully wordy lyrics and all the Big Muff Pi one can handle and perfectly re-appropriating them for modern ears.
For those about to rock without the aid of fancy production studios, we salute you. This music-making program, which comes standard with Mac computers and is available as a smartphone app for $4.99, is a godsend for us artists lacking in funds. DIY reigns supreme with the application, where one can contort compression, an array of digitized instruments and vocals (helium voice for the win!). Sure, anyone can play guitar, but now anyone can be a stay-at-home maestro on the cheap.
Even in this increasingly digital world, there is nothing as exhilarating as a concert. The swirl of voices in the air, all reveling in the same message, hundreds or thousands of souls united by the love of music. These days, bands are getting more creative in the concert realm-- the above Lord Huron gig took place in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. We've now attended concerts in graveyards (Sigur Ros, Belle & Sebastian, Bright Eyes), playhouses (Everclear) and giant mud pits (Glastonbury). The common thread is the utter elation the crowd shares during that profound bonding time with their favorite musicians. What are you thankful for, musically? Let us know in the comments.