Imaginary Softwoods: maybe I heard some of this in 2010 but I finally got Spectrolite via the DC wax-to-digital, which pre-Spotify was pretty cool. This is just some of my favorite stuff, so beautiful, but stays away from the touchy/feelyness of new age. It makes me want to quietly pass away someday listening to this taking in a Huxley/Leary-like dose of psychedelics. I've probably listened to this hundreds of times this year.
King Krule (formerly Zoo Kid): you see a lot of posts on Facebook of music stuff and if you're like me you skip most of it. a guy I don't even know well posted a video of Zoo Kids' "Out Getting Ribs" and I clicked and have become a big fan. Maybe it was the title of the song, which I don't think has anything to do with anything, that got me to click, not sure. It's just a killer song, low-fi, and the guy's got a cool baritone voice dripping with English attitude. I became more of a fan when I started reading about him and found out he's Archy Marshall, 17 year old, tall, pale, skinny ginger kid who is totally unimpressed with rising success, cold chilling in sweatpants at CMJ and just not giving a shit. Not that much already out there from this guy but check out "the Noose of Jah City" and tell me that shit's not great. He's playing Glasslands in Williamsburg on 1/13 and I got a ticket, psyched for that show.
Grouper -- Alien Observer / A I A Dream Loss: I have really liked all of Grouper's music, her ethereal vocals have soothed my insomniac soul (along with copious scotch) on many an evening, but I didn't take to this right away. But after a little while, sure that there was something that I didn't quite get I began to feel this one too, in the same places. I just found (thanks Spotify!) the part two aspect, Dream Loss, to this.
Aglaia: I don't know that much about this, but I think it's two dudes from Italy. I got a few of their albums in 2011 and now have access to several more via Spotify. Another deep ambient trip, veering towards new age, another great one for the late/early hours, listening brings you back to floating in amniotic bliss, unaware yet ecstatic, great music for drifting off or waking up to.
Real Estate--Days: Another I tried the mediafire trick on, didn't work, and I gave up and sort of forget about but then got on Spotify and now I get to like (that sentence made me dizzy, sorry). An album I definitely wouldn't have bought (maybe if it was $5?) but now I'm more a fan of the band and would really like to check them out live. The music reviewers do a good job describing these guys and their blissed-out suburban stoner vibe and those mid-tempo or slow ones are what I'm most into, in fact I got "Kinder Blumen" going right now as I type this.
Kurt Vile: When I first heard "Smoke Ring for my Halo" my reaction wasn't good, it sounded way more slickly produced than his other albums. And I still don't love the whole record, but its got some of my favorite tracks on there--"On Tour" & "Puppet to the Man"--and the KV EPs that either came out this year or that I just checked out this year further solidified this guy as one of my favorite songwriters. On the Square Shells EP the first track "Ocean City" sounds like a throwback, catchy melody almost campy lyrics, and then he fades in this gorgeous wash of ambient sound, and it's classic KV, beautiful, deep but with darkness and irreverence co-mingled just right.
Ryan Adams: I wanna send this out to my main man DC because I know he's a fan. For real though, this guy is one of the most hated dudes around, both for his behavior (which I've personally confirmed through several direct sources is as bad or worse than what I've read about) and his output, which can be uneven. But forget the inconsistency of his work, some people just hate what this dude is about (you know who you are), straight-forward, alt-country stuff, kind of a modern James Taylor at times. Fuck it, dude sometimes writes great songs. I guess he got cleaned up and leaves out in LA and is married to Mandy Moore and he put out his best album since Heartbreaker this year, Ashes & Fire. If you hate him, don't bother. If you've liked some of his earlier work, give it a listen.
The music piracy/industry stuff continues to be fascinating. I already noted my come to Jesus moment with Spotify on the blog, but that's been a huge shift for me, really. I've gone from trying to accumulate music (which I had been doing, sincerely, really for decades) to paying to access it. It's an amazing world where I can use my phone to instantly pull up a band and check out their album right away. There's still lots of rough edges to the way the industry is evolving, how musicians and people who support them (labels, people who do album artwork, etc.) can make a living, but I mostly think it's an amazing time to be making and listening to music.
Happy holidays everyone and thanks for all the music picks and convo this year.