Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Happy Fifth Birthday!

Today marks the official fifth anniversary of this blog's first post. I began this blog shortly into my grad school career, which means this blog has accompanied me throughout adulthood. Through excitement, heartbreak, tragedy, pride, and failure, I've had this music to hold me up. Thanks for reading. Thanks to this blog I've met and befriended my heroes, been inspired to try my own hand at songwriting, and have met amazing people around the world. I've been invited to music festivals and received a top nod the Daily Boast (if only Howard Wolfson's taste in mayors was as good as his taste in music.) I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Von Cloedt at Americana Rock Mix and Charles Hale of Ajax Diner Book Club (and formerly of Ninebullets), and David Horton of Popa's Tunes for their early advice and support; Neville from a band I didn't write too much about called Thee Shambels who encouraged me to post on No Depression, and Kim Ruehl for selecting my work to appear on the front page. (I promise I'll begin reposting to the site routinely again!) Of course I'd like to thank the artists who have given so freely of their art and time and, of course, you (whoever you are) for reading.

Nothing's going to change much -- maybe the genres of music I cover. Also, by the time this is done you should be reading this at our new URL -- I'm hoping to throw a fifth anniversary bash sometime in 2017. No plans to change the site layout for now but watch this space. As much as I loved posting every weekday, my new job means I get to catch up on the last four years of having a social life. Perhaps my rhythm will change next semester. For now, I'm sticking with the MWF schedule.

Below are my favorite albums from the last five years. These are the albums I turn to when I'm sad, angry, affirmed, all of the above. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have listened to them. They've changed my life for the better and I hope some of the music you've heard on here has done the same for you. They're presented from oldest to newest. (I didn't include anything from this year.):

John Moreland, Everything the Hard Way -- Right before he got all weepy with his acoustic guitar (Huh? I'm not crying, you're crying!) Moreland kicked ass with this collection of heartland rock.

State Champion, Deep Sheet -- Five years later, I'm still finding new layers in this album. Incredible.

High Dive, High Dive -- Fantastic queer punk from Indiana. Makes me proud to be a queermo. Check out "Tennesee."

The Sparklers, Crying At the Low Bar -- I don't think we'll be hearing from these guys anymore, but that's a shame. The best bar band I've ever featured.

Two Cow Garage, The Death of the Self-Preservation Society -- The band's devastating takedown of neoliberalism and single-minded individualism is, in my opinion, their best record to date.

Anchor Bends, First Four Songs -- Unfortunately, there weren't too many more songs after this. But these songs' combination of yearning and drive help me feel invincible.

Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues -- Like many people, I was not super familiar with the band until Laura Jane Grace transitioned. I love this album for its defiant, joyful, angry sense of self-determination. It doesn't matter how I feel when I listen to it, I always feel empowered after.

Karen and the Sorrows, The Names of Things -- I have set it many times before and will say it again. If I could liquify this album and mainline it I absolutely would. Karen's gorgeous lyrics and soulful vocals give a slightly gothic tinge to heartbreak, but leave us with my favorite love song in the world, "Star."

NQ Arbuckle, The Future Happens Anyway -- Gorgeous prairie rock. Another album for all seasons, but particularly comforting in your darkest moments.

Animal City, Bump Head Go Home -- This album feels like an accurate recap of my 20s, minus the drugs.

Joey Kneiser, The Wildness -- Kneiser's zen approach to life makes all of his work -- with Glossary and by himself -- a true pick-me-up. Kelly Smith's vocal talents make The Wildness an almost spiritual experience.

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