The sounds of memories

Last week I was lucky enough to see two gigs by artists I have loved and wanted to see live for a long time. I still remember exactly where I was when I first heard Shakey Graves—down to which song (‘Dearly Departed’) on which radio station (NPR) and even which street I was driving on when it came on the radio (Davisville Road in Southampton, PA). And Hozier is one of the few artists I can say I listened to before they got big, although that was only because I was living in Ireland and so ‘Take Me To Church’ was on everyone’s playlists for months there before it ever hit North American airwaves.

It got me thinking about how strongly tied to memory sound can be. There are so many songs that make me think of a certain time or place, down to minuscule details about where I was or what I was doing when I listened to them. Often music conjures up memories of people or moments as well, whether it’s a fond memory of childhood and your parent singing your favourite lullaby or a song that you can’t listen to anymore because it reminds you too much of your ex. Sound is unavoidable. It can sneak up on you, a song coming unexpectedly on the radio or in the grocery store.

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Media and Misc of the Year (aka the obligatory Best of 2014 review post)

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Films

  1. Boyhood, dir. Richard Linklater – Filming over 12 years could have turned out gimmicky, but Boyhood was a moving and beautiful story of family and growing up. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so emotional while watching a film.
  2. Calvary, dir. John Michael McDonagh – The preview for this Irish film made it out to be a dark comedy, but despite actors such as Dylan Moran, Chris O’Dowd, and even star Brendan Gleeson (in maybe his best ever work), it’s a heartwrenchingly dark film with moments of humour.
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel, dir. Wes Anderson – I’ve loved every film I’ve seen of Anderson’s, but for some reason hadn’t watched one since The Life Aquatic. This was a good place to start back, with his typical aesthetic and great performances.
  4. Gone Girl, dir. David Fincher – I read the book in one frantic weekend before seeing the film, and the twists and turns and madness of it all still shocked me. Though not as much as it shocked the person sitting behind us who couldn’t stop saying “What the fuck” at the end.
  5. Obvious Child, dir. Gillian Robespierre – A sweet, funny little film about a stand-up comedian who gets pregnant and has an abortion. The characters feel like your friends.

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Music

  1. The Antlers, Familiars – This album is one of those where the sound just fills the room when you listen to it. There are so many layers combining beautifully with strange, sad lyrics.
  2. Alt-J, This is All Yours – Speaking of strange, among other oddities Alt-J’s second album samples Miley Cyrus, and somehow it really works. They also put on one of the top 3 live shows I saw this year (and in fairness, the top 2 are my favourite bands, The National and Arctic Monkeys).
  3. St. Vincent, St. Vincent – I’m declaring this the year of the excellent self-titled album. And St. Vincent’s is the best of them, with an album that is both strange and wonderful.
  4. Hozier, Hozier – You’ve probably been hearing “Take Me to Church” all the time for the past 6 months, unless you’re in Ireland in which case you’ve been hearing it all year. And it hasn’t gotten old yet.
  5. Taylor Swift, 1989 – Part of me can’t believe that Taylor Swift of all people is bumping my forever girl Shakira off my Best Of list, but most of me thinks that “Blank Space” is such a jam I don’t even care.

Continue reading “Media and Misc of the Year (aka the obligatory Best of 2014 review post)”