Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Honorable Mentions: All is Quiet.....

I am sitting in my garage at 5 am on New Year’s Day, up early for a CrossFit class that didn’t make. I did not figure that it would. Judging by the energy level of the neighborhood, everybody was up late, but I did not cancel the WOD just in case anyone decided to make an early start on their resolutions. I know that I could go right back to sleep, but I kind of like these moments.  I can sit quietly and do nothing more than listen to the owl living in the tree across the street coo softly in the early morning. Quite predictably, this came into my head.

That was SO LONG ago, and the reality of how much U2 has changed, from outspoken political idealists to promoters of Apple products, makes me more sad then nostalgic. I think this feeling generated less by Bono, or the early 80s release date of WAR, or remembering the faces of very young people who loved the song but whose names I have forgotten. Instead, it comes from the realization that the same amount of time has passed for me. Certainly, I am no longer the embarrassingly naïve middle schooler that I was when this song was gaining momentum, and that’s mostly a good thing. It was, however, a long time ago.

Someone once said that change is a misnomer. We don’t ever really change - we grow.  I take this to mean that the seed of who we will become resides in our present selves and a nugget of who we are today can be found in the person we once were. Like it or not, I am still that kid, and although somewhere inside I am still making dumb, inappropriate decisions, these intentions are thankfully tempered by my increasing number of years on this planet.

So, if you really want to make a resolution for yourself this year, trying to make a change in who you are might not yield the results you want. Instead, grow – and grow in directions that provide better perspective about the things in your life that you would like to alter. It will not be comfortable, but the most important changes happen at the margins of what we are comfortable with.

A few honorable mentions for 2013 before 2014 starts in earnest.  This is a particularly strong list this year - each of these albums are really incredible in their own right and there is no discernible reason each one of them shouldn't find their way in to your listening in the upcoming year.

My Bloody Valentine – m b v: I’m not sure what happened here - I had every intention of including this gem on the top 20, but when I looked back, I noticed it was overlooked. I guess the fact that I forgot about it says something, but no one is more disappointed than myself that the album was excluded.

Sound of Contact – Dimensionaut: The only thing that kept Sound of Contact out of the top 20 was that it was too stylistically similar to the new Spock’s Beard. Dimensionaut held the #19 spot for quite awhile until Brief Noctournes and Dreamless Sleep found its way into rotation at year’s end.

Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks: Reznor has finally come to a place in which his angst doesn’t come off as petulance. Although this album is his most believable in a while, at times it feels a little forced, which knocked it out of the top 20.

Flying Colors: Like the output of a lot of supergroups, Flying Colors is circumscribed by extreme highs and, in this case, a few noticeable sags. Its outstanding moments buoyed it to the top albums of the year, but its filler, however minimal, kept it out of the top 20.

James Blake – Overgrown: Blake went into a bit more traditional songwriting territory on his sophomore album, and although it captures the same evocative mood, it just didn’t have the same staying power with me as his debut. Plus, I really don’t see what everyone’s fascination is with the RZA – I think his contribution to the album brings it down.

Plant seeds and grow this year. Best of fortune and take care.


  1. Great thoughts to start the New Year!

  2. I love those early mornings of self reflection. Looking forward to growing into the new year!