Favorite Shows, Covers, Film Music, and more

My look back at 2013 continues with a hodgepodge of things I dug about the year, including my favorite shows, cover songs, and moments from films.

Let’s start with the year in live shows. I certainly enjoyed the two shows I put on, one in January at Union Hall and one in March at Muchmore’s. I also had a blast at the show Dave put together in Baltimore in February and the CMJ showcase Greenpointers presented in October, which I covered. I’m not going to include those in my ten favorite shows.
I am, however, going to include artists that were part of those events. When I saw Hey Anna in January at the Gutter, I was really impressed (I also really liked The Golden Age of Radiowho played before them). It was thrilling to have them end up on my podcast and part of the March show. I saw them once more later in March. Similarly, Chase King is a friend I’ve always dug live. He played the January showcase and a great show at Glasslands in July, but my favorite performance was at a house party in March along with Boyd Shropshire and Kathleen Kennedy. And after enjoying Beat Radio so much at Muchmore’s in my showcase, I loved seeing them again in the even more intimate setting of Pete’s Candy Store in June.
Pete’s Candy Store in June was the site of a nice set by Oh! My Blackbird, too. They unveiled music from their new EP and a fun cover of “All the Small Things” by Blink 182. Speaking of covers, the other artist on that bill, Kyle Evans, did a very cool thing where he’d play one of his original songs and then a cover of a song that inspired it, for a total of five pairs. Oh! My Blackbird is an older friend of the Dig, and some new friends in 2013 that had awesome live shows were Blue & Gold at Piano’s in July and Mal Blum in August at the Living Room.
As you can tell, I spent most of my time seeing little bands, often ones I had gotten to know through TWD, but I still fit in a few bigger shows. The two best were Okkervil River at Terminal 5 in September (with original digster Kyle) and Phosphorescent at Music Hall of Williamsburg in December. Each act did an excellent job. They had energy and spirit, they played new and old material, and things sounded great. Well, more so for Phosphorescent than Okkervil River – Terminal 5 is not my favorite place to see a show. Rounding out my top ten is the Wild Honey Pie showcase at Cameo Gallery during CMJ, where I was happy to get to see Belle Mare, Little Daylight, French Horn Rebellion, and Caveman. Especially Little Daylight. Finally, I saw Lady Lamb the Beekeeper at Brooklyn Night Bazaar in November. It lived up to all my high hopes.
As I mentioned earlier, I always enjoy a good cover. My favorite discoveries of 2013:
5 – Mal Blum “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift. I know this came out in 2012, but I didn’t know about Mal until this year, so it was new to me. And it’s awesome.

4 – Kris Orlowski “Such Great Heights” by the Postal Service. Hard to believe this song turned ten. This cover was a nice commemoration of the occasion.

3 – Fort Frances “New York, New York” by Ryan Adams. Stripping the song down gave it an extra emotional punch that is probably all the more resonant to me for living here.

2 – Joanna Gruesome “Tugboat” by Galaxie 500. I’ll be talking more about this in a future Best of 2013 post, but I got really into Galaxie 500 this year. This was a fun discovery.

1 – [VARIOUS] “Game of Pricks” by Guided By Voices. In addition to Galaxie 500, my other non-2013 musical obsession of the year was this song. I liked the original before, but the affair deepened when the Dirty Nil covered it this spring. My top five covers of this song is rounded out by Scout, Waxahatchee, Jimmy Eat World, and Owen Pallett. Between them, I must have listened to “Game of Pricks” at least 100 times.

Y’all should know by now that I’m pretty obsessed with the intersection of music and film. Limiting myself just to 2013 releases that I saw last year, the highlights were:

  • Frances Ha had my favorite soundtrack. And though an homage, it’s hard not to love the David Bowie scene. Other scenes I liked were Jon singing “Good Vibrations” in Don Jon and Adele dancing to “I Follow Rivers” at her birthday party in Blue Is The Warmest Color. They aren’t quite as good out of context, so watch the films if you haven’t.
  • Phosphorescent’s “Song for Zula” at the end credits of The Spectacular Now floored me. The other great end credits moment was Bon Iver’s “Wolves” in The Place Beyond the Pines.
  • I liked Mike Patton’s main theme a lot (“Snow Angel“) in that, too, but my favorite score overall was Upstream Color. It’s almost unfair that Shane Carruth is so talented.
  • Finally, Sound City as a documentary focused on music was cool. “Cut Me Some Slack” was my favorite performance in it.

I will close with a few words on the year in pop music. I’m glad Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” has gotten so much love, and it certainly will be a time capsule track of 2013 for me. I also surprisingly enjoyed Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” But the artist I will think of most for this year is Miley Cyrus. A lot of that has nothing to do with musical merit and simply is a function of her pervasiveness, though I did come to like “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball” quite a bit. Those are the four “most 2013” pop songs for me.
Kanye gets an honorable mention, and if I didn’t come way too late to the party, I am sure Haim and Lorde would have made it. I really like what I heard from both of them. I am happy about a future where the are ever more popular. But it would be disingenuous to claim they mattered a lot to me in 2013 when I only really got around to them as a result of year end coverage. Still, “Royals” is a great track, and I’m calling it now: Haim is destined to be on the soundtrack of a Cameron Crowe film, perhaps as soon as his next one.
Feel free to share your favorite shows, covers, film moments, and pop songs in the comments. And a few more Best of 2013 posts are coming soon!