Friday, 28 December 2012

The year in listening

Music was part of my life this year in a way it hasn't been since high school. More space to fill, I think. But also more connections. One of my favourite 'community' moments of 2012 was when many of the speakers at NDF2012 contributed five favourite songs for a conference mixtape. Not only did it provide a soundtrack for my presentation writing, it gave me a lovely insight into many of the people I met at the conference this year.

Like the rest of the world, I lost my heart to Frank Ocean; the sweetness of Forrest Gump, the sadness of Bad Religion (which I can't bring myself to listen to any more), the glossy epic Pyramids and the catchy plaintiveness of Super Rich Kids, the frenzy he caused by covering part of Fake Plastic Trees. But I have a particularly soft spot for an earlier song, Bricks and Steel.

and also for this Odd Future collaboration, White.

Speaking of Odd Future, they've not done much for my language, but they're certainly fun to drive to. Forest Green has been on high rotate on my morning commute.

Falling for Kendrick Lamar is about as original as having a Frank Ocean crush, but 'good kid, m.A.A.d city' is deservedly hitting heaps of year-end lists and I love the Beach House sample Money Trees is laid over.

Angel Haze has been a revelation - young, defiant, raw, and dance-able. Werkin' Girls, New York, Gypsy Letters, but my sing-along favourites are probably the beat-heavy Jungle Fever

And the rather sweet version of Lauryn Hill's Doo Wop (That Thing)

Slower moments have called for the xx, Purity Ring, Grimes, Noah and the Whale - although I've pretty much banned sad music from my playlists, Our Window still sneaks through

Then when I need to bring myself back up, it's the Slate Culture Gabfest's summer strut song from the middle of the year to the rescue, Icona Pop's I Love It

or the windows down and singing along the The Vaccine's Wetsuit

My surprise listening resurgence was 1990s R&B girl bands (I link this, for some reason, to some sneaky listening to Jessie Ware, Charli XCX and Katy B), including some guilty Brownstone (caused by this gorgeous Jessie Ware / Benzel cover of If you love me) and some not at all guilty TLC (because, c'mon, Waterfalls and Creep were my early high school anthems). Bringing the R&B strain back to the present day though, I listened to A LOT of The Weeknd (mind you, with the Trilogy release, there was an awful lot to listen to). Picking a favourite is hard, but let's settle for The Morning

And then slipping in at the end of the year, just in time for my Christmas roadtrip, the new-to-me Wintercoats (aka Melbourne's James Wallace) and the extremely sweet Blood Prints

Wallace also does a rather startling version of TLC's No Scrubs (I swear, once you start listening to them again, they're everywhere).

And finally, and wonderfully, he put me on to pianist and composer Nils Frahm. Frahm's compositions are both intimate and spacious, like standing in the dark night simultaneously feeling so aware of the closeness your own skin and the distance of stars. He's rounded out my year in music beautifully.

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