Merge Records’ marked its 25th anniversary with a four-day extravaganza in North Carolina that spoke in one clear, consistent and celebratory message: “We’re still here.”
Handicapping which songs have the big hooks, singalong potential, crossover appeal and car-stereo potential to emerge as the biggest hit of summer 2014.
As spring starts to tease the arrival of summer, and suddenly it seems that all our collective spirits are lifting a little bit, why am I spending much of my time drowning myself in the year’s saddest collection of torch songs?
When I started writing about music semi-professionally, my biggest concern was the degree to which I could be critical about bands that I enjoy. I was scared of over-valuing the familiar, ending up the type of writer who enjoys more of the same. These days, though, I’m more concerned about the opposite: of over-valuing novelty, of prioritizing the thrill of discovery.
A look back at the albums that struck a chord with me this past year.
“Wrecking Ball” achieves what amazing pop songs should: it rephrases the familiar and makes it novel again, allowing us to draw straight lines from the notes to our lives. (Plus: more of my top songs of 2013.)
Beyoncé ruined my year-end essay.