My 5 Favourite Albums of 2014

Or my opinion, anyway...

Or my opinion, anyway…

I thought I’d do a non-Beatley post today, and focus on some of my favourite music of last year. Last year was the year that I started to get into contemporary music, and I now foster an intense love of  modern indie music of all kinds, as well as my great passion for classic rock. (Though The Beatles will always be my favourite band.)  I’ve been meaning to do this post for a couple of months, but I’ve really only found a chance to write it now! (Next year, I will try not to do this post 2 months into 2016…) So today, I will list my five favourite albums — whether I judged them via an LP or a YouTube playlist or something in between — of the year that was. And let the list begin!

5.  Lost In The Dream, The War on Drugs

lost in the dream

This is The War on Drugs’ third album, and it was apparently recorded over two years and was rewritten many times! But it resulted in this wonderful album… According to main songwriter Adam Granduciel, Lost In The Dream was basically like a solo album for him. Some of the main influences for the album include Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and synthy ’80s pop, which I can definitely hear. A wonderful album!

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Lost In The Dream’, ‘Eyes To The Wind’, ‘Disappearing’.

4. Morning Phase, Beck

beck morning phase

As I’m sure most people have heard by now, Beck’s latest effort won Album of The Year at The Grammys, and deservedly so! (And as for that Beck/Kanye West rubbish, Kanye is definitely the person who needs to “respect artistry” here.) I am very happy that it won! I only listened to this album a short while ago (on a plane, in fact), and it instantly became one of my favourites. I love the folky, “soaring” feel of the album, and Beck’s vocals are gorgeous! As written above, very much the deserved Album of The Year winner in a very mainstream-orientated Grammys night.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: ‘Morning’, ‘Say Goodbye’, ‘Unforgiven’, ‘Waking Light’, ‘Blackbird Chain’

3. Angus and Julia Stone, Angus and Julia Stone

angus and julia stone

According to my faithful triple j 2014 Annual (triple j is Australia’s radio station for all things left of mainstream. Also the home of the triple j Hottest 100, which you have probably heard of.), Angus and Julia Stone — two indie-folk-orientated siblings from Sydney — had decided to never play together again in 2012. But then, an American producer named Rick Rubin heard one of the duo’s songs and was determined to do whatever it took to work with the two. He managed to get them back together, and this piece of indie perfection was the result!

I particularly love the beautiful guitar-work, the keyboards/synths, the chiming indie-pop feel, the album’s air of danceablility and of course the exquisite vocals from both parties! (The familiar accents are also nice.) A great album to come out of a great country…

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Get Home’, ‘Death Defying Acts’, ‘Other Things’, ‘Do Without’, ‘All This Love’

2. Alvvays, Alvvays

alvvays alvvays

I discovered the debut album of Canadian indie-pop band Alvvays (pronounced ‘always’) after reading an interview with their vocalist and guitarist Molly Rankin in my favourite magazine. I checked them out on SoundCloud, and after listening to ‘Adult Diversion’ (one of the “better-known” tracks on the album) on repeat for months, I decided to listen to the actual album. Laden with jangling guitars, synths, thumping drums, a touch of distortion and beautiful, quintessentially indie vocals, I have a feeling that Alvvays will quickly become the next big thing in indie pop! I can’t wait for their second album.

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Adult Diversion’, ‘Dives’ and ‘Atop A Cake’. (Another song — ‘Underneath Us’ — was included in Australia as a bonus track. I would also include this song in here, if it were part of the core album.)

And, my favourite album of 2014 is [insert drum roll here]…

1. Turn Blue, The Black Keys

black keys turn blue

The recording of garage/blues/indie duo The Black Keys’ eighth studio album began in early 2013, during a break from the world tour corresponding with their previous album, El Camino. As with their previous album, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney (guitar/vocals and drums respectively) had not written any of the songs before recording, and simply wrote them on the day of recording. The album was to be produced by Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse). But Auerbach and Carney had different ideas on how the album was to pan out. Things got a little tense between the two and recording was put off for a few months. Later in the year, the duo recommenced recording in California, and until about March 2014, they — along with Burton — created what would be the most psychedelic, sprawling and self indulgent (in the best way possible!) album of their career. The album is based around the theme of a difficult breakup, which reflected the nasty divorce that Auerbach was experiencing in 2013.

This was the first Black Keys album I bought. In fact, it was the first album less than 30 years old that I had bought at all. I love it for it’s sprawling nature, the searing guitar solos on ‘Weight of Love’, the spiky synths on ‘Fever’, the chiming bells, the ringing falsetto counter-vocals, just everything… And it introduced me to one of my very favourite bands. So that, my friends, is why Turn Blue is my favourite album of that great big year that was!

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Weight Of Love’, ‘Fever’, ‘In Our Prime’, ‘Gotta Get Away’, ‘Bullet In The Brain’, ‘Waiting On Words’…

And my award for best film soundtrack of 2014 goes to…

Boyhood, various artists

boyhood music from the motion picture

Boyhood is definitely my favourite film at the moment, and its awesome soundtrack is good enough to rival the film itself. As the film was made over 12 years — spanning the life of main character Mason from ages 6-18 — there’s music from all the periods included in that time frame (plus more)! Whether it be a party backed by The Black Keys’ ‘She’s Long Gone’, or a six year old Mason trying his hand at graffiti to The Hives’ ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’, visiting a club to Gotye and Kimbra’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, or the end credits rolling to Arcade Fire’s ‘Deep Blue’, with some Cat Power and Vampire Weekend in between — even a Beatle-related scene backed by ‘Band On The Run’ (!) — the soundtrack is perfect in every way. (Except for maybe the inclusion of ‘Good Girls Go Bad’. I hate that song.) A soundtrack-made-in-heaven to supplement a film-made-in-heaven, in my humble opinion.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: The entire thing (except for ‘Good Girls Go Bad’ and ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley)!

And so, what were your favourite albums of 2014? Please send me a postcard or drop me a line, stating your point of view!

A few contenders  for my favourite album of this year have already come up! I have a feeling that Pond’s Man, It Looks Like Space Again will make my shortlist, and the tracks I have heard on triple j from Twerps’ Range Anxiety sound pretty good, too. But Tame Impala are releasing a new album this year. Though no-one except for Kevin Parker has actually heard it, I think I already have a possible Number One on my hands…

And we have an important Beatle-y celebration coming — it would have been George’s 72nd birthday this Tuesday! Happy birthday, Georgie! I shall post my birthday post for him probably on Tuesday (if I get a chance)! But until then, good day sunshine 🙂

LOOK WHAT CAME IN THE MAIL YESTERDAY!! (a.k.a. Thank You Mr. Postman Pt. 3)

Here it is - the sacred BluRay!

Here it is – the sacred BluRay!

I was going to post yesterday, about a Lennon-y happening in Adelaide that my mum discovered via her Facebook Newsfeed, but something stopped me from doing so (not that I’m complaining!). My mum was driving me home from school, and was telling me that she had checked our mailbox (which is usually my job, but she had done it earlier that day). I asked her if there was anything for me – I wasn’t expecting her answer, as the expected arrival date (according to Amazon – where I ordered it) for what came was August 4th. So, Mum implied that there was something for me, but it was addressed to her. I quickly clued on – my beautiful A Hard Day’s Night BluRay had landed in our letterbox! I squealed (as you do), and as soon as we arrived home, I ran through the house and found a cardboard box on our dining-room table. I reached into the box, and the above package came out. And that package is now going to receive a bit of a review from me!

THE PACKAGING

The British edition of A Hard Day’s Night – unlike its Australian counterpart – comes in a fancy slip-case, not unlike the ones that come with the official Apple Corps releases of Help! and Yellow Submarine. The words ‘THE BEATLES’ and ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ are embossed, and stick out in comparison to the rest of the box. On the front cover, there is a famous still from the ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ scene, in which they are chased around London. As many people will know, the cover was changed a few times, for which I am glad. If you have not seen the original cover (designed by some graphic design franchise called La Boca), be thankful – it was absolutely ATROCIOUS. But back onto the design that was used – on the back of slip-case, there is – obviously – the blurb, the credits, a list of the nine (nine!) special features and all the jargon-like information to do with the way it appears on the screen. Amongst that, though, is two rows of pictures from the A Hard Day’s Night album-cover photoshoot – however, some of these pictures are outakes that never actually appeared on the cover! Inside the slip-case, there’s nothing special (apart from the disc!) – just a standard BluRay cover, with the same appearance as the case it came in. Sadly, the BluRay does not come with a booklet, like Apple Corps releases of the other Beatles films and the US release of the above, but I don’t really mind. Oh, and the case feels nice, too – it seems almost waxy.

 

THE DISC

Oh my – A Hard Day’s Night in HD; oh my, does it look good! I used to watch AHDN through an unofficial, not-particularly-fabulous quality YouTube video, so seeing it so sharp was quite an experience. And I swear that certain parts of the film were cut out on YouTube, meaning that – despite the fact I have seen the film a good five times – last night was the first time I had seen it in full! I haven’t checked out the special features yet, but they look really good – I especially like the sound of the In Their Own Voices thing (’64 interviews with John, Paul, George and Ringo + behind-the-scenes footage) and the interview with Mark Lewisohn (the author of Tune In – or in other words, a keen Beatleologist). So to sum the above paragraph all up, I thought that film was fab enough the first times I saw it – now that I’ve seen it in HD, I love it even more!

Here some pictures of my copy – excuse the quality, as it is growing dark:

The side

The side

The back of the slip-case

The back of the slip-case

The BluRay case

The BluRay case

Inside the case, where the magic is kept!

Inside the case, where the magic is kept!

So as you can see, I’m very, very, VERY happy with the beautiful A Hard Day’s Night, especially now that I have my own copy (it has been out-of-print Down Under for about ten years)! And if you don’t already have a new remastered copy of this fab film, make sure you get one – you won’t be disappointed!

And as for that Lennon-y happening, there is an art exhibition of official prints of John’s work in Adelaide at the moment 🙂 ! I don’t really have time to write about it now, but I will be visiting in on Saturday thus will write about it then. For now, though, here is the link to their website, and be sure check out the exhibit if you’re a fellow Adelaidean! I knew that Johnny was a talented artist (for goodness’ sake – he went to Art School!), but I never knew he was that good until I saw the pictures on that website. Wow, John – you really were a genius (not that we didn’t all know that already)!

Oh, and I ordered  Let It Be off Ebay last night, so I will soon own all five Beatles films! I am really looking forward to seeing it, though – I know most people would find it depressing and boring (I might find it the former, as the band is falling apart – but I really still want to see it), but it sounds really interesting. And it includes the Rooftop Concert – come on; who doesn’t love that?! Until the weekend, though, good day sunshine from me! 🙂

It was 50 years ago today…

Today is a very exciting day for all Beatlemaniacs who reside in Adelaide – it was 50 years ago today, when The Beatles came to Adelaide (excuse lame Sgt. Pepper pun)! I’ve been in an unusually good mood all day, but sadly, my poor friends (whom I’ve no doubtedly overloaded with squeals of, “If only I were alive 50 years ago,” and, “John was here, 50 years ago,”, etc., etc.,) are not sharing the love. But anyway (their loss), I thought I’d do a special 50th anniversary post, jam-packed with YouTube clips, photos, fun facts and more; enjoy!

As most people know, Adelaide nearly wasn’t on The Beatles’ Australian agenda. A verbal deal had been struck up between Ken Brodziak (an Australian tour promoter) and Brian Epstein in 1963, some time before ‘Please Please Me’ rocketed to Number One in Britain. The promoter – unsuspecting of The Fab Four’s future fame – had booked the four for concerts in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Adelaide had been left off the list.

A few weeks later, ‘Please Please Me’ ruled the charts in Britain, and John, Paul, George and Ringo performed on Sunday Night At The London Palladium, to hordes of screaming girls; Beatlemania was born! Meanwhile in Australia, Ken Brodziak was unsure whether his deal with Epstein would be fulfilled – to his luck, it was, and The Beatles were scheduled to perform in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in June 1964. But something was missing – The Fab Four would not be coming to Adelaide…

A little later, Bob Francis (a relatively-famous South Australian DJ on 5AD) heard that The Beatles were touring Australia, but skipping Adelaide. He was not happy, and set his mind on bringing The Beatles to the Festival State. He set up a petition, which gathered thousands of signatures, and after much lobbying from him and other Adelaide fans, John, Paul, George and Ringo were set to perform four concerts here, over the 12th and 13th of June. Despite the fact that Ringo was hospitalised with tonsillitis and pharyngitis, thus unable to come to Australia before the others made their way up to Melbourne, Adelaide still managed to make Fab Four history, by giving them the largest reception they would ever receive, of somewhere between 300,000 and 350,000 people (over half the population at the time)! And for that, us Adelaide-ean Beatlemaniacs are very grateful.

YouTube Clips

 

 

This is a clip of bits and pieces of footage from ’64, released this year especially for the anniversary by EMI Australia.

 

 

This one’s of The Beatles’ Adelaide press conference – I haven’t watched the whole thing (shame on you, so-called ‘hardcore Beatlemaniac’!), but I’ve seen some bits; John has some really funny jokes, in it!

 

 

And well, here it is – the strangely-prophetic John Lennon quote from the Adelaide press conference that featured upon the end of When The Beatles Drove Us Wild, that made me cry. As I said last post, what a tragic irony. Rest in peace, John – love you to bits!

 

 

And this one’s a little lighter than the last – fragments of John, Paul, George and Jimmie’s Adelaide gig! I can just imagine being in the audience, that day – the atmosphere just seemed so electric, even from a YouTube clip!

 

Photos

The Waving Beatles

Not in Adelaide (Ringo’s in it) but anyway – I love the photo (for no apparent reason), so who cares?!

Oz Beatles Crowd

Here’s photographic proof of why Adelaide is so cool…

the beatles in adelaide three

Performing live…

the beatles in adelaide four

Front page of The News (Adelaide’s former evening newspaper) on B-Day.

the beatles in adelaide five

Too-cool-for-words people greeting an incredibly-cool city…

 

Fun Facts

Did you know…

  • Australian politician Bob Katter was among a group of Beatle-haters who pelted eggs at The Beatles in Brisbane.
  • Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum was kicked out of The Beatles’ Melbourne concert for being ‘too hysterical’.
  • Jimmie Nicol – Ringo’s replacement – says that ‘being in The Beatles was the worst thing that happened to him’, and now lives as a recluse in London.
  • The Beatles almost cancelled their trip to Australia – after Ringo fell ill (the day before The Beatles embarked on their 1964 world tour) a loyal George refused to play with a replacement, though was eventually convinced (how sweet!).

 

This time tomorrow, I will be enjoying a Beatles tribute – put on by tribute band The Beatle Boys – recreating their Australian tour; it should be loads of fun, and I will report on Saturday! But for now, I’ll pause the White Album (but ‘Julia’ is so beautiful – and sad, too) and enjoy the special hour of Beatle-y fun that local radio station Cruise 1323 AM will be putting on in half an hour. But anyway, enjoy this special ‘birthday’ (pun on song playing off the White Album currently – see if you can guess what it is!) in Beatles history, and good day sunshine!