Top Albums of 2013

In no particular order.  So many this year!

As A Spotify Playlist »

If I had to pick 10, they’d be Midlake, Rachel Zeffira, Savages, Emika, Jon Hopkins, Janelle Monae, Disclosure, Rhian Sheehan, Locust and Minilogue

Rock and Metal

  • Midlake – Antiphon [Bella Union] By far my favorite rock/psych record of the year

Runners-up:

  • Palms – Palms [Ipecac] – My annual guilty “Sounds like Filter/Deftones/Alt-Metal” choice, with the added bonus of it being made up of members of ISIS with Chino Moreno on vocals
  • Device – Device [Warner] (Dave Draiman from Disturbed and Geno from Filter do nu-metal)
  • Bring Me The Horizon – Sempternal [Sony/Epitaph] – Yes i know their last record made them kind of a joke, but I’m really digging this one.
  • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter at the Feast [Abstract Dragon/Vagrant] – Their best in awhile
  • Mogwai – Les Revenants [Sub Pop] – I’ve never been a huge fan of these guys, but this album may have turned me around

Pop and Folk

  • Rachel Zeffira – The Deserters [Paper Bag Records] – Lovely Tori-ish Dream/Chamber Pop. Just so so good.
  • Savages – Silence Yourself [Matador] – Plenty has been written about this record. For me it brings up good Siouxsie/Catherine Wheel-ish memories
  • Rudimental – Home [Warner UK] / Disclosure – Settle [Island] / Empire of the Sun – Ice on the Dune [EMI Australia] – These three seemed to scratch the same itch for me. Dancey-housey-80sy but not dumb.

Runners-up:

  • The Mavericks – In Time [Sanctuary] – I will never not love Raul Malo’s voice, and I’m happy they’re back.
  • Caitlin Canty – Golden Hour [self-released] – Classic intimate girl-with-guitar coffeeshop stuff.  She has a project with Peter Bradley Adams called Down Like Silver which I love, too.
  • Joseph Tawadros (with Bela Fleck, Richard Bona, James Tawadros) – Chameleons of the White Shadow [self-released] – Bluegrass and so much more
  • Soft Location – Fools [self-released] – Kinda Kate Bush-y

Electronic and Shoegaze

  • Emika – DVA [Ninja Tune] – LOVE this  / Maya Jane Coles – Comfort [I/AM/ME] – Another pair of albums that feel similar to me. They’re both dark electronica, though Emika is more explicitly gothy and MJC has more of a trip-hop edge (and a track with Tricky on guest vocals).
  • Locust – You’ll be Safe Forever [Mego] Dark and IDMy but with a distinctly warm, organic crunch
  • Jon Hopkins – Immunity [Domino] – Every album he’s released has been on my top 10. This beautiful, broken cinematic half-loud half-quiet masterpiece is his best yet
  • Minilogue – Blomma [Cocoon] – One disc of FSOL-y/Underworldy proggy dance music (with LONG tracks), One disc of epic slow chillout stuff.  Each apparently improvised and recorded in a single take. Delicious

Runners-up

  • Sigur Ros – Kveikur [XL] – A welcome return to form, after the meanderings of the last two. Also closer to Jonsi’s solo stuff than most of their other works.
  • Joseph Trapanese – TRON: Uprising [Disney] – Obviously not as stellar as the Daft Punk Tron:Legacy score, but a fulfilling followup.
  • C2C – Tetra [Mercury] The first album from the turntablist and DMC winners reminds me a lot of people like Soulwax, The Avalanches and Basement Jaxx
  • Minilogue – Endlessness EP – More long tracks with lovely samples that are never tiring

Ambient

  • Olafur Arnalds – For Now I Am Winter [Mercury Classics/Decca]
  • Rhian Sheehan – Stories from Elsewhere [Darla] – This one wins my ‘epic cinematic ambient/post-rock with strings’ award that i usually give to Hammock (their release this year was disappointing to me)

Runners-up:

  • Message to Bears – Maps
  • Ben Lukas Boysen – Gravity [Ad Noiseam] – Also known as industrial noisemaker Hecq. Gurgly dark underwater stuff.
  • Main – Ablation [Editions Mego] – Creepiest ambient I’ve heard in awhile and a welcome return for Mr. Hampson

Hip-Hop and R&B and Jazz

  • Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady [Bad Boy/Atlantic]Leaves her first record (which I was not impressed by) in the dust

Runners-up

  • Oddisee – The Beauty In All [Mello Music]
  • Talib Kweli – Prisoner of Conscious
  • Eldar Djangirov Trio – Breakthrough [Motema]

What I Should Have Said At My Father’s Memorial Service

My dad’s memorial service was this weekend.

There were a lot of old Artists there.

They come from an insular world in which Art is the only worthwhile endeavor, where “selling out” is the worst imaginable sin.

More than a few people got up to extoll his virtue as an Artist, his lifelong commitment to Art and being an Artist, and his keeping his promise to himself to always make Art.

They spoke of his legacy: His art.

(I guess I don’t really count. To them.)

I was in the room when they said this.  They said it to me.

I saw the heads nodding along.

Invalidating my actual existence. Relative to almighty Art.

Old wounds scraped up.  A roomful.

 

I’m told I went up and said some words.

I’m told I was generous.

 

Here’s what I should have said.

Art isn’t a legacy.

Art is poison pigments in glass cases.

Art currently taking up space in an empty house, needing to be housed until what… some magical surge of interest?

My father died alone. He died alone because he put Art first.

It’s not fucking noble.  It’s childish, delusional and deeply selfish.

As was he.

My father was not there for me.  He was there for Art.

He loved me when it was convenient.

Your precious Art cost him his family.

It’s ink marks on paper.

It’s not noble.

You are delusional.

I’m his fucking legacy.

Art can go to hell.

You want legacy?

Kiss your kids.

If they still talk to you.

If not? I guess you have your fucking precious Art.

What I should have said.

On fucking normal and fucking expectations.

Lately I’ve been spending some time thinking about all the ways in which I am not what society expects me to be.

I am smart, wise and curious, but I do not have a college education.

I am industrious and skilled in many areas, but I have not had a full-time job since 2011, and I am not interested in finding one.

I am male, straight and a feminist in a committed long-term relationship, but some of my views and activities do not fit squarely into any of those labels (for instance, we are not married and I don’t think of a marriage certificate as an essential part of what makes for a happy life.)

In many ways I am not living according to the expected plan, the treadmill. The ‘be born-go to school-go to college-get a job-meet a girl-move in-get married-buy a house-have kids-retire-wait to die’ treadmill.

In the past, there have been aspects of it that have bothered me.

I’ve had an underlying critical voice that pokes at me that I should be doing something more important with my time, that I’m just putzing around and wasting my life away.  It tells me that not spending time either looking for a job or ‘being entrepreneurial’ and Getting Things Done is somehow wasteful and will lead to regrets later in life.

And then recently… holy fuck! I don’t have to live up to others expectations of what my life should be.  I don’t have to give away my power to whatever I’m “supposed” to be doing.  I can be a feminist and also enjoy checking out girls in yoga pants (respectfully, of course).   I can build my own life, make my own rules.

Sometimes I will be uncomfortable, when my values and the values of the world at large come into conflict, be it individually or as part of a couple or as part of a social group or a political party or anything else.

But, you know what?

There are worse things than being uncomfortable.

This is my declaration of independence from feeling bad about not being who the world expects me to be, or living up to some imagined standard of ‘normal’.

Fuck normal. What an imaginary nonsense concept solely dedicated to making us feel like we’re doing something wrong pretty much no matter what.

Fuck “but you’re so smart, why don’t you just commit to something”.

Fuck “So, any wedding bells in your future?”

Fuck “You’re so interested in human behavior, why don’t you go to school for psychology or something?”

Fuck pushing myself toward making other people more comfortable with my life.

It’s better for me to embrace the freedom and awesomeness that is me right now than worry about not living up to some standard for how things are supposed to work in the name of being more normal.

This rocks.

Come with me.

Presenting “Conversations for Deeper Context”

So, as most of you probably know, one of the ways that I’ve been spending my time the last few years is through Deeper Context, a freelance thing I started back in 2011. The tagline for DC is “Let’s get together and talk about what drives you. For you, for the web and for your people.”, which I think describes what I’m trying to accomplish.

I’m very much avoiding as much of the Marketing and Social Media aspects of what is going on in culture today as possible.  I’ve written plenty about what I think of “content creation for marketing” elsewhere on this site, so I will not bore you with another rant.  Suffice it to say that this is not that.

I’ve been in a bit of a lull with DC as of late.  Other things have taken over my time (dealing with my father’s death, etc).  Recently, I had the opportunity to start some things back up, and get unstuck on some aspects of the organization that I wasn’t in love with. I feel comfortable moving forward in some small ways.

To that end, I’m happy to announce the debut of Conversations For Deeper Context, a semi-regular podcast interview series which serves two purposes:

  1. It allows me to have conversations with people that I find super interesting
  2. I get to demonstrate how a Deeper Context project might go, to people like you who might be interested in collaborating with me.

So, for the sake of avoiding paragraph-long descriptors…

Here’s what Conversations For Deeper Context is:

  • Conversations with people about their curiosity and how they’re applying it in their lives and their work (however that may manifest in their lives)
  • Personal, heart-prioritized conversations
  • About an hour per-episode
  • Irregularly updated
  • Hosted by me (Jeremy Meyers)

Here’s what Conversations For Deeper Context isn’t:

  • A place to hear about marketing, social media, sales or business. Seriously. That’s not what this is about, and if it comes up, it’s accidental.
  • A place for people to spend an hour plugging their latest projects
  • A place for self-help folks to hawk their books
  • A sales pitch for Deeper Context. These conversations are meant to stand on their own, and I hope they are valuable to you.

Episode One is live now and features Megan Elizabeth Morris from Ideaschema.

You can also, of course, subscribe via iTunes.

Please enjoy, and I’d love your feedback. Also, if you’d like to have a CFDC conversation, please feel free to get in touch.

 

RIP Charles Meyers 1934-2013

My dad Charles Meyers passed away this past Sunday, August 4th at around 8 in the morning.

Those of you who knew him knew that he was quite a character, with a dark-as-night sense of humor and a predilection for awful puns and flirting with service industry folk (in case anyone was wondering where that came from).

For those that didn’t know him, he was an amazing artist, and you can see some of his work at http://www.charlesmeyers.com/

My father devoted his entire life to pursuing his dream of making art.  He taught art history, oil painting and watercolor part time at City College of New York for longer than I’ve been alive.

Few of us will be able to say at the end of our time on the planet that we lived our passion every day.

He lived for the last 40 years at the same loft in the East Village of NYC.  His entire life was in that loft.

A lifetime of things,  small comforts and poisons, college papers and keepsakes and art and art and art.

The stuff that makes up the least important and most comforting/suffocating part of a life lived.

I wrote a little bit ago about leaving a legacy.  This is his.  All the art, and the lives he touched, and the people who can call themselves artists now because his teaching inspired.  And me, I suppose.

He was not perfect, and we struggled to maintain a relationship as I grew, but in the end we came to an understanding and now he can rest.

You did okay, dad.

Safe travels.

Be kind to yourself.