A young Cuban-American influenced by Delta blues, cultivated in Chicago with a dash of Latin rhythms, all brought together and honed in Madrid – that is the lovely Vivian Garcia. Ms. Garcia’s debut album, Cold Bed, is a collection of intimate blues songs I’ve had in heavy rotation since it’s mid-December release. Ms. Garcia has the command and power of a flamenco singer with an honest and vulnerable charm that can take lines like, “If love is everything / then what am I to do / when everyday I walk these streets alone / and I come home to a cold bed too” and deliver them matter-of-factly without a trace of bitterness. Currently in Chicago for the holidays, the CD release party is this Thursday at Barra Ñ. Below is the video for Cold Bed.
This video landed in my inbox a couple days ago and I was surprised to learn that this was friend o’ the blog Julie Meckler‘s first music video – it is a hell of a video debut! “Manhattan” is the first single off Meckler’s forthcoming currently untitled album due later this year. The video for “Manhattan” is a collaborative effort between Polish filmmaker Victoria Szymanska, French dancer Mariam Faquir and Meckler using 8mm film projections over Faquir’s moves that is absolutely stunning to watch and match perfectly with the quiet, vulnerable tone of the song. Watch it!
One of the most delightful line ups I saw in 2011: Cults, Magic Kids and Superhumanoids @ Empty Bottle
Sneaking cameras (plural) into a venue has become sport for me at this point. I don’t get photo passes to the majority of shows I attend, the exception being North Coast Music Festival, which is a lot of fun to shoot. These aren’t necessarily the best photos I’ve ever taken but they’re sure as hell my favorites.
“Oh look, another asshole with a Best of 2011 list…”
Yes. Yes it is.
Below, in no particular order, are the 15 songs that rocked my world this year.
“But Bee,” says you, “why 15?” It just worked out that way, let’s go!
Fleet Foxes : Grown Ocean
A mood changer. This song instantly turns around any bad mood I’ve fallen into and pulls me out with calming lyrics and angelic harmonies.
Black Keys : Lonely Boy
Released just a few weeks ago this song is like burning rubber on pavement.
Adele : Someone Like You
A fucking no-brainer if there ever was. This is a goosebump song and you’re dead inside if you don’t feel something when you listen to this. True story, Mr. Bee said “I don’t get what the big deal is about this song. What’s it even about?” He is dead inside. Kids, don’t be a dumbass like him.
Diego Garcia : Separate Lives
Sigh…everything about him, his debut solo album LAURA, and his live shows is just so dreamy. It’s all just so, so…SIGH…
Wild Flag : Romance
Because I was raised and came of age on a steady diet of Sleater Kinney. Because Mary-Fucking-Timony lives in my heart. Because Janet Weiss is the way, the truth and the light. Because everything about these 4 broads individually fucking rules and together they are the definition of what a supergroup should be and sound like. This song was my favorite off their debut album.
Bon Iver : Holocene
I make no apologies for loving me some Bon Iver. I will also punch you in the face if you disagree.
Jay-Z & Kanye West : Otis
Christ – that Otis sample slays me everytime I hear this song. Two mega rich rappers making NO apologies for indulging in a ridiculous life of luxury? Sign me up.
Esperanza Spalding & Gretchen Parlato : Useless Landscape – Inutil Paisagem
Hands down the most stunning use of one’s god-given instrument ever. Each time I watch/listen to this song I am in total awe. (Fully aware the album this song was featured on was released in 2010 but the video was released this summer – so there.) Also, if we’re going to rank these songs according to iTunes plays, this would be #1. Easily.
tUnE-yArDs : Powa
My favorite off of this year’s W H O K I L L. Watching Merrill Garbus live is a revelation and a joy. I was at the show the clip below is from and that’s the closest I’ve been to church in YEARS. We were all one with Merrill and she took us higher. And because when she says “my man likes me from behind” I know your ass was nodding in full agreement. PREACH!
Wilco : Art of Almost
The opening track of this year’s Whole Love album and for a minute I thought it was a new Radiohead song. This song is great on paper but even more fun to watch live, especially Jeff Tweedy ‘dancing’ around sans guitar. Watching Wilco unleash the beast on guitar that is Nels Cline is beautiful. It’s also the song that started the whole #FuckYeahNelsCline campaign.
My Morning Jacket : Circuital
Jim James and that beautiful luscious beard of his can do NO wrong. None. This song has a big epic sound that fills theatres and for that, me gusta mucho.
Kids These Days : Darling
One of my favorite new (to me) finds this year. These kids blend hip hop / soul / jazz and funk to create a delightful mature sound. Seriously though, are these kids old enough to drink yet? Vote??
Girls : Love Like A River
Please and thank you. Quite possibly the most perfect song released this year.
Radiohead : Lotus Flower
The first band I fully committed to loving and worshiping no matter where they decided to take me. I fell in love with the rich sounds of this song and the lack of traditional song structure (verse / chorus / bridge / chorus) further showed why Radiohead is a fine collection of musical geniuses.
Battles : Ice Cream
Every year I include one song on my list that was also Baby Bee’s favorite (and for once it’s not a She & Him song). This is that song. She would lose her shit to this song every time I played it for her and not only was that entertaining as all get out but it warmed my little black coal heart.
Howdy! It has been a long hot second since I’ve updated this page. I’ve been busy working, being a mama, being a wife, visiting my favorite person, reading, commuting, falling asleep at unforgivably early hours but I’m still writing, still going to concerts (when the Ticketmaster sodomy charges aren’t out of control) and I’m still very much keeping up with new music. I’m working on my year end round up because that’s what jerks like me with blogs are supposed to do. In the meantime I leave you with this video taken earlier this year by one of my favorite artists, performing a song off one of my favorite albums at one of my most favorite venues in this city.