Monday, December 16, 2013

Guest List: Little Silver's Top 10 of What We Liked, Loved, Listened To, and Watched in 2013

To Old Friends and New...

I've gone on -- perhaps a little boringly -- about the many cool things that have happened as a result of my running this blog: meeting new people, making new friends, taking lots of pictures. Well we need to add to that list "reconnecting with old friends."

The first interview I've ever done outside of a school project came earlier this year with one of my dear friends, Little Silver's (the town AND the band) Erika Simonian. It's up over at Speak Into My Good Eye, and it's called "Less Than 10 Questions with Erika Simonian of Little Silver." Funny thing is, it's actually exactly 10 questions; but I think I wrote down the number 7 next to two of them in my draft, so... my bad.

Anyway, for a variety of reasons -- many of which, I hope, will become apparent below -- I asked Erika and her partner both in life and in music, Steve Curtis, if they wouldn't mind putting together a Best of 2013 list for us here. The rules for these things are very loose at CoolDad Music; and I'm happy to report that Erika and Steve took advantage of that fact to share with us not only those "New in 2013" things they shared with each other this year, but also some of the things that they discovered and re-discovered together in 2013.

Little Silver’s Top 10 Of What We Liked, Loved, Listened To and Watched in 2013!
by Erika Simonian with Steve Curtis

If you were a member of our family, you could say 2013 flew by to the soundtrack of "The Wheels on the Bus," which, if you have any experience here, you might have noticed delivers more immediate gratification than “Old McDonald." (You get to the animal sounds a little faster.) Anyway, you’ll be relieved to know neither made our "Best Of" list.

This list will include the "Best Of, According to Steve," "Best Of, According to Erika," and then the rarest category of all: "Best Of, Agreed upon and According to Both of Us." And then come the sub-groups: "Best Of That Actually Came out in 2013" and "Best Of What We Listened to / Watched / Experienced / Re-discovered in 2013." Try to keep up.

Thanks so much, CoolDad. When you ask, we (try our best to) deliver.

10. Film: Honeysuckle Rose

This gem came out in 1980, but Steve and I have re-discovered its entertaining goodness. It stars Willie Nelson and Dyan Cannon, and you can’t not love the music (all Willie’s), the band (Willie’s band), the outlaw fights in the desert, and the overall messin-up in life. Willie plays Buck Bonham, who is, let’s face it, Willie Nelson and acting out Willie Nelson's life story.

9. Music: Repave -- Volcano Choir

This is just a beautiful album.  Justin Vernon and friends: members of All Tiny Creatures and Collections of Colonies of Bees. Anyway, I fell face-first into this one and its been a definite favorite of mine from this past year.

8. Video: “Bad Dancer” -- Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band

This particular video could win "Best or Worst" video, whatever you prefer. The fact is, the video is really fun, actually, and the song was mixed by Mike D and Ad-Rock. They appear in it (as dancers) as well. It’s a gimmick of a song, but a fun video. To get the experience, you can watch it exactly once -- maybe even just half of it -- and never revisit it.

7. Band: Schwerveon!

Anything this band does is awesome. It is one thing to listen to their recordings, which I do think are great; but if you ever have a chance to see them live, they are dynamic to the nth degree and will light you up inside. Matt and Nan are a couple, he plays guitar and sings, she plays drums and sings. And sometimes there’s even some awkward couple-banter in there, which is interesting in this case because they are both entertaining people without even trying.

6. Theater: Fun Home  -- The Public Theater, NYC

2013! If you've read Alison Bechdel’s disturbing and brilliantly written graphic novel, you know the story. The brilliance of the book came in her storytelling. She told it through all the crazy, corner-of-the-mind detail that little kids notice and remember. It’s a tale of her father’s not-really-repressed homosexuality and her own coming-out story. Michael Cerveris plays her father in this musical production and the piece, overall, was really arresting. The young, 8 year old version of Alison delivers an amazing performance; it’s almost freaky to see a child actor in that much command of her body, facial expressions and voice. It's still running so I recommend seeing it before it goes to Broadway.

5. Music: Departure and Farewell -- Hem

So, obviously, this comes from me, Erika, as Steve would sooner stick needles in his eyeballs than tout his own music; but Hazel and I played it on repeat while Steve toured most of this summer and fall in support of this long-awaited album. My love affairs here are with two tracks in particular: "The Jack Pine" -- which we in Little Silver cover from time to time -- and then the final song on the album, “Last Call,"  incredibly beautiful music; plus I’m a sucker for good drinking songs.

4. Music: Muchacho -- Phosphorescent

If you can’t tell by now, I am most drawn to fuzzy, dreamy, (some may say depressing) music. I feel like this album is the same speed as my blood flow, which would mean I am the somatic equivalent of a mid-tempo rock and roll song; but there is a sort of heart-swelling quality to this album that I really love.

3. Music: “Knuckleball Catcher” -- Gillian Welch and David Rawlings

Steve and I heard them perform this song a few years ago and have been searching for  a recording of it ever since. The closest we’ve come is a live video of a performance at the 2008 Newport Folk Festival. Well, I can say that this song brought both of us to our knees. Living in Boston, Gillian got really into baseball and used to watch Fenway games from her roof-top. The song depicts the intrinsic let-down of being invested in, let’s face it, a game. Here’s the brilliant, punch-you-in-the-gut line: “That’s the last time I let a stranger / Break my heart this way”.

2. Music: Aheym -- Bryce Dessner, performed by Kronos Quartet

These four pieces by Bryce Dessner  (The National) are incredibly captivating. AND... this particular selection happens to fall into two overlapping categories: "Actually Released in 2013" and "DING DING DING DING DIIIIINNNNGGGG! Steve and I agree!” These pieces are an odyssey for both of us, and we just get lost. We even stop talking when we listen to it, which is very, very rare. I should’ve added that as a category above: “Released in 2013 and Makes Steve and Erika Stop Prattling on about Household Logistics.”

1. Music: Dream River -- Bill Callahan

A bit of a moody dreamscape, Dream River, and hence true to its name.  Though I happen to really like Bill Callahan, I find men LOVE HIM. So I think it can only be one of two things here: He’s either saying something that men particularly relate to, or his voice is so low that they are unconsciously recalling hearing their father’s voices in utero. What this second choice means is that Bill Callahan is EVERY MAN’S FATHER -- no small thing -- and so his album deserves the #1 spot on this list.

Extra Thing That Everybody Loves:

Comedy, and truth: Louis CK

Just love this guy. He says everything I’m thinking but don’t even realize I’m thinking it. Until he says it, of course.

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