As the curtain closes on 2014, it’s difficult to fathom just how amazing of a year it was musically. This is a statement that seems to ring true for a lot of people almost every year, as we look back at the music we’ve acquiesced since January and marvel at the strength and diversity of the collective whole. Maybe we’re all too simple to please. Perhaps we just know what we like and pursue it with reckless abandon. Either way, I personally think that 2014 is one of the best years for music in a long time. So instead of drawing up a plain looking top 25 list (which I almost did), I’ve decided to do something unnecessarily over-the-top and showy to commemorate how I feel about 2014. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first annual Sowing’s Music Awards (SMA). Only the worthy have been nominated, and only the best out of those will receive the somewhat coveted (but not really) SMA trophy, which I can only imagine would look something like this:
Only the most brilliant artists will get to line their trophy cases with these! But without further ado, I present to you the first category. Thank you for reading on – if you choose to do so – and I hope you enjoy the 2014 SMA’s.
The notion that “human beings don’t change” has gained prevalence in modern society. We’ve all heard variations of it before – he’s stuck in his ways, or the famous once a cheater, always a cheater – and while some people show it more than others, I can guarantee you that we all do evolve. It’s not something you can necessarily witness all at once. Every day, we absorb different stimuli, we’re faced with new decisions, and our character is ever so slightly altered until they all resonate as something noticeable. It’s why your best friend is less likely to notice small changes occurring in you than someone who sees you once per year, such as a distant relative. People like that are subject to brief windows of observation, because they have no frame of reference other than your previous, dated encounter.
If music was life and Brand New were a person, we’d all be distant cousins. We saw them at Your Favorite Weapon in 2001, and they were very much a product of their peer groups, albeit outshining the likes of Taking Back Sunday and other pop-punk groups of that era. Then came Deja Entendu in 2003, and we all marveled at how much the band had matured. The same reaction followed suit, perhaps double fold, upon the release of 2006’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, an epic transformation with overarching spiritual and existential themes. Once again, we transport ourselves years forward to 2009. Daisy was…
Taylor Swift has debuted a new single and set a new record, 1989, to be released on October 27th of this year. Normally in a blog I’d like to include more details, but I really have no words for whatever is going on here.
This probably won’t be something that I always have time to do, but some weeks just overflow with quality releases. Today I’d like to share with you two of my favorite tracks, written by The Rosebuds and Owl John, respectively. These two tracks only combine to take a little bit over 8 minutes of your time, so I suggest you give them both a try!
The Rosebuds: “In My Teeth”
from the album Sand + Silence
Listen if you like: dEUS, Spoon, Wye Oak
“In My Teeth” is the opening track on an album brimming with confident melodies. Wrapped tightly around mature instrumental framework, this track manages to sound relaxed in its urgency, potent in its lyrical content, and entirely fresh from a novelty standpoint. Oh, and it was produced by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Check the band’s official website out out here, and if you would like to purchase this song or the entire album, it is available on iTunes or Amazon.
Owl John: “A Good Reason to Grow Old”
from the album Owl John
Listen if you like: Frightened Rabbit, Bright Eyes, Biffy Clyro
“Turn your back to the afterlife!” Scott Hutchison proclaims, in an emotional bout of suicidal triumph…”with my head in my hands I resolved to die alone…I was ready to drown in the afterlife, but not anymore…
One of the most difficult things about becoming an emeritus of sputnik is discovering amazing new artists and lacking any time whatsoever to communicate that interest to others who care about music. Since “graduating” from sputnik, or “becoming part of the force” (or whatever silly analogy makes sense to you), music has become an increasingly intimate thing to me. I don’t spend as much time searching for new artists, analyzing them, and especially writing about them. But when I encounter something I have a true admiration for, I typically find myself desperately striving to achieve five hours of sleep while finishing up lesson plans, grading papers, planning a wedding, and performing household duties. And all so I can wake up and go to work exhausted again. Needless to say, it’s a busy time for me and I regret that I don’t have ample time to review everything that I feel passionate about (i.e. Snowmine’s new record Dialects, which I heartily recommend to all fans of atmospheric alt/indie). So, in lieu of two reviews that I really want to write but have absolutely no time to, I present you with the first of what may be a continuing string of brief passages concerning artists and new albums that I have found to be exceptional.
Run River North – Run River North
At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this band – they clearly have a knack for accessible songwriting akin to Of Monsters and Men,…
I’ll say the same thing about ‘Pink Rabbits’ that I said about ‘Conversation 16’ back in 2010: if you still haven’t heard The National’s best song to date, then you are depriving yourself of the year’s best moment. It seems like every time this band puts out an album, there is one track on it that is arguably better than anything else released within the same 365 days: ‘Mr. November’, ‘Apartment Story’, ‘Conversation 16’…and now, ‘Pink Rabbits.’ What all these songs have in common is accessibility, propelled by underlying emotional turmoil that prevents them from sounding watered down. I would say that’s their formula, or something else intelligent-sounding, but honestly The National just do whatever the fuck they want and excel at it with relative ease.
Here, they go the route of the sedated pop ballad. The song is so perfectly constructed that it doesn’t matter what Matt Berninger is singing about, but as usual, he has paired top-of-the-line musicianship with phenomenal lyrics. The meaning of the song is somewhat ambiguous, especially when it comes to determining whether it was written from the perspective of a guy – “I’m so surprised you want to dance with me now, you always said I held you way too high off the ground” – or from a girl – “You didn’t see me I was falling apart, I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park”, but either way it’s ridiculously poignant. From the guy’s perspective, I can’t…
Welcome to Sputnik’s Second Infinite Playlist of 2013. Here you can look through some of the finest tracks of the past 3 months, as selected by the users of the site, and find some of the best music you might’ve missed this year.
Elena Tonra’s haunting, Florence Welch-esque vocals and heartbreaking lyrics pervade this lovely track from Daughter’s album If You Leave. As my favourite song from their 2011 EP The Wild Youth, I was expecting (and hoping for) a carbon copy of the song on the album. Whilst the LP version isn’t as intimate, the thumping drums and ethereal guitars transform the song into a different beast entirely. Some may feel the lyrics are treading a very fine line between genuine and cliché, but I reckon they fall just on the right side of that line. This track is well worth checking out, and gives a great indication of what you can expect from the rest of the album.
Welcome to Sputnik’s first Infinite Playlist of 2013! For those of you who don’t know, this is one of the site’s best resources for discovering the best recent music from a selection of genres, as chosen by both users and staff alike. Every quarter, a new issue is published bringing you some of the best individual songs from the past three months. Thank you to everyone who contributed!
Even if The Next Day’s first single “Where Are We Now?” is a beautiful, mellow and reflective tune, it was somewhat harmless and predictable coming after a 50-year, chameleonic career. However, the moment David Bowie debuted “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”, expectations rose up, as well as several question marks regarding the new record, released after a decade long break from the music industry. “The Stars” is an uptempo, straightforward rocker with a groovy bass line and simple, effective guitar leads. What makes it special is that Bowie adds his ageless and dramatic yet powerful vocals much like he used to all the way back in the ’70s. Also, the lyrics meld David’s passion towards aliens with ironic stabs at superstars, who are beautiful and flawless
Godspeed You! Black Emperor are no strangers to post-rock success. They found their calling early, with 1997s F#A#∞, an apocalyptic journey that painted the end of times as both a thing of beauty and an unspeakable calamity. Over time, their name has almost become synonymous with post-rock, and “Allelujah! Don’t…
Sputnik Music is dedicated to bringing you the best new music. Part of our endeavor includes this very blog, our “Infinite Playlist” – a user-submitted database consisting of quarterly, up-to-date tracks from your favorite artists (and hopefully a few ones you’ve never heard of before). Below you will find a list of songs from the third quarter of 2012. Each song is (if possible) accompanied by a download link, access to the artist’s home page, and a review of his/her latest album.
Sputnik’s Infinite Playlist is, as the title suggests, an ongoing project. You can contribute to future publications of Sputnik’s Infinite Playlist by submitting a song title, artist name, release date, and 5-10 sentence blurb to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All prior sections of the Infinite Playlist can be found below:
If you have any additional questions, drop me a message in my shoutbox. Q4 submissions will range from October to December, so feel free to send something in at your leisure. Not a user? No problem. You can register with the site here.
And as always, I would like to take a moment to recognize this issue’s contributors for their time and effort. Please give a round of applause for this quarter’s writers:
No matter how much you love music, there is quite simply too much out there to keep track of. Even in your genre of choice, it is possible to overlook an impressive release, which can be frustrating when you find it year(s) later only to regret every single day that you weren’t already listening to it. For me, the most recent discovery of this sort was Laminate Pet Animal, a 2011 psychedelic/indie release that took me almost a full year to stumble upon.
Laminate Pet Animal is a brilliant effort from Snowmine, a band hailing from Brooklyn that is too little-known considering the heights they effortlessly ascend to. Their stellar blend of pop-accessible vocals (think James Mercer of The Shins) and challenging-yet-melodic atmospheres beckons casual listens as well as late night headphone sessions. Their sound works as one cohesive wave of beauty, flowing over your ears and engulfing them in one gorgeous instrumental arrangement after another.
Laminate Pet Animal is consistently jaw-dropping, so attempting to pick a standout track is like trying to pick out a date from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Nevertheless, one that exemplifies the album’s true nature, as well as what Snowmine is capable of, comes via “Let Me In”, a song driven by downright stunning vocals and a spacey atmosphere. Enjoy, and be sure to check out Snowmine’s bandcamp page for a name-your-own-price download of the album (It may be free, but it’s worth dropping a few bucks on to support the…
Welcome back! For those of you who don’t know, this is one of the site’s best resources for discovering up-to-date, diverse staff and user selected tracks. Every quarter, a new issue is published bringing you some of the best individual songs from the past few months. The first quarter received an overwhelming response, gathering over 20 submissions accompanied by some fine writing. Thanks to your dedication, we’re here to keep things rolling with the second quarter of 2012’s feature. Below you can find the archive for Sputnik’s Infinite Playlist’s History, which is young but rapidly growing.
If you live outside of Scotland, chances are you’ll not be familiar with Admiral Fallow, the nation’s second best indie folk collective. That may not be the case for long, though, with the band’s second album Tree Bursts In Snow making clear strides towards a wider audience while losing none of their unequivocal…
In anticipation of Keane’s fourth studio album Strangeland (to be released this Tuesday, May 8th), Sputnik will be hosting a prize pack giveaway. The contest is based upon the music video to their latest single, “Disconnected”, which was filmed by directors Juan Antonio Bayona and Sergio G. Sanchez inside a haunted house in Barcelona while following a distinct 70’s horror aesthetic. The contestant who submits the best movie slogan/tagline in 15 words or less (i.e. Jaws‘ “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”) will receive the following:
-Strangeland 12” vinyl record
The winner will be chosen based on originality, cleverness, and/or humor, as well overall quality of the slogan. All answers should be sent via email to email@example.com. The deadline for submissions is Sunday, May 13th.
The music video can be viewed below. Good luck to all of the contestants involved!
I’ve always felt like this is the perfect song to start off spring. Not only does the title conjure up images of blossoming life, but the music nestles itself between icy winter-like pianos and the warm swelling of strings. The whole thing makes me picture a thawing landscape…ice melting and trickling down a hillside, tiny patches of green sprouting up through the cracks…this is the sound of life overcoming death.
This is one that packs a surprising punch, considering its all-natural and effortlessly fluid beginning. The sound of crickets and the bubbling water of a stream nuzzle your senses into a state of complete calm before the song erupts into all of its splendor with a magnificent riff and and epic string section…even the quiet, subdued vocals transform into a fit of passionate shouting akin to a triumphant arrival – not all that dissimilar to spring time coming into full force.
“The Fisherman Song” reminds me of morning. A lake who’s waves have just begun to curl and ripple, erasing the evening’s glass surface and setting the day in motion. The way the guitars are gently picked does an excellent job of depicting something soothing, such as water. Hell, even the squeaking fingers sliding up and down the strings remind me of a creaky old row boat. As the song gradually increases in tempo, it feels…