buried in the sand

Best Movies of 2014

Olive Kitteridge was probably my favorite thing to happen in cinema all year. But of course it wasn’t released as a feature-length film in the theater so it couldn’t appear on my year end list. It was a HBO produced mini-series with four richly devastating episodes. Everything seemed to align so effortlessly. The performances (most notably Frances McDormand and Zoe Kazan), the writing, Frederick Elmes’s cinematography and Lisa Cholodenko’s direction all came together and achieved something beautiful. To be honest, I would have sat in a theater for four hours to watch this. I watched the entire thing at home in one weekend only forcing myself to take breaks for sustenance.*

Olive Kitteridge tells a story that spans a number of decades and I can’t help but feel as if it could have been a television series with a number of seasons with many episodes. I’m not sure if there is enough source material (Elizabeth Strout’s novel) there but when Frances McDormand bought the film rights of the novel perhaps she could have convinced Strout to produce more pages for a full television series or adapted them herself or with Jane Anderson (who wrote the scripts for HBO). Four episodes just didn’t seem like enough time spent with these incredible characters. The miniseries spans generations. We really could have peeked into their lives between all those gaps in time. Missed opportunity for sure.

Despite my love for television, there were a lot of incredible movies released in 2014. Stranger by the Lake which was released in the states early in the year was a phenomenal thriller. It came out so early in the year I almost forgot about it. Blue Ruin was a revenge thriller that exceeded all my expectations when I saw it at the Angelika. This was a good year for ScarJo, who played an alien in the haunting Under the Skin and a drug mule turned sci-fi assassin in Lucy. She is stunning in both roles. Let’s not forget to mention that I was serenaded by her at a Vice event a few months ago when she sang a sultry version of “Bizarre Love Triangle” somewhere in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.



2014 marked another year I had MoviePass and was able to see all the movies I wanted in theaters for a whopping $35 a month. There are still a few movie theaters in NYC who don’t accept Discover cards (I’m looking at you Film Forum and Landmark Sunshine) but the rest of them do, so if I’m not working or at home sleeping I’m usually in a dark movie theater indulging in the latest new releases. I’ve never been a fan of popcorn or movie theater concessions, but since I’m in theaters more often than I ever have been I catch myself buying buckets of popcorn and carbonated beverages. I’m not sure how that happened. I think this is keeping movie theaters in business, so you indie theaters out there, quit with the cash only policies and accept every major credit card because you’re missing out on some much needed revenue! Since having MoviePass, I also catch myself watching movies I wouldn’t normally go see like strange documentaries or horrible big budget romantic comedies or action flicks. I’m not sure if this is good use of my time, but it beats (sometimes) staying home and marathoning Gilmore Girls. Getting out of the apartment, even to see something like Annie makes me feel like a participating member of society.

I was blessed with a platinum badge with press credentials at SXSW last year so I covered the film, music and interactive as best as I could for PopBytes and Austin was as ridiculous and amazing as it usually is. I saw a lot of duds including but not limited to We’ll Never Have Paris and Space Station 76. Thankfully the latter film was saved by the grace of the director, Jack Plotnick who grabbed the microphone and used improv to get through an awkward technical mishap during a screening of the movie. It also helped that Patrick Wilson was just a few rows away from me in the theater looking as handsome as ever. Though, We’ll Never Have Paris missed its mark completely, it did put me in the same room as Melanie Lynskey and I gushed about it on Twitter and she was sweet enough to respond to me.

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We took advantage of the rental car we rented during the few days we had in Austin before the festival started and checked out the Slaughter Lane, the Alamo Drafthouse which existed a few miles out of Austin proper. We watched my significant other’s favorite childhood movie, Follow That Bird for free during a special kids brunch they had. Over cups of coffee and a frittatas, I was able to watch my boyfriend’s favorite movie. I’ve never seen it (though, there were particular scenes that seemed strangely familiar to me). I couldn’t help watching him watch it for the first time in a huge theater. Forget that old VHS copy he re-watched over and over again as a kid. It was now being projected on the big screen. He teared up quite a few times and it warmed my heart. Some of my favorite movies of the year premiered at SXSW but since they haven’t been officially released yet they can’t appear on my list. I’m looking at you Fort Tilden, Creep and I Believe in Unicorns. Another movie we saw before SXSW kicked off (which SXSW film programmers foolishly passed up on) was my friend Drew Tobia’s See You Next Tuesday during a screening at Spider House.

See You Next Tuesday had a great run at Cinema Village in NYC but still deserves more recognition. It deserves to be seen by more people so I’m including the trailer here. And here is the link to purchase the movie off iTunes and here is the link to rent it from Amazon. See You Next Tuesday is the bastard lovechild of Gregg Araki and John Waters and will not disappoint you.



This experience is only unique to people living in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island but I have the inside scoop to that strange theater that comes up when searching for movies on Flixster, Fandango and Google. North Shore Towers in Floral Park is a real movie theater. It’s actually one of the cleanest, most beautiful theaters in New York. They might not sell popcorn or soda but I think I passed by a vending machine but it’s a fully functioning theater, with really comfortable bed-bug-free seats and the best sound system I’ve ever experienced. It was IMAX quality. Though, it’s cash only and doesn’t take MoviePass, it has a private parking lot and there will never be more than ten people in the theater. Are you wondering what the catch is? Well, it’s a movie theater in the basement of a retirement home, just off the service road of the Grand Central Parkway. The experience of seeing a movie here is complete with a parking lot attendant who directs you to the correct building, a doorman who helps push the revolving door for you, awkward elevator encounters with elderly women in wheelchairs and walkers, residents playing board games with family members under horrible fluorescent lights, a creepy old man who takes your cash without giving you a ticket stub and old Jewish ladies with coupons who had husbands back in the day who would buy up old movie theaters and flip them into real functioning cinemas. These same old Jewish ladies were the ones who informed us of the process at North Shore Towers—they only play movies if four or more people show up (so they thanked us youngsters for showing up to see Force Majeure).

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I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…I mean I saw my boyfriend and his coworkers lose their minds while working in the art department on Annie. I listened to the tortured lives of PAs working on a horrible unnecessary remake of a beloved musical. It was like watching a loved one being robbed of their heart and soul. Annie ruined more than a few lives in 2014. More than one person is suffering from PTSD after working on it, others developed anxiety disorders, substance abuse problems and one person was actually diagnosed with cancer just after they wrapped up production. I watched my loved one get tortured on a daily basis— working 12 hour shifts, running ridiculous tasks all around New York City. I can’t imagine how many romances Annie killed. I learned to adopt the principles of a therapist. I did my best to be sympathetic but it was draining even for me, I couldn’t fathom working under such conditions. Annie didn’t deserve half of the money it made this year. And that Golden Globe nomination? Gross.

2014 was certainly a whirlwind. I attended the Tribeca Film Festival and Ira Sachs’ Love Is Strange was probably my favorite from the festival. John Lithgow was unreal and I’ll take Marisa Tomei in any role you want to give her. Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves was another standout. Although, the Joss Whedon-penned In Your Eyes wasn’t perfect Zoe Kazan and Michael Stall-David really brought that film to life. Seeing She-Devil in a packed theater at BAM was quite the experience. Experiencing Ivo van Hove’s theatrical interpretation of Scenes from a Marriage was devastating and exhausting. Tim Burton’s Big Eyes was certainly a letdown. I thought he was retreating back to his roots but it was full of shtick and meh. Though it did birth two new Lana Del Rey songs (one of which was nominated for a Golden Globe!) so my complaining will stop right here. After a Hannibal panel at PaleyFest we met one of the handsomest actors (you know the one who is always in his underwear on Hannibal) Hugh Dancy and the star of Wonderfalls Caroline Dhavernas.

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Celebrating the birth of James we watched Heathers in a park in Brooklyn. We also watched both volumes of Nymphomaniac while indulging in food at Nighthawk. We actually watched Volume I on Easter so I don’t think I can refer to myself as a Catholic ever again. Another highlight of 2014 was Andrew Haigh (of Weekend and Looking fame) acknowledging me on Twitter and wishing my boyfriend and I a happy anniversary. 2014 was the year I realized Forest Hills, Queens offers quite the array of movie theaters. And my boyfriend lives in walking distance to Kew Gardens Cinemas where we see films almost once a week.

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I kind of love that The Hunger Games and its sequels is the only thing that brings my entire family together in a movie theater. I head back to Long Island to see each installment at one of the cheapest and shittiest movie theaters Long Island has to offer— South Bay Cinemas. Remember when Lifetime remade Flowers in the Attic with Heather Graham, Ellen Burstyn and Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper!) and it was such a hit that Lifetime decided to make the sequels? I do. The power of the movie Wild actually inspired my boyfriend and one his best friends to hike through the wintry mountains upstate, complete with them stopping by REI beforehand to purchase gear which included walking sticks.

So this completes my 2014 year in film rambling. A personal retrospective if you will. I hope your year was just as eventful. I find it impossible to even come close to seeing all the movies I would like to see in a year. So, please forgive me for not seeing movies like Timbuktu, The Imitation Game and God Help the Girl. I did my best! Below is my list of the best films of 2014 which is subject to change at any given time. It’s incredibly difficult to compare comedies with dramas and heavy documentaries with Wes Anderson. It just doesn’t work. Below are fifty movies that deserve your attention. What were your favorite films of the year? What made your best of list? Let’s discuss. We know the Academy Awards don’t know what a good film is.

*I also have this thing where I never want to finish a season of any show. I like to binge on my own terms. I never watch things as they air (despite the many spoilers that lurk all over the internet). I allow television shows to air three or four episodes before I begin to watch. There’s an indescribable comfort knowing there are three or four hours of “fiction” to indulge in when I want to. I like my stories. I get attached to the characters in my stories. The thought of having to wait (impatiently) an entire week to see my stories again incites a certain kind of dread, a longing I never want to feel. There’s a sense of loss there. Television is my therapy; it’s part of my therapeutic process. Films too. All moving images, in every form is part of the process. Art, in all its manifestations is the reason I’m still here, living on this planet. It’s the only way I can survive. Movies are my anti-depressant. Television is an array of benzos. Music is my amphetamine and SSRI.

Best Films of 2014

50. Veronica Mars
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49. Interstellar
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48. Borgman
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47. Still Alice
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46. Chef
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45. Laggies
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44. Maladies
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43. The Skeleton Twins
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42. Non-Stop
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41. The One I Love
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40. Sunlight Jr.
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39. Filth
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38. White Bird in a Blizzard
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37. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
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36. Enemy
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35. Whiplash
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34. All Cheerleaders Die
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33. Lucy
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32. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
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31. Foxcatcher
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30. Dear White People
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29. Leviathan
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28. The Babadook
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27. Starred Up
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26. Ida
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25. Edge of Tomorrow
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24. Birdman
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23. Palo Alto
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22. Night Moves
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21. Love Is Strange
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20. See You Next Tuesday
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19. A Most Violent Year
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18. Two Days, One Night
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17. Obvious Child
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16. Snowpiercer
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15. Boyhood
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14. In Fear
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13. Nightcrawler
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12. Blue Ruin
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11. Inherent Vice
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10. Wild
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09. Wetlands
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08. Nymphomaniac: Vol. I
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07. The Guest
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06. Under the Skin
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05. Gone Girl
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04. Stranger by the Lake
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03. It Felt Like Love
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02. Force Majeure
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01. Only Lovers Left Alive
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buried in the sand

Best Records of 2014

2014 was a huge year for music.

It was the year that turned me into a Beyoncé fan. She unexpectedly dropped an entire album two weeks before 2103 came to a close. No promotion, no single, no teases. BOOM. One day we’re listening to “Run the World (Girls)” for the one-thousandth time and the next day we have 14 new Beyoncé songs. And not only did we have fourteen new songs to listen to but we had music videos to accompany each track. It was such a surreal event in music history. I remember being at a party in Crown Heights at my friend’s apartment looking for some respite from all the people in the living room, so I walked to his bedroom and pulled out my phone. I opened up Twitter and my timeline was in a collective roar. Everyone was thanking the music gods that their queen just dropped the best album of the year. I was in awe of her tactical move to release an album out of the blue like that. While, Lady Gaga struggled to get people excited about her 2013 album ARTPOP, using the usual, proper channels to do so, Beyoncé was like, “Fuck that!” and dropped that shit like it was NBD. I admired her from that moment on. I was never a Beyoncé fan (with the exception of ”Halo” and ”Sweet Dreams”. As a homosexual male, I know that is a crime but I just never understood why her music mattered. Weeks after she dropped Beyoncé I still wasn’t convinced of her appeal but I caught myself digging “Drunk in Love” more and more each time I heard it on the radio.

It wasn’t until I drove my friend Moroni to the train station in Williamsburg after a delicious brunch and confessed to him I haven’t heard the album that I became an official Beyoncé fan. He asked me to pull over as he plugged his iPhone into my car’s stereo and put on “Haunted”. We were silent for the entire 6 minutes and 9 seconds. I remember getting chills each time the beat changed. Especially that haunting thundering clap. The song sounded like a mélange of everything I have been listening to. I hear The xx. I hear The Weeknd. I hear Crystal Castles. What is this pop star doing with all of these innovative, unconventional beats? For the next twenty minutes, we dissected the entire song. We tried interpreting the lyrics and wondered who her influences were. I was completely smitten.

I spent the entire winter listening to the album. Every time we went out on the town, I yearned to hear everything from “Partition” to “Blow” and we did hear them (and more!). The clubs, bars and DJs played them without acquiescence. But by the time I was fully enthralled by her record, I already posted my Best Records of 2013 and it was shamefully omitted from the list. Since I have strict rules and regulations concerning my end of the year lists, I couldn’t amend my list to accommodate her masterpiece. Nor can I place Beyoncé on my 2014 list unless I count the deluxe edition but that doesn’t comply with my stringent rules and regulations. So, please excuse my verbosity while I attempted to explain why Beyoncé did not appear on neither my 2013 or 2014 year end list. Most pop stars rely on singles to sustain their careers. Have a few Top 20 songs every two years and you’re good good. It’s rare for a pop artist with the amount of celebrity, fame and success that Beyoncé has to actually release such a cohesive, beautiful, perfect album. Pop albums are usually just a compilation of singles with songs in-between as filler but Bey challenged that assumption. She also confronted her detractors and tackled the criticisms that she’s an unemotional android by releasing the most personal, affecting and passionate album of her career.

There are moments on the album when she has to remind us she’s not a robot by declaring her humanness. At the end of “Jealous” she literally sings, “I’m just jealous. I’m just human. Don’t judge me.” Every time I hear that lyric it makes me chuckle. We’re not judging you Beyoncé. Just keep releasing songs like this and you’ll be forever adored. Beyoncé wrote a personal pop album illustrating all the good and bad that comes with marriage. It’s one of the first pop records that I have listened to that shows the truth behind a loving passionate relationship. Songs about having babies, songs about miscarriages. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed an album this much. And I think Boots is the reason this record exists.

I’m not sure if I’m “allowed” to include mixtapes to my year end lists (I know I have in the past). For some reason I feel like I’m cheating my own system. But I finally got around to listening to Boots’ (the mastermind behind Beyoncé’s last record) mixtape WinterSpringSummerFall and it would be a crime not to mention it here. It’s incredible. And I’m very upset and disappointed that none of my friends have forced these tracks into my ears, somehow, someway. I feel as if I haven’t lived my full potential this year because I just got around to listening to this mixtape. I feel neglected, left out. It’s the only thing I have been listening to for about a month.

You can hear all your former classmates on Facebook becoming your parents when they write baloney status updates about the current state of music and how there’s nothing good on the radio anymore. That music isn’t like it was back when they were kids. It’s shocking when I touch base with old friends who are still rocking out to the same bands we listened to in 1998. It’s almost cute. It just seems everyone born in the 80s decided to stop using the internet and allowed iHeartRadio (or Clear Channel) to cultivate their listening habits. I’ll never understand why they surrendered. There is good music out there, you just have to look for it.

2014 marked the year that I accepted streaming as a viable mode of listening. My iPod Classic officially died and my 16GB iPhone didn’t have the space to carry around all the songs I needed to feel safe when I left the house. And Apple is no longer making them anymore. This is the moment I became a Spotify premium user and streamed hours and hours of music while I was “on-the-go.” At this moment my music library would no longer grow in size. I stopped downloading music. I stopped hoarding files and songs on external hard drives. And my biggest fear has become things like bandwidth throttling and data discrimination. What if our internet providers limit our usage? That would kill streaming in mere seconds. All of these streaming services would lose all their members and the internet would become just another corrupted entity. Net neutrality is where it’s at so please sign all of those petitions that come your way. It’s a very real issue that will affect all of us. Our cell phone data plans are already bankrupting us all.

2014 brought a new Sia record and an interesting album campaign. Sia deciding to turn her back on the audience for every performance of “Chandelier.” Having people like Lena Dunham evoking the song’s spirit while Sia lays face down on a bunk bed. I remember the first time I heard “Chandelier” was outside a closed Target at 1am in Austin during SXSW. We set up a makeshift office outside on the pavement, stealing their free wifi. It took a few listens for the song to click—and once it did we were smitten. This was Sia’s year. Over the last few years she has penned so many hit pop songs, it finally felt like it was Sia’s moment to take a seat in pop’s throne. 1000 Forms of Fear drops to what seems like rave reviews. But I’m listening to the album and it’s not hitting me the way it’s hitting everyone else. What are they all hearing? End of the year lists start sprouting up on the internet in December and I noticed 1000 Forms of Fear is absent from these lists and maybe people started to think a little more clearly. Don’t get me wrong there are gems on this album. “Elastic Heart” and “Big Girls Cry” are incredible. What Sia brings to pop music is more important than a critically-acclaimed album. She’s doing important work. Watch the “Chandelier” music video or the “Chandelier” performances. Listen to this hour-long thoughtful, heartbreaking interview she did with Howard Stern. She’s a beautiful human. Inside and out.

This year Beck retreated back to his Sea Change roots with his new album this year and I was totally here for it. This was the year I got into V V Brown but she didn’t release a proper album this year so you wouldn’t really know. The track she did with Kele Okereke appeared on almost every playlist I made this year and deserves all your listens.



During one cold wintery night in Brooklyn, the club was closing up and someone mentioned an afterparty happening a few blocks away. It was one of the best nights I had in awhile. In the dark, sweaty room filled with people, I heard Tinashe for the first time. I remember dancing to this incredible dark and brooding beat wondering who was singing. I was proper drunk, with the best people and everything felt warm and perfect. It might have been 13 degrees and nearing 5am but nothing was going to stop this feeling. Shazam saved the night though or I would have never known Tinashe’s name. From that moment on, I was hooked. I downloaded all of her mixtapes. And when she announced she was playing a show at SXSW, I nearly died. She played Hype Hotel the night that Gorilla vs. Bear and Yours Truly curated the lineup. We entered the venue through a dark back alley near a bodega. It reminded me of NYC if NYC actually had alleys. Why do alleys only seem to exist in movies (and I guess Austin, Texas). There were free drinks and free Taco Bell. Lots of tall good looking people as well. I separated from my friends to get to the showcase early, so I wouldn’t miss my alt-R&B princess. I met a girl named Rachel and wondered why all the Rachels I know have strange colored hair. She’s a former emo girl and is a photographer and went to college in Orlando, Florida. An Ariana Grande remix is being spun between acts and Pure Bathing Culture takes the stage in front of orange amplifiers and they sound like a mellower Beach House. When Tinashe steps on stage the crowd goes wild. It’s just her and her DJ. She opens her set with my favorite song “Vulnerable” which I documented below. My heart was palpitating watching her dance. Then two good looking dudes come out halfway through the song and synch with her moves. The energy emanating from these three is infectious. I’m sold.



I wasn’t sure if anyone could follow Tinashe but BANKS picked up where Tinashe left off that night at Hype Hotel as she bellowed into her microphone with those ferocious sweet vocals she has and completely hypnotized the entire venue. Casting spells with her R&B-infused witchcraft.

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Jetta christened an audience one random night in Austin and if you were looking to fill the heartbreak void Adele left us with a few years ago, Jetta is here to fill it for you. Balladry. Beautiful. Crescendos aching to crash in all her songs. I’m surprised she isn’t a household name by now. I met a dude at this show who introduced me to Kristal and Jonny Boy and I am forever indebted to him and he doesn’t even know it.

I have been following Cardiknox like the synthpop prince I think I am and they have finally signed with a major label. We caught them first at last year’s CMJ and supported them in Austin for SXSW. They are the sweetest group of musicians around with solid tunes to swoon over. But if I continue to gush about all the amazing things I encountered at SXSW, everything would pale in comparison. So, let’s stop here.

The long anticipated Mr. Blue Jeans album finally dropped and no one seemed to care anymore. Courtney Love released two new songs this year and they were rather lovely. My favorite German glitch-pop band The Notwist released a new album this year and came to the states to support it. The boyfriend got me tickets to see them at Webster Hall and I was in synth heaven. I think I spent more time at Webster Hall this year than any previous year I spent on this earth. All of the bands and artists I’ve been following are finding a larger audience. And I’m happy for them but I really don’t like that venue. I think I lost Charli XCX to the masses this year. She released a subpar “punk rock” album forgetting her goth-pop past behind and it’s fine, but it wasn’t the direction I hoped she would go in. We caught Tove Lo at a sold-out show at Westway. We saw Sylvan Esso there as well and there was not enough room to even dance. I was serenaded by Mirah at the Jewish museum in Manhattan and she played so many old songs and a bunch of new ones I was excited about. Months later she dropped one of the best albums she has written in quite some time. I’m sorry it took a broken heart to get there though.

Reminisced with Nada Surf at The Bell House one winter night with Michael Seth. Realized I don’t really like disco when I went to a Horse Meat Disco party with the tattooed muscle daddy from work. Remember when The Weeknd stole back the beats and vibes Beyoncé borrowed from him and covered “Drunk in Love?” Here is your reminder. 2014 was the year I saw Yuck again at Bowery Ballroom (I met the man of my dreams at a Yuck show there 3 years prior). The boyfriend decided last minute that we should attend the Amnesty International concert at Barclays and we were graced by the sounds of Tegan & Sara, Cake, Blondie and Lauryn Hill. Seeing Cardiknox and Betty Who play together was a dream come true. How about that score for Only Lovers Left Alive? That time I smuggled my way into Glasslands to catch FKA Twigs’ first show in New York and she was giving so many Kendra (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) vibes. TRUST dropped a new album and continued to tour and tour and tour. I caught him at SXSW and Le Poisson Rogue. He’s still one of the best things to come around in awhile. Grimes dropped a new single she wrote with Blood Diamonds that was originally for Rihanna and it was great. But where’s the rest of the album?

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London Grammar loves to sing and she should because she’s great. I caught her at Irving Plaza and Haerts opened up. Saw Banks at Irving as well and she continued to cast spells. My heart was palpitating during her entire set, I thought I was going to go into cardiac arrest. Too many feelings. Ran into some friends after the show and everyone seemed possessed. Banks played an acoustic set when her album dropped at Rough Trade and it was the first time I got a Fiona Apple vibe from her and it broadened my entire perspective on her. She can singgggggggggg! I went home and listened to “Goddess” in its entirety and realized she’s more than just R&B. 2014 marked the year I would see M.I.A. live for the first time and it was everything I could hope for. Solange was there to open for her. #VultureFest was a great time.

Elliphant played Glasslands in 2013 and it was the one show my boyfriend wouldn’t stop talking about. Informing me that I missed out on something extraordinary. Thankfully she opened up for Charli XCX at Webster Hall this year and I was able to get a taste of her stage antics. He was right. She’s something special. Watch this video for “One More,” the song she recorded with Mø. It’s just a tease.



Robyn returned this year with an EP she recorded with Röyksopp and it wasn’t everything we were hoping for but it was something we weren’t aware we needed. Their show this summer on a pier in Manhattan was one of those perfect rare summer nights that don’t come around too often. Erik Hassle opened up for Mø and he was nice to me when he initiated conversation on the line for the bathroom. Mø almost tore down the walls in Glasslands. And little did we know it was okay for the walls to crumble because Grasslands was closing up shop a few months later (along with various other music venues in North Williamsburg due to Vice growing into a huge media conglomerate). We wished Glasslands a farewell during a How to Dress Well show. Tom Krell is such a special creature and he made our good bye that much more heartfelt. Thank you. Glasslands was probably my favorite Brooklyn venue, if not my favorite venue in all of New York City. I was sad to see it go. I’m hoping PopGun finds a new unique space to take its place. And I hope it’s not Baby’s All Right because that place attracts the worst kind of people.

2014 was the year we messed around with StubHub. Instead of queuing up Ticketmaster when tickets went on sale, juggling a MacBook, iPhone and an iPad we decided to let the pre-sales come and go. A few weeks before a concert comes up we check StubHub on a daily basis and watch the tickets drop down in price. More than a few times we acquired tickets below face value. It feels good getting even with scalpers when this happens. This isn’t fool-proof. Things don’t always work in your favor but there are always more options the day of the show. Like when How to Dress Well played Irving Plaza. Tickets on StubHub vanished at an early hour and it the show was sold out. We showed up to the venue an hour before his set and they were selling tickets at the box office at face value. Just remember nothing is ever completely sold out. There’s always a way in.

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We managed to get into Fader Fort during CMJ, twenty minutes before Willow Smith performed. Charm and relentlessness. We downed a few free drinks at the bar and shoved our way up to the stage and she serenaded us with a few songs. Tove Lo at Westway was incredible even with the a gaggle of gays on molly who couldn’t stand on their own two feet. Even better was running into half of Icona Pop (Caroline) and her telling us she’s being a bit of a “stage mom” watching Tove Lo perform. 2014 was the year FKA Twigs flew across the pond and performed in New York for the first time. She had one of my favorite EPs of 2013 and I have been impatiently waiting for her debut album. She performed Glasslands with all the grace and allure of Kendra (the vampire slayer #BTVS). I called her Banks’ weirdo soul sister from across the pond. But even then, we were unaware of what she could achieve.

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It wasn’t until her Webster Hall show that everyone caught on to her. Her ridiculously good album LP1 dropped and it received some serious acclaim. I took some notes while I was at that show and they went something like this:

Fluttered heart. Chokers. Gold. Braided hair. Prelude. Whispers nothings. Thick eyebrow. Fishnet blouse. Leggings. Walking back and forth with a death sex glare before the song actually starts. Cordless mic. Not tied down. No stand. 1. False dream. Make my eyes blue. Smoke. Three dudes. 2 with drum pads. One with bass guitar. 2. Lights On. Jerked motions. Marionette. 3. Water Me. Click clack drags on. Thought I saw my BFF in VIP. Who is sick in hospital. Belly button ring. "NYC is a special place to me because I recorded a lot of my album here." Humble. And nice. Still remains mysterious and elusive. 4. Pendulum. Unreal to be here with the boy I think about most during this song. 5. Number. 6. Remember that I belong to you. Lots of singing. Bass. (???). 7. Give Up I think. Weird escalating noise. Death drop. Vogueing. In a super dark way post-post-modern. On the floor dancing. I've been practicing in London to vogue. Benjamin Melon who has been studying voguing. I want to get it right. If all else fails.....what was that quote. "Is that a technical term?" 8. Pacify Me. 9. Two Weeks. 10. ???? Santos as Twigs. Wrote for 3 months here. A$AP Rocky is here…

Here she’s voguing for us…



Only The Knife could have got me to leave the comfort of my friend’s couch in Brooklyn in a torrential downpour. I was drenched from head to toe and almost slipped into a muddy puddle on my way to NYC’s most hated venue, Terminal 5. But the production value put into their show was so worth the dreadful commute to Manhattan.

The emo revival was in full force in 2014. A new album from The Jazz June. A new song from Sunny Day Real Estate. I finally got the chance to see Mineral with a few of my favorite former emo friends. Especially Gabrielle. Mineral soundtracked our entire romance in 2001. We missed American Football play a few dates at Webster Hall but we made up for it reminiscing with old mixtapes and playlists. And it wasn’t just emo bands getting back together. Shoegaze bands were reuniting as well. Bands in the 90s that influenced the way my heart beats and my mind ticks. Slowdive reunited and played a few festivals before embarking on a North American tour. I did all I could to avoid Terminal 5 for the Slowdive show but I trusted the wrong friend with my slumbering heart and ticket to see them in Philadelphia and was without a ticket. James stepped up to the plate and made sure I didn’t miss them play in New York and I couldn’t be more grateful for mending my Slowdive wounds.

What would a year end written by me be without me gushing about Lana Del Rey? She is my ultimate bae. She is the most important thing to happen to pop music in a very long time. 2014 was the comeback year for Lana. Despite selling millions of copies of her debut album Born to Die worldwide back in 2012 she suffered a huge backlash for her live performances (specifically on television). After such aggressive thinkpieces about the “authenticity” of Lana Del Rey and negative press attacking her “art” she hinted in an interview that she was done with music. But then she re-released Born to Die: The Paradise Edition in November of 2012 with eight new songs. Fans everywhere were worried the music industry got the best of her and she was throwing in the towel.

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But thanks to a remix of “Summertime Sadness” Lana Del Rey became a household name in 2013 and her song was inescapable on the radio. Your mother and father know this song. Just this past March Born to Die broke 1 million in sales in the United States thanks to all this success. So when Lana dropped her second album Ultraviolence on June 17 the entire world was there with open arms and open wallets. Ultraviolence was the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 that week. Things are different for Lana this time around. Critics seemed to adore her new album. She successfully toured in 2014, selling out venues and stadiums all across the United States. She did this with grace and valor. He detractors either found someone else to obsess over or they became fans themselves. Her live performances improved immensely. Broadcasting them across the internet like a badge of honor. I watched her entire Glastonbury set on YouTube and I was amazed at how much she grew as a performer.

My only gripe was Lana avoiding New York City on her tour. It seemed she never forgave the city she started out in. Punishing us for the SNL debacle. It was as if she forgot that we all showed up to her residency at Irving Plaza in 2012 with open arms and open hearts. It doesn’t matter though, because we have tickets to see her and Courtney Love performed at Red Rocks in Colorado in May. Probably one of the best venues to be serenaded by Lana in. I’m still jealous of all of you who caught her at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I have this really long-winded, yet unfinished review of Ultraviolence sitting on my computer and I’m not sure what to do with it. It tackles the album track-by-track. And with every new listen, my thoughts swell with the infinite possibilities of hope to the dark underbellies of the human condition in every song. And I think that’s exactly why this record strikes a chord with so many people. When talking about her single, “West Coast” with The Guardian, I understood her intentions for this record and why this album matters. "When I played [the label] ‘West Coast’ they were really not happy that it slipped into an even slower BPM for the chorus," she says. "They were like: 'None of these songs are good for radio and now you're slowing them down when they should be speeded up.' But for me, my life was feeling murky, and that sense of disconnectedness from the streets is part of that,” she continued to lament. Haven’t we all felt like this at some point in our lives? When was the last time your fav/pop star discussed the complexity of depression and tried to emulate/convey that feeling in sound and tone on their album? Ultraviolence was Lana’s reaction to achieving the “American Dream” she consistently sang about on Born to Die. The “dream” was nothing like they promised in the literature and films we grew up reading and watching. Ultraviolence was Lana reacting to this realization.

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Phew! 2014 had so many moments blessed by music. Whether I was running on four hours of sleep, popping Sudafed just to stay awake while standing at a show in Ridgewood, Queens or begging the door guy at Glasslands to let me into a sold out show, I managed to survive the year. Perfume Genius wounded popular culture with his new record. Spreading queer vibes all across the world. Betty Who dropped her debut album and played my friend’s showcase at SXSW. I saw Melissa Etheridge at the same showcase in Austin, something I never thought I would say. I wrote about it for PopBytes and she even retweeted the link to 65,000 followers. Speaking of Twitter, remember when the band Yuck wished my boyfriend and I a happy three-year anniversary? I do! I met Tinashe before her show at Highline. I finally saw Yelle for the first time and she was charming as fuck. And those two drummers she had on stage with her? Yesssssss. Sleater-Kinney released a beautiful vinyl boxset that my boyfriend got me for my birthday. Marilyn Manson’s Portrait of an American Family turned 20 years old in 2014. That record helped shape the person I am today. Roseland, one of the most famous venues in NYC closed in 2014 and Lady Gaga played the final shows there and of course we couldn’t miss a moment like that. It was actually the last shared moment I had with one of my best friends before he passed away this year. I spent a lot of my youth at Roseland. I saw Travis, Sleater-Kinney, Fuel and No Doubt there. I was even at that infamous Fiona Apple show where she had a meltdown on stage. What a beautiful woman she is. We even got a new Fiona Apple song in 2014 thanks to her writing a song for the TV show The Affair. Charli XCX released a disappointing sophomore album (that everyone else seemed to love). And what would a year be without compiling playlists for loved ones and burning mix CDs for friends? Below is a list of my favorite LPs and EPs of 2014. Though, I did rate and place them in a strategic order based on how much I enjoyed them, the number beside each release is irrelevant. All of the music I listed is worthy of your time. So, please indulge in this list and remember that this list is subject to change at any given time depending on my mood and desires.


Best EPs of 2014

10. ASTR- Varsity
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09. Cathedrals- Cathedrals
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08. LE1F- Hey
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07. SZA- Z
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06. Troye Sivan- TRXYE
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05. Ryn Weaver- Promises
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04. iLoveMakonnen- ILoveMakonnen
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03. Elliphant- One More
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02. Jetta- Start a Riot
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01. Robyn + Röyksopp- Do It Again
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Best Records of 2014

50. Charli XCX- Sucker
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49. Nicki Minaj- The Pinkprint
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48. alt-J- This Is All Yours
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47. Lolawolf- Calm Down
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46. Kevin Drew- Darlings
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45. Cherub- Year of the Caprese
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44. Mapei- Hey Hey
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43. Calvin Harris- Motion
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42. Gem Club- In Roses
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41. Sir Sly- You Haunt Me
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40. Blonde Redhead- Barragán
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39. TV on the Radio- Seeds
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38. TOPS- Picture You Staring
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37. Betty Who- Take Me When You Go
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36. Jhené Aiko- Souled Out
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35. Arca- Xen
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34. SOHN- Tremors
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33. Sia- 1000 Forms of Fear
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32. NONONO- We Are Only What We Feel
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31. La Roux- Trouble in Paradise
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30. Damien Rice- My Favourite Faded Fantasy
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29. Taylor Swift- 1989
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28. Glass Animals- Zaba
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27. Beck- Morning Phase
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26. Mirah- Changing Light
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25. Phantogram- Voices
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24. Aphex Twin- Syro
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23. Tove Lo- Queen of the Clouds
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22. Sylvan Esso- Sylvan Esso
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21. Future Islands- Singles
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20. Kitten- Kitten
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19. Yelle- Complètement Fou
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18. iamamiwhoami- Blue
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17. Ariana Grande- My Everything
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16. Merchandise- After The End
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15. 18+ - Trust
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14. Sharon Van Etten- Are We There
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13. EMA- The Future’s Void
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12. MØ- No Mythologies to Follow
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11. Angel Olsen- Burn Your Fire for No Witness
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10. Azealia Banks- Broke with Expensive Taste
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09. Jenny Lewis- The Voyager
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08. Perfume Genius- Too Bright
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07. Jessie Ware- Tough Love
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06. Trust- Joyland
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05. Banks- Goddess
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04. How to Dress Well- What Is This Heart?
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03. Tinashe- Aquarius
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02. FKA twigs- LP1
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01. Lana Del Rey- Ultraviolence
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buried in the sand

THREEEEEE YEARRRRRRR ANNIVERSARYYYYYYY

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I'm not really sure how these "life events" work on Facebook but I thought I would give it a go. Does a three-year anniversary with your (romantic) partner in crime constitute as a "life event?" According to Mark Zuckerberg it does because there were all of these prompts and pull-down menus to choose my very specific "life event."

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I wasn't going to post about how much in love I am with this gentleman and how we managed to effortlessly spend the last three years together. But I kept thinking about how often I scroll through my newsfeed and see everyone else posting and celebrating their "life events" on Facebook. Honestly, my feed is swamped with icky declarations of love and sad denouncements of it as well. As I sip my morning coffee, I see engagements and marriages made "official" by the powers of Facebook Inc. Both parties agreeing to make their private lives public. I scroll through birth announcements and images of sonograms, fetuses and wet newborn babies. I watch my friend's children grow up with every picture they post. Facebook is our global newspaper, keeping us in touch with everyone we have ever known, distracting us from the "real" news outside our peripheries. This isn't me complaining. I'm a social media advocate. Please overshare. Keep uploading that fourth or fifth picture of your baby making weird faces when you tickle his feet. The only hesitation I have is allowing myself to share all of the ordinary milestones that come my way. I'm more interested in the smaller moments that fill in the gaps and spaces between the larger "life events." The moments that capture the essence of a relationship. Selfies taken in bed together, a few sentences describing your partner hiccuping loudly in a quiet movie theater and how adorable you think it is. Those are the moments I find more interesting.

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So, here I am being as ordinary as possible. James beat me to the punch yesterday and when I wasn't paying attention, he found all of the cutest pictures of us and posted them in his anniversary post and left me with all the scraps. So, here is my attempt at creating a "life event" which celebrates my three year anniversary with the most amazing creature on this planet. We've come a long way. If it weren't for Twitter and Four Loko we would have never met up at that Yuck show at Bowery Ballroom. If it weren't for Andrew Haigh's "Weekend" I would have never known James enjoyed the company of men. It was on the escalator ride up to the theater at the Chelsea Clearview that I was privy to such information. This changed everything. The small crush I was harboring on my new straight friend suddenly became something else entirely. That moment marked the beginning of our courtship. We would spend the next three years in this otherworldly love affair that would feel at times completely cinematic and mythical and then at times feel the most honest, raw and authentic. I was "sorta punk rock" and you "grew up on hip-hop" and we've managed to cultivate this crazy awesome life together inspired by all this "art" that surrounds us in this big city. Therapists tell us that love is all about compromise but I don't think we have ever compromised a single thing and I think that's rare. So, please excuse this discursive rambling, I just wanted to wish my boyfriend a happy anniversary!

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Happy Anniversary!

(originally posted to Facebook)
buried in the sand

The Death of American Malls

This Mashable article filled with images of american malls in 1989 transported me back to a time in my life I almost forgot about. It flooded me with memories I didn’t think were worth remembering. We live in such crazy weird times and it’s awesome how much has changed since these pictures were taken.

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Sometimes I miss what it felt like being a kid in the 80s and early 90s and the pictures in this article brought me back to a time I couldn’t (visually) remember. Though, the memories came rushing back while scrolling through these photos. Long Island was a quintessential mall! The South Shore mall was just two blocks away from my house. We used to walk there when I was 8 or 9, getting rug burn because we held our fingers on the carpeted walls as we ran up and down the hallway that led to the arcade. We would steal dollars from my mother’s purse so we could get french fries at Burger King. When I was 10 or 11 we used wreak havoc, squirting shampoo all over the floor of Woolworth’s and slide up and down the aisles. We would pretend to trip on the carpeted floors and hope the lady with the clipboard would ask us questions about some product so we could make $5. When I was 12 or 13 we used to wear our most goth outfits and watch people point fingers and laugh at us. We’d ask strangers for cigarettes and sit outside on the ground in a circle passing around one Marlboro Red. There was a record store, a movie theater and a video rental store. I bought Paula Adbul’s “Spellbound” at Record Town. Along with Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and Counting Crows’ “August and Everything After” with the money I made from raking leaves in my front yard. It was easier to convince my parents to buy me books from Waldenbooks so I read a lot. When we were 14 or 15 we’d get high in the woods surrounding the mall we nicknamed Terabithia. I saw All Dogs Go to Heaven and The Little Mermaid in that movie theater attached to the mall. I went on my first date at that movie theater to see Dave and I remember we kissed as the house lights came on and we felt so embarrassed. My babysitter chased after a kid in her car after he stole my bike off my front lawn in the parking lot of that mall. I learned to drive in that parking lot and I may have met a few strangers off AOL chatrooms in that mall. It’s strange to think I can now count how many times I’ve been to a mall in the last 5 years on two hands. Malls used to be the epicenter of American culture and are now relics of a distant past. They used to be a place for young people to congregate and hang out. These days we hang out on the internet, scrawling graffiti on whatever website places a blinking cursor in a white box for us. I yearn for the days of the MALLRAT.

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buried in the sand

90s Mallrats

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I’m posting this #throwbackthursday with a heavy heart because my friend Ryan Phillip Praeger is currently super sick and in the hospital right now. I wouldn’t be the same person if we didn’t cross paths in high school. We were inseparable. He taught me how to play every song I know on the guitar. He showed me what it was like to love another boy. He introduced me to Radiohead, now one of my favorite bands of all time. Despite our lives taking different trajectories over the years he has always remained supportive. I could always count on him to pick up the phone and be brutally honest with me about whatever situation I was going through. Others might find me strange but he understands my quirks and idiosyncrasies. His laugh is contagious. I’m not one to ask for prayers and positive energies, but I’m at a loss here and Ryan needs your positive thoughts sent his way.
buried in the sand

Portrait of an American Family



In just 3 days this album will turn 20 years old and as geriatric as that makes me feel I can't deny how influential this record was to me. It cultivated my tastes and identity. It informed me as a person. I was a young shy white kid growing up in the suburbs of NYC who was struggling with his sense of self. Marilyn Manson exposed the hypocrisy all around me. My reservations about myself disappeared when listening to "Lunchbox." Manson helped me become an autonomous person. His music allowed me to explore the demons in my head. His songs were about drugs, abuse and all this repressed anguish. He expressed his own demons in these songs. Sometimes written tongue-in-cheek, his intent was always to expose the silent crimes of an entire nation. The hidden underbelly of sexual abuse, rape, violence and bullying. Manson took all of this pain and exhibited it in all its ugliness. He embodied the demons in our heads. He became the antichrist. Repressed America was terrified of him and that was the entire point. I wouldn't be the same person today if it weren't for this album and the two that followed it. He introduced me to Skinny Puppy, David Lynch and KMFDM. I carried around a lunchbox in high school, wore black lipstick a spiked collar and Docs with purple laces. I smoked weed in the woods before class, sketching lollipops and syringes while quoting his lyrics on the back of tests in math class. Thank you Marilyn Manson!
buried in the sand

I Want to Remember What It's Like to Feel

After reading a few Livejournal entries I wrote a few years ago, I felt this intense need to write. This deep need to “document” what has been going on in my life. This very pedestrian life I have been leading these days. Not that my life deserves such recognition and documentation, but I forgot how much writing used to mean to me. It was self expression, a way to ask myself the tough questions. I blogged to find answers. I would write to seek a sense of comfort. Through wordplay I was able to come to conclusions. It’s as if my mind only allowed my thoughts to run the perimeter of my skull. But once I started typing out my thoughts they seemed to be set free. There were no limitations. There was no bone to penetrate. There was a blank white screen and a blinking black cursor. Anything was possible. Contemplation would ensue and my thoughts would flow as fast as my mind could think them. My fingers were the gusts of wind I needed to reach conclusions. Wind gusts that allowed me to indulge in epiphanies and sort through all the dead ends and orbiting thought processes I would find myself in late at night.

I miss writing like that! I miss blogging. I miss posting a journal entry in Livejournal. I miss the sense of community and the dialogues we shared. I miss leaving an “away message” on AIM, even if I can’t remember my screen name. I miss this self-documented history. I read a journal entry about a car accident I was in a few years ago and this rush of emotion came over me. It was a beautiful piece of writing. But more than anything, it reminded me of the passion I had for words, for life. There was this creative energy still stirring within me.

Here is an excerpt from that Livejournal entry:

"They roll the stretcher into the hospital. Immediately the smell and sounds of the hospital invade the patient’s head. A male nurse takes his temperature and blood pressure and asks him on a scale of 1-10 how much pain does he feel. The patient is very aware that the question is very subjective. He is also aware that he doesn’t know how to read his own body, including his own pain. He lets out a stifled 6 and they lift him into a bed, but keep him attached to the backboard. They leave him alone in a room, strapped and taped and suffocating in a neck brace. For some reason the bed has his legs raised up and the blood continues to rush to his head. He feels helpless and struggles to get comfortable. He fails at squirming into a better position and starts crying quietly."

These past few years, I haven’t felt this kind of vigor for writing. Yes, I have been writing since then. But the writing I have been doing isn’t personal. They are articles. They are musings about Lana Del Rey and Charli XCX. They are movie reviews and blurbs about music festivals. It’s not real writing. I’m more interested in how things affect people. I want to know how “art” moved you in some way. Did it fuck with your head? Did it change your perspective about sunrises and sunsets? I’m not good at being funny. Each time I try to make a clever comparison or tell a joke, it always seems to fall flat. I’m not a funny person. Yes, I’m a bit aloof and bewildered. There’s this weightless ditzy air about me in person, but I’m not witty. Have you ever heard me do an impersonation? I’m the worst. I can barely speak with a Long Island accent and I spent most of my life living there. Though to be fair, I spent most of that time trying to stifle that accent as much as I could.



As I sat down to write this journal entry, I wondered to myself, “What should I listen to? What song would inspire me to get some words out of me?” Iron & Wine’s “The Trapeze Swinger” was the answer. It’s beautifully nostalgic, evoking all of these feelings and images of my childhood. It also helps that it’s ten minutes long with a repetitive guitar riff, so your mood has time to sink its teeth into the melancholy melody. A change of song or tempo doesn’t disturb your thought process. You have to time to feel every moment of the song, you have time to feel every thought that passes through you.

But things have been such a whirlwind. I feel as I get older the years are passing by more and more quickly. There’s a part of me who still has no idea what he wants to be when he grows up. But at this point I’m grown up and I’m probably doing what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life—more or less. I don’t know if this realization is depressing or comforting. But I’m very familiar with those two words: depression and comfort. I find an immense amount of comfort being depressed. The familiarity soothes my anxiety. I know how to operate under these circumstances, these symptoms. The fatigue is a defense against the bright light of day. Naps, sleeps and closed eyes. It feels good to turn everything off. To lay in the darkness. That feeling in the pit of your stomach reminds you that you are alive. A corporeal reminder that you have a soul trapped inside of you.

But I’m learning to be optimistic, to see the the glass half full if you will. My boyfriend has offered me new perspectives on how to live my life, on how to perceive my future(s). While dropping him off at his apartment tonight he said one of the sweetest lugubrious things. “Nothing hurts when I’m with you,” he said while stepping out of Olive, my Fiat. I wanted to instantly cry. He’s a bit under the weather and rather emotional these past few days. We just parted ways after seeing EMA at Rough Trade. I wasn’t always a fan of hers. It wasn’t until I saw her at this year’s SXSW. She played in a church for Pitchfork’s official showcase and blew me away. Standing tall in a pair of Dr. Martens, blonde hair, wrapping a mic cord around her neck as if she were going to hang herself up there on the altar of some beautiful church with stained-glass windows in Austin, Texas, for all of us to see. I sat in the pew in awe. PEW/AWE. Since she was sharing the bill with 5-6 other people, it was just a tease to see her perform only a few songs so the boyf scored us tickets to her show in Brooklyn. “I wish that every time he touched me left a mark,” she sang tonight and I was feeling it. All of it. “20 kisses from a butterfly knife,” she sang and it really hit home. “You were the goth in high school. You cut and fucked your arms up,” she sang and I knew she was the one for me. Once her new album The Future’s Void dropped it was on constant rotation. The boyf has always been a fan, it was the reason we rushed to church in the first place. Tonight’s show didn’t start until 9pm and there were two opening bands we didn’t care for (I did investigate. Here’s a suggestion for new artists out there, never compare yourselves to Sigur Rós, it won’t end well. I’m looking at you Owel.

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“Through our saved e-mail and Google searches and social media interactions, a computer could precisely reconstruct our personalities, and in fact that computer would probably be able to create a persona that is more ‘us’ than we actually are,” Michael Tedder mentions in an interview with EMA on Spin. He’s referring to her ballad ”3Jane” which is drenched in cyberpunk references. William Gibson’s Nueromancer to be exact. It’s a postmodern classic I had to read in college. “Disassociation, I guess it’s just a modern disease,” EMA sang tonight and I understood her fear of this alternate AI version of ourselves that could exist without us even knowing. And I don’t even smoke weed or mess with hallucinogens and I share the same fears as her. “This song is a capitalist critique. I’m not shitting on millennials,” she confessed. I didn’t even know there was drama surrounding the song.

I spotted Fred Armisen at the show and considered walking up to him and mention how awkward and off-putting Bret Easton Ellis was when he appeared on his podcast the other week but I decided not to. Before the show, I tweeted that I had a headache asking EMA to keep the screaming to a minimum and I think she may have considered my health because things seemed a little less frenetic and a little more hazy and psychedelic.

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Even the PJ-Harvey-meets-Hole ”So Blonde” seemed tamed and a bit quiet. It also helped that I plugged up my ears with bright orange earplugs and my boyf offered me blue and yellow pills to alleviate my migraine. After spilling a drink during only the first song a fan brought her another one. It was kind of adorable. A few minutes later the same fan got her a shot of tequila with lime. During her slower songs the boyf would lean in closer to me and I could feel the weight of him beside me and it flooded me with feelings. I have never dated someone who has been so musically synched with me. Our tastes differ only slightly but in the best way possible. I wouldn’t be at this EMA show if it weren’t for him. We compliment each other well, expanding our tastes into further realms and realms of realms. “We make the constellations out of her beauty marks. We make the constellations out of the falling stars,” she sings during ”Solace”. I just think about the countless hours James and I have spent laying in bed, with his fingers connecting the beauty marks on my back. They’re foreign to him and his Armenian skin. They amuse him as he traces lines in all directions on my skin. It tickles and I get a bit self-conscious about the bizarre circles that take residence on my white skin. I’ve had most of them my entire life so I’m no longer curious about them. They’re just there. His curiosity is sweet even when he suggests I see a dermatologist for that one over there. He likes to point out his one beauty mark, that is more like a freckle on his olive skin. For all I know he used a fine-point marker to mimic the marks on my body.

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Here is EMA performing “California” at Rough Trade.



The show ends late and we decide to stop by Oasis for a falafel before we part ways. They still have the best falafel I’ve had in New York City. We reminisce about one of the first times we hung out. He was dropping me off at my car that was parked a few blocks away. We just got back from seeing Andrew Haigh’s Weekend and were in deep conversation about the importance and value of the moving image. We spoke about the narratives we watch on our televisions and all of the different stories we consume on a weekly basis. We missed a few turns in Williamsburg to get to my car but we didn’t mind because the conversation was meandering and seemingly infinite. In retrospect, this was the moment I started to fall for him. Up until a few hours before, I thought he was heterosexual. Our friendship was based on a mutual appreciation for early 90s alternative indie rock and the bands that sound like them now (Yuck!). It wasn’t until we were descending down an escalator at the Chelsea Clearview after watching one of the best (gay) films I have ever seen that he opened up to me. I was still sorting through Russell and Glen’s troubling, whimsical yet devastating, short romance and here is a boy beginning to peel away the protective exterior we all wear in our day-to-day lives. He’s offering me a glimpse into his heart. The movie left us vulnerable and open. We dropped our guards. We were sharing our stories and tragedies. Revealing parts of ourselves not everyone sees. He told me about his family as he drove through the veins and traffic of Manhattan. I felt special that he would share these stories with me. We get to Brooklyn and I’m not sure if he wanted me to linger or not. But he missed some turns and that prolonged the conversation.

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I must have been smitten because a few days later I added him on Facebook and messaged him about how much I enjoyed myself. He responded in such a genuine way, bringing up Weekend again. “My sexuality is kind of a muted topic within my friends. I think of that line from the movie about how your friends won't let you be any other version of yourself, and being trapped in concrete.” We really are on the same page. That was 2.5 years ago. It’s now been 3 years (exactly) since I first met him at Bowery Ballroom and here we are eating a falafel talking about our past. We now have a shared history. He’s part of my story, my narrative, my life. He’s a main character who has the power and capability to alter my plot. He could be the reason my story becomes a sappy romance novel. He has the power to destroy me. It’s alarming to realize someone has your heart in their hands and there’s nothing you can do to retrieve it. It’s the reason I’m here writing. I’m attempting to put the words down. I want to document this history we share together. Proof of our love. I want to chronicle these adventures with him. I want a novel worth of words to look back on when I’m 80 years old. I don’t want to just rely on images and status updates on Facebook. I want the stuff that’s underneath those photographs on Instagram. I want to remember what it felt like to feel in 2014. And I think words are the only way to get back there. They are the bridge that connects our present to our pasts. Images help, but they don’t tell the whole story. Give me your word and you’ll have me forever.
buried in the sand

Best Movies of 2013

It’s March and I still haven’t posted my list of the best movies released in 2013! What better day than the day of the Oscars? As often as I go to the movies, it seems I miss hundreds of movies. It seems there are more and more movies being released every year and more and more platforms to release them on. I try to follow a few rules while compiling a year end list but these various platforms, change of release dates, and numerous film festivals make it more difficult to remain consistent. If a film was only released digitally via iTunes and Amazon without a proper theatrical release date yet, does that count as a 2013 film? What about all the movies I see at film festivals or the ones I see at advanced screenings? Do those count as well, or must I wait for a proper release? It’s all too confusing. I still haven’t seen Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight and I’m emotionally invested in his series of movies following the romance of Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Deply’s Celine. I know it would appear very high on a year end list like this but it missed its chance because it ran out of theaters too quickly. I can also blame my boyfriend for never seeing the earlier films and my excitement to watch them with him but we only seemed to get through Before Sunrise. It is a very emotionally exhausting piece of work and we needed some time before we ventured into the next installment.

Fruitvale Station, The Act of Killing, Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, Laurence Anyways and Captain Phillips are just a few films that were certainly on my radar but I never had a chance to see. Perhaps, I should have seen them instead of the movies that made my “Worst Films of 2013” list. Movies are a commitment. They’re not like albums you can listen to while reading a book, driving or dancing at the club. If you’re like me, they get your undivided attention. Cell phone is turned off and nothing else matters but the movie projected on the screen in front of you. I spent a considerable amount of time in dark movie theaters this past year. Thanks to the creation of MoviePass, I can see up to 30 (or 31!) movies a month for the price of 2 movie tickets. It might have been the best thing to happen to a cinephile since the invention of the film projector.

An Alamo Drafthouse might have opened in New York but it’s in Yonkers and who wants to travel all the way up there? Their Upper East Side location fumbled and we’re only left with the brilliant (yet small) Nighthawk Cinema in Williamsburg. The film industry claims that no one is going to the movies anymore but I beg to differ. Movies sell out more than they ever had. It’s sometimes impossible to see a movie at Nighthawk. 2013 was the first time I went to the “movie theater of the future” in Regal Park, Queens. You can reserve your seat in advance and it’s not actually a seat you’re reserving, it’s an entire couch that reclines and everything. No one should be this comfortable in public. It’s a brilliant idea, but if you’re sleepy and have a tendency to nod off during a movie, I wouldn’t recommend a theater like this.

2013 was the first year I attended a film festival as press thanks to SXSW and PopBytes and it was one hell of a journey. It was very exhausting and a bit nerve-wracking since all film screenings were open to the public which made it super difficult to claim a seat in a theater. But I was able to see Neil LaBute’s Some Girls and watch Jena Malone run into a glass door in M. Blash’s The Wait. Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem was the worst film I saw in Austin that week but his Q&A was thoughtful and interesting. But seeing him and Sheri Moon enjoying a coffee outside of Starbucks was more rewarding than all of the above. Brie Larson made me feel things in Short Term 12. Chloë Sevigny wore one of those old school leather biker hats to the premiere of The Wait and The Spectacular Now was not as spectacular as Sundance made it seem.

I’ve never seen Love Actually but I did see Richard Curtis’ About Time last year and even though I was laughing, I was still in the fetal position during the entire film. There may or may not have been a tear or two that slipped from my tear ducts. I Give It a Year was underrated even if they misused Anna Faris. Prisoners was a good-looking, smart crime thriller and Bret Easton Ellis called Her a “hazy, earnest prostitute/john movie” and it changed my entire perspective of Spike Jonze’s masterpiece.

I saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire twice in theaters and I would watch it eight more times. Does that make me a preteen? The Great Gatsby might not have fulfilled all of my former English major’s expectations but I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle. Hearing various versions of Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” throughout the movie probably helped. Her sulking melodies seemed to echo in every scene, as if she were a ghost haunting every frame, reminding us of her existence. I’m not even going to mention how her song was snubbed by the Oscars for not being nominated because the Academy Awards are such a joke.

What was with all the black and white films, Frances Ha and Nebraska? How does Cate Blanchett do what she does? And why doesn’t Juliette Lewis get the credit she deserves? She stole every scene in August: Osage County and there was a lot of talent in that movie. I was in the same theater as Bill Clinton when he introduced the documentary Bridegroom at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film was devastating and amateurish but definitely moving. The Museum of Arts and Design had a Gregg Araki retrospective and I went to every screening including Three Bewildered People in the Night and the MTV pilot This is How the World Ends. If Araki only knew how much he influenced my youth. His master class was a three-hour interview that could have gone on for three more hours if I had my way.

So without further ado here is my “Best Movies of 2013” list. Please understand that this list is subject to change at any given moment. I don’t dwell too long on the hierarchy of movies. How can one compare a comedy like The Heat to something like 12 Years a Slave? You just can’t. Just remember the number that resides next to these movies is insignificant. All of the movies listed here are worthy of your time. All of these movies have affected me in some way and deserve recognition.


Best Movies of 2013


40. The Canyons
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39. The Great Gatsby
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38. The Bling Ring
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37. Stories We Tell
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36. Touchy Feely
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35. About Time
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34. In a World…
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33. The Brass Teapot
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32. Some Girls
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31. I Give It a Year
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30. +1
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29. All That I Am
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28. Dark Touch
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27. 12 Years a Slave
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26. White Reindeer
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25. Prisoners
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24. American Hustle
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23. Dallas Buyers Club
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22. Nebraska
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21. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
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20. Enough Said
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19. The Wolf of Wall Street
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18. Prince Avalanche
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17. Drinking Buddies
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16. Frances Ha
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15. Four
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14. Side Effects
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13. Inside Llewyn Davis
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12. Stoker
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11. Upstream Color
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10. Gravity
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09. Her
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08. Kill Your Darlings
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07. Lotus Eaters
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06. You’re Next
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05. Some Velvet Morning
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04. Blue Jasmine
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03. Blue Is the Warmest Color
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02. Spring Breakers
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01. Short Term 12
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buried in the sand

Best Records of 2013

It seems as if every year is such a whirlwind, especially in regards to music. Beyoncé dropped a surprise “visual” album complete with music videos for every song just after every blog and magazine already posted their “Best Albums of 2013.” Beyoncé the brand, the “artist,” the institution annihilated physical records for good. She did it. She put the final nail in the coffin of compact discs (while vinyl becomes more and more of a niche hobby in the vein of collecting stamps). It makes sense that an artist like her kills off CDs. Who else would have done it? Beyoncé changed the (pop) game. She revolutionized the music industry in a way everyone else kept hinting at it. Remember when Radiohead asked fans to pay their own price for In Rainbows? Or Amanda Palmer asking fans to donate money on Kickstarter so she can record a new album? The industry is evolving and as much as I don’t want to admit it, Beyoncé is at the forefront of this change.

Lana Del Rey didn’t release an album this year but you could have fooled anyone who had an internet connection. Every other day a song leaked on the interwebz. For those of us who consider her our anti-pop-heiress, we swallowed those songs up. “Black Beauty” and “Hollywood” anyone? Then she had the leading track off of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby soundtrack and boy did “Young and Beautiful” pull at those heartstrings. Lest we forget the permanence of Cedric Gervais’ remix of “Summertime Sadness” on American radio. We’re in full on winter here in New York and that song is still rotating amongst the Top 40. Lana has come a long way since her lackluster performance on SNL. America has grown to love her. I witnessed this in the flesh went I caught her set at this year’s Lollapalooza. The crowd was swarmed with Lanabees. There were so many young girls pushing and shoving to get to the front row, screaming along to every single song. It was a much different experience back in 2012 when I caught her perform one night during her residency at NYC’s Irving Plaza.

The battle between Lady Gaga and Katy Perry this year was probably the most uninteresting pop battle to date but it didn’t stop everyone from picking sides and relentlessly talking about it. They’re not even comparable. Katy Perry is a pretty face—and we can probably argue that she lost that prettiness over the years. Where did the Bettie-Page-inspired Katy go? This ethereal gospel Katy is looking rather homely and the songs sound so too. Please don’t mistake this for hate KatyCats, I loved “Roar” and still do. I have nothing against her. I only have a problem when the world keeps pitting her against Gaga. Gaga is the most interesting pop star working these days. She brings something new to the table. Colliding “art” with pop music. Whether she’s referencing Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol or Stanley Kubrick she always has her finger on the piano and her heart in art. Everything she does is “art.” She can borrow R&B tropes and sounds with “Do What U Want” but then sing a ballad with Kermit the Frog.

2013 was an incredible year for music and I consumed a lot of it. Daughter finally released their debut album If You Leave and broke many hearts along the way. I had no idea Elena Tonra’s voice could sound even sadder. She found two bandmates to fill out her sound with lush Sigur-Rós-like instrumentation. Speaking of Sigur Rós, their album this year retreated back to the days of Agaetis Byrjun but with these dark, industrial undertones. It’s their best record in years. They played Madison Square Garden for the first time this year and had the entire venue reverberating from the loud synths and bass. It was such a pivotal moment in their career and I was stoked to be part of it.

But there was no denying that this was the year of Sky Ferreira. After spending years lost in A&R hell being signed to Capitol Records she finally released her debut album Night Time, My Time. And it was an album she could be proud of. After many attempts at releasing music since she was fifteen, this was the record she was dreaming of making. Instead of the media obsessing over her exposed breast on the cover of her album or her drug arrest, they wrote glowing reviews of the album. Sky did it! She proved her detractors wrong and is one of the most interesting female artists working today.

2013 was the year I’d see A$AP Rocky play Public Assembly in Brooklyn. Scott Weiland would tour Long Island and promise to play every song off of Stone Temple Pilots’ first two albums but fails to do so. It might have been a shitshow but it didn’t change the fact that he’s still stupid attractive. Marina (and The Diamonds) would request Lana Del Rey b-sides at Santos and dance with my friends and I until the wee hours of the morning.

SXSW happened again this year and I didn’t contract the plague. But I did get to see Tegan & Sara play the iHeartRadio showcase where Macklemore climbed the rafters of the venue. Kitty Pryde did her thing while people ate free tacos. Charli XCX jumped around in her plaid 90s skirt, people crowd-surfed at an Icona Pop show at Viceland. A fight broke out during an Austra set and we happened to know one of the parties involved. Despite Sky getting sick we still caught a set from her at Hype Hotel. Angel Haze warmed up the stage at Perez Hilton’s showcase and Paloma Faith scared the sh*t out of me.

Jessie Ware played a set at Music Hall of Williamsburg and had the whole crowd swooning. She talked about her brother a lot and a few months later I found out he’s Jewish, gay AND single. The Backstreet Boys reunited and I was serenaded by them in iHeartRadio’s tiny music venue. Low played a church near Central Park and it was a genuine religious experience. Saw Icona Pop play a gig for Filter magazine. Angsty Kate Nash ruined all my fond memories of her on crutches in Brooklyn by screaming through most of her songs. Sir Sly played Mercury Lounge and their junk was in my face. I was asked to cover a Serena Ryder show and never wrote anything up about her even though that one song “Stompa” gets stuck in my head more often that it should. Kate Boy, who wrote the record The Knife should have wrote this year blew me away twice. The first time at Santos, the second at Glasslands.

2013 was the year I would meet Courtney Love on the beach in Montauk after she played a beautiful acoustic set on the water. Naomi Watts would be there too snapping photos with her iPhone. Frankmusik would play the basement of Union Hall in Park Slope and confess that he is moving to Brooklyn. He ends up being the sweetest guy who gives the best hugs. Chvrches are as endearing as sneezing baby pandas and they talk about how New York City reminds them of Woody Allen movies while performing at Webster Hall. I see Low again. This time they play a proper venue in Brooklyn and I’m alone and I feel even more reverent than I did that time in the church. Austra casts spells on us and Courtney Love plugs in her electric guitar and rocks Greenpoint to the ground. I catch Jimmy Eat World play in Seattle and my emo heart bursts with joy remembering past make out sessions in a 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue. We sit in Alex’s bedroom and play each other songs that have recently crushed our souls. The moment is ruined when we get stuck in a Drag Race YouTube K-hole.

I attended Lollapalooza for the first time thanks to James’ insistence. And I’m glad he dragged me to Chicago. It’s such a beautiful city and I would have missed Lana play an amazing set in the woods of Grant Park. She commanded that stage in a way I never thought she could. We’re all here for you Lana. Let’s rise above these empty pop songs you’re sharing the airwaves with. I think America is ready for someone like you, and we usually like the underdog and offer even the worst people comebacks. Ultraviolence is my most anticipated record of 2014. Let’s get it right this time.

This year MS MR pulled the curtain down from their mysterious web presence. Lizzy and Max let go of their Tumblr-curated images and anonymity to release their debut record Secondhand Rapture. At this point I was a fickle fan after being rubbed the wrong way during one of their shows at Bowery Ballroom where their “besties” were the loud, obnoxious girls standing right next to me in the crowd. Months later, my boyfriend had caught their set at the Surf Lodge in Montauk and hung out with Lizzy afterwards. They looked like besties in all of the pictures and I forgave MS MR for having obnoxious friends. Fast-forward to their set at Lollapalooza and they were a humble duo with infectious melodies. Caught Nine Inch Nails’ last encore at Lolla. I never thought I’d ever see New Order and The Cure. But I saw both that weekend and I’m not sure I’ll ever feel a rush of emotions like that again. As the bass drops on Icona Pop’s “Top Rated” the rain starts coming down. The crowd goes crazy and it was pretty surreal experience. We made friends with a girl with a bottle of wine in her CamelBak and Cat Power soundtracked our farewell to Lolla, while a boy with only one shoe fell asleep on his friend’s shoulder.

Bat For Lashes decided to tour this year for The Haunted Man and she really is the train that crashed my heart. AlunaGeorge was the real deal at Bowery. Icona Pop’s spaceship barely fit on stage at MHoW. Lorde was weird and amazing at Webster Hall. Placebo opened the CMJ Music Marathon, their first US concert in years, and it was fantastic. 2013 was the year I fell for Betty Who and NoNoNo and Fuck Buttons almost blew out my eardrums at Le Poisson Rouge.

There were so many shows that kept 2013 alive. But what about all those quiet, contemplative moments we spend alone? What songs fill up that time? Mark Kozelek had the answer for you. So did Daughter and Boards of Canada. Waxahatchee and Torres definitely soundtracked those moments too. There was so much music to listen to this year and it was nearly impossible to listen to all of it. Autre Ne Veut, Jon Hopkins, Tim Hecker, Phosphorescent and MBV all released albums that received huge acclaim but they never made it on a Spotify playlist this year. Below is a list of albums that have shaped and soundtracked the past year of my life. Of course there was music not released this year that helped me through some unbearable days, but they aren’t listed here. Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” was everything I look for in a ballad but her album doesn’t appear below. It’s strange how pop songs can get things so right but when their packaged up in album form, their significance seems to fade. How good is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack? Is it fair to list a soundtrack on a list like this? How can you compare pop brilliance like ARTPOP with the complexities of a new Fuck Buttons album? You can’t. This is why list-making is so hard.

It’s always difficult to compile a list. It’s so confining. Couldn’t my past year be soundtracked by all Fleetwood Mac albums? Why wouldn’t I list them here if they meant so much to me in 2013? I know some albums I listed here are displaced. A few weeks ago someone joked that Icona Pop are this generation’s Chumbawamba and at first I was furious about it. But a few hours later, I got their point. This past year might have been filled with all things Icona Pop. I probably saw them perform more than any other artist this year which was documented very well here. But are they making music that will age well? Will we be listening to “I Love It” ten years from now? If so, will it have the same genuine punch or will it feel hokey? I have a feeling it will be the latter and that makes me question my taste level.

So, while perusing this list please remember this. The numbers that reside next to these albums hold no real significance other than following a cultural model. I loved all of these records and they all mean something to me. I only share this list to expose others to music they might not have listened to. I read all of the year end lists. I want to hear things I might have missed out on. Sometimes our worlds are so insulated, so small, we miss so much culture. “Culture” that could be the cure for someone’s heartbreak or inspire someone to write their own album. I want to know what you were listening to this past year. I want to know what albums shook you to your core. I want to know what moved you. I want to know which song you listened to while getting ready to leave your apartment every morning. What songs did you listen to while in the shower. Or what album did you listen to on that long long drive home? What soundtracked your walk from the subway to your apartment? Who soundtracked your make out sessions? What was your guilty pleasure? What album did you fall asleep to most? What song inspired you to dance in the middle of your bedroom? What song did you sing at karaoke? What song did you have to Shazam while watching your favorite TV show? What song kept you in the movie theater until the credits finished rolling? What was your favorite album of the year?

Best EPs of 2013

10. Dan Croll- From Nowhere
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09. Goldroom- Embrace
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08. Mø- Bikini Daze
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07. Little Daylight - Tunnel Vision
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06. FKA Twigs- EP2
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05. Freddie Dickson- Shut Us Down
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04. Betty Who- The Movement
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03. NONONO- Pumpin Blood
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02. Kate Boy- Northern Lights
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01. Sir Sly- Gold
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Best Records of 2013

50. Rilo Kiley- rkives
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49. PVT- Homosapien
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48. Inc.- No World
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47. Chris Garneau- Winter Games
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46. The Julie Ruin- Run Fast
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45. Mount Eerie- Pre-Human Ideas
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44. Rhye- Woman
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43. Sleigh Bells- Bitter Rivals
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42. Volcano Choir- Repave
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41. Austra- Olympia
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40. Frankmusik- Between
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39. London Grammar- If You Wait
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38. Lightning Dust- Fantasy
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37. Parenthetical Girls- Privilege
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36. Kanye West- Yeezus
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35. Bleeding Rainbow- Yeah Right
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34. Arcade Fire- Reflektor
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33. A$AP Rocky- Long. Live. ASAP.
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32. Majical Cloudz- Impersonator
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31. Childish Gambino- Because the Internet
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30. Poliça- Shulamith
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29. Yuck- Glow and Behold
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28. Hurts- Exhile
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27. Glasser- Interiors
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26. M.I.A.- Mantangi
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25. Haim- Days Are Gone
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24. AlunaGeorge- Body Music
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23. Mogwai- Les Revenants
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22. Drake- Nothing Was the Same
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21. Disclosure- Settle
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20. Low- The Invisible Way
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19. Houses- A Quiet Darkness
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18. CocoRosie- Tales of a GrassWidow
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17. Tegan and Sara- Heartthrob
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16. Waxahatchee- Cerulean Salt
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15. Chvrches- The Bones of What You Believe
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14. Lorde- Pure Heroine
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13. MS MR- Secondhand Rapture
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12. Blood Orange- Cupide Deluxe
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11. Boards of Canada- Tomorrow’s Harvest
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10. Icona Pop- This Is…Icona Pop
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09. The Weeknd- Kiss Land
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08. Charli XCX- True Romance
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07. Fuck Buttons- Slow Focus
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06. Lady Gaga- ARTPOP
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05. Sigur Rós- Kveikur
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04. Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle- Perils From The Sea
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03. Sky Ferreira- Night Time, My Time
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02. Torres- Torres
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01. Daughter- If You Leave
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wilde by nature.

Charli XCX Does NYC's Irving Plaza

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After postponing her US tour to open up for Paramore in the the UK, Charli XCX finally returned to NYC to serenade us with her brand of dark electro-pop. On this unseasonably cold autumn night, Irving Plaza filled up with excited teenagers (and a few mom and dads), gay men, and the tastemakers of this city—which include but are not limited to Greg K (of Misshapes fame), Betty Who and of course PopBytes. ;)

LIZ, R&B songstress from Hollywood, who has appeared on a 2 Chainz album and recorded a track with RiFF RAFF opened the night. With all of these new male R&B acts flooding the blogs (I’m looking at you How to Dress Well and Shy Girls!), is she the alt-R&B princess we’ve been longing for? I mean, come on, one of the tags on her SoundCloud is #Beyoncepop. That’s brilliant. PopBytes missed her set but we had friends who were there early that caught the magic on stage. “Mariah. Mariah. Mariah,” NuWavePony whispered in my ear as if it were some kind of secret we should keep to ourselves. Does Ariana Grande have some competition for the $2,000 throne that Mimi currently sits on?

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Little Daylight spins some tunes from the second floor of Irving while Kitten’s gear is set up on stage. The host, the purple-haired Emmie steps on stage, microphone in hand, asking if all the kiddies are hungry as she throws candy to them before they can even answer her. I still haven’t figured out who this Emmie is and what she does but I have spotted her at almost every show I’m ever at. Is she a professional show goer? Does she live at Santos Party House and Glasslands? I have caught her linking arms with Lizzy Plapinger (founder of Neon Gold Records, who is also one half of electro-dream-pop duo MS MR) and Marina (yes that Marina, the one who killed off her Electra Heart alter-ego this past summer). She does have a show produced by French Kiss Records and actor-comedian David Cross on their YouTube channel FKR.TV where she interviews bands in her bedroom. In her pajamas she prank-calls her mom with MS MR and plays Truth or Dare with Kitten. Whoever Emmie is, I’d love to eat pizza in her bedroom one day.

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Kitten is a band that hails from Los Angeles who just released an incredible EP this year titled Like A Stranger (iTunes). Frontwoman Chloe Chaidez is the face of this electro-alt-synth-rock band. She’s only eighteen years old but probably has a more impressive record collection than you do. She was raised by a dad who grew up playing in punk rock bands, who played her David Bowie and Sigur Rós records when she was just a little girl. She mentions the Eurythmics, Explosions in the Sky and Depeche Mode as influences and you can hear all of the above throughout the EP. They are part Bat For Lashes, part New Order. Either way you’ll find yourself swaying side to side, listening to Chloe’s voice fill each song with haunting emotion.

But Wednesday night, Kitten proved to be something else all together. The downtempo tracks sounded like party rock anthems on stage at Irving Plaza. Kitten is all about strange presence. Chloe has several people backing her up on stage. Drums, synths, multiple guitars, backing vocals, bass. There was so much happening on stage, I thought I was watching a different band. I expected shoegazers, swaying on stage but Kitten was thrashing around like rambunctious teens at a punk rock show. I wasn’t sure if Chloe was evoking Willow Smith or Dave Grohl during his Nirvana days while whipping her purple hair around. Their energy flooded the entire venue and their set flew by but not without Chloe doing a handstand and walking on her hands across the stage. This was pure rock and roll.



Jezus Million takes over where Kitten left off spinning songs upstairs. At this point the crowd is officially pumped for goth-pop princess Charli XCX. PopBytes had the opportunity to catch her perform on a number of occasions over the past year. We caught her play three different showcases during SXSW this year. But this was the first time she was going to perform a full set for us and we couldn’t be more excited. Her band poured out from stage left, taking their place behind drum sets, guitars and microphones. What? Since when does Charli XCX have a band? I thought she would have backup dancers before someone strapped a guitar over their shoulder.

Charli waits a few moments then follows her bandmates on stage. The crowd roars when they see her. She’s dressed in a small white leather jacket, in her trademark Britney-inspired short skirt and a pair of 1950s sparkle sunglasses and opens the show with her love drunk track “What I Like.” The crowd knows every word and makes everyone around them aware of it, rapping the verses, the best way they know how, by screaming.

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The purple lights illuminate Charli’s white leather jacket and she does her signature hand and arm movements. Jerking her hips from left to right and throwing her hair from side to side. She skips from each side of the stage to rouse every section of the crowd. The lights turn blue and the downtempo synths that initiate “Set Me Free” start playing. Vocally this might be the hardest song off True Romance (iTunes) to perform because the chorus hits some hard to reach notes. It’s also one of the few songs that lack Charli’s signature talk-rap-drawl. It was smart to get this track out of the way since Charli seems to give her all during her performances— running around stage and jumping up and down. She sometimes seems to lose her breath at times and who can sing a song like “Set Me Free” winded?

This time around it seems there is less synth and electro beats to accompany Charli on stage. But she has a band to keep the melodies flowing. But songs like “Stay Away” that are drenched in synth-ether sounded dulled with just a simple chord progression on an electric guitar. It was one of the few moments I wished Charli kicked her band off the stage so she could could lonesomely sing in the foggy synth vapor.

Taking cues from her old tourmate and collaborator (“Just Desserts”), Marina and The Diamonds, Charli knows how to work a crowd. She had the audience hanging on her every word, especially with songs like “You (Ha Ha Ha)” and “Black Roses.” The haunting “How Can I” sounded incredible. Charli turned this track into a heavy synth mosh pit anthem. Lights blinking erratically on stage as she whipped her hair around like the best grunge heroes of yesteryear. The “whiskey-wasted” new single “SuperLove” off of Charli’s forthcoming new album was killer live too.

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“Who here knows this fucking song? I want you to sing it for me,” Charli screams into the microphone as the beginning of Icona Pop’s summer smash hit “I Love It” started playing. The song she co-wrote for the Swedish pop duo broke through the summer haze and became a fixture on pop radio. Charli’s version tonight was spectacular—sung in her guttural voice, it carried a weightier tone. I can’t help but wonder if she wished she kept the song for herself. She seems to identify with it just as much as Caroline and Aino do.

Before the night ends, Charli calls Chloe from Kitten back on stage to do a cover of Bow Wow Wow’s version of “I Want Candy” and there is so much energy on stage and throughout the club, I almost forgot it was nearing midnight (on a school night!). 2014 looks promising for Charli XCX. The night after her gig at Irving she performed at Out Magazine’s 19th annual OUT100 Awards rubbing elbows with Mariah Carey and Debbie Harry. Check out her newest single and video for “SuperLove” and look out for her second record early next year.



Originally posted on PopBytes