Songs of 2014

It’s mid-December, which means it’s time for me to share my favorite songs of the year. There are 75 here. That seemed like a manageable number. For variety’s sake, I only included artists once (unless they were featured on another artist’s song I liked, in which case I allowed them to be included again, because I like to make things complicated). I did include one cover – ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ – because I listened to it so much that I couldn’t resist. Also, there’s at least one song that was released in 2013 here. You can blame PC Music, which I became deeply obsessed with this spring, for that.

All songs are linked below. I’ve also created a Spotify playlist and a Soundcloud playlist (for songs not available on Spotify).

  1. A.G. Cook ft. Hannah Diamond: ‘Keri Baby’
  2. Beverly: ‘Honey Do’
  3. Alvvays: ‘Archie, Marry Me’
  4. Taylor Swift: ‘Blank Space’
  5. Angel Olsen: ‘White Fire’
  6. Tinashe ft. ScHoolboy Q: ‘2 On’
  7. Ryn Weaver: ‘OctaHate’
  8. Sun Kil Moon: ‘Ben’s My Friend’
  9. Fear of Men: ‘Descent’
  10. Yumi Zouma: ‘The Brae’
  11. Dreamtrak: ‘Odyssey, Pt. 2 (A.G. Cook Remix)’
  12. Cymbals Eat Guitars: ‘Warning’
  13. Lana Del Rey: ‘Brooklyn Baby’
  14. Jessie Ware: ‘Champagne Kisses’
  15. SOPHIE: ‘Lemonade’
  16. Caribou: ‘Can’t Do Without You’
  17. A Sunny Day in Glasgow: ‘In Love With Useless (The Timeless Geometry in the Tradition of Passing)’
  18. Kero Kero Bonito: ‘Sick Beat’
  19. Jessica Pratt: ‘Back, Baby’
  20. Swick & Lewis Cancut ft. Tkay Maidza: ‘Wishes’
  21. Doss: ‘Softpretty’
  22. Leon Bridges: ‘Coming Home’
  23. EMA: ‘So Blonde’
  24. Hannah Diamond: ‘Every Night’
  25. How To Dress Well: ‘Words I Don’t Remember’
  26. QT: ‘Hey QT’
  27. Rustie ft. Danny Brown: ‘Attak’
  28. Allie X: ‘Catch’
  29. Young Thug ft. A$AP Ferg & Freddie Gibbs: ‘Old English’
  30. Julia Holter: ‘Don’t Make Me Over’
  31. Grimes ft. Blood Diamonds: ‘Go’
  32. TOPS: ‘Outside’
  33. Katie Rush ft. Samantha Urbani: ‘Dangerous Luv’
  34. Perfect Pussy: ‘Interference Fits’
  35. Thee Oh Sees: ‘Encrypted Bounce’
  36. Panda Bear: ‘Mr. Noah’
  37. tUnE-yArDs: ‘Wait For A Minute’
  38. Ariana Grande ft. Zedd: ‘Break Free’
  39. Future ft. Pharrell, Pusha T & Casino: ‘Move That Dope’
  40. Saint Pepsi: ‘Baby’
  41. GFOTY: ‘Bobby’
  42. Frankie Cosmos: ‘Birthday Song’
  43. Shura: ‘Just Once’
  44. Becky G: ‘Shower’
  45. Drake: ‘0 to 100 / The Catch Up’
  46. Charli XCX: ‘Boom Clap’
  47. Sales: ‘Getting It On’
  48. Tink ft. Jeremih: ‘Don’t Tell Nobody’
  49. Shamir: ‘On the Regular’
  50. Lapsley: ‘Station’
  51. FKA twigs: ‘Two Weeks’
  52. Ex Hex: ‘Don’t Wanna Lose’
  53. Wye Oak: ‘Glory’
  54. You’ll Never Get to Heaven: ‘Caught in Time, So Far Away’
  55. Marissa Nadler: ‘Drive’
  56. Shabazz Palaces: ‘Forerunner Foray’
  57. Redinho: ‘Playing With Fire’
  58. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks: ‘Little Fang’
  59. Dum Dum Girls: ‘Too True To Be Good’
  60. Grouper: ‘Clearing’
  61. Sinead Harnett: ‘No Other Way (Ryan Hemsworth Remix)’
  62. Tomas Barfod ft. Nina K.: ‘Pulsing’
  63. Spoon: ‘Do You’
  64. Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne: ‘Rather Be’
  65. Billie Black: ‘I Don’t Need Another Lover’
  66. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: ‘Simple and Sure’
  67. Snakehips ft. Sinead Harnett: ‘Days With You’
  68. ScHoolboy Q: ‘Break the Bank’
  69. Real Estate: ‘Talking Backwards’
  70. ILoveMakonnen: ‘Club Goin’ Up On A Tuesday’
  71. Zola Jesus: ‘Dangerous Days’
  72. Cloud Nothings: ‘Psychic Trauma’
  73. Cam’ron / A-Trak ft. Juelz Santana & Dame Dash: ‘Dipshits’
  74. Sharon Van Etten: ‘Our Love’
  75. White Lung: ‘Face Down’

***

London Travel Diary, Day 1

Thoughts and experiences from my first day traveling to/in London in November 2014. 

jetlagged/maybe still asleep after my first flight, but drinking coffee anyway

jetlagged/maybe still asleep after my first flight, but drinking coffee anyway

Somehow, I survived my first flight – from New York to Iceland – and then my second flight – from Iceland to London – and found the Heathrow Express, which would take me from Heathrow to Paddington Station, where I would have to find and board an Underground train that would get me to Islington, where I would have to find my friends’ house. The only things I’d consumed since leaving New York were two Nyquil caplets, seltzer and two cups of coffee. My phone was about to die. I charged it on the train using an adaptor I’d purchased at the airport for some amount of Icelandic money I hadn’t bothered converting to US dollars because, I thought, fuck it I’m on vacation.

***

I have all of these people on my Gchat list – most of whom I don’t speak to on a regular basis or, actually, ever – whose “status” is always their location. Not the location in which they live, of course, but places they’re traveling. There’s never an explanation. Just, simply, “Buenos Aires.” Or on occasion, something like “Lima -> Vancouver -> NYC.” I have mixed feelings about this practice because, on the one hand, I think it’s pretty pretentious. But, on the other hand, if I had the opportunity to travel a lot, I’d probably be an asshole about it too.

***

Walking from the Angel tube station to Chris and Katie’s house was one of the most terrifying short journeys of my life. There were two reasons for this. The first was that I was using precious international data to Google map my walk. The second was that I was completely unable to cross any street without imagining myself getting hit by a car because I had looked the wrong way.

Once I found the house, which was not as difficult as I’d imagined it would be, I let myself in with a key that Katie had hidden for me in an exhaust pipe. I had about four hours to kill until Katie got home – Chris was on a trip and returning the next day – so I took my time getting settled, which took a lot less time than I’d anticipated. After I’d showered and dressed, I turned on the TV. I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls, feeling a little guilty that it was two seasons ahead of where I’d left off in my Netflix binge and also that I was watching Gilmore Girls on vacation. The only thing that forced me off the couch was the fact that the internet at the house wasn’t working.

***

I felt very at home at CoffeeWorks Project. The name was dumb, but it reminded me of the coffee shop I’d recently had to stop frequenting at home. It had a limited menu of espresso drinks and tea. There was also a selection of whimsically flavored baked goods for sale. The space was modern and airy and the furniture was mismatched and rustic. It really did feel like it could have been in Brooklyn, which was both comforting and disappointing.

casually took two photos of this little tableau before getting embarrassed for myself and picking up my book again

casually took two photos of this little tableau before getting embarrassed for myself and picking up my book again

I found the only unoccupied corner, where I drank an Americano and ate a raspberry muffin filled with lemon curd as I used the internet for all sorts of things on my phone. I checked Instagram, where I was still getting likes on the selfie I took in the airport in Iceland. I used Viber to text my mom and Vincent, to let them know I had gotten to London safely. I deleted about 65 shopping emails and read and responded to the only two real emails I’d received. Then I wrote an email to my dad, who was celebrating his birthday.

It was getting dark outside, which was a relief because that meant Katie would be getting back from work soon. I’d killed more time getting to the coffee shop than I’d even meant to, as I realized I’d left my debit and credit cards at the house when I got to the bank to take out cash and had to go back. I read some of my book – Renata Adler’s Speedboat – until I realized I felt kind of sick, probably from the lemon curd in the muffin. I took a different route back to Chris and Katie’s, down an alley-like street where vendors were breaking down their market stalls.

***

When Katie got home, I felt insane. I was happy to see her, of course, but I also was so jetlagged that I had no idea if the words that I thought I was speaking were actually coming out of my mouth. She asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner or just rest and order in. It was Guy Fawkes Night – or Bonfire Night, or whatever they call it – and we could already hear quite a lot of fireworks going off.

“Let’s go out,” I said. “I’ll just fall asleep if we sit here.”

Katie took me to a pub called The Scolt Head which, despite its blunt-seeming name, was warm and had a lovely little garden that I would have liked to sit in if it had been warm out. We caught up over a bottle of wine and I ate chicken and bacon pie, which I thought about not ordering until I remembered that I was on vacation. After dinner, we walked back to the house, unable to hear each other very well over the explosions. We stayed up a little later talking, but Katie had to go to work in the morning and I hadn’t actually slept in like two days, so we said goodnight. I slept for 11 hours, which I felt very proud of in the morning.

Every Book I’ve Read So Far This Year (And Whether Or Not You Should Read Them, Too), Part Three

I think the last time I wrote one of these, I was lamenting my lack of motivation to read anything. I’ve felt much more motivated during these past few months, though I continue to acquire more books than I can or am willing to get through. Since July, my life has been all peaks and valleys and nothing really in between. That sort of unsteadiness has not made reading easy, but I’ve been trying! I promise. (Not that literally anyone cares how many books I get through in a calendar year besides me.) Anyway, here are the books I’ve read during the last three months and why I think you might – or might not – like to read them too. 

***

July

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

What’s it about?

A group of friends – “the Interestings” of the title – who meet at a summer camp for the arts in the seventies grow up. The novel follows them across decades, as their ambitions, talents, and class shape their lives and relationships with one another.

Did I like this book?

Yes. I thought some of the story was a bit clunky, but I generally found it hard to put down.

Should you read it? Why or why not?

Yeah! If you’re like me, someone who has been classified as “creative” since childhood, and have struggled with what you’re supposed to do with that creativity and the ambitions and expectations that go along with it, then I definitely think this is worth reading.

Friendship by Emily Gould 

What’s it about?

Two female friends in New York struggle with their relationship when one discovers that she’s pregnant. 

Did I like this book?

Yup! I remember reading it on the couch one afternoon, thinking about canceling plans because I didn’t want to stop reading. It also made me laugh out loud a few times, which is always a good sign.

Should you read it? Why or why not?

One thing I loved about Friendship was how well it portrayed modern female relationships within a certain demographic. Of course, that demographic happens to be my own, which is I’m sure why I related to it. I wouldn’t say you need to be a white, Brooklyn-dwelling woman in her late twenties to enjoy it, but it might appeal to you more if that is the case. 

Faithful Place by Tana French

What’s it about?

Detective Frank Mackey, who appeared in French’s The Likeness, discovers that the woman he thought might have run off on him years ago may never have left their poor Dublin neighborhood at all. When Rosie Daly’s suitcase is found in an abandoned house, Mackey returns to the neighborhood and the family he left behind decades ago to investigate her disappearance.

Did I like this book?

This one is definitely up there with The Likeness, which was previously my very favorite Tana French book.

Should you read it? Why or why not?

Yes, definitely. I love this series and would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery. And in this case, a good family drama. 

Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records by Amanda Petrusich 

What’s it about?

Petrusich explores the small and fanatical community of 78 collectors and the stories behind the music they love. 

Did I like this book?

I loved it. I’ve been obsessed with reading about these collectors and famous 78s since I first discovered The Anthology of American Folk Music – compiled by Harry Smith, from his extensive collection of 78s – when I was in college.

Should you read it? Why or why not?

Sure, if you’re big into American cultural history or the origins of American music or record collecting. Or if you just want to read some well-written creative non-fiction.

*** 

August

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

What’s it about?

Everything you ever wanted to know about Scientology. From the story behind L. Ron Hubbard to Tom Cruise, Going Clear does not disappoint. 

Did I like it?

Yes. This book was completely impressive in its scope. And was extremely well-written. 

Should you read it? Why or why not?

If you’ve ever wondered about Scientology, are interested in belief systems and modern religion, or enjoy reading The New Yorker, yes.

*** 

September

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

What’s it about?

This ambition novel alternates between the stories of Marie-Laure, a blind Parisian girl, and Werner, a German orphan, in the years leading up to and during the Second World War. We learn at the beginning that both end up trapped on the French island of Saint-Malo while it’s under siege and it takes the rest of the book to find out how and why they got there.

Did I like it?

Oh my God, I loved it. So, so much. I’ve talked about my obsession with historical fiction here before, so this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Should you read it? Why or why not?

Yes. This was one of my favorites – if not my favorite – this year. It’s cleverly crafted and the prose is gorgeous. I think the imagery from this book will stick with me for a long time.

A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes

What’s it about?

A group of children are kidnapped by pirates when their ship traveling from Jamaica to England is captured.

Did I like it?

This was a reread for me, so yes. I’m a big Richard Hughes fan. 

Should you read it? Why or why not?

This book isn’t for the faint of heart. Disasters, abuse, and murder abound. However, Hughes’ examination of the child’s psyche is, to me, incredible and makes A High Wind in Jamaica well-worth reading.

Things I Liked This Week

I got sorta tripped up while writing an essay yesterday, so there will be no real writing from me this week. But never fear! I’ve put together a big ol’ list of other stuff you can read:

- “A Blackbird in the Hand: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Kate Bush” by Iain Cook (TheTalkhouse)

- “‘Not to Put Too Fine a Point On It': How Dickens Helped Shape the Lexicon” by Ben Zimmer (Vocabulary.com)

- “Who Killed Adulthood?” by Sady Doyle (In These Times)

- “Europe’s Anti-Semitism Comes Out of the Shadows” by Jim Yardley (New York Times

- “Hunting For the Source of the World’s Most Beguiling Folk Music” by Amanda Petrusich (New York Times Magazine)

- “Who Is Su” by Dan P. Lee (New York Magazine)

- “A Cockroach Crawled On My Face And I’ll Never Be The Same” by Joanna Borns (Buzzfeed)

- “The End of the Mitford Sisters” by Michelle Dean (Gawker Review of Books)

- “The Last Amazon” by Jill Lepore (The New Yorker)

- “An Unlikely Ballerina” by Rivka Galchen (The New Yorker)

Until next week or whatever…

Things I Liked This Week

Another week, another edition of Things I Liked This Week, in which I share all the things I liked this week. So, here are some things I liked this week:

1. Wearing my jean jacket

2. Making this Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage and then eating it all week

(Tangentially, I was just reminded of this one time an old co-worker pronounced broccoli rabe “broccoli rob-ay” and I was embarrassed for them but then had to frantically google the proper pronunciation to make sure I wasn’t the person who should be embarrassed about my pronunciation of “broccoli rabe.”)

3. “A Portrait of the Alt-Bro as a Young Dumbass” by Gavin Tomson (The Awl)

This was probably my favorite thing that I read all week.

4. “Exile On North Seventh Street” by Jason Horowitz (New York Times)

There are some really fantastic lines in this profile of Georgia’s ex-president.

5. A bunch of songs, which I’ve collected in one playlist:

6. Everything about the vote for Scottish independence

7. The recipe for Hangman’s Blood

(I’m currently rereading A High Wind in Jamaica.)