Friends Friends | The Artistree
Friends Must Listens
We reached out to some of our favorite artists, creatives, and pals and asked them to talk about a recording they connected with this past year. What they shared were recommendations, from the obscure to inspirational, and the stories behind it all.
We’re very proud to introduce you to our Friends.
Terra Lopez
Sister Crayon
Sister Crayon
FKA Twigs – LP1
I’m sure I’m not the first or only person to list FKA Twigs’ LP1 as a “must listen of 2014,” but I decided to go with it anyway because of how undeniably important this record truly is for me. Having seen her live twice this year, I am not only enthralled by her stage presence, but I am a believer. Without a doubt FKA demands attention live, but she is also able to transfer that physical force onto her recordings—creating a debut masterpiece. Sonically stunning and lyrically primal, this album makes you feel like you are in her bedroom listening to otherworldy confessions. I’ve honestly never heard an album quite like this. In fact, listening to this for the first time reminded me of how it felt when I first listened to—completely devastating, exciting, and raw. What she is doing for music right now is incredibly important. FKA is the truth, the future, and that’s why her LP1 is my must listen of 2014.
Jamie Goodsell
Jamie Goodsell
Steve Gun – Way Out Weather
I was introduced to Steve Gunn last year when his album Time Off came out. As soon as the first track came on I thought, ‘This guy sounds like Shannon Hoon from Blind Melon.’ If that isn’t enough to make you start listening, then you clearly didn’t grow up in the 90’s. I was fortunate enough to see him play live this year with a full band supporting his new album Way Out Weather. This guy really knows how to create an atmosphere with his rich melodies and skillfully crafted arrangements. He’s also a really genuine guy who makes great sounding music in the year 2014 (a wonderful thing). Be prepared to smile from ear to ear from the unrelenting beauty within this record.
Nick Thorburn
Islands / Unicorns
Nick Thorburn
Democracy Now! is an independent, non-profit news program based in NYC, and broadcast daily on TV, radio and in podcast form. It is a beacon in a storm of bullshit, a buoy in a sea of fake liberals (Bill Maher), right wing subhumans (Fox News) and political views that still hew much too center for my liking (NPR, MSNBC, etc etc etc etc). I listen via the podcast every morning before I start my day in order to parse out all the nonsense and travesties occurring throughout the world. It’s usually pretty bleak stuff, but their on-the-ground coverage of Ferguson was fantastic and their reports on the horror show in Palestine was extremely on point. North America is starved of this kind of news coverage, and we’re lucky to have it. I recommend donating to keep the voice of the people loud and clear.
Madi Diaz
Madi Diaz
Delta Spirit – “Home”
I mean… this is hard for me to choose… honestly… but something that spoke out to me immediately was the song “Home” by Delta Spirit. I had been rolling around, jumping from tour to tour and van to van for a good while, and my compass was pretty weary. I had just moved from Nashville to LA but hadn’t been back for months on end, and I was really struggling with the idea of home and how to make it all over again for myself. I was starting to numb out. This song came into heavy rotation under piles of sweatshirts and blankets in the back of a van/plane/train/bus, headphones on, blurs of fields/cities/skyscrapers/mountains outside the window. Full of pensive gorgeous longing and a kind of resigned hope.
Jean-Benoit Dunckel
Air / Starwalker
Z (aka Bernard Szajner) presents Visions of Dune
Recently, this record was given to me by a label called Infine. It’s inspired by the book Dune and made with analog keyboards. I just love the sound of it. I’m fascinated by these keyboards all plugged together and playing harmoniously. Like an orchestra linked by not the conductor’s gestures, but by electric pulses and wires. The texture of this music drives my imagination to lost landscapes and visions, where I can find my soul walking and wondering about the sense of life.
Joëlle Lê
Bike for Three! / Greetings From Tuskan
Joelle Le - Bike or Three
Caribou – “Silver”
When I was in New York for the first time in my life, I was aware that Caribou had just released a new album. It was a gift waiting to be unwrapped. I was having dinner at Skytown and the Caribou song “Silver” came on, like life was synchronizing with me just right there. Later while driving through Williamsburg with Chad, I saw this huge mural for the Caribou album as we were passing by North 11th on Driggs. I told him to stop and we jumped out. The paint was still fresh. Everything came together at that point. This song has been engraved in my memory forever, and will always bring me back to my time in this amazing city. Life in sync.
Remi Aguilella
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
You know, when you are doing something and have the radio on in the background, and you suddenly hear a song and ask yourself, “Where has this song been all my life?” Well this is exactly how I felt when I first heard “Red Eyes” by The War on Drugs. For me the song (and album Lost in the Dream) is the perfect balance of a very modern sound as well as the sort of classic sounding record that I could have found accidentally in my parents’ record collection. I’ve had the album on repeat since it came out and it’s become the perfect soundtrack. When I hear songs like “Under the Pressure” and “Burning”, I just want to stop everything, get in a car, and drive—not knowing where the music will take me.
Ryan Essmaker
Creative Director at The Great Discontent
Ryan Essmaker - The Great Discontent
Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
My heavy rotation has been largely dominated by very talented ladies this year, so it’s no wonder my nod goes to 1000 Forms of Fear by Sia. It’s been a while since she has released anything, but she came out of the gate swinging with more than half of the tracks being single-worthy, in my opinion. Can’t help but dance or sing aloud—or both!—when a track comes on. Are We There by Sharon Van Etten, Blue by iamamiwhoami, Queen of the Clouds by Tove Lo, and Look Like You Love It by Elliphant are also right up there. The lone dude would be Trick by Kele.
Rachael Wright
Rachael Wright
Elbow – “New York Morning”
I had a two-day shoot with Elbow in New York in May, which was to become my favorite work thus far, for many reasons. I based the shoot’s concept on the video for “New York Morning”, and, much like it says in the video, “It’s spooky at times, the way things come together”. This song came to me when I was feeling very disconnected from New York – a city that’s given me so much. It helped me see things from another perspective. Sometimes you just need a different approach, and a bit of time, to reconnect you in a different way.
Jeff Klein
My Jerusalem
My Jerusalem
Robert Ellis – “Tour Song”
I spent most of the last two years sitting in a van watching the world go by as we travel to another city and leave those we love at home. It can be a pretty lonely, dark place aside from those 30 to 80 minutes on stage each night. When I heard this song, it hit me in the gut. It’s a sparse instrumentation over a seven minute meditation questioning what happens at home and to relationships while on tour. For as long as the song is, the lyrics are poignant and economical. The kind of classic, great writing that makes such a lonely song fill me with so much comfort and joy.
Annie Hart
Au Revoir Simone
Au Revoir Simone
Girlpool – “Thirteen” (Big Star Cover)
I love this cover by Girlpool. It’s such a classic song, and a million people have seemingly given it a shot, but this particular version is pure magic. The way these women sing, the rawness of their voices and the production, the way you feel them in a room together, with the lush harmonics of their overlapping voices, it turns into a beautifully deep melancholy. It’s like vivid emotion going through an IV straight to your heart.
Lucy Salgado
Lucy Salgado
Erland and the Carnival – Closing Time
The year of 2014 was a game changer in many aspects of my life, and it came with a lesson – In order to permit a new beginning, you need to let go of many things. Coincidentally, that was the main subject of Erland and the Carnival’s third album, Closing Time, which happens to be their most accomplished work so far. Closing Time has evidently become my number one album and provided a delightful source of comfort for those painful moments of closure.
Catie Laffoon
Catie Laffoon
Rollercoaster – “Bleachers”
This song makes me want to throw on my jean short cutoffs, jump in a convertible and head up the PCH with my summer crush. It’s the theme song to my 80’s John Hughes movie moment. I dare you not to dance and sing yourself silly when it’s on. I’ll play this song during a photo shoot and everyone immediately relaxes into their most carefree selves. Also, Jack Antonoff is so talented I can’t stand it.
Markus Acher
The Notwist / 13&God
The Notwist
Jam Money – Blowing Stones
This record came out late in the year, and it hasn’t really left my turntable since then. Wonderful instrumental dialogues from Mat Fowler and Kevin Cormack, and the paintings of Aimée Henderson. Full of ideas, but never overloaded. Full of colours, sounds, and stories. Seems so easy to make great music sometimes…
Lois Macdonald
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – I’m In Your Mind Fuzz
Faith and I saw these guys play twice in the space of a week, once in an old dance hall at Iceland Airwaves and the other at Gullivers in Manchester. Both times it was an awesome show, with everyone going crazy. At the Iceland show they played until they were kicked off the stage, no one wanted it to end. Favourite tracks are “Cellophane” and “Am I in Heaven”. It also comes on a splatter vinyl.
Computer Magic
Computer Magic
Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
I listened to Mac DeMarco’s Salad Days consistently this year. There is something eerily familiar about it that makes it comforting to listen to. A great record to put on if you ever find yourself caught in the absurdity of a rush hour subway commute, it puts you in a calming state of mind and makes you forget about the craziness of life in the busy city for just a moment. Not to mention a great album to listen to on long drives, which I think is the test of a thoroughly good record.
Jacob Gossett
Caribou – Our Love
The new Caribou album is just incredible. I love the way he plays with vocals, especially when they’re treated as samples and textures. It’s such a complete record from start to finish. Listening to it reminded me of how consistent he is as an artist. I’m always excited to hear what he’s making, and this record didn’t disappoint. It’s possibly my favorite album of his yet.
Valerie Trebeljahr
Lali Puna
Lali Puna
Serengeti – “No Beginner”
My must listen song of 2014 is Serengeti’s “No Beginner”. I’m normally not too much into humorous music, but Kenny Dennis is a good character and the song is a true hit. It begins like “Loser” from Beck and then it turns into this great soul-sample that no one ever would expect. The whole record is produced by the one and only Odd Nosdam from Anticon.
Charlie Hilton
Xeno and Oaklander – “Par Avion”
We were on tour, driving through Mont Blanc, the first time I heard Xeno & Oaklander’s “Par Avion”. We had to drive through an extremely long tunnel to get through the mountain, and I felt like we were in slow motion. That’s how the song makes me feel every time I listen to it, like I’m in a long tunnel that I don’t want to end. And the vocals are superb.
Miles Caporicci
Miles Caporicci
Sylvan Esso – “The Cosmos” (Porches Cover)
“The Cosmos” written by Porches from their 2012 album (Slow Dance in the Cosmos) and covered by Sylvan Esso. Both versions are distinct and worth a listen. “The Cosmos” is a song I found myself humming slowly and then singing the chorus at the top of my lungs. Its lyrics blissfully carry on a conversation about our place on the planet, simply reminding us in the end to “dance in the public eye”.
HINDS (fka Deers)
Twin Peaks – “Making Breakfast”
I think it’s the last big discovery the band has made together and it’s not always that easy. We’ve been listening to almost the same music during this whole year and suddenly a few weeks ago we found this song, and we found the band was amazing too… can’t wait to see them at SXSW 🙂
The Growlers – “Naked Kids”
This is just one of the best songs in the world. The Growlers released a new album two months ago, but this song doesn’t belong to that album… Even though the song is from 2013, it has been so important to us this year. We can sing all the lyrics without a mistake! It’s one of our go-to cheer-up songs.
Curtis Harding (feat. Jared Swilley) – “I Don’t Wanna Go Home”
We’ve started to know this feeling. We are starting to know how it feels to be far from home, from hot dinners, from your natural language, from old friends and from 3G haha… Even though we’re loving it, when the tour is ending you feel like shit. You feel SO exhausted, you’re probably sick, and you haven’t slept well for more than a week—but it’s incredible how addictive playing shows can be. Even with all of those things, you still don’t want to go back home.
and we’re not going to say anything about Salad Days and / or Underneath the Rainbow just because if we do we’re gonna look really psycho with these guys hahah.
Paul Boyle
Paul Boyle
Shots of Awe – Mortality
While we all ponder the life after death scenario and the human condition, I feel this beautifully composed video by the great futurist/philosopher Jason Silva presents it in a profound way.
The Joe Rogan Experience
While I couldn’t possibly pick one single episode that stands out above all others, you can be sure to have a great lighthearted education on all things cool. I have learned more about health, morality, politics, philosophy, and truth from this podcast than my collective years in school.
U2 – “Song for Someone”
I’m going to go against the grain with a lot of people on this one. Like many U2 songs of old, this song penetrated the outer layers of my being from the very first listen and screamed hope. It instantly put me in a time and place reminiscent of my senior year in high school, a time when music meant everything.
Aidan Baker – Triptychs: Variations on a Melody
Ambient music rarely succeeds to capture my attention, but this past year I came across Aidan Baker’s album Triptychs: Variations on a Melody. On Triptychs, Baker takes one song and re-imagines it in multiple ways. His minimalistic yet refined approach to “furniture music” reminds me of the time I studied music theory and composition. Coincidentally, my professor would use the phrase, “This isn’t furniture music we’re writing!” to describe a poorly written piece, which I found to be pleasantly ironic. I love how nostalgic this simple melodic line of music makes me feel, which is why this one-track album is by far the best track I’ve come across this year.
Lauren Larson
Blonde Redhead – “The One I Love”
Some songs unfurl so honestly they cut through the noise in our lives — beautifully, painfully, mysteriously. I love the bare arpeggio and upfront emptiness of the track. Its rawness reminded me of the first time I saw the band in 2001 and it inspired me to want to play live. It was also one of the first songs I heard upon learning I was pregnant and, for me, beautifully resonates that love and fear first felt in this new way of being.
Bardi Johannsson
Starwalker / Bang Gang
Vök – Tension EP
One of the best young bands out of Iceland. Nice ambience and beautiful vocals.
Lykke Li – I Never Learn
I have liked her for a while. Something about the Swedes and their vocals—Nina Persson, El Perro del Mar, Victoria Bergsman, Lisa Ekdahl, Agnetha and Anni-Frid, Karin Dreijer Andersson, etc… I wish (country singer) Lee Hazlewood were still alive to record with any of them, it would be such an amazing contrast. Maybe they could add some vocals on his Cowboy in Sweden album.
Interpol – El Pintor
I have an old Interpol habit.
Jessica Hannel
Jessica Hannel
Beck – Morning Phase
Melding ethereal introspection and discordant tones with sweet melodies and powerful vocals, Beck explores the two seemingly contradictory human conditions that, oddly enough, often present themselves one after the other — painful realization and resolution followed by hopeful progression.
The ideas present in Morning Phase are fascinating to me because they deal with feelings with which we can all relate. Impressively, this is done in a way that’s achingly honest, yet still lovely and majestic. The resulting 13 tracks are beautiful and poignant; bitterly bewitching,
Stephanie Caragliano
Stephanie Caragliano
Future Islands – Singles
2014 was a year of transitions for me, and Singles became my soundtrack. It perfectly captured what I was experiencing: nostalgia, sadness, resistance, but also acceptance and excitement. The lyrics are so simple but Sam’s power and drama elevate them, and took me on a personal, emotional journey. I’ve listened to this record more than anything else this year, and I’m still not tired of it.
Jacob Cooper
Cold Showers
Cold Showers
The Serial Podcast – The Deal With Jay (ep. 8)
This was a crucial episode for the series and still leaves a lot of unanswered questions about the death of Hae and Jay’s overall involvement with it. It also establishes an annoying frustration about Jay for the rest of the season.
The explanation always falls far from the experience. You honestly had to be there. Hopefully this takes you places and will inspire your journey as it did mine.
Chad’s Nephew
Dylan B
Beacon – L1
I was driving with the Beacon record playing and my nephew was sitting in the back seat. After asking who it was he said “Shh! Shh! Shh! Can everyone be quiet! I’m trying to listen to Beacon, I like them” -c