First Annual Best of…

Some of the meaningful moments of 2013.

1. After spending close to 17 years living in Salt Lake City (five in an apartment on Windsor Street, twelve in our first home), the family moved out to the (far) south end of the valley, into a new and bigger home. We have only been here since August, but we absolutely love it.

2. We took our first family vacation out of the country, spending a fabulous April week in Cancun, Mexico. The boys came home tanned and happy, while Sheryl and I returned relaxed and ready for summer.

3. Inspired by National Novel Writing Month, I finally sat down at the computer and hammered out my first novel. I had become completely frustrated by my inability to make myself write the book, starting and rewriting the first ten pages at least fifteen times over the last few years. On November first, I determined to sit at my computer and write at least 1600 words a day. The goal was 50,000 by the end of the month and I reached that number on November 29th.  The book was not quite finished, but I remained focused, and finished writing the first draft this past weekend.  I am pretty amazed that I completed it, and shocked that I did it all in two months.

Lots of amazing music released this year. Here are some of my favorite releases.

From the heavy-ish end of the spectrum.

1. Memorial by Russian Circles- This mostly instrumental album is heavy and haunting, which is typical for the band. Lebaron, is in the running as my favorite Russian Circle track of all time. Give it a listen. The surprise of the record-a collaboration with Chelsea Wolfe on the title track. More on her later.

2. Nation to Flames by A Storm of Light-A flat out, brutal, in your face record. Check out the tracks Omen and All the Shining Lies.

3.  Sunbather by DeafHeaven- Melodic Post Metal dipped in elements of Black Metal, this record surprised and delighted me. For the contrast, listen to Irresistible followed by The Pecan Tree.

4. Habitual Levitations (instilling words with tones) by Intronaut-Usually a band I associate with guttural vocals and near math metal riffs, this record incorporated  Jazz elements and more melodic vocals. My top tracks are The Welding and A Sore Sight for Eyes.

5. Forever Becoming by Pelican-Another band sans singer that delivered a wonderful, heavy release. Because I bought the record at a local, independently owned record store, I also received a bonus live disc. When it comes to bands like Pelican, I rarely recommend tracks, as I believe the record is best absorbed as a whole.

Honorable mention goes to Lord Dying for their record, Summon the Faithless. Sludge filled fun for the entire family.

From the not quite so hard, but oh so tasty area.

1. Pain is Beauty by Chelsea Wolfe- GET THIS RECORD! At times minimalist, spooky, heavy but almost always beautiful, this record is my favorite of the year. I love every track.

2. Perils From the Sea by Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle-I am a sucker for Kozelek, from Red House Painters to Sun Kil Moon. This collaboration is more electronic than guitar driven, but it works.

3. Reflektor by Arcade Fire-What can I say? Another fantastic release from a band that continues to amaze and impress me. Plus, it’s a double CD release!

4. Palms by Palms-Made up of members of Isis and Deftones (along with the ‘in every cool band ever’ Bryant Clifford), This is a great record. I’ve always been partial to Chino’s vocals for Deftones, and he delivers here. They sound very Isis like, which for me is always a good thing.

5. Face the Sun by The Entrance Band-This is just a flat out groovy record. I admit, I only started listening to Entrance because of Paz Lenchantin, but I stay because the songs are good. Get their entire catalog. You won’t be disappointed.

Four from the “they have a new record?” pile

1. The Next Day by David Bowie-Second favorite record of the year. I am in awe of the musical spectrum of Bowie’s career and I like his later records as much or more than his early work. If you like Bowie at all (and if you don’t, repent), buy this album.

2. The Journey by Big Country-Who? Wait, what? Two of the founding members added a new bassist and Mike Peters of the Alarm on vocals. The record is surprisingly good. I have always been a fan of the band, but unlike Bowie, their later albums are very hit and miss. If not for the near perfect Bowie record, this would be my favorite come back record of the year.

3. Unvarnished by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts-More of the same and the same has always been wonderfully fun. This record is not groundbreaking or genre bending, but it is great rock and roll. Joan Jett sounds as powerful and tough as she ever did.

4. Hesitation Marks by Nine Inch Nails-To be fair, Reznor never really stopped releasing records, but this is the first NIN record since he declared the project over in 2009. This is a pretty good record, with elements from Pretty Hate Machine throughout.

Finally, the reissue and remaster of the year.

Reissue-Electric/Peace by the Cult- Electric was the record that introduced me to The Cult and remains my favorite. Best described as good old dirty rock and roll, the record has a heavy edge and exudes attitude. Atsbury is sharp on vocals and Duffy on guitar is at his best. The reissue release also includes the Peace album, the never released record from which most of the songs off Electric were born. Peace is a very round record, sounding very much like the band’s previous release, Love. Its alright, but not game changing, like the songs became when produced by Rick Ruben for the Electric Release. An interesting comparison at least.

Remaster-Celestial by Isis-Cleaned up, yet still heavy, with the vocals very low in the mix, this remaster made an already classic record more amazing. Just listen to it and be happy.

All in all a good year for events and music. Wishing you all a fantastic 2014.

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About fenster

There are some who call me, Tim?

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