One Music Writer’s Biggest Regrets of 2014
Some people live their life with no regrets. I am not one of those people.
No -- I have lots of regrets. Like, I already kind of regret using a dash instead of a comma in that previous sentence. Being a music writer affords me lots of opportunities to exercise my natural neuroses. I have FOMO like a MOFO. I should have gone to that show last night. I should have interviewed that band before they blew up. I should have asked J. Mascis what he thought of 'Black Messiah' when I had the chance.
I once contributed to the great Seattle alt-weekly the Stranger, and at the end of every year, the paper would (and still does) compile a list of notable errors they made during the year -- errors they naturally regretted, like misspelled names and bungled acronyms. They also include more generic regrets -- things they did that just weren't sitting too well with them at the end of the year. This anxious annual look back resonates with me.
So, in that spirit, I take a look back at 2014 with a head in hands, taking stock of the things I should have done, the music I should have listened to, the words I should have written. Take a break from the year-end top album lists and 2,000 word 'Black Messiah' reviews and join me in my empty room as I wallow in my regrets.
I regret not going to see Arcade Fire at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Say what you will about the Arcade Fire -- they work their asses off to put on one of the best shows of any band around today. Case in point: Not only did the Barclays Center gigs feature cameos by David Johansen and David Byrne, but they all featured full sets from the Unicorns and Television. Oh, God, I hope I didn't miss my only opportunity to see Television.
There are plenty of other shows I regret not seeing, too.
There was the Neutral Milk Hotel show in Prospect Park during which nothing apparently special happened except, of course, that one of the most important indie bands of ever played two whole shows. Spoon and my new favorite band Operators played in Central Park. The War on Drugs played at little-bitty 50 Kent over the summer. Why am I so damn stupid?
I regret missing the OBGMs at M for Montreal.
If you've ever been to a music festival, you know how much it sucks to hear all your friends talk about the amazing band they saw while you were slamming a funnel cake behind the port-o-potties. I saw a ton of great bands at M, but I'll never live down missing these dudes.
I regret this interview with Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.
Charlotte Kemp-Muhl was hungry. Sean Lennon was punchy. I was nervous. Somehow, it all managed to turn out sort of alright, but still.
I regret ever describing music using the words "angular," "ethereal," "spacious," "breezy," and "soaring."
But proud that I've never described anything as "seminal."
I regret never properly relaying my overwhelming affection for 'LOSE' by Cymbals Eat Guitars.
It's clearly, without a doubt, the best album of 2014. Just when you thought you didn't need another band of angry Springsteen disciples singing about the Jersey suburbs, Cymbals Eat Guitars come along with a song whose central image is driving to Six Flags Great Adventure. Their vibe is kinda like the hazy, '70s-indebted rock of War on Drugs, if War on Drugs were raised on Red Bull and Rancid CDs.
I regret not bringing anybody with me when I went to see Pharmakon and Total Abuse destroy some kids' house in Queens.
Or when I saw a bunch of skuzzy punks from around the world smack each other at the Latino Punk Fest at an old warehouse in Brooklyn. Sometimes it's hard to explain to your friends why you want to see a bunch of crusty dudes sing a song called 'Prison Sweat' in a basement in the Far Rockaways. (PS: Pharmakon's 'Bestial Burden' and Total Abuse's 'Looking for Love' are two great releases from this year and I regret not saying more about them.)
I regret that more people didn't hear Alden Penner's great solo debut in 2014.
Penner, former co-leader of the Unicorns, quietly self-released one of the darkest, sweetest, weirdest, and most austere records of 2014 way back in February. In fact, I regret not hearing it sooner -- before October 2014, when I saw Penner play a small solo show in Montreal. Do yourself a favor and listen to this thing.
I regret not updating iTunes this year.
Otherwise, I would have had the pleasure of deleting 'Songs of Innocence.'
I regret not asking Weird Al if he knew what James Brown thought of 'Living With a Hernia.'
"Can't run, I can barely crawl/ I got a bulge in my intestinal wall."
I regret not taking the time to make any jokes about that Wu Tang rapper who cut off his own penis when he was high on PCP.
I guess it's too late for that now. Besides, Wu Tang wasn't the only group to lose a member this year.
I regret that joke.
[Now that we got that off our chest, we're ready to look to the future. Stay tuned next week for our list of 2014 resolutions.]