FEATURE: My 2014 In Live Music

I went a little over two years without seeing any live music. It certainly wasn’t something I was trying to do, but it happened. This was pretty unforgivable for someone who blogs about music. This is even more unforgivable given my immediate proximity to Chicago. There were literally bands here always.

But, somehow, I went from July 2011 until November 2013 without seeing any live music. It was a pretty big drought. As is forever the story of my life, it was almost always due to money problems, health problems, or scheduling problems. I work 3rd shift on Wednesday through Saturday nights. This means I end up missing damn near every show. That two year span was a lot of disappointment. I’d see a band was coming, only to see the show was on a Friday or Saturday night. Meaning I had to work.

Luckily that streak was broken. I got back into the swing of things this last year. I got to see a pretty fair amount of bands. Here is my 2014 in live music:

NONA / Pet Symmetry / Meah! / The Valenteens

Dowsing / Donovan Wolfington / Bluebirds / Per Aspera

Dowsing / Little Big League / Winter Classic / L. Mounts

Lemuria / Cayetana / PUP / The Menzingers

Braid / Jason Douglass Swearingen

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) / Joie De Vivre / Free Throw

Lemuria / Lifted Bells / Prince

American Football / Braid

Ten of those bands ended up on my year end lists.

Hopefully 2015 is as eventful. Though, with the apparent loss of Township, I feel like Sunday night shows are going to fall by the wayside. That is definitely a bummer.

So, bands I like, you are on notice. Please play Sunday shows when you come to Chicago. You will be my best friends, and you may end up on a year end list on a blog that not very many people read. Deal?

YEAR END! – Top Twenty EPs / Singles / Splits Of 2014


  • Among Giants – “Back And Forth”
  • Donovan Wolfington – “Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark”
  • Flesh Born – “Han”
  • Foie Gras – “Held”
  • King Woman – “Dove b/w Fond Affections”
  • Lemuria – “Turnstile Comix #3”
  • Miserable – “Dog Days” (but also “Halloween Dream”)
  • Sloths – “Twenty Years”
  • The World Is A Beautiful Place – “Between Bodies”
  • Vow – “Make Me Yours”


  • Annabel / Dowsing
  • Anodes / Enta
  • Dikembe / The Jazz June
  • Joie De Vivre / Prawn
  • Little Big League / Ovlov
  • Locktender / Amber
  • Mikey Erg / Warren Frankling And The Founding Fathers
  • NONA / Crow Bait
  • Øjne​ /​ Улыбайся Ветру
  • Pariso / Svalbard

YEAR END! – Top Ten Records Of The Year

Here are the best records of the year. Not much label diversity here, but that is just how it goes sometimes.

1) Joie De Vivre – We’re All Better Than This (Count Your Lucky Stars)

2) Dowsing – It’s Still Pretty Terrible (Count Your Lucky Stars)






3) Dikembe – Broad Shoulders (Tiny Engines)






4) Dads – American Radass (this is important) (Flannel Gurl)






5) State Faults – Desolate Peaks (Tiny Engines)






6) Best Practices – The EP LP (Tiny Engines)






7) Suis La Lune – Riala (Topshelf)






8) You Blew It! – Grow Up, Dude (Topshelf)






9) Beach House – Bloom (Sub Pop)






10) The Dandelion War – We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes (Deep Elm)


REVIEW: Joie De Vivre – "We’re All Better Than This"

Just in time for Chicago fall and winter, Joie De Vivre have a new record. After breaking up for a brief span of time, they are back with a fantastic record. We’re All Better Than This doesn’t stray too far from what the band has done previously. Nothing on this record would sound too out of place on their prior releases, but it isn’t just the same old thing either.

The style this band plays is certainly rich in history. When people discuss this band there is always a comparison to legendary bands of yore. Invariably someone will name drop Mineral, American Football, and Colossal. These are all fair references, but that has to be tiresome. There is the occasional guitar twinkle, trumpet flourishes, and a nice mix if Midwest emo and indie rock. If that sounds like your thing, fuck reading this and go get the record.

There is something about this record that just appeals to me. It is filled to the brim with the angst and bitterness of being in your mid to late twenties. That weird place where you know you could have done things differently, possibly better, but shit just didn’t pan out. It can be a depressing thing to think about, but it is how it goes. Especially when everyone else you know has gone to college and are seemingly stoked on everything. Songs like “I Guess Not” and “That Dude Leads A Depressing Life” convey this kind of idea quite well. The former being more positive, the latter being a touch more cynical.

Another running theme on this record is the backwards looking regret. “Robert Muldoon” touches on that topic quite well:

“I used to drive across the entire state just to see you every weekend,
and I rolled the windows down because I was afraid of falling asleep.
I regret everything about that year
I regret everything about that year.”

I honestly can’t thing of a record that better describes and explains the weird weltschmerz that comes with being in your mid-twenties. I don’t know, man.

I honestly can’t get enough of this record. As much as I enjoy The North End and Summer Months, I think We’re All Better Than This might be their best record yet. This is a great example of an emo record that rises beyond the genre. If you don’t get this, you’re totally missing out. Everyone talks about summer albums, well this is the fall record of the year.

Joie De Vivre
Count Your Lucky Stars
strictly no capital letters
Stream It (BandCamp)
Buy It (CYLS) (sncl)

NOTE: These guys are playing with Kind Of Like Spitting in Chicago next week. So bummed about having to miss that.