Maddie's Top of 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR CYBER-PALS!!!! I can't believe it it 2015. To be honest, odd numbers aren't my favorite, but I always find that odd-numbered years bring me good times, and good adventures, so i'm very curious to see what the next 365 days hold in store for me. Before we get too focused on the future though, I'd like to take a minute to look back on all the fun I had in 2014. SXSW, Graduation, Warped Tour, Red Rocks and Riot Fest. It's been an amazing 12 months that led to new discoveries, new challenges, and plenty of funny stories. I've been lucky to share those with you all here, but thought we should re-cap just for good measure. Below you'll find my top 5 shows, top 5 albums, and top 6 (cause I can't decide) photographs of 2014. 

TOP FIVE SHOWS

1) Jimmy Eat World's Futures 10yr Anniversary Tour, The Ogden Theatre, October 7, 2014.
This should be pretty obvious why it's my number one. My favorite band touring and playing my favorite album in it's entirety? I literally cried through the entire thing. Not kidding. It also was the first time i'd ever seen them live with one of my closest friends, who is also a super huge mega fan of theirs. It was such a special night for so many reasons. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it. This is a show that will never be topped for me. I waited a decade of my life for one night, and it was certainly worth it. (Check out my review of the show for Ultra5280 here.)

2) twenty|one|pilots at The Ogden Theatre, May 16th 2014.
This was the first time Laurel and I had been able to see our clique leaders live since our obsession began. We first saw the band at The Bluebird back in November of 2013, but had never even heard their music before that night. That show is what sparked our addiction, and so finally seeing them live, and being a part of the fan base that inspired my original curiousity? That was amazing. (here's my review for Ultra5280)

3) Riot Fest Denver, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, September 19-21st, 2014 
In one weekend, I saw The Cure, Weezer play their "Blue Album" in its entirety, In The Whale take their pants off on stage for the Broncos (in front of Mile High Stadium), and Wu Tang Clan. I don't think there need be more explanation. (Ultra5280's weekend recap)

4) Phantogram's rooftop set at SXSW, March 12, 2014
This one is a little different because it wasn't even a proper concert, but this set was definitely my highlight of SXSW 2014. We were on a rooftop in the middle of downtown Austin, watching a band who I'd never really given the proper time of day before, and I fell in love with their music then and there. It's one of those moments that's hard to believe is real.

5) Lorde, The FirstBank Center, September 28, 2014
This show was probably the one that surprised me the most the entire year. I like Lorde's music plenty, but I usually really hate big pop production shows. When I was approved to cover this show for Ultra5280, I went in not fully prepared for what I would see, and found myself impressed with the young performer's poise in ways I couldn't have imagined. (read my Ultra5280 review for it here).

TOP FIVE ALBUMS

1) Hozier, Hozier
I told you all in my New Music Tuesday post about this album that i'd picked it as my top record of the year, and I've come through as promised. Check out my post about how much I love this record, and then give it a listen. I doubt you'll find yourself able to disagree. 

2) Alt-J, This Is All Yours
My undying love for Alt-J has only been progressed by the release of their new album. Weird, quirkly, melodically unique, and musically daring, this quartet is the front of new music. I might not be able to understand 75% of their lyrics (and the other 25% don't make sense), but I don't care. I love it. 

3) Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues
This record speaks for itself. One of the most well-respected punk rock groups of the modern era releasing an album that their lead singer ends up using as her coming out letter as transgendered? How much more punk can you get? The album is catchy, endearing, and a real statement of the times. I love it.

4) Broods, Evergreen
I got to spend an afternoon interviewing Broods' lead vocalist Georgia Knott, and after speaking with her, I felt like I could connect to this album on an ever deeper level. This young band is making promising music for being brand spanking new. The songs are catchy, the lyrics are honest, and the radio play it got this year is ridiculous. No way i couldn't pick it.

5) Manchester Orhestra, COPE. 
Although I haven't been a Manchester Orchestra fan for very long, seeing them perform live this past April was like finally eating a food I had no idea i'd been craving for months. A wondrous mix of alternative rock, melodic chorus', and heartfelt lyrics, the album COPE really feels like the bands most progressive album yet. 

TOP SIX PHOTOS

I genuinely couldn't decide which one of these six to knock out for submission for Ultra5280's end of year recap, so I submitted them all, and I'm sticking to that for my own post here. I really didn't photograph as much in 2014 as i did in 2013, but I still really love this top six. I feel like they perfectly capture my year in music. Here they are in order of when they were taken throughout the year. 

Cee Lo Green at Rachel Ray's Backyard BBQ | SXSW | Austin, TX, March 2014

Tyler Joseph of twenty|one|pilots, The Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO,  May 2014

Dua Boakye of Bad Rabbits at the Vans Warped Tour, Montréal, QC, July 2014.

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World. The Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO. October 2014.

David Boyd, lead singer of New Politics. The Gothic Theatre, Denver, CO. November 2014.

Dan Wayne Sermon of Imagine Dragons. The Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO. December 2014.

 

please note that ALL photos are copyrighted by Maddie Casey, and cannot be used without her permission.

New Music Tuesday: Alt-J and Vance Joy

Okay, I know i tried this like eight months ago to no avail, but i'm serious this time! I want to get better about doing "New Music Tuesdays" every weekboth here and Ultra5280. Sometimes they might end up being the same thing (sue me, I write for two blogs, I can use the same copy on both if I want to), but regardless, I do what I do first and foremost because I love music, and chances are you read my blog because you do too! Time for me to get real and hopefully help you find some new jams for you week-to-week shenanigans. This week i'm talking about Alt-J's brand spankin' new album This Is All Yours, and radio darling's Vance Joy's full-length premiere.

 

ALT-J, This Is All Yours

If you're a friend of mine, I'm sorry, but I'm about to tirade once again about how much I love this band. Some people have been referring to them as "the new Radiohead", and while I understand the comparison, I hope that this new album really continues to showcase this band as a group fully capable of being something new in a time when music has been repetitious and an homage to every other era except this one. Alt-J's debut album An Awesome Wave hit me like nothing i've experienced before. New, dramatic, instrumental, and almost sharp with distinct sounds, the band was simply different. To say I got hooked was an understatement, so when the band finally began releasing the singles prior to this album's release this month, I was eating them up. The thing I immediately enjoyed about the new album was that it was in no way related to their previous work. Songs like "Left Hand Free" made me think of The Beatles before it made me think of Alt-J, and tracks like "Every Other Freckle" used familiar strengths of the band in ways we hadn't seen before. Although lead singer Joe Newman's lyrics still make absolutely NO sense whatsoever, the band's harmonies are as perfect as ever. Experimenting with samples, duets, and some funkier bass patterns than ever before (if you can believe that), This Is All Yours was an album who's release I HIGHLY anticipated, and it did not disappoint. Do yourself a favor and do whatever you need to do, but listen to the whole thing 1 time through completely before you say a thing. It doesn't flow the way An Awesome Wave does, but it still tells a story with listening to front to back. 


Vance Joy, Dream Your Life Away

I haven't given this album the time it deserves in my life yet, but upon first listen, the band who's song "Riptide" has taken Top 40 radio by storm seems to have more in store for us than just a catchy single. A singer songwriter at his core, vocalist James Keogh's sound is filled out nicely by an accompanying band. Great melodies, beautiful harmonies, and well timed lines, this album caught me by surprised. I thought that I'd be bored by someone who was "just another folk guy", but the second track of the album, "Mess is Mine" absolutely blew my brain. Songs like "Geogria" and "All I Ever Wanted" take unique perspectives on common themes that many can't seem to find new ways to write about. Not to mention the guys voice...Keogh's voice is just so different you have pay attention, no way to let your mind wander throughout a song or you'll find yourself completely lost. A wonderful pairing for a nice fall day or a quiet night in, Vance Joy's album has some little gems that make me smile. The band is coming to Denver in November, and I fully intend to see how the music translates in a live setting.