Guys and gals, I know I have been a little absent of late which has actually an awesome reason that is super awkward to tell (see #8 of this list). But I finally managed to write and prep this epic list of the 30 things that really made my year 2014. I hope you haven’t abandoned me, I surely would deserve it. I slowly try to get back a sort of writing rhythm (believe me, my radio show as well as my gaming have suffered as well) and there’s so much I want to post. But for now:
One of the bands that never fail to astound released a slightly unusual album last year, “The Take Off and Landing of Everything”, because apparently the band got a lot more input in the songwriting process which you can hear quite clearly, especially when listening to the album for the first few times. However, after the stripped down “Build a Rocket Boys!”, this record goes back to the fulminant songs of “Seldom Seen Kid” and even has hints of twinship, for example when “My Sad Captains” mirrors “One Day Like This” in style and sentiment. It’s a truly beautiful and captivating album that got quite a few playthroughs this year.
- Jonathan Franzen “Freedom”
As I could be confused with a Hipster, I decided to look at the Hipster’s reading list and see whether I like it and lo and behold, Jonathan Franzen’s freedom is just what I love about novels that very closely deal with a handful of people and how they struggle with themselves and each other. It is very sad and even hopeless at times but so beautifully written that it’s worth it.
- Kate McKinnon
The not so new castmember of SNL is a real pleasure and even though I didn’t see the dawn of Kristen Wiig during her first stint, I guess that she exuded the same energy as McKinnon who has not only a manic energy for most of her characters but also the best Angela Merkel-impression that ever was (it’s also the funniest because it doesn’t make fun of her directly but rather through the absurdities of politics vs. pop culture). As I am actually a fan of the new cast (especially the writing team around O’Brien/Bennett and Mooney), I couldn’t be happier with someone like Kate (and Cecily and Vanessa and Sasheer).
One of my oldest secret music tips finally played in Berlin this year (alas, as a support act) and even though the chaos surrounding a show at a larger venue prevented me from getting the interview I had tried to organize, I at least got to see them live and boy, this band is a hoot! Their new album is gorgeous, the live show is gorgeous, the band is gorgeous.
I quit my job last year because I was – all around – in a pretty bad state and the job situation was a major factor of it. Although quitting without new prospects is the kind of stupid thing that no one wants you to do (“never again”, my mom said to me, even though she supported my decision) it was the best thing to happen because if you are in an awful state and actually can afford it, then why not?
- New Job
And I got a new job! It’s in a new field (cloud computing), with a great team and a company philosophy that allows mistakes and encourages trying out new things. Yay! (I also got my first smartphone ever for work and have to say that Messenger is pretty nifty)
- Sylvan Esso
My pop discovery of the year has given me one of my favourite albums (dto.), favourite songs (“coffee”) and favourite live show for which I even ventured into the Berghain. As the interview with the two of them shows, they are also all-around great people who will probably release one amazing album after the other.
- Online Dating works, you guys!
Unbelievable but true. It’s quite horrible because on some level the cynic within me didn’t want it to work and just collect hilarious stories about awful dates. Well, I guess I have to find new means to experience awful social meetings to talk and write about.
- Broad City
The somehow female version of “Workaholics” is actually a lot better because the two main characters care about each other despite leading a life that is…well…on the verge of being quite horrible. The stories are absurd but actually believable and the two dames are absolutely hilarious. Everything fits, the writing, the acting, the timing and Hannibal Buress is one of the greatest supporting characters to a female main cast ever created (he also might be the only stalker in the history of sitcoms who manages to be charming and not at all creepy).
I hate to be that kind of person but this is actually public transport in every big city.
- Obvious Child
I love “Parks & Rec” but I hate Jenny Slate’s character in it because in contrast too nearly all other characters she is simply antagonistic and mean-spirited and one-dimensional characters like that always annoy me. But colour me surprised how amazing Jenny Slate is in this wonderful Comedy about a Stand Up-Comedienne getting knocked up and planning an abortion because she’s not ready for a kid. It’s a wonderful slacker-comedy with all the gross humor (great stand-up writing which is not Slate’s but the script writer’s) but also great character work and truly touching moments. I can full-heartedly recommend this movie to anyone who loves “Broad City”, “Juno” and “Seinfeld”.
- Peter Gabriel live
I saw him live, the man, the legend! I teared up when he sang the cover song “Book of Love”, I had to pee for basically the whole show and I was demographically totally out of place because apparently Berlin Peter Gabriel-fans consist nearly exclusively of my mom’s generation (who was also there, I had invited her).
Another great movie from last year which will probably get not a single important award but who gives a flying hoot? This music-comedy might be one of the truest music movies (on the road as well as in the studio) to come out in a while and despite its slightly outlandish (but not fictitious) premise, feels more real like any “Almost Famous”-movie could ever manage. And boy does it help that the soundtrack is as much a backbone to the movie as it is surreal, amazing and actually catchy.
- Ice Cream
It’s not that I didn’t like ice cream before but 2014 – especially the middle part of it – was a gigantic ice cream-phase mainly sponsored by Florida Eis which is a Berlin ice cream manufacturer who does a delicious mango/chocolate and strawberry/chocolate-mixture.
- Ryan Adams “I just might”
The most Bruce Springsteen-y song since a very long time comes from gigantic Bruce Springsteen-fan Ryan Adams whose current album is a real beauty but does tread heavily on the Boss’s paths. This song was listened to quite a few melancholic moments and has the same intimate yet intense punch that “I’m on Fire” has.
- Being Alive
Sondheim musicals will be a big hit this year, what with “Into the woods” (an ambitious and unfortunately overlong dark retelling of classic fairy tales) coming into the cinemas. But I discovered “Company” weeks before my 30th birthday (which I would spend unemployed, single but happy) and not only did it hit a chord, it also has everything that is so great about Sondheim. It’s painfully witty, the melodies are catchy, the vocals have to be amazing for the songs to really shine and the overall story has layers upon layers of human emotional turmoil.
- Over the Garden Wall
I love that kid’s cartoons get a little renaissance when it comes to style and storytelling. “Gravity Falls” is a good example, as it is very early 90s both in style and mystery-mayhem (think of “Eerie Indiana” mixed with “Animaniacs”) and “Beyond the Garden Wall” a shorty mini-series about two brothers lost in the woods goes along the lines of “Mumins” and “The Last Unicorn” as it is cloaked in old classic fairy tales, the cutest character design, great music and an overall story arc that is simplistic but not without depth. It’s absolutely enchanting and I for one will get the DVD Box and watch it regularly to feel like I am 8 years old again, discovering “Walhalla” and really getting lost in a different mythology than my own.
- renest / retrace
My favourite photo tumblr. It’s beautiful.
- A Rabbit
Berlin has hidden secrets, lots of them. The sweetest was shown to me in a dark night in autumn (the temperature was still close to summer) with looming tower blocks surrounding us and no light in sight. The statue of a rabbit in the middle of a backyard in a part of Berlin that usually does not hold such poetic little art pieces.
I revisited Cardiff after roughly 7 years and it was quite awesome. Everything was a lot farther away (well, mainly because I wasn’t walking alone through the city and with my mom who lives in a village when a 40 minute trip to the city is not a normal standard). We went to see a surprisingly good musical about Marc Bolan, shopped a lot and ate very well, despite randomly sitting down at places without enquiring any internet-reviews by strangers. It was a good time.
- Senabo Sey
I really hope, she becomes super famous because this is the kind of pop music I want to have on radio stations because – as well as with Gotye and Adele – this is music I can actually listen to ad absurdum but not get tired of.
- My Brightest Diamond
Shara Worden is one of the marvels of modern (pop) music and redefines herself with every new album and boy oh boy, if “This is my hand” isn’t cast in light from the first to the last second.
Although my current dietary constrictions don’t allow for cocoa, I spent the last fourth of 2014 with someone who is deeply in love with chocolate and knows a lot about it. It’s, I guess, as with everything – as soon as you realize how many levels of quality there are and how different the higher levels are from the lower ones, you can hardly go back. Good chocolate is the bomb! I ate buffallo milk chocolate and it is silk on your tongue.
- Fish & Chips
Sometimes, I get those weird phases where I really crave for a certain food and could basically eat it daily. This year, it was ice cream and fish & chips (each on different occasions, not mixed in a bowl), the fish & chips of a German chain restaurant to be precise. However, they could not top the best fish & chips that my mom and I happened to stumble upon during our holidays in Cardiff in a rather bleak looking shop. That fish! As white as snow, as tender as a maiden’s hand and with a coating that was like an Angel’s kiss.
- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
One of my favourite albums and a great show this year. I did a lot of album+live show-combos last year and they were all worth it. “Only Run” is haunting and a lot darker than previous albums. It’s nearly violent at times, very 80s synthesised and a little manic – it’s a fantastic journey.
I love em.
- 100 interviews
If the numbers are correct, I did my 100th interview in 2014, specifically with Atom Willard (I hopefully find the time to transcribe a few of my 2014 interviews for the next few months because they are all pretty cool) who was perfectly charming, interesting and a great sport. I even got to see pictures of his dogs which is the crème de la crème of every interview. BAM!
I love em.
- Dumping the D(iaries)
I threw away all of my diaries because they are basically just there to make sense of current mysery-stained situations and are super uncomfortable to read afterwards. I guess it was some sort of symbolic act as 2013 as well as the first fourth of 2014 was one hell of a turd and I wanted to get rid of all that but it also made me appreciate the here and now. Don’t worry, I won’t write a self-help book about it.
- Dan Mangan ‘Vessel’
That song is one of the greatest songs of 2014 (heck, probably of the decade).