Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy New Year!

So, you made it to 2017. Congratulations! I'll bet there were some times you weren't sure, were you? Me neither.

It was a mixed year. Lots of celebrity deaths. Too many deaths of people close to me. My company has shrunk to the point where my job is basically just freelance. I'm definitely going to have to make some changes financially in 2017. I've been writing a lot of reviews and trying to think if there's a way to make some money doing that. I feel like I've been getting sharper and writing some of my best stuff.

Anyway, in spite of the negatives, I feel like I had a pretty good year. I'm much healthier than I was this time last year. And like I said, the writing has been a positive thing.

I'm actually way ahead of where I usually am this time of year with my music Best Of lists. I'm generally lucky to finish them by March, but this year I'm close to being done, probably because I haven't been working much.

I feel like 2016 was kind of a mediocre year for music. There was some solid stuff, but not much that blew me away. I don't want to give too much away before my year-end lists, but I'm looking at my ratings list on Sputnik for the year, and I only have two albums ranked 4 out of 5 stars or higher, with 8 albums left to rank. Compare that to last year, where I had 10 albums ranked with at least 4 stars, or to 2014, where I had 9 albums ranked 4 stars or higher, and you can see that I was underwhelmed by this year's releases.

Didn't see much live music in 2016 either. Saw Squeeze with Modern English, The B-52's with Iridesense and Mother Feather, Sleeping With Sirens with Waterparks, Tonight Alive and State Champs, and Fitz and the Tantrums with Barns Courtney. I also caught one local show with the acoustic version of The Good Rats, and that was pretty much it. Already have a few shows lined up for 2017, so I'm hoping to do better this year. Who knows, maybe this will even be the year I brave the summer heat to see The Warped Tour.

I was upstate with the family last week, and used some of the travel time to listen to the new Good Rats album. It's a transitional album for them. It's been two-and-a-half years now since Peppi Marchello passed away, and it's now Stefan Marchello's band. Like 2014's Afterlife, it has a lot of posthumous material by Peppi. But this album also has a pair of original songs by Stefan, and Stefan is singing lead vocals on about half of the songs. There are hits and misses, but I think that the new Good Rats are starting to find their stride. I know that Peppi would be proud of them. I have a couple of dates circled on my calendar, and hope to catch the full band live early in 2017.

I'm looking forward this year to some new music by Paramore, The Magnetic Fields and Foster the People, as well as a new one by a local legend now living in snowy Vermont, Jeremy Gilchrist. And I'm sure there will be some exciting surprises.

So let's all hope for a healthy and prosperous 2017, and one filled with great music.