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Reflections on a really strange year / by Liz Pelly

2013 was dreamy and nightmarish. High highs, low lows. For months it seemed like everything was going wrong. Other times I felt inspired and empowered. I tried hard to see the beauty in endings. I tried hard to be patient and understanding. I tried to expand my perspective on feminism and politics and privilege. I knowingly became part of systems I wholeheartedly reject. I lost two jobs. I cared a lot but also didn’t really care at all. I did everything I could to avoid making important calls. I cried in public a bunch. I stopped giving a fvck and then started giving a fvck again. I believed in myself enough to make big life-altering decisions. I moved away from a space that felt really special. I immediately felt regret. I experienced the strange feeling of returning to your hometown after living away for 6 years, and being that 24 year old who suddenly lives in their parents’ basement. I left a few weeks later. I got to Europe and wondered why I was there. I laid awake at 4 in the morning wondering if I’d fvcked up. I felt weird and displaced upon returning to an old home. I brought way too many bags but Chris took some of them home. (Thanks Chris.) I felt grateful for friendship and supportive communities and Taylor Swift. I continued to not believe in the concept of objectivity. (Sorry Jenn.) I felt more adventurous in real ways. I generally felt very lucky. Thanks for reading.

Favorite Dreamhaus moments
~Sitting at the kitchen table at midnight on May 1, 2013 and hitting “publish” on the first issue of “The Media” w/ Faye M Orlove
~Tomboy covering Bikini Kill in the backyard
~Priests playing the living room and explaining why calling the cops is never really the answer
~Fourth of July backyard bbq – the entire show but especially Phillip Seymour Hoffman because hearing Noah play “tulips for my buds” to a bunch of buds outdoors during the summer was v dreamy
~The day after FMLY fest
~Every Mutual Benefit show but especially every time Jordan played “Here”
~Majical Cloudz in January, hearing one of your favorite bands play your favorite album of the year to a group of ~30 folks sitting on the floor of your living room is an experience. Even in January I was pretty sure this would be my favorite album of the year.
~Sammyfest, it was heavy and bittersweet but a reminder of everything that’s important
~Soft Healer + Quilt on one of the hottest days of summer … love Quilt a/a/f
~Emily and Noah’s first show where (w/ Jerry Paper and Cool World)

Favorite tapes
Priests – Tape 2
Rose Melberg – September
Yohuna/Emily Reo/MoonLasso/Brown Bread – Clubhouse Split
Parasol – Not There
Tomboy – In the Fucking Band / demo tape
Ladyfest Philly comp.

Tumblr post of the year
“I don’t want to have to compromise my morals in order to make a living … i dont want my words to be taken out of context i dont want to be infantilized because i refuse to be sexualized ... I’m tired of men who aren’t professional or even accomplished musicians continually offering to ‘help me out’ (without being asked), as if i did this by accident and i’m gonna flounder without them. or as if the fact that I’m a woman makes me incapable of using technology. I have never seen this kind of thing happen to any of my male peers ... I’m sad that it’s uncool or offensive to talk about environmental or human rights issues.” – Grimes

Interview quote of the year
"All trends come and go. Widespread injustice will still be there when the trend is over." ~ Hysterics in conversation with Yellow Green Red"

Favorite lyrics
“If you want to feel like a failure, that’s your right” from “Infinite Power” by Krill
“There’s things worse than failing, and …. I’ve got nothing but disgust, I’m so repulsed by the ‘good old days’” from “Behead Yrself Pt 2” by Bent Shapes
“Life’s a fucking bummer” from “Life’s A Bummer” by R.L. Kelly
“We will find a way to be lonely any chance we get / and I’ll keep having dreams about loveless marriage and regret” from “Swan Dive” by Waxahatchee
“This place is vile and I’m vile too” from “Your Damage” by Waxahacthee
“Sometimes my heart and brain conspire / to set everything on fire / just to stop the tyranny / of that minute hand on me” from “Golden Wake” by Mutual Benefit

Favorite Frankie Cosmos songs
“pure suburb”
“havin’ a house”
“be normal frankie”
“nyc is cold”
“my i love you”
“krill cover”
“frankie cosmos is not lucrative”

Favorite quote from an interview I did this year that never actually made it into an article:
“Some people want to defend Boston. They say, ‘I actually like Boston better than New York.’ Boston is not better than NY. It’s worse … There’s some serious shittiness to Boston in terms of basic quality of life. It’s just as a expensive, but with extremely fewer amenities. There are no jobs, not like there are jobs in NY. This is a pretty emo and self-deprecating idea, but I’m kind of into how Boston's this place where you'll always be like, ‘this is fucked up, this is fucked up, this sucks, I’m really upset here, I hate it here.’ But the idea of saving yourself from it by moving seems totally antithetical to, and wouldn’t make any sense with the way we think about our lives or the world. … I think of these themes a lot, of anti-capitalism, not in a political way, but just in the idea of there being elements beyond efficiency or logic. This is me going into our Krill themes of Dostoyevsky stuff, like being cursed and just embracing the idea of being cursed instead of seeking salvation or something like that. Just being like, ‘I’m miserable. This is real life. Welcome to reality. Anything else would be not just a cop out, but also it would not make any sense with who you are.’”
~ Jonah from Krill talking about Boston when I interviewed him for my NME piece, “I’m In Love With Massachusetts”

People doing cool things with music/arts/culture-related media who were particularly cool & inspiring throughout 2013
- The Talkhouse
- Maura Magazine
- Portals
- The Le Sigh
- Rookie
- Boston Counter Cultural Compass / Boston Hassle
- Folk to Folk

Favorite zine
Bros Fall Back (Thank U Ladyfest Philly)

Favorite zine/book shops visited
Bookart Bookshop (London)
In:Surgo (Berlin)
Good Press (Glasgow)
Quimby’s (Chicago)
Cowley Club (Brighton info shop)

Most inspiring weekend of the year
FMLY Fest Boston ~ this entire weekend was incredible to be apart of, but I feel like the aspect that has really resonated with me most was the “Safer Spaces, Safer Shows” workshop led by Support Boston. We made this together:

Favorite live music experiences
- seeing a Kathleen Hanna show for the first time ever, The Julie Ruin @ St Vitus in June (with Body/Head and Majical Cloudz)
- All of the Dreamhaus shows mentioned above
- Priests at The Burrow in Allston
- Mini tour around New England with Waxahatchee; this recording of “Swan Dive” (Live @ sam’s house) is still one of my favorite things:
- Festival NRMAL
- Curmudgeon @ Smash It Dead Fest

Biggest music writer regret of 2013 That I still haven’t finished writing my review of Feels Weird by Bent Shapes – seriously underappreciated album

Favorite song
“Notebook” by Majical Cloudz. You know when you love a song, and then you have terrible experience related to it, and then you hate, then it’s “ruined music,” and it’s over, and you can’t listen to it anymore? “Notebook” was actually a “ruined song” for me for most of this year. Even now, I’m hesitant to call this a “favorite” because I have drastically varied experiences of positivity and negativity associated with it. (It deals with death, learning, growing up, etc.) It’s a song that made me both immeasurably happy and sad this year; it made me feel like throwing up in an array of venues; it made me twitch my shoulders back and forth in discomfort. It made me tear up upon hearing the first notes and knowing what was coming. In April I listened to it 111 times in one night and it slapped me in the face and said, “Go Home,” so I did. It's rare to have relationships like this with songs.

Other favorite songs
waxahatchee - swan dive
mutual benefit - golden wake
so so glos - son of an American
swearin - dust in the gold sack
speedy ortiz - no below
priests - leave me alone
gun outfit - high price to pay
radiator hospital - our song
sky ferreira - i blame myself
r.l. kelly - life’s a bummer
emily reo – coast
grouper – vital
joanna gruesome – sugarcrush
bent shapes - big machines
krill - infinite power
haim - the wire
julia holter - hello stranger
shellshag - driving song
modern hut – history
hop along - sister cities
porches - the cosmos
all dogs – farm
default genders - on fraternity
lorde - royals

Favorite albums
1. majical cloudz – impersonator
2. waxahatchee - cerulean salt
3. mutual benefit - love’s crushing diamond
4. julia holter - loud city song
5. so so glos - blowout
6. speedy ortiz - major arcana
7. krill - lucky leaves
8. porches - slow dance in the cosmos
9. radiator hospital - something wild
10. frankie cosmos - pure suburb / im sorry im high lets go / told you so
11. emily reo - olive juice
12. swearin - surfing strange
13. grouper - the man who died in his boat
14. sky ferreira - night time, my time
15. bent shapes - feels weird
16. joanna gruesome - weird sister
17. modern hut - generic treasure
18. shellshag - shellshag forever
19. potty mouth - hell bent
20. aye nako - unleash yourself

Liz is writer, editor, and organizer. She just moved to Brooklyn. Before co-founding The Media she spent two years working at The Boston Phoenix. E-mail Liz at lizpelly at gmail dot com

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