TOTAL MILES: 2376.55
Best Month: 247.75 (August)
Best Week: 65.31 (Sept 25 - Oct 1)
Just short of 2500 miles, just short of a 70 mile week, just short of a 250 mile month. Kind of sums up my year. I had a good start, making a move I’d been thinking about for a while, by joining Central Park Track Club. I’d been doing their tempo workouts for a few weeks and decided that the club was where I needed to be to get to the next level. Race wise, I started the year pretty strong, hitting 3rd overall (!) at a sparsely attended, sub 20 degree NYCRUNS 5 miler in Central Park (32:45, Jan 8th). The first few months of the year were dedicated to training for the New Jersey Marathon, which I wrote about here: http://www.mrjoeyoga.com/blog/new-jersey-marathon-2017. While not the BQ race I’d hoped for, I still managed a ten minute PR and a very respectable 3:15:45. I’d dealt with some ankle issues as my training peaked, but it didn’t affect me during the race at all. With a light week following the marathon, the issue completely subsided.
Link to Spotify Playlist
1) Waxahatchee - Out in the Storm - One of those albums that just blows the doors off. A great example of a songwriter (Kate Crutchfield) making a breakthrough and happening to be surrounded by the right musicians and producer. The band is crisp and alive, the arrangements are flawless, and the songs fully realized. The influences are there but more than anything this album feels like walking into an empty bar, seeing someone on stage, and from the first note of the first song you’re just blown away by a kind of music you’ve never heard. And you realize it’s not necessarily the music that’s new (meaning: it’s guitar, voice, drums, etc) but the artist’s voice being so clear. By the end of the year I’d gotten so into this band that not only did I drag myself to Jersey on the night of the NYC Marathon to see their only area show, but I also ended up buying tickets for the guitar player’s old band’s reunion tour in April 2018. In a tough year, an album full of joy for which I will be forever grateful.
2) Kendrick Lamar - DAMN. - I think this is the album everyone expected after GKMC. The album we did get (To Pimp a Butterfly) was superb in its own right, but it wasn’t necessarily the album full of bangers that everyone thought the best rapper alive at the height of his powers would deliver. On DAMN Kendrick manages to fuse a kind of ponderous, searching lyricism with incredibly exciting and powerful music in such a way that each elevates and pushes the other. As a rapper his skills seem limitless. For whatever he needs, he finds the perfect inflection and voice. This record has everything: sick hooks, incredible beats, features that add to the track. It’s also a perfectly mastered and perfectly sequenced album that just might have the year’s best song (FEAR.)
3) St Vincent - Masseduction - I get the feeling that this was a pretty divisive record among St Vincent fans. It was the first record of hers that I really got into, so I can’t speak to how much a departure it really is, but I will say that it grabbed me in a way her previous work hasn’t. I liked a song of hers here and there, and respected her as a guitar player but until this album nothing really made me sit up and pay attention. This record might be the most “2017” of all the records on the list, fighting between pop melodrama and dark, brooding, understated tunes, anxious and playful, mysterious and upfront. Themes and melodies bleed from one track into the next (another perfectly sequenced album). At times harrowing (the wickedly aggressive title track, “Young Lover”), and at times subdued (“Hang on Me”, “Smoking Section”) this record is more diverse and subtle than the “Oh it’s her pop record” crowd is giving it credit for.
4) Japandroids - Near to the Wild Heart of Life - By the time the opening track’s chorus came around for the second time, I was already frantically googling these guys. By the time the third track had finished, I’d already bought tickets to their Terminal 5 show. This is a record that shows there’s still a place for sincere, pit-ready, danceable anthems in this world. Part Bruce Springsteen, part early Green Day (a compliment in my eyes), Japandroids do more than I ever thought possible with just drums and a guitar. The lyrics draw some of the clearest pictures of friendship, passion, and love I’ve heard all year, and the power of the music and irresistible melodies make an argument for this kind of fist pumping rock and roll that’s seldom this unrestrained and unapologetic.
5) Alvvays - Antisocialites - One of the things I’ve appreciated about this year in music is how compact the best albums have been. It seems the days of 19 track albums are over. In the days of singles and videos a 9-12 song album is enough. There’s no need to use up every second of free space on a CD because it’s there (unless you’re Eminem). When I saw Alvvays this year at Brooklyn Steel, they played something like 17 songs in a show that lasted one hour. Now THAT is compact. This record is full of dreamy, tight pop songs that get in your head and refuse to leave. A step up from their raw but promising debut, Antisocialites may not have anything on the level of their debut’s triumphant, once in a lifetime track “Marry Me Archie” but it’s way more consistent, and gems like “Undertow” and “Lollipop” are right up there and signal the best may be yet to come from this confident, growing outfit.