What comes up when you type, "Dishelved girl with laptop, neck pain" in Google image search.
If someone would've told me before moving to New York that in a few short years I'd help book a music festival in Brooklyn, I wouldn't have believed them, though I'd have appreciated the guileless confidence. While having a role in the Northside Festival is still a pleasant shock to my system, a weird thing happens during the six months leading up to it. From January to June, the fangirl inside of me—the one who paraded around in a Green Day t-shirt as a very proud 11-year-old and treated her cassette of The Blue Album as if it were the Holy Grail—goes dormant. For the most part, amidst the chaos and stress of booking the festival, listening to new music becomes a chore. Bands are boiled down to price tags and the exact amount of tickets they can sell. It's a scary feeling, not just because part of my livelihood depends on connecting to songs and being able to morph those feelings into words, but because my identity, or at least self-identity, is so closely tied to loving music. It's who I am: girl from Ohio who really, really likes Arcade Fire.
When I come out the other end — that's today, my first day back to blogging! thanks for reading! — there's a hot, panicky, eight-week period full of blank text documents, fumbling with sentences, and not knowing what to write about. This year, rather than enduring mild panic attacks and maybe (definitely) a few tears, I'm combating the situation head-on. I spent the past two days spending time with as many of the albums I missed over the last few months as possible, learning to listen in a way that doesn't make me wonder if I should've really been an English teacher this whole time, like my Mom periodically suggests. There's good news for anyone who's ever doubted being a fan: All it took was seven songs.
Japandroids - "The House That Heaven Built"
I mean, this is like the guys in Japandroids sat down in some Vancouver coffeehouse and said to one another, "Let's make a song for anyone doubting their love of music," and then did, right down to including triumphant quasi-cursing in the chorus. It's a guitar-drum surge that's both uplifting and has bite — the type of song that convinces people they can grow wings.
Lotus Plaza - "Remember Our Days"
The closing track off super shy Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt's sophomore solo effort pushes and pulls at all the right places, allowing melodies to loosely flow through the scaled-back haze, tapping into bittersweet longing without veering into canned nostalgia. It’s obviously good, but sneakily great.
Moonface - "Headed for the Door"
It worries me that Spencer Krug can put out an album as good as Heartbreaking Bravery and have it go largely unnoticed by a swath of the popular blogs. While so many bands — too many, really — are content spitting out simple lyrics about vague, trivial subject matter (summer is fun, we get it), Krug continues to spin widescreen story-songs, swelling and inflating ever so dramatically. And this time, he leaves out the mythological references and Arthurian figures. Here, he's all about the common denominator of heartbreak.
Icona Pop - "I Love It"
This is the sonic equivalent of Red Bull and a free puppy, if the puppy had sharp teeth.
Vår - "In Your Arms"
To quote L Mag writer Jeff Klingman while watching these guys at Northside: "They sound like New Order about five minutes after Ian Curtis died." Vår aims to establish a mood — a timid sense of doom — and pursues it so aggressively, you forget that it's mostly coming from a group of boys not yet able to legally drink in America. They go all in, so you do too.
Animal Collective - "Honeycomb"
The excitement I feel when first listening to a new Animal Collective song is not like when I listen to other bands. I'm going for a ride with no idea what direction they'll take me in. Their music, the sounds they put together, shouldn't work but nearly always do, even when they're spiraling out of control. With "Honeycomb," the madcap scientists of indie rock invade a Dr. Seuss storybook. "All the impossible places you'll go in your life!" Avey repeatedly yelps. It takes a black heart to not get behind that.
Spiritualized - "Hey Jane"
The nine-minute epitome of Jason Pierce's career-long thesis: "You can scrape rock bottom one day and reach the high heavens the next."
For more sob stories, follow Lauren Beck on Twitter @heylaurenbeck.