Souvenirs of Happiness In the Moment: Reflections On 2017

Some milestones and accomplishments from this year:

Movies About Animals released our first full-length album, Two Decades and Change, in January. I tend to be pretty critical of my own work even after it’s finished, but I wouldn’t change anything about this album. I’ve only grown more proud of it in the last eleven months. We also released a companion EP called Spare Change, with some B-sides and acoustic songs as a bit of a cap on the Two Decades era.

Pelafina had a very busy year. We played 29 shows, including two out-of-state weekends, and released a split with The Flips, a re-recorded and re-mixed version of Pelafina 64, and a single called “Skin.” These songs are particularly special because in addition to writing, I also recorded and mixed all of them myself. The rest of band has been more supportive and encouraging than I could have hoped for while I use our songs to learn the ropes of music production and engineering.

City Mouth played a handful of shows in 2017, but much of the year was spent writing and recording a new EP called Hollows, which will be out early next year. It will be my last release as a member of the band, which still feels strange to say after four years writing and touring with Matt and the rest of the gang, but I’m so excited to see where the new lineup goes (I’ve heard some demos and of course they’re great).

On a more general note, 2017 marked a decade of playing live music. Years To Come played our first official show in September of 2007 at the Coffeehouse in Normal, following a test run in my parents’ basement over the summer, and I’ve played over 300 shows with at least a dozen groups since. If you’ve been there from the beginning, or if you saw me play for the first time this month, thank you.

Outside of music, there were two big personal events I wanted to mention in this year-end wrap up.

On a chilly February night at the Logan Square monument, I asked Liesi to marry me. I was nervous and shaking and probably cried a little bit. I was convinced that the ring was somehow defective and that the diamond would fall off as we walked around the neighborhood afterwards. But mostly I was just happy.

Later, in the summer, my grandma Childers passed away. Her funeral was the first I’d ever been to. My mom asked me to read a poem. I was definitely nervous and definitely cried a lot, caught up in the memories of driving four hours to her old house, of the shag carpet and Beanie Babies, the smell of home-cooked food in a kitchen with a floor so sloped I could race my Matchbox cars, the first time I watched the Star Wars. And later, moving her up to Bloomington after her eyes and ears started to fail her, visiting her often (but never often enough) at her assisted living apartment, watching my mom give so much time and effort and love to make sure grandma was comfortable and healthy and always knew when the Cubs were on. I’ll always aspire to be as loving and generous and kind as she was. I hope I can be.

And now, some lists:

My Favorite Albums of 2017

  1. The Menzingers – After the Party
  2. Bleachers – Gone Now
  3. Sincere Engineer – Rhombithian
  4. Paramore – After Laughter
  5. Alex Lahey – I Love You Like a Brother
  6. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
  7. Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger In the Alps
  8. Day At the Fair – The Epilogue
  9. Nervous Dater – Don’t Be a Stranger
  10. Lorde – Melodrama
  11. Waxahatchee – Out In the Storm
  12. Converge – The Dusk In Us
  13. Forfeit – Perennial
  14. Emperor X – Oversleepers International
  15. Gang of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness
  16. Julien Baker – Turn Out the Lights
  17. Oso Oso – The Yunahon Mixtape
  18. The Mountain Goats – Goths
  19. Sundressed – A Little Less Put Together
  20. Los Campesinos! – Sick Scenes

My Favorite EPs of 2017

  1. The Wonder Years – Burst and Decay
  2. Retirement Party – Strictly Speaking
  3. Jetty Bones – Old Women
  4. Lincoln – A Constant State of Ohio
  5. Baggage – The Good That Never Comes

My Favorite Movies of 2017

  1. Get Out
  2. Coco
  3. Baby Driver
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Lady Bird
  6. A Ghost Story
  7. Columbus
  8. The Big Sick
  9. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  10. Logan Lucky

My Favorite TV Series of 2017

  1. The Leftovers
  2. Fargo
  3. Mr. Robot
  4. The Good Place
  5. Stranger Things

That list is specifically about TV that aired for the first time this year. If I was including back catalog, my favorite TV experience this year was watching all of Gilmore Girls with Liesi.

My Favorite Books Read In 2017 (any release year applicable)

  1. Wolf In White Van – John Darnielle
  2. Kanye West Owes Me $300 – Jensen Karp
  3. The Familiar Volume 5: Redwood – Mark Z. Danielewski
  4. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
  5. The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

My Favorite Live Shows of 2017

  1. Regina Spektor – Chicago Theater – 3/24
  2. John K. Samson – City Winery – 10/23
  3. Paramore – Riot Fest – 9/17
  4. The Wonder Years / Laura Stevenson / Jetty Bones – Bottom Lounge – 9/25
  5. The 1975 / Jimmy Eat World / Bleachers – 5/20

Video Games

Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8 dominated my gaming time this year. In fact, I hardly played anything else. But my favorite game of 2017 was not a big Nintendo franchise – it was a small, reflective, narrative game called What Remains of Edith Finch. I played it in one sitting a couple months ago and have thought about it nearly every day since. Don’t read too much about it beforehand, just download it an immerse yourself.

Podcasts

By far my favorite podcast episode this year: Roderick On the Line, Ep. 269: “Yelling At the Radio”

Conclusion

I don’t expect you listen to or watch everything on these lists (although I do recommend all of it). I don’t even expect you to read this far. But if you did, thank you. I hope you had a good year. See you in 2018.

Finally, here’s my favorite song of the year.

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