Best Music of 2014 Staff Picks – Sean Chin

Name: Sean Chin

City: Toronto 

Title: Publisher and Chief Editor / Photographer / Podcast host

How long have you been with Live in Limbo? May 2009, Since day one. 

Three favourite albums of 2014 (best to worst):

1. “St. Vincent” by St. Vincent – What can I say, from top to bottom this is a very ambitious and solid album that hits all the right spots 

2. “They Want My Soul” by Spoon – Anthony Fantano of the Needle Drop said it best. This album is like a good car ex. Civic that’s a year old, but gets you from point A to B. Safely. 

3. “LP 1” by FKA Twigs – I just felt like this album and artist was very refreshing to my ears and is well executed 

Three favourite songs of 2014:

1. “Regret”  by St. Vincent – “I’m afraid of heaven because I can’t stand the heights”. there is something very smooth yet dark. It’s the perfect blend. The guitar riffs are really fun as well. 

2. “Adult Diversion” by Alvvays – this is hands down one of the catchiest tracks I heard this year. It consistently plays in my head. 

3. “One More” by Elliphant – Her collaboration with MO here is different than a lot of her usual work. But it makes for a great driving track. 

Which artist or band won 2014?

It’s very difficult to pin down. But I firmly believe that 2014 was the year of strong and positive women

Artists such as Lorde, St. Vincent, Chari XCX, Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Elliphant made their presence known to the entire industry. 

While I feel that Taylor Swift was the most influential. She has it all and all the star-power anyone could ever want. I really think that from a “biggest leap” criteria, Charli XCX really took her game to the next level. 

Your favourite new/breakout artist of the year:

Elliphant is one to really keep an eye out on. She’s super talented, fun to talk with, wants to protect the grey animals and discusses sex with extraterrestrials. Billboard also agrees with me on this.

How many shows did you go to this year?

30-ish. I know. I’m old. However, I feel like I’m picking up a little! There is literally no way I can ever beat Sarah Rix

Three best concerts of 2014:

1. Charli XCX at The Hoxton – Other than the fact that I was surrounded by teenage girls who waited in line since 8AM. This was actually one really fun performance. Charlie is super charismatic and is a talented singer. 

2. Lorde at Sound Academy – If you talk to anyone else here at LiL, they will tell you that I obsessed over no one else more this year than Lorde. I actually stood in line since 11AM the day of in the winter. Sarah Rix told me to bring a disposable blanket. I did not. Always listen to Sarah. 

3. Linkin Park at Air Canada Centre – Don’t judge me! But I finally got the chance to photograph my high school band. Everyone has this “high school band” right? Whether it’s Blink 182, Panic at the Disco, Simple Plan, whatever. Linkin Park was mine. And I despite not really enjoying their new material as much as their original albums. This show really satisfied my inner teen. 

*Notable mention goes to photographing Outkast at Drake’s OVO Fest at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. I’m not a big hip-hop/rap listener, but I knew who they were since I was a teen. I knew that they went on a super long hiatus. And I knew that they were making a big comeback. That may have been the most gangster thing I have ever done in my entire life. 

**Another notable mention goes to St. Vincent at Yonge-Dundas Square for NXNE – “Good people of Toronto” she began. I think it was the combination of a great person, great music, great location and great weather. It was a visually stellar show too

Favourite festival of 2014:

Canadian Music Week (CMW) – I love all the festivals that happen in Toronto. I don’t really care about what the politics or biases are. I Feel like any and every festival here is a win-win situation for Torontoians. I wish there were even more music festivals! But this year, I have to really hand it to the folks who run CMW. In the past, they have been seen as  disorganized and chaotic. However, I feel like the CMW team and Audio Blood really stepped up the game this year. As a media site runner, I had ultra smooth and highly responsive communication with them throughout the entire festival.  And the festival itself hosted some very fantastic headlining performances. Artists such as MIA, Little Dragon, City and Colour, Tegan and Sara and Ellie Goulding stole the show. 

Favourite venue this year:

Kool Haus – Oh Kool Haus. My first photo pass was here for Sloan back in 2006. And now that it is closing down early 2015, I feel like there will be a hole in the mid-sized venue range. This place has great audio, lighting, is easy to get to and has a photo pit. 

What was the biggest music news story you remember from 2014?

Musically and artist-wise, I already called 2014 the year of awesome female talent above. 

From an industry perspective, I feel like the music industry’s distribution model  is going to have a tipping point very soon. Publishers, Labels and Artists are all desperately playing around with physical, digital and streaming methods of getting music out there while still trying to make a profit. I feel that artists like Taylor Swift will help steer the industry in the right direction. 

Swift is the only artist that will get a platinum album this year. Either she is really amazing or everyone else sucks, or the system is flawed. I think the traditional statistics system is obsolete. Billboard is now adapting to the new ways people are consuming music, and will be including digital streams in the count next year.

Is there anything else you want to say about music this year?

As a broadcaster, for me, it was the disbelief and then anger that Jian Ghomeshi did all those horrible things over the years to women behind the scene. 

What artist should/will we all be paying attention to for 2015?

Elliphant and Charli XCX for all the right reasons.

About author

Chief Editor & Founder of Live in Limbo. Host & Producer of the Capsule Podcast. Sean is an award-winning photographer and Nikon Professional Services member. His work has appeared on the CBC, Pitchfork, and MUCH. He is an Academy Delegate at the JUNOs (CARAS) and has been involved in the Toronto music scene since 2005. He is also an endurance and CrossFit athlete. You should follow him on Twitter @SeanChin.