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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Favorite Records of 2015

With 2015 coming to a close, the time has come for me to reflect on the great music that was released during the calendar year. Below is a compilation of some of my favorite records and songs that were released during 2015. Overall it was a pretty solid year for music.

Honorable Mentions

Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams
Two albums in two years. To say Coldplay has been busy appears to be an understatement. Released in early December, Coldplay delivered a very good pop rock/dance album. Unfortunately like much of Coldplay's later work, it appears this album will be decisive amongst their fans. If you are a fan of their 2011 release Mylo Xyloto, you will really like this record.



Beck: Dreams
Released in June 2015, Beck once again proved why he is one of the most captivating artists of the last 25 years. This single is the complete opposite of his 2014 album Morning Phase. It's Beck at his pure alternative, hook writing, dancing best. I dare anyone to listen to this song, and not have it stuck in their head for days afterwards. Personally, this is the song of the summer. The only reason why this song isn't higher on my list is because it's not apart of an album. But it too damn good not to be recognized. If this were apart of a full length record, its safe to say it would be my favorite of 2015.



10. Keith Richards: Crosseyed Heart
Netflix is solely responsible for this album being on my list. One day I was looking through my Netflix cue to find something to watch, and I saw a documentary called "Under the Influence" and a picture of Richards. This documentary focuses on the making of the album, but also just on Richards philosophy on life. While watching it, I began to notice how much I enjoyed the music, and immediately purchased the record. It's wonderful. If you are looking for a great blues rock record, this is one you need to check out.



9. Local H: Hey Killer
For the past decade Local H has been hitting out of the ballpark with terrific records. Beginning with "Whatever Happened to PJ Soles", Scott Lucas and company continues to make great guitar driven, old school alternative music. With new drummer Ryan Harding, Local H delivers a great album. If you are looking to "get into" Local H, this would be a great first record.



8. Ringo Starr: Postcards from Paradise
Yes I am a biased Beatles fan. But hear me out. Ringo delivered one of his best albums EVER in 2015. Postcards from Paradise is just a fun record, that is also very autobiographical. In fact, if you want to learn more about Ringo Starr the person, listen to his records of the last 10 years. All of the stories are there. Postcards from Paradise opens with one of Ringo's best songs ever, Rory and the Hurricanes, which has a great early 60s almost doo-wop vibe to it.



7. Death Cab For Cutie: Kintsugi
Even with the loss of guitarist Chris Walla, Death Cab for Cutie manages to deliver a fantastic album. What's really terrific about this record is that it stopped me dead in my tracks when I first heard it. Over the summer, I was working on a few things in my home with the radio on. All of a sudden, this song came on with this great refrain and incredibly lyrics. I immediately stopped what I was doing to really listen to the radio so I could find out who it was. When I heard it was Death Cab, I knew I had to hear the rest of the record. I recommend you do the say too.




6. Beach Slang: The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
Beach Slang broke all of my rules this year. Typically I begin to assembly my "favorites" list in early December. So anything that is released in December has to be pretty impressive to grab my attention during this process. And Beach Slang did just that. This is a lyrics record. Buy the CD. Pull out the booklet, and read the lyrics. They are beautiful, and heartfelt. If this record is any indication, Beach Slang is going to be a very important band in the very near future.

 

5. Chvrches: Every Open Eye
What a great new wave pop rock record. That is the best way I can describe the new record from Chvrches. It is pop music at its best. And isn't that something more bands should strive for? I certainly think so. 

 

4. Iron Maiden: The Book of Souls
In a day and age where the human attention span is seconds, Iron Maiden puts out a double LP. Not only is it a double LP, but also the average song length on the record is 6 and a half minutes! Iron Maiden always has and always will play by their own rules. The Book of Souls is no different. It grabbed my attention and didn't let go the first time I heard it. Whenever you listen to Maiden, you always learn something. What I learned...Iron Maiden is still at the top of their game almost 40 years into their career. 

 

3. Alabama Shakes: Sound & Color
My goodness this is a great record. I mean this is a really great record. 2015 was a breakout year for Alabama Shakes. From a killer Saturday Night Live set, to Lollapalooza, to jamming with Paul McCartney, Brittany Howard and company could do no wrong. This is the record that we will look back on as Alabama Shakes' coming out party. Blues rock at its best!

 

2. William Elliott Whitmore: Radium Death
What can I say about William Elliott Whitmore that I haven't already said? My three top musicians of all time are John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, and William Elliott Whitmore. His ability to write a record that is astonishingly personal, not only to him but to his audience as well, continues to amaze me. My friend Pat Creed recently described a record as though "he felt like it was written specifically for him". That is how I feel about Whitmore's music. He continues to write music that I can relate to. Music that can help me through difficult days. Music that at its heart is just really, really good. Radium Death now joins that collection of great records. 



1. The Punch Brothers: The Phosphorescent Blues 
I was telling a friend of mine that I feel like The Phosphorescent Blues has been around for years. It obviously hasn't, it came out in early 2015, but I've listened to it so much that it feels like it has always been here. For me the real test of a record is listenablility. What I mean by that is how many times can you hear it, before you get tired of it. The album has yet to stray far from my stereo, or from my iPod. It showcases a band that after 10 years together still isn't afraid to experiment. This very well may be their best album yet. For anyone looking to get into folk or bluegrass music, The Punch Brothers are the band to check out.

 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Star Wars: The Radio Dramas

Photo Credit: Me
Well, I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and it was great. If you are a fan of old school Star Wars, then you will love the new movie. But this posting isn't a review of the new movie. No. This is a posting of something I found. Something that I cannot believe I had never heard about.

I randomly Googled Star Wars, and I came across Star Wars: The Radio Drama. In the early 1980s, NPR did a radio dramatization of the entire trilogy. Here's the absolutely fascinating article how it came to be. As a radio nerd, I could not go on without finding the trilogy and buying it. As luck would have it, I found the complete box set on Amazon. It was bought moments later.

The box set arrived today, and I've begun listening to it. Let me tell you, if you are a Star Wars fan, you must find it, and listen to it. It is absolutely terrific. The sound design is beautiful. It also features the John Williams score, and terrific voice performances. Another really cool fact is there are original story-lines interwoven into the trilogy. It's an unique addition to the Star Wars saga.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Three Days Away from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

www.starwars.com 
We are three days away from the new Star Wars movie. The Force Awakens opens December 18th, 2015. So close, yet so far. The promotion for the film is everywhere. In fact if you Google: "A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away, your Google results will appear as the Star Wars opening crawl.

I allowed myself to look at Twitter reactions to individuals whom have seen the movie thus far, and so far the results have been very positive. Friday cannot come fast enough.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

35 Years Ago Today....

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December 8th is always a melancholy day for me. It's the anniversary of my musical hero's untimely death. December 8th, 1980 John Lennon was murdered while returning home from a recording session. It's still difficult for me at times to comprehend this fact that he is gone. As I am typing this posting, I'm listening to "Nobody Told Me" and "Borrowed Time", both recorded shortly before his death, and he sounds so full of life. Plus the music is phenomenal.

Earlier today I was speaking with one of my closest friends about this subject, and we both agreed that Lennon's songs recorded during the Double Fantasy sessions sound modern. Not just musically, but lyrically. Lennon was really struck something special when he was recording. Though it is a sad occasion, it does give one a reason to reflect on life, and not take a moment for granted.