Category Archives: Favorites Lists

Sufjan Stevens

Favorite Albums 2015

A late winter bus ride through the rolling, tree-lined hills of Appalachia not only introduced me to my two favorite albums in 2015 but confronted me with thoughts of pain and healing, injustice and equality while seated next to a stranger for hours on end. One album brought tears as I pondered the mortality of everyone I loved and my complicated feelings about the West Coast. The other brought anger – and a sense of awe – as it tackled racial inequality from a place of undefeated strength and joy.

2015 featured the aforementioned albums from Sufjan Stevens and Kendrick Lamar plus so many more I loved. Here are my Favorite Albums 2015 listed in descending order.

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Kendrick Lamar

2015 Favorite Song Nominees

It’s mid-October, cold weather is a-comin’ and I am unprepared mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. Surprise, surprise. As a means of blocking out the coming winter and ignoring other pressing matters, today I’ve decided to write about 15 songs – my 2015 Favorite Song Nominees, for lack of a better phrase – that will certainly factor prominently on my year-end list.

Songs are listed in alphabetical order according to title. With one notable exception I elected to limit myself to one song per artist Below,. I’ve included my Faves 2015 Spotify playlist, featuring these 15 songs and many, many others. Enjoy!

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Favorite Albums 2015 Halftime Edition

On Carrie and Lowell, Sufjan's search for meaning in the wake of his estranged mom's death is arguably his finest work in a superlative career.

On Carrie and Lowell, Sufjan’s search for meaning in the wake of his estranged mom’s death is arguably his finest work in a superlative career.

Today marks the third and final installment of Listicles Week – my Favorite Albums 2015 Halftime Edition. Be sure to check out my Favorite Concerts and Favorite Songs lists too.

2015 will be remembered in music critic circles as the Twenty-Teens best year, I predict. Yeah, only half the year is in the books but what a half-year. Sufjan Stevens and Kendrick Lamar dropped classics, Sleater-Kinney and Bjork returned with a vengeance and Alabama Shakes, Florence + The Machine and Drake cemented their commercial standing with critically adored records. Plus Courtney Barnett and Leon Bridges performed like seasoned vets not album rooks.

And the year’s second half looks filthy. The promise of scheduled releases from personal faves Disclosure, Frank Ocean, Jason Isbell, Miguel, Tame Impala and Titus Andronicus (to name a few) in the next few months are making my ears salivate – yes, that’s a thing.

That’s one way of saying I might have to rip up my Favorite Albums 2015 Halftime Edition list in short order. For the time being these are my favorite albums released thus far.

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Favorite Songs 2015 Halftime Edition

Where does Kendrick Lamar rank on the list? Photo Credit: Henning Heide

Where does Kendrick Lamar rank on the list? Photo Credit: Henning Heide

Today is Part Two of Listicles Week featuring my Favorite Songs 2015 Halftime Edition. Tomorrow I will name my favorite albums of 2015 (so far).

Below are my 40 favorite songs of 2015 (so far). At the bottom you’ll find a Spotify playlist featuring most of the songs. Also, be sure to check out my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition too. Enjoy!

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Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition

His skills with the mic, both singing into it and upheaving it, earned soul goodwill ambassador Charles Bradley a spot on my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition. Photo: CajunTomato

His skills with the mic, both singing into it and upheaving it, earned soul goodwill ambassador Charles Bradley a spot on my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition. Photo: CajunTomato

Listicles Week starts today with my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition – a list comprised solely of NYC shows I’ve attended for free (the only kind of shows I’ve seen this year). I will drop my Favorite Songs and Albums of 2015 later this week.

In the meantime here are my 10 favorite concert performances of the year listed in alphabetical order according to the artist’s first name. Click the performer’s name to read my original review. Enjoy!

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Favorite Songs of 2015 (1st Quarter)

Kendrick Lamar's new album dropping March 23 is one of many reasons for excitement for music fans in 2015.

Kendrick Lamar’s new album dropping March 23 is one of many reasons for excitement for music fans in 2015.

New York City’s first taste of spring arrives today in the form of 60-degree temperatures. Until yesterday snow piled on the edge of the city’s sidewalks. 2015 is still in its infancy but it is shaping up as a monster music year. Below are my favorite tracks so far from major artists like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Alabama Shakes to personal faves like And And And, Aero Flynn and Phony Ppl. Read through my Favorite Songs of 2015 (1st Quarter edition) list and listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist below.

Enjoy!

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Cajun Tomato’s Favorite Songs 2014 Edition

Angel Olsen, 2014's unlikeliest self-help guru.

Angel Olsen, 2014’s unlikeliest self-help guru.

Mike Brown. Eric Garner. The Senate torture report. Ebola.

The world is going up in flames, as Charles Bradley presciently sang in 2011.

The songs below represent the sounds and words that captivated me in 2014, a year filled with strife, injustice, and fear in America. Not to mention the year I turned 30, a year of internal strife and restlessness spent charting and reconciling my life’s course, and a year in which I chopped the term guilty pleasure, as it pertained to music, from my vocabulary.

Welcome to Cajun Tomato’s Favorite Songs 2014 Edition! All songs were released in 2014 in some degree either on an album, single, music video, or figment of my imagination. At the bottom of the list you can listen to my Favorite Songs 2014 Spotify playlist. Songs not featured on Spotify include a link to SoundCloud. Enjoy!

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Cajun Tomato’s Favorite Concerts 2014 Edition

Wayne Coyne doin' Wayne Coyne stuff at Hudson Valley Project. Photo: Cajun Tomato

Wayne Coyne doin’ Wayne Coyne stuff at Hudson Valley Project. Photo: Cajun Tomato

My 2014 concert-going adventures matched my age, or came damn close. I witnessed around 30 live performances this year, a number that suggests maybe I am slowing down as my vintage increases or slowing down as my New York City rent obligations grow.

The news isn’t all bad though. 2014 provided me the opportunity to check off several artists from my bucket list and witness many others who I had loved in previous years. It even provided me a chance to see Jennifer Lopez lip-sync for 90 minutes in the Bronx, and live to tell the tale (which I haven’t).

You will notice this list skews heavily toward festival performances. That is because I am poor – to maintain an active concert-going existence in NYC means buying tickets bloated with Ticketmaster and Live Nation fees four or five months in advance – and the club shows featuring up-and-coming acts I witnessed were mostly misses, with one key exception.

Here is my favorite concerts 2014 edition list:

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Cajun Tomato’s Favorite Albums 2014 Edition

Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio performs during Governor's Ball 2014 in NYC. Photo: Cajun Tomato

Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio performs during Governor’s Ball 2014 in NYC. Photo: Cajun Tomato

I reached a point in 2014 when the album, as a musical document, stopped mattering to me as much as it had in the past. If I had to venture a guess when this happened I would bet it was a subconscious result of me having to cut music from my 16 GB iPhone 4s for the hundredth time to make room for new tracks.

2014 offered little in the line of defenses of the album’s necessity as an art form. In particular, the consensus albums of the year – Sun Kil Moon, the War on Drugs, St. Vincent – failed to jolt or excite me.

The albums below featured four or five songs I latched onto and loved. That is not the standard definition of an album of the year candidate, especially when that means ignoring half of a band’s new songs. Alas, my standard way of assessing what constitutes a good album, much less a favorite album of mine, is ever-changing, and does not resemble what it did, say, in 2007 or 2013, for that matter.

Without further delay say hello to my favorite albums of 2014. Also, look for my Songs of the Year and Concerts of the Year early next week.

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Favorite Songs of 2014 (Halftime Edition)

Hamilton Leithauser performs during The Walkmen's set at One Eyed Jacks on Sept. 30, 2009. Photo credit: Cajun Tomato.

Hamilton Leithauser performs during The Walkmen’s set at One Eyed Jacks on Sept. 30, 2009. Photo credit: Cajun Tomato.

It’s the first day of August, and 2014 is either moving like molasses or like a rapid. I am having trouble deciding. I just awoke from my World Cup coma, and found myself disturbingly close to 30 – the year when my red hairs on my chin are contractually obligated to turn white. Alas, 2014 has yet to produce many visible white hairs. It also hasn’t produced an album that hammered me over the head with its greatness.

Individual songs are a different animal. I’ve loved and fallen out of love and then loved some more so many songs this year that it only seemed right that I choose 25 for this list. This list is a snapshot of how I felt about songs during the year’s first half. I expect my top 25 (or top 50) songs will look (somewhat) different at year’s end. It’s worth noting this list features songs that were released in 2014 as singles or on albums this year. If they were released in 2013 on an album then released in 2014 as a single I included them. I also limited myself to one song per artist.

Here’s to 30 and all the jams that will come! Rock, dance, croon on! Favorite Songs of 2014 (Halftime Edition) commence!

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