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.
Ayn Rand, ever the purveyor of selfish smiles.
Danish philosopher Kierkegaard and American mythologist Joseph Campbell share a home next to books on Lincoln, World Wars I and II and early Southern Baptist leaders on my dad’s sprawling wooden bookcase in south Louisiana. What I respect most about his eclectic collection is not that he has amassed hundreds of books on a wide variety of thought-provoking topics. What I respect most about the contents of his bookcase is he does not shy away from works that challenge his beliefs. For instance, when I moved to Portland he loaned me his copy of Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian. My dad is an ordained Southern Baptist minister. I would venture to guess few ordained Southern Baptist ministers are comfortable enough in their beliefs in Christ to own, much less read and contemplate, such a book.
A heat wave is coming!
Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 51 titled “Things I Would Rather Do Than Go Outside” is fairly self-explanatory.
New York City is in the midst of a heat wave. AccuWeather predicts temps in the city will hit 12 degrees when the clock strikes noon. That may sound dreadful, and believe me it is, but it marks a 10-degree upswing since overnight. So yeah, NYC heat wave 2015!
Here’s a list off the top of my head of things I would rather do than go outside:
New menus equals more Cajun Tomato to love.
OK, about that broken caps lock treatment …
This weekend I created drop-down menus on this site with help from my pal, Lloyd “I Hate Seattle” Nelson. You can find them in the top right-hand corner of the home page. That means an easier, more streamlined experience for Cajun Tomato readers.
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!
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:
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.
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!
Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Today’s post No. 43 recaps my first time attending a sample sale.
Her flesh-colored bra and neon thong’s seeming indifference toward concealing her rounded, sun-baked T&A triggered the part of my lizard brain where lust and Protestant guilt intersect. And yet I wasn’t mad at the brunette stranger standing before me or myself, truth be told. We were not Adam and Eve in the garden. We were just two lost souls in a co-ed dressing room on a Friday afternoon searching for bargains at a sample sale.
Inside this box is 1440 calories of everything great about America.
Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Today’s post No. 40 focuses on a case of mistaken identity at Popeyes in Spanish Harlem.
A pregnant, prolonged craving for biscuits – buttery, artery-clogging biscuits – motivated me to ride the subway two stops north earlier this week into the heart of Harlem to find Louisiana’s Kitchen. In the process of satisfying my Nickelback palate I became known as Bill Gates’s cousin at the Spanish Harlem Popeyes.