Category Archives: Music

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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Macklemore

Four Thoughts On Macklemore’s “White Privilege II”

Grammy thief and alleged rapper Macklemore’s “White Privilege II” released today is perhaps the most Macklemore thing since, well, the last thing he did that made me roll my eyes. Once upon a time, when I lived in Portland and before the Heist became the de rigeur hip-hop album for people who don’t like the genre – I used to like him. I know, I should be forced to tell everyone I meet this – like some kind of good taste offender.

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Beach Slang

Beach Slang – “Noisy Heaven”

“The night is alive, it’s loud and I’m drunk.”

As opening lines go, James Alex’s intro on “Noisy Heaven” is sublime – a blurry-eyed, present tense reverie whose veins run with 80 proof punk rock. The surging guitars that follow Alex’s opening salvo serve as tribute to the night’s total victory, any and all imperfections be damned. The sonic sum is like stage-diving into the waiting arms of the best night ever.

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Florence Welch

Voodoo Fest 2015 Picks

Maybe it says something about New Orleans’ Voodoo Fest that I forgot the three-day event centered around Halloween was this weekend until a friend asked me who she should see on Friday. Maybe it also says something about me that I have no idea what day of the week it is most of the time.

Voodoo Fest aka Voodoo Music + Arts Experience traditionally features a handful of acts I want to see and a barrel full of acts I don’t for the $235 three-day admission price. This year’s lineup leans a little more toward my preferences in hip hop and rock music. No lie, I am kinda sad I am a pauper and unable to fly down on a whim for Voodoo. (Also: I am kinda sad I am a pauper, period.)

Below are my Voodoo Fest 2015 picks for those lucky enough to score passes.

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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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My Monolingual Love of Christine and The Queens’ “Saint Claude”

The music of Christine and the Queens, nee Heloise Letissier, excites me despite the fact I have no idea what she is singing.

The music of Christine and the Queens, nee Heloise Letissier, excites me despite the fact I have no idea what she is singing.

Somewhere along my journey from the bayou to the Big Apple I failed Madames Naquin, Orillion and Benoit. The conversational French I learned under their tutelage over six years in middle school, high school and college gradually washed away like my native south Louisiana’s wetlands, leaving me a stereotypical monolingual American. In my limited encounters with French-speaking tourists in New York City I’ve tried to resurrect the faint heartbeat of my ancestral language, often to their puzzlement, amusement or both. Same goes for when girlfriends, noting my Cajun heritage, request I speak the language of amour, a request more seductive in theory than practice. After all, it’s hard to seduce someone when your language mastery sounds like Quasimodo looks. Il est pas beau, as the French say.

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Cloud Nothings’ NYU Show Presents Delicious Rock’N’Roll Irony

Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings performs Friday at NYU's Strawberry Festival.

Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings performs Friday at NYU’s Strawberry Festival.

On Friday afternoon under a tent erected across the street from a ginormous strawberry shortcake Cleveland dystopian rock trio Cloud Nothings inspired one of the most delicious ironies I’ve witnessed in New York City. The small band of NYU students gathered in front of the impromptu stage – god bless ‘em and their overpriced educations – shouted along with Dylan Baldi lines like “I thought I would be more than this” and “No future, no past” with the gusto of true believers during the band’s Strawberry Festival headlining gig. I mean, if they identify this strong with Baldi’s words at 20 or 21, good luck when they find themselves struggling to stay afloat in the job market, while tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

But for one afternoon everything was cakey, noisey and sublime.

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