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.
“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.
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!
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!
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.
Titus Andronicus, the best damn rock band in Jersey or anywhere else for the matter, announced its latest album Thursday – a 29-track, 93-minute opus titled The Most Lamentable Tragedy based on frontman Patrick Stickles’s manic depression. With the album announcement came a new song, “Dimed Out”, a three-minute blast of mania and defiance that sprints to its conclusion, never stopping for air. I cannot wait to lose my shit to “Dimed Out” when Titus Andronicus play a five-night residency at Shea Stadium in Brooklyn this July. Tickets are on-sale for $10. Yes! $10! Rock and roll gods, I tell ya!
Retro soul artist/high-waisted pants enthusiast Leon Bridges’s debut album, Coming Home, will not be carried at Starbucks when it drops June 23. The Seattle coffee chain stopped carrying CDs earlier this year. Otherwise, Bridges would make a perfect candidate for a “fresh and new” artist whose music goes down easy with your overpriced, sugar-laden coffee drink. Forget that the 25-year-old from Fort Worth, Texas, owns a top-secret teleportation device that allows him to travel between 1965 and the present without any ill effects.
On Thursday, Bridges officially released his fourth song, “River”, and all snark aside, don’t be surprised if it leaves you slack-jawed and misty-eyed when you hear it. It’s the kind of song that would sound good in a park, in a church, in a car with the windows down, pretty much anywhere you can imagine. Bridges could be this year’s Sam Smith (or yesteryear’s Sam Cooke). I know, I know. It sounds too good to be true: the idea of a black man, not a white man, stealing the sound of the black ghosts of R&B past and becoming famous for it. (Couldn’t put the snark aside for long, it seems.)
The defining pop culture statement about Baltimore’s reaction to Freddie Gray’s April 19 death in police custody – in a year that will be defined by such repeated and senseless acts of institutional racism – came almost two months before this heinous tour made “Charm City” its latest stop.
Kendrick Lamar’s single “The Blacker The Berry” presented a narrator awake to how little those in power cared about his life as a black man, and the frustration and anger inherent in such a realization. The narrator of “The Blacker The Berry” and Baltimore are marching hand in hand this week, it occurred to me as I watched and read reports of peaceful protests and riots occurring in the wake of the 25-year-old Gray’s death.
Baltimore, a once great American industrial city decimated by corporate outsourcing and the phony War On Drugs, now stands at attention, eyes open to the long festering injustice at its doorstep.
Below is an examination of Baltimore’s upheaval and unrest viewed through the prism of “The Blacker The Berry”. It’s worth noting that while Lamar’s narrator refers to himself as a hypocrite throughout the song I view this as a storytelling device the artist employs to provoke thought about the senselessness of black-on-black crime in the face of such an oppressive, corrupt and hateful society. This descriptor by no means disqualifies the narrator’s point of view.
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.
Alabama Shakes singer/guitarist Brittany Howard’s lung capacity will one day allow her to:
A) power a Mars expedition
B) summit Everest without additional oxygen
C) build a Stairway to Heaven
D) stop bullets in mid-air Matrix-style
E) breathe life into the lifeless corpse of rock’n’roll
F) all of the above