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.
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!
Rare is the song that gives me goosebumps twice. “You Ain’t Alone” off Alabama Shakes’ debut album, Boys and Girls, does this in the space of a few seconds. And for this reason, it is hard to imagine this showcase for Brittany Howard’s naked, soulful vocals not appearing near the top of my favorite songs list at year’s end.
As I type this, Alabama Shakes’ single “Hold On” is playing at the Starbucks where I sit. The hype machine is in full effect. And yet I am OK with this. Alabama Shakes’ brand of southern rock circa 2012 feels deserving of acclaim, especially when compared with someone like Lana Del Rey.
Authenticity is key, yes. So is the power of Howard’s voice and the clarity of her message. I read an Atlantic article earlier this week about our society’s prevailing loneliness. To hear her sing is to be invited, to be reassured in the face of uncertain times.
Macklemore at Roseland Theater
Last week I wrote about how Pitchfork Music Festival’s late lineup additions convinced me to attend. Well, that was before Lollapalooza announced its lineup Tuesday night.
In an ideal world, I would have enough money in my bank account for both festivals. This is not an ideal world. So I have to choose to go to Pitchfork for the fourth time or Lollapalooza for the first time.
Neither festival has particularly strong headliners in my opinion. It’s hard to compare them head-to-head because the pay they offer is not comparable. The decision ultimately comes down to other acts on the bill and price (which Pitchfork has the edge on).
What sets Lollapalooza apart is its depth. I could have easily made a Top 30 list of bands/musical acts I wanted to see. But, given that I am writing on my lunch break, I will stick to a Top 10.
Here are the 10 bands I want to see at Lollapalooza 2012:
Japandroids @ One Eyed Jacks in NOLA.
The first great album of 2012 is …. ???
Honestly, this year’s musical releases feel comparable to Portland’s weather. I keep hoping for a great album, just like I keep waiting for warmer weather, and neither has arrived yet.
Matt Wastradowski and yours truly recently spoke about the lack of a great album thus far in 2012 and the albums that could fill that void as the year progresses.
The great Kendrick Lamar
The Mayan Year of Apocalypse is seven weeks in, and has yet to produce its first GREAT album. No worries. There are still 300 days until the world goes kablooey.
What is a GREAT album? The kind of album that makes me shun all other albums for a week straight or more.
Absent a GREAT album to obsess over, I have listened to several new and new-ish songs on repeat to pass the time in these dreary Portland winter months.
I encourage you to check out the songs below, as they hold something different for everyone.