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!
Kendrick Lamar’s message in “The Blacker The Berry” continues to speak volumes as Baltimore reacts to Freddie Gray’s death.
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.
Christopher Owens of Girls
Two weeks from today, I will be in Indio, Calif., for the mega-festival known as Coachella.
Coachella’s organizers have not released the schedule for the weekend yet. It’s driving me nuts. I want to fret over the tough decisions I am sure await.
The bands I listed here are bands I would see if everything were equal. Scratch that last sentence. Nothing is equal at a major festival. I’ll be lucky to see three of these bands.
Of the nine bands/performers I listed the only two I have seen live are up and coming Cali rapper Kendrick Lamar and indie darlings Girls.
I need to see WU LYF. I don’t understand why. It’s like a compulsion. I need gibberish rock’n’roll. I just do. Oh, and I need to see the Black Keys and get wound up and jump up and down like a kangaroo.
Click the link to play tunes!
Charles Bradley makes the list.
Goodbye, late-arriving summer. Hello, rainy and gray Pacific Northwest fall.
Yes, 2011 is nearly three-quarters in the books. That means I need to buy a suitable jacket, and also begin considering what my favorite songs and albums of 2011 are.
I’ll take a stab at songs first since 2011 has a bountiful crop. Below are 12 songs released this year that I love and could see naming my favorite song of 2011. That does not mean these songs will necessarily populate my top 12 spots at the end of the year though.
NOTE: I decided to list them in alphabetical order according to song title. Ranking them at this point would be an exercise in futility, since I know my mind will change between now and year’s end. Besides I ranked my favorite songs at this year’s midpoint.
Hello Space Needle!
Lost amid all the hubbub of MusicFest Northwest I failed to write about the great day of music I experienced at Bumbershoot on Labor Day. It’s been more than a week since I attended the Seattle arts and music festival, but I figured I’d recap it anyway.
Bumbershoot is a weird creature. The headliners this year were Ray LaMontagne, Wiz Khalifa, and Hall and Oates. No disrespect to those three artists or their fans but they should not headline a mid-to-major music festival in 2011.
Once I looked past Hall and Oates on Monday’s lineup I saw a schedule featuring an intriguing blend of hip-hop, soul, and rock, and established and rising stars. For the most part, the acts I saw delivered on their promise.
Below is a rundown of the shows I experienced on Labor Day at Bumbershoot in Seattle.
Bumbershoot starts Saturday
The concept of writing about Seattle music festival Bumbershoot would not have crossed my mind two weeks ago. I had decided there was no way I wanted to pay for a festival whose headliners included Hall and Oates, Wiz Khalifa, and Ray LaMontagne. C’mon Bumbershoot!
But then a friend offered me discounted tickets and I discovered, upon further inspection, the lineup is not half bad. At least for Sunday and Monday, that is.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the five Bumbershoot acts I am most looking forward to seeing. Some I have seen, while others I have not.