12/29/15

Best of 2015 - Favorite Album . . .


I love, love, love me some music. As stated time and time again. This year was, all due respect to those who believe that music is dying, a very good year for music in my never humble opinion. Sure, sure, there were a few HUGE albums that sorta dominated allllll the attention but there was tons of lower-key stuff that was worth checking out from artists new/old and for me to narrow this down to ten (the list was about fifty at one point) was truly difficult. Alas - here we are. My favorite albums of the year.

Please note that I have links to all of the albums (other than "25") between the quotes and you can go to the artist's websites by clicking on their names. Please to enjoy.

10) "I Love You, Honeybear" by Father John Misty - This one is probably the most "hipster" of my selections but I stand by it. I don't know anything about John Misty (or why we're calling him "father" these days) but this music is just, plain lovely. I listened to it while unwinding after a run, while trying to get focused at work, or while trying to embrace my inner hipster.

9) "Black Messiah" by D'Angelo (and the Vanguard) - This one is sorta cheating (the album was unceremoniously dropped on us in December 2014) but I didn't listen to it nearly enough in the last sixteen days of last year (moreover I listened to it a LOT more in 2015). I love D'Angelo. He's all that is right about R&B/neo-soul in this century (as he was last century) and he can drop more music on me any time he wants. Use this one for baby making (or celebrating that you can't (as we do)).

8) "Elaenia" by Floating Points - You (like I typically do) roll your eyes at Electronic/Dance/EDM as though it is automatically a bad thing. And it almost always is (unless you're rolling on e and have a glow in the dark pacifier on hand) but this album is, I'm going to argue, different. It is a little more subtle and gets in your head like only Olafur Arnalds typically does (who also released some great music this year in his Chopin Project collaboration) but it has a slightly more assertive tone. Great to run, blog, ponder, and social media with/to.

7) "Professional Rapper" by Lil Dicky - If you only know and love ONE Jewish rapper in this century - let it be David Burd. This rapper (who is honestly talented but has a sense of humor about himself and his verses that makes him even more enjoyable) used his bar mitzvah money to jumpstart his career and has been growing fans and momentum since released Professional Rapper with several guest spots and lots of fun, enjoyable rap. It won't change your life but it will make you happy. Best listened to while driving around without your child and while just hanging out.

6) "The Phosphorescent Blues" by Punch Brothers - I loved all over this album/art piece/statement in February. I'm still loving on it now, ten months later. You should join me. You will find it wonderful while chatting with friends, on hold with the cable company, working, and running errands.

5) "25" by Adele - This woman has sold over seven MILLION copies of this album in about five weeks. For context the second largest-selling album of the year was Taylor Swift's "1989" which took nearly eight months to sell five million copies (and she also stayed of streaming platforms for months to ensure sales). This album is worth every drop of praise and accolades and honors it is buried with in the coming months. It is splendid and nearly (while not as good as "21" (sorry, not sorry)) perfect. Play it while doing anything and everything. You won't find a misuse of the collection.

4) "1989" by Ryan Adams - Forget how absurd the notion of music publications reviewing Swift's original album for the sole purpose of then reviewing the cover albums. Forget that people tried to dismiss it as sexist. Forget that people thought it was mean-spirited or dismissive of Swift and her music and life experience. I listen to this album and hear love and respect and an attempt to honor the source material while making them "his" (despite age, gender, musical perspective, etc. differences). You can use this album for just about anything, too. I choose to enjoy it while hanging out.

3) "22 Strings" by Seckou Keita - The guy (and album) that made me fall in love with the kora had to make my top three (and all three of these albums got difficult) but I don't know that this album is for everyone. Colleagues, typically annoyed when I have "Hip Hop Fridays" seemed equally frustrated by this music and I know a few people who have looked me in the eye and expressed strong dislike. Ignore them. Listen to this album and love it. You can play this while working around the house and driving around town. You can also find joy in it while reading or chatting or, you know, wedding planning (as one does).

2) "Waterfall" by My Morning Jacket - I first learned of My Morning Jacket in 2005 when a profile in GQ (or some other "men's" magazine I used to read) told me of this amazing band that was well established but still sorta in the fringe. I'm really glad I read that horrible rag (and its advice on how to properly age denim). Each of the group's albums (and a solo project from lead singer Jim James) has made me happier and happier and "Waterfall" (which I've also talked about often since its release in early-May) is the happiest. You should listen to this album any time you just want to relax or if you're looking to accomplish something low priority and moderate maintenance.

1) "So Familiar" by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell - Yeah. That's right. My FAVORITE album of 2015 was a collaboration between a woman we loved in the 80s and a guy that's made us laugh since the 70s. And that is what makes this album wonderful. It is light and fluffy and happy and as charming as its co-conspirators. At just 33 minutes in length you owe it to yourself to give this album a spin next time you're cooking dinner, waiting on a friend, or making happiness.