03 January 2016

Music of 2015


Kamasi Washington, The Epic
Quite ambitious at a length of three hours with a full band of twelve players. It can be a somewhat dense listen given the average song length – seven to twelve minutes being the norm – but it possesses a corresponding sum of energy and invention. Energy and invention is pretty much the MO for jazz but here’s it’s especially engaging.

Tamaryn, Cranekiss
It’s something like a kiss. Definitely the warmest album of the year – and the one that I listened to most often in 2015. Swooning and sighing with an androgynous joy that I all too rarely get to hear especially when delivered so lushly and so directly. Just an astounding evolution in Tamaryn’s sound.

Wax Idols, American Tragic
A good complement to the Tamaryn record. Similar textures but here with a much darker hue. Both albums are equally glossy which really just makes them insinuate their sounds into your mind more easily. The singing here is even better – more confidence, loads of swagger, it’s even more of the band that we love. A dark, vibrant sequence of songs always pushing you forward. A lot like the Grimes album, this one also deals in themes of not letting others hold one back. It’s really neat how a few albums I loved this year are similar in theme. You just can’t stop these people.

THEEsatisfaction, EarthEE
Hitting celestial heights that I hadn’t experienced since Grimes. Celestial heights in the manner of Babylon 5 rather than Star Wars, let me say. What I enjoyed most about the album was its perfect nocturnal quality. Driving everywhere – a la Night Drive by Chromatics – with this as soundtrack is even better as it provides so much food for thought. A very political work in that way which I appreciated. It’s a very mysterious but immensely inviting album. The singing really sells that quality there. If you have the exciting mission of counting all the stars, this is the music you want to hear. And they’re also really great live.

Grimes, Art Angels
A bright, weird, and joyous celebration of not letting others hold you back. It’s almost like New Year’s again with each listening. It’s the opposite of Visions in many ways but it has that album’s same strengths just with less darkness. All the black and green and purple on Visions is replaced with tons of yellow, white, pink, and blue. It’s the first day of summer to the late autumn midnight of Visions. Like Tamaryn and Wax Idols, it’s a very interesting evolution and as with those two just as exciting to hear.

La Luz, Weirdo Shrine
Absolutely haunting. Much like an empty beach in the early morning. I love how the guitars and vocals each have their own layer of reverb which really pushes that haunting quality. The guitar playing is also the most assured and fluid that I heard all year. It’s really amazing. The sense of space in how the record was mixed was also something else.

Screaming Females, Rose Mountain
One of the most affirming records that I heard all year. If Marissa Paternoster were a doctor or a chef, I’d be amongst the healthiest, happiest people alive. I wish more indie rock could work at this level.

Dilly Dally, Sore
Loud, strong, hoarse, and blunt like a hammer. I loved every moment of it. Lead song Desire tells you everything you want to know then leaves you begging for more. I really love the style of this album. I’d utterly love it if they toured with Screaming Females.

Shannon and the Clams, Gone Before The Dawn
I’ve loved their other albums, but the lyrical focus on this one as it tied each song together really made it stand out from the previous albums. I love a good break-up album and this one doesn’t disappoint at all. It’s not bitter as much as it’s tired and disappointed which is rather true to life which I think anyone can appreciate. Their style is more soulful than dour which also helped.

Beach House, Thank Your Lucky Stars
I know, I know: who needs another Beach House album? Or even two the same year. But I really liked this one more than Depression Cherry. Edgier guitar, more focused writer, and better structure overall.
 

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