Tuesday, January 5, 2016

favorite albums of 2015.

i was finishing up a post the other day & realizing that the sole content of this blog for the last wayyyy too many months has basically been just a photo diary of our lives. which is fine, i mean, i love photos of norah as much (if not more--no, definitely more) than the next person, but let's do something different for a second.

i love lists, i love roundups, & i love questions that make me reflect on my life, experiences, or opinions. at the end of 2015 (you know, like a week ago!) i was trying to mentally gather all of my favorite pop culture experiences i had had that year--favorite books, favorite movies, songs, tv shows, albums, & the list goes on. i started feeling stressed that i wouldn't be able to remember all of them once i had definitely decided on what they were, so i says to myself, i says, how about i just write them down here?

so here, in no particular order, are my favorite albums of the year:

carrie & lowell, sufjan stevens.

if you've listened to any of this album at all, you'll know why this one made it to the list. i said these wouldn't be in any particular order, but i was kidding, because this one is: this was my FAVORITE album of the year. the #1. my shining star. it just doesn't get more beautiful, more heartbreaking, more true than the lyrics sung in sufjan's quiet, heartbreaking whisper. someone the other day said he found this album "too boring to fall asleep to" & i almost challenged him to a duel right then & there (does that mean i've been listening to too much hamilton? more on THAT album in a second).

to pimp a butterfly, kendrick lamar.

where to start? "king kunta"! "the blacker the berry"! "momma"! "ALRIGHT"! kendrick lamar was THE lightning rod musician this year. his lyrics become anthems & address issues no u.s. citizen can ignore--not even this u.s. citizen. i mean, can the president of the united states be wrong?? (don't answer that.) plus it's just great music. i love kendrick's (may i call him kendrick??) voice, & there's a certain way he pronounces words that i just find so awesome. i don't even really know how to explain it...like an interesting raspiness yet warmth. we gon' be alright! (maybe just don't listen to it while your mom's around ;).

divers, joanna newsom.

i've loved joanna newsom since, jeez, the milk-eyed mender, but she's an acquired taste. i get that. & yet, with each successive album she releases, i declare to myself "this is her most beautiful & perfect album & there's no way she can ever top this" but then she goes & TOPS IT. truly, i didn't think there was any way to successively follow-up "have one on me" (is it too dramatic to say that some of the songs on that album leave me breathless, they're so awesome & lyrically complex?) but divers does things to my soul that few other albums can do. one of the final things that made me fall for a certain ocean-eyed physicist, mr. benjamin a. frandsen, was that i introduced him to joanna's music & he loved it. i finally checked an item off my bucket list a few weeks ago & the two of us saw joanna perform at the apollo, & it was everything i hoped it would be. i'd sit still & listen, transfixed, through multiple songs before i'd snap out of it. okay, now there's no question--this is DEFINITELY getting too dramatic.

(p.s. not that the men in women's lives define the woman's importance, at all, but joanna newsom is married to andy samberg! yes--him. so you know she's gotta be awesome & hilarious. [& we totally saw snippets of that at her show]. i can't decide which one i like better--that indie folk harpist lyricist joanna newsom is married to snl & brooklyn 99 star & general goofball andy samberg, or that andy samberg, who does stuff like this on brooklyn 99,  is married to the woman who penned the lyrics "so it would seem to be true;/when cruel birth debases, we forget./when cruel death debases,/we believe it erases all the rest/that precedes." i mean....right???)


it's a cultural phenomenon, it's the musical of our generation, i had verbal confirmation tonight that it's sold out for essentially the next year, at least (my friend tried to buy tickets at the box office for october & the only seats left were partial viewing only!), & the most ingenious idea for a musical, maybe ever?? jump on the hamilton train, i repeat, jump on the hamilton train! do it now!

girls in peacetime want to dance, belle & sebastian.

i'll always have a soft spot for b&s. i listened to a lot of their music in college, perhaps surprising no one. girls in peacetime wasn't their highest reviewed album, maybe, but i really like it. i like that the album's got all this cool, synth-y electronic stuff going on while still being soft & delicate; it's both dance-y, &, well, belle & sebastian-y.

currents, tame impala.

while tame impala's been around for a few years now, i only discovered them within the past two years or so. but MAN they're good. i'll only truly commit to loving a band if i can listen to & enjoy an album of theirs in its entirety, in one proverbial sitting, so to speak, & tame impala gets the job done again & again. it's almost hard for me to choose one song to share from this album because i so much love it as a complete entity (as far as albums can be considered entities), but the first time i gave it a listen-through, this song did indeed stand out. so here ya go.

depression cherry, beach house

how does beach house (or should i say, victoria legrand & alex scally? don't worry, i had to look their names up/don't just have the names of the members of beach house there off the top of my head, ha) manage to make music lush & unassuming at the same time? it's like this album puts you in a trance, a good trance, with their relentless reverb ("relentless reverb" new band name, i call it!) not only that, but it makes me always want to snap up their next album as soon as it comes out? pitchfork wrote about beach house, & this album in particular, much better than i'm trying to here.

**honorable mentions go to deerhunter's 2015 album fading frontier, father john misty's i love you, honeybear, laura marling's short movie, &, surprising even to me, ryan adam's 1989--if anything just because i think it's a really cool idea to cover an entire album, not just one song from the album. it seems to me (in my young, inexperienced ways) that very often artists are exploring a certain theme or concept over the course of an entire ALBUM, & covering one song from it is almost akin to opening a novel & only reading the one page you open to. maybe it's like that a little bit? ryan adams treated what's-her-name's album as a cohesive thought & didn't just bite off a chunk--he took the whole thing! i thought it was a really interesting move & one that's worth thinking about more. all of which begs the question...are album covers the new covers?

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