Sunday, January 4, 2015

Stefan's Top 10

Well I will be the first one to post a top 10 album list this year.  When I first started to put this list together I thought it would be pretty simply but very quickly it got complicated and I had to start making cuts.  This is my first list I have ever done where there isn't a hip-hop album involved.  I know that most people have Run the Jewels on their list and while I really like what they are doing I haven't really gotten into the album as a whole.  Atmosphere's album Southsiders would probably be my number 11 but I couldn't put it in my top 10.  First off, here are some honorable mentions. Side I have been picking out music videos I have started to notice a theme, a lot of these videos are copying the intro from True Detectives with the double exposure style.  Also, looking over my last few years of lists they always seem to start out fun but then my top few albums are generally, uh, enjoy!

Atmosphere - Southsiders

Common - Nobody's Smiling

D'Angelo - Black Messiah

David Gray - Mutineers

Elbow - The Takeoff and Landing of Everything

10.  TV on the Radio - Seeds: This album sounds a fair amount like their last few albums and that has turned some people.  I, on the other hand, like their sound and am cool with them not making huge changes.  They make good tunes.  Like most of their albums it took me a few listens to get into it but now that I am...I’m a big fan.

9.  Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music: A country album that isn’t about driving on a dirt road with a girl with a nice sugar shaker under moonlight? Finally.  Sturgill has put together a fantastic country album that reminds me of Waylon Jennings and other classic country singers.  Great stuff.  An example of some of the lyrics...

”So every day I'm smoking, my brain hazy
All I can do to keep from going crazy
But the paranoia is slowly creeping in
I keep drinking myself silly
Only way for this hillbilly
And I thank God for this here life of sin”

His lyrics aren’t only dark though...they are also a bit out there...

“There's a gateway in our mind that leads somewhere out there beyond this plane
Where reptile aliens made of light cut you open and pull out all your pain
Tell me how you make illegal something that we all make in our brain
Some say you might go crazy but then again it might make you go sane”

I don't think the voice matches the face but that is all part of the fun of it.

8.  SOHN - Tremors: Electronic style music is becoming more and more prominent and sometimes it works but so often it doesn’t.  This music works and it works really well.  SOHN is extremely talented, musically and lyrically.  This music isn’t just some repeating beat with synthesizers, this is extremely well made music with many layers and changes.  I saw him perform with Tanner a few months ago and it was a lot of fun and really impressive to see live.  Unbelievably, he is even better live.  The guy has an amazing voice.

7.  Blackbird Blackbird - Tangerine Sky: I first heard this band on KEXP.  This mellow electronic band at times sounds like Rhye and other times like Empire of the Sun.  Great relaxing music that I like to listen to when reading.  Sometimes it gets a bit trippy but that is all part of the fun of it.

6.  St.Paul and the Broken Bones - Half the City: This band makes some amazing R&B and their lead singer has pipes.  He is really entertaining to watch, he is like a charismatic preacher.  These guys make music from a bygone era.  This is great music about falling in love and broken hearts with horns, a pocket square and Southern charm.  You wouldn't believe it is a group of geeky looking white guys.  It makes you want to sing along, it makes you want to dance, it makes you enjoy music with real instruments.

5.  Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams: After going an unbelievably long time between records by Ryan Adams standards, 2 whole years, he made a change and went back to his electric guitar, this time it isn’t a loud album like Rock ‘n Roll but a more reserved version.  While being influenced by 80s rock he makes it is own and using his amazing song writing skills makes fantastic music.

4.  Jungle - Jungle: This is a fun blend of funk, hip-hop, soul and electronica.  Listening to it you wouldn’t think that Jungle is made of two white guys from London.  From beginning to end it makes you feel a lot cooler than you are and just enjoy life while you bob your head.  Also, these guys make awesome music videos.

3.  Field Report - Marigolden: The lead singer of Field Report used to play with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) in a previous band.  Upon that band’s breakup he formed Field Report.  Marigolden is their sophomore effort and I love it.  It is a bit folk music but not as stripped down and with more effects.  The lyrics are honest and often brutal with songs about death, alcoholism and anxiety.  I have listened to this album a bunch of times and it continues to grow on me.

for fun here is another one...really depressing though...

2.  Ben Howard - I Forgot Where We Were: With his latest effort Ben Howard goes more electric using lots of guitar effects with lots of delay, reverb and echo.  This is a dark album that doesn’t get depressing.  I love the emotion Ben projects in his songs and the crescendos of his songs are are the sudden changes where he will strip out numerous instruments to reveal some basic drum and guitar work.

1.  The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream: This is being pretty much universally accepted as one of the best albums of the year, and with good reason.  These songs are all awesome.  The funny thing about this band for me is that the lead singer sounds a fair amount like Tom Petty and I really dislike Tom Petty’s voice.  For some reason, in this situation it totally works for me.  While I totally get the criticism that it is Dad Rock, I don’t care.  This is my number one album of the year.

No comments: