Archives For Music

Favorite Albums of 2016

December 21, 2016 — 1 Comment

Although I was not given a musical bone in my body, I listen to music almost all day at work.

One of my favorite things to do each year is sit down and list the best albums of the year. On Spotify I also have my favorite songs of the year, but it is a different accomplishment to make an entire album that fits together.

As Jeremy Begbie has said, the most important question for engaging culture is not “Do I like this?” (and I would add, “Do I agree with this?”), but rather, “What is going on here?” Part of the purpose of listening to a wide range of music is to learn about people and their narratives, even if you don’t agree with them.

What are they like? What do they value? What are they searching for? How do they communicate? These are all more important questions than the simple question of, “Do I like this?”

Below are the albums that I learned the most from this past year. There is a sense in which I liked each of them, but I liked them because I learned from them and engaged in the world in a different way because of their art. Each artist on this list made something unique, they made something worth talking about.

9) James Vincent McMorrow: We Move

This Irish folk singer-songwriter has a falsetto voice. In this album he mixes it with pop R&B music which I think worked perfectly. He picked up the tempo and seemed to find his vibe.

8) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: This Unruly Mess I’ve Made

Maybe I will regret putting this on my list because for the most part this album received very low reviews. So why did I like it? Many criticized it for its sophomoric lyrics and juvenile rap jokes. What others were annoyed with, I found refreshing. It felt like they were having fun on this album joking about how their cats are more famous than we will ever be. But they also stop and go deep speaking about the problem with overprescription in America and Black Lives Matters. I agree it was not as good as The Heist, but even in The Heist this duo was playful. To expect something less is trying to make them into something they are not.

7) Bon Iver: 22, A Million

There were mixed reactions to Bon Iver’s newest album which departed from his usual style. It is still clearly Justin Vernon, but he has shoved the electronic forward and I can understand how a few were put off. I myself was confused when I first heard the album and thought it was a dud. Then I realized I had listened to the album on shuffle. This work must be engaged in the order Vernon has placed it.

6) Kanye West: The Life of Pablo

Kanye is like a train wreck I can’t look away from. At first his new album was a confusing piece to me. Sometimes it felt like he wanted to go toward gospel music like the previous Kanye, and then at other times he went deep into the pits of the unengaged and filthy, attempting to fill a track. Yet, there are enough bright spots in this album to make the list and quite a few of the songs grow on you as you listen for a third or fourth time.

Listen to Saint Pablo if you are going to check out one song.

5) James Blake: The Colour in Anything

Jame Blake’s album isn’t on many “best of 2016” lists. I wonder if people forgot about this album because of its early 2016 release. His sound is spacious and the shades of gray and blue cover his voice. The mixing for this album alone deserves an award.

4) Radiohead: A Moon-Shaped Pool

When it comes to a band like Radiohead I always question whether they made the list just because of their history. But this album proves they are still capable artists who continually tap into a melancholy fear that pervades their writing from the start of their career.

3) A Tribe Called Quest: We Got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service

This is the first project of this collective in 18 years and it has lived up to the hype. They speak about current issues with both A-list current artists and throwback rappers from the past. This is one of the most creative in terms of sound that I listened to all year.

2) Chance the Rapper: Coloring Book

Chance mixes gospel and rap in this feel good album that burst onto the scene and hasn’t slowed down. He refuses to fall in line with the typical hip hop genre and therefore stands out as a leader among the pack.

1) Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor’s Guide to the Earth

What can I say about this album? I usually don’t listen to country music because the genre has been hijacked. Sturgill is returning country music to its roots. This album was written to Sturgill’s first son and it is the most masterful thing I listened to all year. The album echoes life, with the sunlight, darkness, hope, happiness, and frustration throughout.

Listen to Breakers Roar if you are going to check out one song.

Best Albums of 2015

December 11, 2015 — Leave a comment

I listen to music almost all day while I work so it is always fun to go back and look through some of my favorite albums of the year. Each year when I post this, I find myself regretting not adding an album and also repenting that I ever put one of these on here. Well hindsight is 20/20 my friends.

Without further ado, here is my list for best albums of 2015.

(P.S. I have not listened to Adele. And yes, I did not really like Kendrick’s new album, so sue me. Also all Drake’s songs sound the same, so there.)

(1) Tame Impala: Currents

 

(2) Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell

(3) Dan Deacon: Glass Riffer

(4) Leon Bridges: Coming Home

(5) Josh Garrels: Home

(6) Sandra McCracken: Psalms

(7) Chvrches: Every Eye Open

(8) Justin Bieber: Purpose

(9) Grimes: Art Angels

 (10) Beach House: Depression Cherry

(11) Jamie XX: Colour

(12) The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness

Notable mentions: Borns, Father John Misty, The Lone Bellow, Alabama Shakes.

Here are my lists for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Albums of 2014

December 11, 2014 — 4 Comments

Each year I compile my favorite albums of the year (09, 10, 11, 12, 13). It is always difficult to go back through music and try to evaluate where they stand in relation to one another. Maybe this will make you aware of a few albums you missed.

Listen on.

 

 

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

Any list worth their salt this year has this album on it, and for good reason.

Delta Spirit – Into the Wide

fast or slow, these guys hit a home run with this album. Read the lyrics, deeper than you might expect.

 

Caribou – Our Love

the whole album swims with talent and softness.

 

Damien Rice – My Favorite Faded Fantasy

I have been waiting for this for 8 years, and it did not disappoint.

Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear

best pop album of the year, and there are more songs than Chandelier.

Trip Lee – Rise

the first half is very strong, last half not as much, but still an incredible accomplishment.

 

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

real country music peeps, and he is from Kentucky.

 

First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

the voices of this sweedish duo always sound good together

Interstellar – Soundtrack

the organ gets its groove back, great studying music.

 

 

 

Notable Mentions

Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like a Bell

Tweedy – Sukierae

Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything

Future Islands – Singles

Trampled by Turtles – Wild Animals

The Apache Relay

 

 

 

 

On Spotify I have a playlist called “Best Studying Soundtrack Songs.” This playlist has helped me through many a projects, and it makes your writing feel epic.

Currently I have a little over 7 hours of play time on the playlist, so sometimes I forget about a song that is on the list. The other day I ran across a beautiful song I had forgotten about. The composer Hans Zimmer continually produces amazing songs, and he did it again for the movie 12 Years a Slave.

If you have seen 12 Years a Slave, this one drips of sorrow, regret, yet there are hints of hope. And the strings, I can’t get past the strings. If play it over your laptop speakers, you are doing it wrong.

Josh Butler | Flood

August 11, 2014 — 1 Comment

Josh Butler :: Flood from Antioch Church on Vimeo.

Yesterday we visited Imago Dei in Portland. Josh Butler led music and he sang a song I had never heard before. After doing some research I found out I had never heard it because he wrote it. I thought it was worth sharing so I have posted the only version I could find online. Obviously hearing it in person was a different experience.