Likes: Most Music
Dislikes: That band you keep recommending
Hates: Seriously, stop telling me to listen to them. I don't care if they're my taste.
With it being halfway through the year of 2015, marked by my birthday of course, I felt it necessary to recap the year’s most prominent values in media. Last week, it was race in television. This time I’m dealing with music.
The Decemberists. Vince Staples. Sleater-Kinney. Florence + The Machine. Kendrick Lamar. If you’re a fan of any of those artists, then this year is your year. From indie to hip hop to punk rock, 2015 marks a fantastic year for music. How can it not with music becoming more accessible via Spotify, Pandora and the new Apple Music as some of the biggest avenues to get your fix. It seems as though all at once there was a steady increase in the music industry’s talent pool. Last year, 2014 gave birth to “Shake It Off,” “Dark Horse,” and…ugh… “Happy” but, where 2015 is lacking in the pop department, it gains more value in others. This year artists are trying different ways to attract new listeners while simultaneously keeping current fans engaged.
Drake, for instance, stealth released an album (or mixtape based on his words) to an unsuspecting world. This move is known as “pulling a Beyonce” because the R&B star did so with her last album a year prior. Whatever the reason behind Drake’s release, there is more to be said about how insanely good the collection of songs is. But there are hints that this won’t be the only album from the Canadian born rapper for 2015. If that’s true, and if the next songs are just as good as their predecessors, then that would make for an exciting year in hip hop. Kanye himself has been hard at work on an album. What’s interesting here is he’s worked with one of the greatest musicians alive: Paul McCartney. Following up 2013’s Yeezus, Kanye’s album is sure to be another strange outing through the Chicago rapper’s mind. Each one of his studio albums is wonderfully weird with strong thematic elements from a college based trilogy to an all autotuned album to a fantastical outing.
Continuing with the fantasy elements, The Decemberists’ January album What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World was well placed. It took on meta imagery as the singer literally addresses the audience. There are songs for a perfect winter evening, songs that bounce with rhythm, and “Calvary Captain” – the best song on the album. Among others, it came at a perfect time for me as I branched out from my usual genres of music. Of Monsters and Men continued to sink their Icelandic folk claws into me following My Head Is An Animal with Beneath The Skin. Everything they make seems to produce a warming sensation I don’t really feel from other artists. The female lead singer has a floaty voice that is fitting with the tone of the songs. Florence + The Machine is another indie band that interested me with its lead singer’s vocals. Florence Welch’s performance is powerful to say the least. She has the ability to sound hollow, in a good way, all the while bellowing away. Their latest album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is a strong contender for album of the year in my eyes.
Sleater-Kinney is different from the other bands mentioned here as they play more punk/riot grrrl music (the latter is a real thing and I wrote it because I love the name). No Cities to Love marks a return from a ten year break as Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss make the stage their home. Admittedly, I started listening because I like Brownstein from her Portlandia gig. It’s refreshing to hear this versus the hip hop or indie pop I’ve been listening to. The same attribute goes for another returning artist in Giorgio Moroder’s Déjà Vu. He brings disco into the modern age with a dance/pop album that contains appearances from some of today’s pop artists. Britney Spears, Sia, and Charlie XCX are among the contributing artists lending their voices to this dancey affair. I have no idea who the album is for but I don’t care, I just want to shake my booty. Kacey Musgraves is different in terms of genre. Her sweet vocal tones are perfect for country music. The album Pageant Material is pretty much a single tone display. By that I mean Musgraves is soft spoken but honest and heartwarming. She doesn’t reach for the high speed antics of some current country music (which leans more on the pop side of things). If I knew what “real country music” was then I’m sure this would be it.
2015 might just be the best year for music in recent memory. There’s a varied array of artists that are more accepting of bending genres thusly creating something new. Musicians can easily benefit by stepping outside of the box. That’s pretty much what each one of these singers and bands are doing. While it’s possible to keep a good following, musicians are learning to adapt to this ever changing, fleeting world of music.
- At Long Last! A$AP Rocky’s new album is Dope.
- What hasn’t been said about Kendrick? I didn’t want to beat a dead horse. His album is probably the best of the year…so far.
- Hilary Duff came back and I can honestly say I enjoyed “Sparks” and the rest of the songs. You know those moments when you just want to lose yourself in today’s pop hits? Breathe In. Breathe Out helps with that.
- Carly Rae Jepsen is and will always be my Canadian crush. That’s as much Emotion you’ll get from me.
- Pearl Jam’s Ten is currently on my Spotify for reasons that make no sense. Patrick Warburton talked about the band on a Nerdist podcast a while ago and I’m just now checking them out.
- St. Vincent’s last album is still one of my favorites. The same goes for Tune Yards.
- Vince Staples’s Summer ’06 is what caused me to write this essay yet I didn’t write about it. I can’t put into words how good it is.