As I did last month, I’m playing a little catch-up here on BDWPS and wanted to share some of my favorite albums of the past few months. With the year end lists coming, it also helps me to have some of these write-ups in the tank, so here’s an early glimpse at some of the albums that may make the cut on my year end, top 40 albums list.
Also, be on the lookout for the best album covers of the year list next week!
10 years ago, the art of the music video seemed on the verge of extinction. With MTV’s move toward more mainstream programming, the music format that propelled the careers of artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Britney Spears seemed to be a thing of the past. President Van Toeffler pronounced that, “The novelty of playing music videos has worn off,” and with that, the MTV generation died. Music videos lived on via video websites like YouTube and Vimeo, but the big budget endeavors of the 80s and 90s were far less of a common creation in a time of uncertainty in the music industry.
But in the past few years, the music video has found a rebirth. To compete with music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, YouTube has advertised its self as a free alternative and even went so far as to create their own music awards show. The result of this move has been staggering with more and more music fiends turning to YouTube for their listening experience. Some of the artistic music videos created in 2015 show what a resurgence the art form has had as of late. Here are my 10 favorite videos of the year.
This year didn’t quite live up to the high expectations I had back in January. Artists like Chance the Rapper, Frank Ocean, Jai Paul, Kanye West, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, and The Wrens didn’t make good on their promise for a new full-length album in 2015. Fortunately, others were there to pick up the slack and provide us with some great albums. Below you will find this year’s edition of what I consider the top 40 albums of the year. To read the first 20 entries (40-21), CLICK HERE. On this list you’ll find albums from varying genres and possibly a few albums that are new to you. In a time where you can look up any song on a streaming service and hear it instantaneously, I hold on tightly to a love for the album as a whole, a collection of songs that work off each other, building toward one major theme or mood. As you will see in the list below, I’m a bit obsessed with new music and the art form that is the album. I take great pride in this list and hope that you find something worth checking out by the end.
(To hear my choices for the Top 10 Songs of 2015, go check out the latest Podcast HERE)
As I stood in line waiting to get into the Destroyer show at Fine Line Music Café in downtown Minneapolis, a couple of women in front of me turned around and asked, “So who do you think Dan Bejar sounds more like: Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen?” I hesitated to respond, jumping back and forth in my mind between the luminary songwriters. It’s probably a mix of both yet neither at all. As this episode revealed, it’s hard to define Dan Bejar’s work, a strange combination of a snarky stand-up comedian, mocking everything around him, and a poet, taking the nuances of life and revealing their frailty through insightful and distinctive metaphors.
My confusion continued an hour later as Destroyer and his six-man band came out. As smoke machines began masking the band and the stage, the guys standing in front of me began laughing maniacally, feeling they were in on Bejar’s apparent joke. No self-respecting artist would use the dated stage theatrics of a 20 dollar smoke machine unless it was for satirical purposes, right? Therein lies the uncertainty of Destroyer – is his music meant to be taken seriously or is it all one big joke that only the most skeptical of listeners are in on?
With the end of 2013 just ahead, buckle in for an epic playlist. On this month’s episode you’ll be taken through nine great tracks that will help you gear up for the upcoming year end lists here at BDWPS.com. Check it out HERE or subscribe on iTunes (Keyword: BDWPS).
Grooms “I Think We’re Alone Now”
Mutual Benefit “Advanced Falconry”
Arcade Fire “Normal Person”
Destroyer “El Rito”
Girls Against Boys “Let’s Get Killed”
Future of the Left “The Real Meaning of Christmas”
Dylan and the Dead “Slow Train”
A few years ago I read Bob Dylan’s Chronicles: Volume One, and I found the chapter on Dylan’s approach to live performances to be pretty polarizing stuff. Dylan discusses the boredom and monotony that comes with performing the same songs every night. On his 1987 tour, Dylan opted to change his live shows to a more organic experience, and he’s hasn’t altered his live show methodology since. Instead of giving the fans what they what, Bob and his ever-changing band take Dylan standards and flip them on their head. Some tours have interpreted his songs within the style of blues while other times his touring band can resemble a bluegrass outfit. I’ve seen Dylan perform twice, and during both shows I had the same guessing game experience where half the time I wasn’t quite sure what song he was performing. It doesn’t help that his voice is almost unintelligible these days.