Since I spent the entire month of January listening only to albums released in 1974 (you can hear about it HERE), I’m currently playing a game of catch-up on 2017 releases. I’m hoping to have an album to review by next week, but in the meantime, the BDWPS.com page has been stagnant for the past week and a half. To fill some space, I thought I’d share my favorite release of the year so far in the video for Father John Misty’s “Pure Comedy.” I’m sure many of you have already seen it, but if you haven’t, it’s a glory to behold. The song is also pretty great. Hopefully the site will be back to its normal routine in the next week or so.
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)
With the year coming to a close, it’s that time again to take a look back at some of the best that the music world had to offer in 2015. First up, I will run-down the most compelling album covers of 2015. Throughout the year, I kept a list of album covers that I found strange, beautiful, and provocative. This list is a compilation of my favorites from this year-long collection. Anyone who loves the album as an art form knows the importance of a powerful LP image, and the following 20 covers elevate their corresponding albums.
Yesterday was supposed to be Ryan Adam’s day to shine. After months of teasing his re-imagining of Taylor Swift’s 1989, he finally revealed his work yesterday for the world to hear. The afternoon was filled with lemming bloggers heralding Adams for his takes on Swift’s album of mundanity. Why he got patted on the back for attempting to bring authenticity to an album of manufactured, overtly polished, radio-friendly schlock is beyond me, but you have to commend him for having the foresight to cover an album by the most popular “music artist” in the world. If you want to bring in a younger demographic after a stagnantly predictable decade of music, what better way than to hop on the magical coattails of Ms. Faux-Humility.
But then, amidst Adam’s day of glory, Father John Misty came along and trolled both him and Swift with two mp3s posted to his SoundCloud page. The first clip was a cover of “Blank Space” with the note: “My reinterpretation of the classic Ryan Adams album 1989.” Ouch. As if a cover of a cover wasn’t enough of a face to Adam’s desperate grasp for a younger audience, the audio revealed that FJM opted to cover Adam’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” in the style of The Velvet Underground (welcome to the rabbit hole, my friends).
Okay, so right off the bat I should warn that this isn’t actually a video clip (as advertised above). Today I’m going to highlight a couple audio clips from Marissa Nadler’s SoundCloud page, and I didn’t know what category to put this under. I could have created a new category called “Audio Clip of the Week” but that has the potential of never being used again.
The other day while I was perusing Twitter (you can follow us: @BDWPS), when I stumbled upon a post by Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drops fame. I follow Fantano because he has his finger on the pulse of new music, sometimes alerting me to artists I may not have heard of. Personally, I find his YouTube video album reviews to be a little too much about promoting himself and not enough about promoting great music, but I digress.
His ear for music can not be discredited, as seen in a short post he put up this week with a link to Marissa Nadler’s Soundcloud page, saying that she’d covered Black Sabbath’s “Solitude.” As a longtime supporter of Nadler and her unique brand of doom folk, I had to give it a listen. I’m not always a fan of covers because in most cases, artists just do their best impression of the original. This is what makes Nadler’s clip so amazing. Instead of trying to do some acoustic take on Sabbath, Nadler makes it completely her own and the result sounds almost nothing like the original. While the original version is calm and regal, Nadler’s version is a haunting dirge.
As I perused her Soundcloud page, I discovered that she’s been posting gems for the past year, including a fantastic cover of Elliot Smith’s “Pitseleh,” an ironic take on Father John Misty’s “Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings,” and an epic vocal arrangement of the Game of Thrones theme song. There’s also tons more goodness to be had, including covers of Radiohead, Daniel Johnston, and Townes Van Zandt. Check it all out here: https://soundcloud.com/marissanadler
We are almost halfway through the year, and there have already been some great releases in 2015. With a stockpile of potentially great albums coming down the pipeline soon (Chance the Rapper, High On Fire, Beach House, Deafheaven, Frank Ocean, Jai Paul, Kanye West, Joanna Newsome, Majical Cloudz, Ghostface Killah, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, and allegedly, The Wrens) I’d like to take a breather and appreciate some of my favorite albums from the year so far. To try to keep some semblance of control, I’ve limited my list to 20 albums released prior to June 1st. Last week I posted the first half of the list (you can check it out HERE), and this week we will be looking at the top 10 albums.
Father John Misty
I Love You, Honeybear
On the latest BDWPS Podcast (check it out here), I took a look back at the music that defined the year 1972. One of the most popular genres at the time was the singer/songwriter movement. While Bob Dylan certainly “brought back” the folk movement in the early 60s, artists like Carole King, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Don McLean, Harry Chapin, and Jim Croce took this personal approach to songwriting and made it more palatable to the masses. Their songs were simple odes to the power of love and appreciation for the simpler things. These artists may have dominated the mainstream, but during that same time, a different vein of songwriters were releasing a strange mix of melodies and storytelling that didn’t fit within the cookie cutter constraints of the radio friendly folkies. Guys like Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen, and Harry Nilsson were creating innovative songs that strayed outside the norm. Sure, they still all had a knack for melody, but their lyrics were filled with cynicism, humor, and despair.
Father John Misty (real name J. Tillman) is a welcomed throw-back to this unconventional approach to songwriting. There are certainly a large of amount of singer/songwriters out there today creating songs that are weird and avant-garde, but the difference with Father John Misty is his voice. It’s soft and smooth like velvet. It’s rich and strong like mahogany. It’s magical and hypnotic like the northern lights. At times his voice reminds me of Nilsson, at other times it conjures up memories of Jeff Buckley. I shouldn’t be so shocked that a professional musician has such a phenomenal voice, but guys who sing about running down the road naked on hallucinogenic drugs aren’t supposed to sound this good.