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Top 10 Music Videos of 2015

Untitled-110 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.

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Top 40 Albums of 2015 (20-1)

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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)

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Top 20 Albums of 2015 (So Far…) 10-1

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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.

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BDWPS Podcast: Episode #33

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In the latest episode of BDWPS Podcast, we check out some of the best music to come out in 2015 so far, including new music from Panda Bear, Sleater Kinney, Bjork, Elephant Micah, and Joey Bada$$. I also discuss the documentary “The Artist Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart,” and continue our journey through Robert Shelton’s Bob Dylan biography “No Direction Home.” Check it out HERE or subscribe to the podcast on Stictcher or iTunes (Search: BDWPS).

Track List:

Panda Bear “Boys Latin”
Sleater Kinney “Surface Envy”
Twerps “Back to You”
Joey Bada$$ “Paper Trail$”
Bjork “Lion Song”
The Sidekicks “Hell is Warm”
Elephant Micah “By the Canal”
Captain Beefheart “Low Yo Yo Stuff”
Bob Dylan “I Want You”

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Questioning the Scripture of Bill Hicks

Let’s face it – Bill Hicks was a genius.  Taking a cue from the all-time great George Carlin, Hicks infused his rebellious comedy routine with a heavy dose of philosophy. His views on society, government, religion, and drugs are still thought-provoking and profound 20-years later.  Recently while watching his 1992 special Relentless I had a moment of confusion.  While talking about the music industry’s penchant for performing fellatio on the Devil, Hick’s quipped, “Let me tell you something right now, you can print this in stone and don’t you ever forget it: any performer who ever sells a product on television is for now and all eternity removed from the artistic world.”

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You say Arena; I say Urina.

A few weeks ago, due to a series of mistakes by both Delta Airlines and myself, I found myself sitting in first class, sipping on a complementary vodka Red Bull, listening to The Walkmen’s “Lisbon” and stretching my lanky legs to their limit without fear of kicking or bumping a nearby passenger.  For the first time ever, I was enjoying a cross-country flight.  As I motioned the waitress for my 4th complementary drink, I thought to myself, “I’ll never be able to sit in coach again.”

Of course, I will; for the rest of my life as a matter of fact due to my lack of funds. But just like other facets in my life, the finer things have tainted my opinion of the commonplace.  Why eat a Pink Lady when you can have a Honey Crisp? Why drink a Bud Light when you can have a Dale’s Pale Ale? Why feast on a corn-fed flank steak when you can have a grain-fed t-bone? I refuse to sit in the upper deck at Spurs games after my unforgettable experiences in the lower deck, including the time I sat behind the team’s bench and witnessed David Robinson’s final game (oh, and did I mention they won their second championship that night?).  Not only do I prefer the up close and personal experience over viewing the game from 100 feet away, but the people down below seem more passionate, and dare I say, more knowledgeable of the game.

I’m the same way when it comes to live musical performances, although it’s actually much cheaper to see a band up close in an intimate venue rather than the sterile arena setting.  On average, people pay much more to sit in uncomfortable plastic seats located far, far away from performers  than they’d ever have to dish out at a local venue.

I hold this same sentiment toward outdoor music festivals. Last weekend the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival took place, and like every other year, people who know me as a lover of live music always ask me if I’m going. Back in 2004 I attended the festival, and I haven’t been back since. The experience wasn’t all bad; I did get so see artists like Cat Power, Broken Social Scene, and The Pixies, but I just can’t find enjoyment in the disconnect felt between the artist and the audience.  The bands perform miles away on a double barricaded, bouncer infested monstrosity of a stage.  Frank Black and the rest of The Pixies actually resembled pixies from my vantage point.

I'm pretty sure Kim Deal sat out and let Tinkerbell play the set.

The mixture of people milling around ACL didn’t make the experience much better – a mish-mash of hippies, yuppies, and families with babies in tow (it’s never too early to introduce your child to pot smoke and loud music!).  I have friends who find ACL to be a yearly highlight, but it’s just not my thing.  I’d rather see bands up close in venues with character, surrounded by like-minded patrons who are there for the music and not just an excuse to break out their tie-dye shirt.  If a Sam’s Club style bulk performance weekend is the reason you enjoy festivals like ACL, the South By Southwest Music Festival offers more bands (over 2000 in fact) and the majority of the performances take place in the cozy bars that line 6th Street.

You can go to this:

Or go to this:

In the smaller venue, the “arena detachment syndrome” disappears, and memories are made: Man Man giving the audiences instruments during the set, Les Savy Fav’s Tim Harrington nuzzling both me and my friend’s beards mid-set,  The Very Best inviting the entire crowd onto the stage, Death From Above 1979’s Sebastian Grainger jumping off his drum set and bull rushing the crowd with microphone in hand. This is what live performance is all about. While arena shows have their pre-planned skits, laser lights, movie screens, and choreography, the primal unpredictability of rock and roll still breathes in the smoky bars across this country.

If Lady GaGa really wants to be unpredictable she can take a cue from Tim Harrington and accost her "lil monsters" on stage.

The last real “arena” show I attended was Pearl Jam way back in 2003 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (just a hint: if you are seeing a show at a venue that is named after a corporate entity, the show will invariably stink).  Sleater Kinney opened for Pearl Jam, and they sounded great from row 83.  And that’s about all I can say: they sounded good. I wasn’t overtaken by the music, nor did I feel a connection with the ladies giving it their all on the enormous, barren stage.  There was such a wide fissure between the band and I that mid-way through the set I got up to grab some nachos and take a pee.  It’s not like I was missing much – I could always listen to their CD when I got home.

Fast forward two years: my friend PtheStudP and I were standing five feet away from the ladies of Sleater Kinney, doused in sweat and battling with the sea of lesbians that pogo-ed around us.  Sleater Kinney were tearing it up, sending the audience into a frenzy, all yearning in unison for more and more of Carrie Brownstein’s devisive guitar angst and Corin Tucker’s haunting howl that reverberated throughout the legendary SoKol Underground in Omaha, Nebraska.

After six songs, my friend informed me that he had to go to the restroom, an issue I had been dealing with myself.  Unlike my easy submission to nachos at the Pearl Jam show, I wouldn’t give in this time. We would tough it out. Two songs later, on the verge of peeing my pants, a decision had to be made. And here in lies the difference between an arena show and a small venue: at the Pearl Jam show I urinated in a urinal as the show went on; at the SoKol Underground my friend and I both pissed into beer bottles that soon after found themselves on the cement floor.  I can guarantee you’ll never see that level of commitment at an arena show.

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Top Albums of 2000 (10-1)

10.  Elliott Smith – Figure 8

Forget everything you’ve heard about this album.  Just listen to it.  For some reason, ten years after it was released some at Pitchfork still find the need to talk shit on it (check out their top albums of 2009, #46).  Didn’t they talk enough when it came out in 2000?  “Throwaway… giant, airy studio disaster… go-nowhere melody… one of the least infectious songs… includes some of his least inspired music… unbearably random sounding… a lot to plow through… another step down in terms of songwriting… you only need to hear so much Elliott Smith before you get the point.”  Why is there still a backlash (the Oscar nomination?  ‘Good Will Hunting’?  Signing to a major label?)?  I mean he died over 6 years ago!  Whether you like the hushed dreamy wistful acoustic folk of his first two albums or the full on rock moments and orchestrated grand Beatlesqe pop of XO, there is something here for you.  This album has consistently broke my heart for 10 years now.  Again, just forget everything you know about Elliott and this album and JUST LISTEN (including this from Trouser Press: “neither does any of it make the direct connection to a soul and heart.”)  I have found that nothing from Elliott connects with any other place.  Sure it could have been narrowed down from 16 songs.  But just consider it his White Album. Kid Kilowatt

For the record, I can remember Android50 buying this album while we were in college.  I can remember it so vividly partially because for like 2 months I refused to go to class unless I dropped in and listened to a tune off of Figure 8 first.  – Songs Suck

I have many favorite albums from 2000, but if I were to pick the most memorable album of 2000, it would have to be Figure 8. My best memories of that year were times spent with some of the BDWPS.com writers  in our dorm hall simply known as “The Cave”.  Before meeting them I listened to Roman Candle nonstop, lying in bed drinking Mad Dog 20/20 until I passed out, a sad, pitiful creature. My grandma died that fall and I struggled with adjusting to the big time college life, so Elliot’s heart-wrenching songs hit home.  Then of course the holy trinity was formed and I no longer needed the sad odes of Roman Candle. I was still a morose mother fucker, but I needed something bigger than one guitar and a whispering voice captured on an 8-track; I needed something larger than life. I needed Figure 8.  -Android50

Probably my favorite songwriter of all time.  What?  What about John Lennon and Paul McCartney?  For my money I’ll take Elliot over the two of them combined.  – Tyrannosaurus Banks

9.  Antony & the Johnsons – s/t

Transcendent.  – Dr. Anonymous

I-Tunes calls it “easy listening.”  Tell that to my friends who say it gives them a headache and/or make fun of his voice.  On one track, Antony sings about searching for kindness in his heart, but instead finding Hitler.  Still sound like “easy listening”?  It’s bombastic, pretentious, soulful, uplifting, precious, melodramatic, spooky, feminine, beautiful, affecting, subtle, offensive, jazzy, elaborate, masculine, atmospheric, dark, compelling, and disturbing, often in one song. – Suzy Creamcheese

8. Sleater-Kinney – All Hands on the Bad One

Let us talk about regret for a second, shall we?  I don’t have many in my life, but I can think of one thing I really regret.  I had traveled to Denver for a Gang of Four concert and got there a day early.  S-K was playing that night and I was tired, had already seen them and would see them again a week or two later when they came to my town.  Maybe my biggest regret in life, not seeing them one more time before they broke up.  Probably their most melodic, fun, exuberant and danceable album.  How they do that without a bass is beyond me.  If I were Android50 I would find this an appropriate time to bust out a Thin Lizzy comparison.  And I would be right, but S-K’s dual guitar harmonies are busier, bolder and more playful than Lizzy’s.  Like ballads?  Check out “The Swimmer”, it happens to be one of my favorites (plus it was the first S-K song this dude ever heard).  Can you tell I fucking love/miss this band?  — Pthestudp

Makes me want to eat every chic in the world out while I party on my motorcycle.  – Johnny Goodyear.

I saw Sleater Kinney in concert and all the douches in the crowd kept asking for songs from One Beat. Sleater Kinney ignored their requests and played “You’re No Rock N’ Roll Fun”, a song better than anything on One Beat. After finishing up, Carrie Brownstein aproached the microphone and said,”That song is from ‘All Hands On the Bad One’, an album none of you have ever heard of.”  I wanted to scream out, “I’ve heard it Carrie and I love it!”  Instead, I peed into a beer bottle because I didn’t want to miss a minute of their set. – Android 50

7.  Clinic – Internal Wrangler

This album makes me think that Clinic are actually a 60’s band that discovered some drug that no one else was privy to (which may explain the surgical masks they always wear in band pictures and the fact that they get all cowboyed up to rustle up some mental steers [get it?  “internal wrangler.”  Ha ha.]).  Or they somehow found a missing formula in a cave somewhere that showed how to make the usual guitars, drums, bass and organ lineup sound fresh and unique.  I don’t know how they did any of it, but every once and a while an album comes along that is really special.  Really fucken timeless and special.  – Songs Suck

Tribal drums sound off.  And then Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart drop a red pill each.  Then some obscure 60’s pop band drops by.  And we are down the rabbit hole and everywhere else in between.  Some gloriously fucked shit and the best example of how dark can be sunny, and cold, inviting.  How detached can have a big beating heart.  A heart so big it jumps out at you and dances about the room for 30 minutes before one is led to stab it with the fire poker.  Will I still be listening to this in 20 years?  Are we still listening to the Velvet Underground?  Ornette Coleman (see the cover)?  Wire?  Faust?  The Monks?  The Fall?  Well, some of us are.    — Tyrannosaurus Banks

6.  Pinetop Seven – Bringing Home the Last Great Strike

Before I heard Pinetop Seven I thought country was gay.  A rich and timeless album, Luke Ferdinand of fakejazz.com calls the music a “mix of No Depression country/folk with a small touch of something I can only think of as creepy carnival music.”  He’s totally wrong and spot on at the same time.  An indescribable album that really has to be heard and digested a few times to really “get it.”  — Willie Rambo Strider

Probably my favorite country band of the last 15 years.  Seriously, and it’s probably their best album.  So there you go.  If I ever find a real saloon, (ya know with the swinging doors) I will make them play this while I down a bottle of their finest whiskey.  It will also be the soundtrack when Pthestudp finally drags me to Joshua Tree.  Sorry U-2.  – Songs Suck

If you are playing the cowboy mercenery video game hit “Red Dead Redemption”, turn off the volume on your TV for a moment and play Bring Home the Last Great Strike as you venture through New Austin on your pixelated stallion.  You didn’t think the game could get more epic, did you? – Android50

5.  Electric Wizard – Dopethrone

It’s okay that the critics don’t get it.  They didn’t get Black Sabbath either.  Best album cover ever?  – Kid Kilowatt

Not the first time the Wizard has been featured on Bob Dylan WPS.  Read pthestudp’s review of their 2007 album, Witchcult Today, elsewhere on this site for a fuller description of the Wizard.  In that review pthestudp mentions that Dopethrone is a “full on DOOM classic [and it is] a combination of Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, the Melvins and Eyehategod.”  He is right and if BDWPS is the only site with enough balls to pronounce it, then so be it.4 Somewhere a horned and bearded Satan (is there another kind?) sits on a black throne in his castle, on the side of a hill in a dark forest, with malevolent looking hooded dudes guarding the castle and roaming the woods.  This album is what Satan pulls out before he tokes from his gigantic black bong.  Doomy, sludgey, monolithic riffs, spacey FX, this album really is the heaviest shit out there.  – Ho Chi Unser Jr.

4.  Smog – Dongs of Sevotion

You may not get a lot out of this album at first listen (except for maybe realizing his lyrics are fucken genius).  Some of the songs are minimalist dirges, and Bill Callahan refuses to follow up on catchy hooks (although “Dress Sexy at My Funeral” is one of his catchiest songs).  One gets the idea that either Smog is fucking with us or he really likes Leonard Cohen.  For those who are familiar with Callahan’s work, I describe it as the album he is obsessed with death and sex, often in the same song and one seems to follow the other.  I get scared to play it loud in my apartment with lyrics like: “I can hold a woman/ Down on a hardwood floor / This was my / My cold discovery.”  These lyrics and others, including ones that rhyme tête-à-tête with machete, and every note are going to permeate your brain until there is nothing else in there for weeks at a time.  A fucken shame this album did not show up on any of the “best of the aughts” lists, cos it is probably Bill Callahan’s finest hour.  – Songssuck

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with these songs playing in my head.  Why does this album haunt my dreams?  — Suzy Creamcheese

3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven

One time I popped into a record store, just to browse.  LYSFLATH was playing.  I left immediately.  Call me extreme, but I refuse to listen to just parts of this album, at half volume.  LYSFLATH demands more.  And the more I give to it, the more it gives back.  – Willie Rambo Strider

My dad is a pretty cool guy.  He is also what I would call a radical devout christian.  He loves him some Jesus.  But there is one problem.  He doesn’t like any Christian rock bands.  I guess it’s hard to dig Christian rock when one has already heard Led Zeppelin.  Dad cannot deny that the Almighty’s rock bands do not compare to his favorites: Neil Young, Black Sabbath, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd and Zep.  He has a bunch of friends who got all excited when Dad told them his dilemma.  They were going to show him the light and started bombarding him with Christian music.  At first he would come home all excited with a new tape or CD given to him.  But after popping it in, he would realize: “it’s crap.”  After a while, Dad conceded that Satan had the better music (although he fervently believes that one day Christ will take back the music mantle that Satan took with him to hell and then Christians will truly ‘rock’).  But Dad, don’t give up hope just yet!  Cos when this nonet’s 3 minutes into “Storm: Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven” it is so rapturous and magnificent it must come from heaven.  Usually GSYBE albums just convey hell, indignation, grief, anguish and Armageddon, but like any good Christian album LYSFLATH’s last track, “Antennas to Heaven,” chronicles Jesus’ victory over Satan.  With that realization GSYBE have added another emotion to their musical palette: joy.  Talk about goose bumps.  – Pthestudp

2.  Bohren & Der Club of Gore – Sunset Mission

Another made up genre exclusively for this list: doom noir-jazz.  Seriously, I feel like someone is standing behind me holding a knife while I listen to this.  Or maybe I am in a lounge cantina on Mos Eisley and Jabba the Hut just walked in (slithered?).  Or I could be driving down the autobahn (the band is German), chain smoking cigarettes, pondering how I am going to get away with the murder I have just committed?  No one know whilst this record spins.  If you love jazz, doom, or midnight, check it out. – Pthestudp

Bohren & Der Club of Gore bitch slapped everyone who said one had to look to the 60’s to find the last good jazz.  Even though most of the people who said that would still think that after hearing this, BDWPS.com readers will know better.  – Dr. Anonymous

1.  Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica

This really came out of nowhere.  And yet, I didn’t appreciate it at the time.  I liked it, but my 2000 self really didn’t comprehend just how good this album is; it would take a long long time.  M&A was Modest Mouse’s major label debut and they made the most of it.  Isaac Brock sings about unearthly places and ideas: places I have never been and cannot comprehend; ideas I cannot grasp.  But for the first time the music is really ambitious enough to soundtrack his visions.  The music comes to us from bad motel, but where is this motel?  The 3rd planet?  The dark center of the universe?  A frozen over version of hell?  The stars?  An endless ocean/endless desert?  Antarctica?  The moon?  Brock gives a lot to ponder, but offers no easy answers.  I think Brock actually knows how the world began, how it will end and what happens when you die.  He knows the secrets of the universe, what the meaning of life is and the location of hell.  To find them one only needs to listen to this album.  But I’ll warn you right now, if one enters The Moon & Antarctica they are going to get mind-raped, and might not escape with their sanity and may not end up knowing where they came out at.  – Pthestudp


4 There are almost no reviews of this album on the web, even on music sites I respect.

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