Top 5 Albums of 2015

As you know I do this every year.  No greatest hits, and no soundtracks.

Enjoy!

5.    Lower Dens – Escape from Evil

Originally I had Father John Misty slotted in this spot.  The more and more I thought about it though, I came to realize that the Lower Dens is a permanent staple in my playlist and deserves to be mentioned in the top 5 this year.  One thing that really stands out in this album is the distinct voice of Jana Hunter.  It’s a delivery that plays so well with the mood of the album.  There are tiny bits of multiple genres of music played here.  Sprinkle of Caribou, dash of New Order, and a tiny bit of XX.  The album really shines with it’s ability to balance the guitar work with the tone that the album is really trying to show off.   By far the top point of the record is To Die in LA.  The keyboard gives it a feel of a ’80s John Hughes movie, but the rest of the song feels like it’s the transition from 80’s to 90’s.   Escape from Evil is a solid play from top to bottom.  It’s mixed well, and the instruments flow together seamlessly.  It’s an unexpected pick for my top 5, but my iPod doesn’t lie.

 

4. Tame Impala – Currents

What can you say about this band that hasn’t already been said.  They are able to change styles throughout each album without missing a beat.  They still have a bit of their psychedelia in this album, but have really raised the bar when it comes to synths and keyboards.  Tame Impala have grown up.  The filler on each song isn’t just a band-aid for the song.  It’s a well thought out sound that mixes beautifully with each tune.  Kevin Parker has also raised the bar for his vocals.  Not only using his soft voice for feel, he now uses it as an instrument to in each song.  He is able to change tones to match the identity of the song.  There is only one tiny draw back to the complete change of style.  The drums have been practically removed.  Mind Mischief off of Lonerism has one of the best starts of a single in recent memory.  There are points of this album that I miss that sound.  Currents is not only a beautifully sounding album; it gives you a certain feeling.  You can’t put your finger on it, but the songs are calculated perfectly and the talent of this band really shows up on this record.

 

3 – Jose Gonzalez – Vestiges and Claws

I try not to be bias when I write my top 5.  It’s very difficult to do this when your favourite artist constantly puts out masterpieces regardless if he is solo or with Junip.  Classic guitar style with maybe the best voice in the business.   There is having high-hopes for an album then there is what I had for this record.  Jose is a magician on the acoustic, and the weird thing about it – he makes it look so easy.  Like he just sat down on his couch and came up with a song in 10 minutes.  If you enjoy acoustic of any sort and haven’t really had a listen to his catalog of music.  Give yourself a full day to be submersed into his world.  Every single thing about the album gives me chills.  Whether it be the smoothness of each note, to his outstanding ability to lull you into a dream without actually putting you to sleep.  The only reason why this isn’t number one is because it’s an extension off of his previous solo stuff.  It’s gorgeous and will make you feel fantastic.

 

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell

Welcome back Sufjan.  You ventured off in a different direction.  I applaud you for broadening your horizons, but we really need you back.  The Age of Adz was a good album, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I understood why people enjoyed it.  Stevens has a magical way of making his music sound like everything that you would want an orchestra to be.  Using instruments that would be odd for others, but for him is just another way to process what’s going on in his head.  It’s difficult to describe to other people what Sufjan sounds like.  You either get it or you don’t.  Throw on Illinoise for details.  Carrie and Lowell is a striped down back to earth album.  It’s using everything that works without going to far off of the tracks.  Stevens voice is absolutely gorgeous throughout this album.  Pausing and expressing tones at perfect times within the record.  After listening to Carrie and Lowell I expect to feel sad, but it’s actually the complete opposite.  Beautiful album that cannot be rushed through.

 

  1.  Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Goin Down

You ever sit down and start to just think of lyrics without actually jotting them down?  They sound absolutely perfect in your head.  You have a sound that you want the guitar to make that would sound wonderful with what you just wrote, but then you actually begin to play, and you can’t make it work.  Kurt Vile made it work.  This album is a masterpiece.  It’s a story that was written without a pause or a second thought.  Like a slice of your life that was cut out and somebody made a soundtrack to it.  His guitar work is perfect.  Vile has always been great at creating a mood for his music, but there are times when he can be a bit to dark.  This album is a weight on your subconscious.  It’s not something that you can just throw on in the background at a party.  It needs your full attention from top to bottom. Have a listen to “That’s Life Tho,”  It’s the best song of the year, and this the best album of the year hands down.

 

Extinct Animals Uncomfortable at Big Music Fest

Yesterday featured Soundgarden, Jane’s Addiction, Monster Truck, and Extreme at Big Music Fest. I am fairly certain that there was a memo sent out to play as heavy as possible. It seems as though with the cancellation of Rod Stewart that Kitchener is about to overtake the city known as the Hammer for their love of heavy music.

Palm Bay had a small tent on the premises. Sara and I were nearby a lady that I was unsure about. She was all over the map. Singing along to Extreme, and “wooooing,” at very odd times. Then in an instant her top was pulled down. And boobs were out. This was an unexpected turn of events. I forgot to mention that this was 5:30 in the afternoon.

The worst shirt of the day goes to the guy that we saw in the washroom line. “Hit her in the shitter;” it had a stick figure woman throwing up, with a man directly behind her. He was a steroid junky that looked like he could have been cast in Jersey Shore. This is not only the worst shirt of the day. It could be the worst of all-time.

Nobody is more apologetic then when they step on their own cat’s tail. It’s not because we are that sorry, we just know the cat is going to be a dick after this.

Jose Gonzalez was the main act for the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Here’s the updated score of Winnipeg versus the rest of Canada. Winnipeg 2 – Canada 198.

We took the bus yesterday. I am always unsure of the bus. I always relate it back to Jim Jefferies comedy sketch. “I don’t need to take the bus. I have a car. I am choosing to take the bus. Because I am a responsible person.”

I am starting to get a bit of a beer gut. My running routine has gotten off track. Mainly, because I am now used to air-conditioning and I would rather run in a gym, and I have not joined one as of yet.

Remember when it was cool to disrespect the cops? Why was this ever cool? This is the one group of people that can make your life tough. You don’t go to a border agent, trying to get across the border and start talking smack.

The McDonalds on Ottawa St last night did an excellent job of feeding many drunk rockers. They pulled together nicely as a unit, and I commend them for this.

As you grow older as a man; your eyebrows begin to get out of whack. Working in a retail position for many years I have realized that roughly two percent of old men don’t give a fu**.

There is a type of cheese called mild. What does this even mean? Do you not want it to taste like anything? “Shaped like cheese, but tastes like nothing please.”

Back in the middle ages did men really get catapulted over walls? There is no was that I would be comfortable with this. There is absolutely nothing that you can do if you get shot directly into the wall.

Young children grabbing the garbage’s and old men handing out water bottles. Felt like Walmart at the music festival yesterday.

It was surprising that there was no medical issues or fights that I witnessed yesterday. Middle-aged rockers in Kitchener can handle their drugs and alcohol. There were many proud people when Cornell stated that the stage was in a big haze of pot smoke, and that it was likely that they might forget some of the songs. This is when proud Kitchener folk do their “woooooing.” “We are getting him fu**ed up. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.”

Big Game – 9.0/10

Big Game was excellent. It’s a cute movie about an attempted assassination on the President of the United States, played by Samuel L. Jackson; and a Finnish boy that is attempting to make his Father proud by hunting for big game on his own. You will have to watch it to see how it formulates together.

What is the deal with these shirts that you can wear that show off pictures on your back when you get sunburnt? The images I mainly see is of dragons. This sounds about right.

Ask Siri what 0 divided by 0 is. You will not be disappointed.

Top 3 things overheard at a concert, but nowhere else.

1. Do you think anybody will notice if I just go piss in the corner of the beer gardens?
2. The best value is the cider. It’s $10.00, but it’s in a tall can.
3. These wood chips aren’t too bad to sit on. At least they soak in the smell of the garbage.

There was a nearly extinct animal at the concert yesterday. The animal that owns the haircut of shaved on one side, with a comb over to the other side. We tried not to spook him to send him running in his deck shoes.

Top 3 Albums of 2015, so far…

In light of the mediocre popularity of my top 5 albums of the year. I have decided to make my top 3 albums for the first half of the year. There has been an awful lot of great music that has been put in front of me over the past six months. It’s been difficult for me to narrow it down to just three, but my job is a tough one as an underpaid writer that feels the need to contribute to society in his own useless way.

3 – Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear
There is something about this album that is difficult to put your finger on. This isn’t your usual singer with an acoustic guitar. His lyrics are not vague. He is able to make light of situations that drive people crazy. All of this with an all so soothing voice. The album is dynamite from the first beat. Father John has an intoxicating way to get inside of the deep layer of your emotional being. This is not an easy listening record even though it should be. It forces you to pay attention to each song from start to finish. Some records are great background music, this is not one of them. You will lose the crowd with his constant melody, and distinct lyrics. Misty is able to hit certain notes that you do not expect him to hit. There are also a couple of heavier areas of the record. Two of the songs have a bit of an unexpected guitar solo. I am very excited to see what he is going to do next. Singles to download: Strange Encounter, The Ideal Husband, and True Affection

 

2 – Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
I am not afraid to say this. I didn’t like Age of Adz. It was well reviewed, I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe it’s my high expectations of Sufjan. Knowing how good Illinoise was. Just wanting him to go back to the well for more pure gold. Well, here it is. An absolute masterpiece. From top to bottom this record shines. The mood is set right from the first track on. Every single sound that is on this record has been thought out. It flows beautifully in and out of a dream land that only Sufjan can navigate. You can envision Sufjan making this album. Marking down points of each song when a certain types of sound are required. Carrie and Lowell might be his best work yet. Illinoise had a few songs that were sent in as filler. This album has nothing of the sort from top to bottom it is perfect. It seems like one of those albums that I will continually come back to. One thing that Sufjan has gone away from is circus noises in this album. Sticking to simplicity. Quiet sounds and the ability to adjust his own voice to the tone of the song. Beautiful album that may actually make it to the top of my list by the end of the year. Singles to download: Death With Dignity, Should Have Known Better, and All of me Wants All of You.  Sorry no live performance that is good quality.

 

1 – Jose Gonzalez – Vestiges and Claws
Envision sitting by a camp fire. Sipping on a beverage. Watching and listening to what you believe might be the most comforting, and angelic music that you have ever heard. Being lifted off by a giant Jose Gonzalez cloud to a glorious place that must have been created by Neil Young or Cat Stevens or maybe a combination of both. There are points of Vestiges and Claws that I think to myself “How did this man think of these graceful noises.” It is pure genius. To think of notes that had never been created before. But make them sound like you could never live without them again. Gonzalez has a way to distribute his voice. It’s a very soothing and unassuming voice, but creates a sense of urgency. His effortless guitar work and his delicate voice work in unison impeccably. This album is perfect. It takes absolutely no work to get into. You can put this on in front of any crowd, and you will have zero complaints. It’s the album of the year as of today, and I would be shocked if any single human being would be able to take Jose Gonzalez off of the mantle for album of the year of 2015. Singles to download: With the Ink of the Ghost, Leaf Off – The Cave, What Will, Every Age