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.

 

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

Will Ferrell and his attempt at a fatality in Mortal Kombat

The Blue Jays have had quite the run recently. Does it remind anybody of a couple of years ago? This is the same pitching staff that they had at the start of the season when we were calling for heads to roll. Minus Aaron Sanchez. The team will come back down to earth. They can still compete, but don’t expect them to run away with the division. We will see what type of team that they have when they hit a rough patch.

A man with colitis wins $25.00 worth of toilet paper. This isn’t a joke, this happened to me.

The look of a teenager having to cut the grass of a huge yard in the afternoon of a beautiful spring day is the same look after Liam Neeson found out his daughter was Taken.

There are many local legends in downtown Kitchener. You already know about the guy with the shopping cart. Another fellow that is usually in the same area has a bucket and a drum stick. He usually has one pant leg pulled up. He plays this bucket with the same intensity of Neil Peart. He doesn’t even have anything to throw change in. Playing the bucket is his part-time job. He usually plays for a couple of hours at a time. This has been another segment of local legends.

Honeymoon – 8.1/10
Coherence – 8.7/10

Couple of beauties here. Both have the same intense build up without the gore or boogeyman tactic. If you can understand Coherence without having to look up some of the details online; you will receive a round of applause from me.

The PC ads that are currently out are even more dumbed down than usual. Ripping on Justin Trudeau about his hair and wanting to send jackets to Syria. Pretty soon it’s going to be that he orders daiquiris and dislikes Rush.

There is something out called the Sustainable Market. It allows you to order fruits, vegetables, maple syrup, flowers, herbs, and all things garden related online. You can then pick up your order from a place in Waterloo or Guelph. With people not really having time to shop properly, this is a great way to get your core ingredients. Wonderful idea.

http://sustainablemarket.ca/

Game of Thrones is done for another season. And with that, you can start to enjoy your summer. Something about that show makes me want to drink a giant stout, grow a beard, and learn how to sword fight.

At least 3 other people could have fit on that dragon.

Chicago Blackhawks won another cup. It’s really hard to dislike this team. They have the best leader in hockey, and are an extremely humble team. If I hear that Chelseadagger song one more time though…

In all my years of existence I have never thrown a dish with food on it before. It seems like this is a regular occurrence on TV. It seems fairly stupid to me. If you throw it at another person, it seems unlikely that they will clean up the mess. If you are just angry about something else, then you will have to clean up the mess. It seems as though any way that you slice it that you are have work to do.

I really enjoy driving slowly. Not to the point that you are angering the person that is behind you, but just a good pace where I am not stressing anybody out. I always envision people that weave in and out of lanes as people that sit in cubicles and throw footballs to each other in the office while taking other people’s money.

Sufjan Stevens new album is terrific. It might be his best. Illinoise is tough to beat, but have a listen to Carrie and Lowell, it might be Neo from the Matrix. 9.3/10

Mortal Kombat taught us that fatal ways to die are better than just dying regularly.

Everybody always had that cousin that loved to climb everything. They would go to the top of a tree and everybody would be cheering them on. “Yes, that small branch there. The one that looks like a twig. That should be able to support 94 pounds. Give it a shot.” Then you would hear the crunch of the branch, while they attempted to plant the first foot. “Oh maybe not, maybe you should come down.” They would try it again with a more tender foot, and hear a softer crunch. “Maybe go for it now. It seems to be stabilizing?”

Here’s hoping that Will Ferrell doesn’t become the new Adam Sandler. Sweat pants, fart noises, and Rob Schneider playing every ethnic origin. His last few movies have been awfully suspect. Is he getting into that dangerous old man comedian area where you have lost the crowd? You just keep going back to the dried up well. The next project due out is about a washed up ball player that becomes a mascot to try to get back in the good graces of the ball team that cut him.

Intentionally injuring yourself so you don’t have to go to a hockey game; to continue drinking at a buddy’s place seemed to be a logical choice made by an acquaintance at the time.