My Favorite Music of 2015 So Far

We’re on a downward slope towards Christmas 2015 now, half the year is behind us and there’s been a lot of great new music so far. I thought I’d take a couple of minutes and jot down my thoughts.

Top 5 Tunes So Far in 2015:

The Best “I Shouldn’t Love This, But I Do. Tommy, You’re Better Than This” Song of (maybe) 2015 (?) – “Shake it off” by Taylor Swift (Look I’m a hipster and I don’t follow T-Swift’s career so maybe this song came out in 2014, I don’t know, but I like it in 2015.) Also, the below is a solid cover.

The Best “Even Though You’re Almost 30 it’s Okay that Death Cab For Cutie Still Makes You Feel Things” Song of 2015 – “Black Sun” by Death Cab for Cutie

Check out my review of the whole album: Kintsugi Review

The Best “I Didn’t Write this for My Wife but Wish I Had, and if I Had it’d be a Waltz Too” Song of 2015 – “Heaven’s Knife” by Josh Garrels

I love a good waltz. There’s that. I’ve written at least two for Alyssa. The first time we listened to this we were driving to work. Alyssa was in the back seat dealing with our son and when Garrels sang “Oh my love she’s beautiful… She’s all that I could need, she’s beautiful, she’s a part of me, she’s my wife…” I’m not going to say I cried, but I cried. Don’t tell Alyssa. Check out some more thoughts I have on Garrels’ music: “Heaven’s Knife (Reflections on the Music of Josh Garrels)

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(Photo Credit: Samantha Jeet)

The Best “Radiohead Cover” of 2015 – “Reckoner” by Robert Glasper Trio

There’s been a trend to turn alternative rock tunes into standards in jazz that I really love as a casual listener of jazz. The best example would be The Bad Plus, although they’re moving away from it. Robert Glasper, when he does it, kills it. His cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is the best version – period – of that tune. He brings it again with this Radiohead cover.

The Best “I Only Really Like This Song and Haven’t Spent Much Time With the Rest of the Album Because It’s not 2004 Anymore” Song of 2015 – “The Best Room” by Modest Mouse

I was That Guy in college sitting at a coffeeshop with an empty Moleskin journal telling casual acquaintaces I was writing a novel and hoping they’d set me up with their friends. Isn’t it great that I’ve grown up? There’s a moment when Isacc Brock sings “And I was like what?!” That was cathartic and let me laugh at 19 year-old-me. The rest of the album is classic Modest Mouse, so I’d rather just listen to their old stuff.

The Top 5 Albums So Far in 2015 

The Best “Stop Crying in Public, Your Mom is Alive and Healthy” Album of 2015 – “Carrie & Lowell” by Sufjan Stevens

Like a psalm Sufjan digs into his grief and despair but by the end we’re lifted out of the pit. I need a thousand words or more to write the first thought of many about this album. It is not easy listening but it is worthwhile. Bring some wine and make sure it’s raining though.

The Best “Is this About iPhones? I Think this is About iPhones. Yeah, this is Totally About iPhones” Album of 2015 – “The Phosphorescent Blues” by The Punch Brothers

If you like “The Beach Boys” or “JS Bach” or “Bill Monroe” than this album is for you.

Here’s Chris Thile’s thoughts on some of the album’s themes:

I believe personally that we are trying. That we try so hard to do well. I think that that’s beautiful and that will result in us living meaningful lives, that we’ve given everything we have. We become dangerous when we give up. We just have to keep trying. If we give it everything we have, we’ll become the master of these little gadgets. Right now I think they are the master of us.

This won’t be the thing that brings us down. We’ll figure this out. Before this, it was the personal computer, before that the television, before that the radio, the light bulb on back to the wheel. We will find a way to incorporate this into meaningful lives.

Chris Thile’s Phosphorescent Blues – The Bluegrass Staion

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The Best “I Already Mentioned this Album Earlier and Wrote a Blog” Album of 2015 – “Home” by Josh Garrels

Check out some more thoughts I have on Garrels’ music: “Heaven’s Knife (Reflections on the Music of Josh Garrels)

The Best “Am I Supposed to Laugh, Cry, or  Blush” Album of 2015 (NSFW!) – “I Love You, Honeybear” by Father John Misty (Really, NSFW!)

I listened to the lead track of this album “Bored in the U.S.A.” when it was released in 2014 before the album. It was so bleak, cynical, dark, beautiful, and honest but too much for me. So when the album came out it wasn’t on my radar, but a friend played a few other tracks for me and I was hooked. Father John Misty is rude and hillarious, but also sincere and honest.

The Best “This is What We Should Be Singing in Church” Album of 2015 – “Psalms” by Sandra McCracken

I’ll let Sandra McCracken tell us about the album:

Having an artistic personality type, I tend to have big feelings. Because I work within a creative vocation, I get to explore them fairly regularly in my writing and performing. But even with that vocational permission, I live most of my days on the surface of things. Most of us don’t have much time in the margins to reflect on what we are feeling or how we are acting out of those feelings and values. Often it takes painful life-disruption before we stop and reflect on what’s beneath the surface of the life we have built. We live with patterns of behavior and relate to others without being awake to our real fears or woundedness. In the past two years or so, I have practiced reading the Daily Office (a Christian tradition of reading through the Bible in three-year intervals), which includes a morning and evening psalm each day. I have been amazed at how the readings have faithfully brought perfectly timed perspective and sparked confession, awareness, wisdom, and healing.

I would often sit during these times of meditation with a journal, with my guitar, or at the piano and find that the Psalms gave particular voice to my emotion, my story, and my struggle. The Psalms gave me words when I didn’t have my own words. They prompted me to sing a new song when I couldn’t find my voice. They directed my heart toward God’s faithful, saving love. They have drawn me deeper into a life of gratitude, often by being willing to go deeper into honest sorrow. Through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit has guided my steps with truth and clarity. The Psalms teach me that I can be safe in his good providence even when everything around and within me feels like chaos. When we hear these ancient words, we are reminded that we are not alone. We are not the first to feel what we feel. There is perspective and humility and honor in joining together with those who have gone before us. And we are also reminded that we will not be defined by our present circumstances, but by the mercy of God who has committed himself to the full restoration of all things.

 Sandra McCracken on Life, Loss, and Longing in the Psalms – The Gospel Coalition

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My Favorite Music of 2015 So Far