Well, another year has come to an end. Although it’s not over yet, I have decided to pick my top 10. Looking towards the next few weeks, nothing seems to be on the horizon that would make this list.
It was an odd year for music. Nothing really floored me, although I did have a few favorites. Some may shock you. I adore Spotify and play it all day while at work. A few months ago, i started collecting new releases in a playlist and have been listening to them to see which ones stick. Many did not. It was a year of ladies doing covers and returning to the forefront. Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox released cover albums. Neither of them impressed me other than it was nice to hear they can both sing. New releases from the long absent Sinead O’connor and Chrissie Hynde both average at best. Chrissie was the better of the two.
Anyway, here are my top 10:
10. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence – There are so many reasons for me to hate Lana Del Rey. She seems fake and falls into that pouty pop brat mode a bit too often. However, this album, with it’s over produced lushness and vapid lyrics, is amazingly good. At times it feels like the soundtrack of a David Lynch film sung by a 40’s chanteuse who had vocal lessons from Marianne Faithful.
9. Boy George – This is What I Do – YES, that Boy George. He returns with a mostly confessional album in every conceivable genre from pop to country. Presented with the sense of humor you can only expect from an aging drag queen. Love it.
8. Beck – Morning Phase – This one took a while. Basically a follow up to the sleepy Sea Change album from about 10 years ago. Beck gets folky with excursions into psychedelia. Parts of this has a pre Dark Side Of The Moon Pink Floyd quality. Deep melodies and odd lyrics. Take your time with this one. It’s worth the effort.
7. Neil Young – Storytone – Neil doesn’t break a lot of new ground lyrically, still consumed in love and liberalism. However, it’s beautifully orchestrated and Neil has not sounded this good vocally since Harvest.
6. New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers – They return with a vengeance in this power pop / Indy collection of catchy songs.
5. Karen O. – Crush Songs – I would not classify this as an album of songs. More like an exercise in raw emotion, noises, and rambling thoughts. This is as stripped down as an artist is allowed to be in this massive production world. It’s really quite brilliant but beware. It’s not for everyone.
4. Benjamin Booker – Benjamin Booker – Rookie of the year. This debut album is straight on rock at it’s best. Raw, live and just kicks ass. throughout. I only hope he continues in this vein and doesn’t fall into the Kings of Leon trap, or worse find himself trapped in a duet with Bruce Springsteen. If he stays the course, this guy will be a major force in the rock world.
3. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream – Not just another American Indy pop band here. This album is beautifully written and performed. I love it more everytime I hear it.
2. The New Basement Tapes – Lost On The River – Kind of a new age Travelling Wilburys, featuring an all star cast Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James ( My Morning Jacket) Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) Johnny Depp (yes that guy…on one song) and somehow Elvis Costello squeezed himself in to the mix. To make it even weirder, the album is a collection of lyrics by Bob Dylan set to new music by this group. AND it’s all produced brilliantly by T.Bone Burnett. Too much of a good thing? not in this case. It’s damn near perfect. It would have been my number 1 choice for the year and it was close, but…..
1. Spoon – They Want My Soul – hands down, the album of the year, in my opinion. It’s straight forward rock the way bands like The Strokes, Kings of Leon and others used to do it. These guys have always been great and somehow stay under the radar. Lyrically and musically they have outdone themselves this time around. This album is infectious and as strong a rock album as any I have heard in a very long time.
SO, there it is. My top 10 this year. Some surprises. I am pretty sure at least 8 of 10 of these will not appear on many lists, but who cares. I invite you to go to Spotify and check these out. Feel free to comment on my picks, as well as your reviews for the year.
Happy New Year !!! 2015