Thursday, December 31, 2015

No Hiearchy for Old Men

My only criteria: these are albums I listened to repeatedly and all the way through without skipping tracks. I'm not claiming these are necessarily the best pop albums of 2015, but they are the albums of 2015 that I remember so well that I only had to doublecheck the labels that released 'em.

Will Johnson - Swan City Vampires   Undertow, i.e., Self-Released sometime in October 2015.
Chews up and spits out the on-again-off-again tedium of a lot of Centr-O-Matic and his previous solo work for a set of Americana-folk-rock songs that are accessible, memorable, singalongable and produced without the sort of sonic clutter that typically masks a dearth of honest feeling. Some nice stabby 'lectric gitar work, too. A sweet album written and performed by a puss-emitting anus who never replied to my email about it.

The Decemberists - What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.    Capitol.  Released 1/20/15
Reviewers who really ought to know better crapped all over this album for being too long (because obviously concepts like art and value-for-dollars-spent cannot share a point in timespace) and "underambitious" (because no real fan ever wants his favorite band to actually sound like his favorite band). Still and all, and despite Colin Meloy's liberal arts grad student vocabulary, What a Terrible World is genuinely likeable and byandlarge enjoyable start to finish. And just so you'll know, I wouldn't hit a dog in the keister with most Decemberist albums, so there's that, too.

Low - Ones & Sixes.   SubPop. Released  9/11/15
Contrary to popular opinion, Jeff Tweedy really didn't do Low any favors on 2013's Invisible Way, but happily he also didn't turn them into the Wilco cover band of his dreams. (Not that there would be anything wrong with a Wilco cover band, but one really is enough, and Parker and Sparhawk's voices, together or apart, are simply too good for that sort of treatment.) I became an instant Low fan at the first sound of their harmonized "And I can hear 'em" on I Could Live in Hope [1994]. 20some years later and those voices are as lush and affecting as ever. And Low, at its best, has to be about those two voices, not extra instrumentation or whateverinhell "emotional generosity" is supposed to be.

Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear SubPop.  Released  2/10/15
Considering the lyrical content of a number of the tracks on this album, I'm guessing that Josh Tillman has piercings that I want to know nothing about. I also can't shake the feeling that—assuming Tillman is as snobby, meanspirited, and self-involved as the persona constructed by his lyrics—I'd push the li'l pischa in front of a speeding tractor trailer if I actually knew him. Nevertheless, the songs on Honeybear are simple but nicely crafted, the production slick & grand but not Billboard-hokey, and the lyrics consistently interesting if not witty or downright funny. And, yeah, people are kinda boring, if I'm honest. It's just the cute ones make up for that, is all.

I also remember liking ... Beirut - No No No (even tho' it didn't sound like Beirut), Deerhunter - Fading Frontier (altho' the best track, "Snakeskin," doesn't really fit), Kurt Vile - Believe I'm Goin' Down... , Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell (just not something I can take a steady diet of), Wilco - Star Wars, Beach House  - Depression Cherry, Destroyer - Poison Season, Waxahatchee  - Ivy Tripp (or so I'm told), Jennylee - Right On!, Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Style, Schlomo - Deep Red, El Vy - El Vy (even if it does sound like a National parody), and Swervedriver - I Wasn't Born to Lose You (despite the evident age-related drop in testosterone). Been there...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Shifty's Favorite Albums of 2015

Shifty's Favorite Albums From The Year 2015!!!! Hey That Was This Year!!!!!! 

This was a great year for music. Probably the best year since 2012. I listened to more than 300 (maybe 400?) albums that came out this year, and I made a list of the 50 that I liked the most. This isn't a list of the best albums that came out this year. This is a list of my favorite albums that came out this year.

My Top 15 Albums of 2015 

  1. Ought - Sun Coming Down
  2. Viet Cong - Viet Cong
  3. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
  4. Vince Staples - Summertime '06
  5. Jimmy Whispers - Summer in Pain
  6. Tobias Jesso Jr. - Goon
  7. Jamie XX - In Colour
  8. Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect
  9. Pinkshinyultrablast - Everything Else Matters
  10. Deafheaven - New Bermuda
  11. Deerhunter- Fading Frontier
  12. Lightning Bolt - Fantasy Empire
  13. Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
  14. Waxahatchee - Ivy Tripp
  15. Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone?

Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical Order)

  • Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color
  • Arca - Mutant
  • A$AP Rocky - At.Long.Last.A$AP
  • Baroness - Purple
  • Beach House - Depression Cherry
  • Beach House - Thank Your Lucky Stars
  • Blur - The Magic Whip
  • Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Style
  • Cloakroom - Further Out
  • Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
  • Czarface - Every Hero Needs a Villain
  • Death Grips - The Powers That B
  • Destroyer - Poison Season
  • FKA Twigs - M3LL155X
  • Freddie Gibbs - Shadow of a Doubt
  • Girlpool - Before the World Was Big
  • Grimes - Art Angels
  • Hop Along - Painted Shut
  • Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free
  • Joey Bada$$ - B4.da.$$
  • Julio Bashmore - Knockin' Boots
  • Krallice - Ygg huur
  • Krill - A Distant Fist Unclenching
  • Kurt Vile - b'lieve i'm goin down
  • Leon Bridges - Coming Home
  • METZ - II
  • Royal Headache - High
  • Sleater Kinney - No Cities to Love
  • Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer
  • Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
  • Sun Kil Moon - Universal Themes
  • Tame Impala - Currents
  • Titus Andronicus - The Most Lamentable Tragedy
  • Tribulation - The Children of the Night
  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love
  • The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die - Harmlessness
How many of these albums have you listened to? Did you have a favorite album this year?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Kayla's Top Five Albums of 2015

Our newest employee Kayla has brought a fresh musical perspective to our Von's staff, and with that she has compiled a list of her top five albums of the year.

1. Life in Real Time by Paradise Fears

2. Badlands by Halsey

3. Old Bones by Broadside

4. Tell Me A Story by Skylar Kergil

5. Positive Songs for Negative People by Frank Turner

Monday, December 21, 2015

Alex's Top of the Year Music List

2015 has been an incredible year for music, which makes choosing my top albums incredibly difficult. I have managed to narrow it down to 10 albums that have made a particularly strong impact on me, with a few eps and honorable mentions. So, uh, here we are:

Top Albums In No Particular Order

1. Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly
2. Courtney Barnet: Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just 
3. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie and Lowell
4. Hop Along: Painted Shut
5. Beach Slang: The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
6. Decemberists: Oh What A Terrible World, Oh What A Beautiful World
7. Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear
8. Tobias Jesso Jr.: Goon
9. Natalie Prass: Natalie Prass
10. Girlpool: Girlpool

Top EPs In No Particular Order

1. Diet Cig: Over Easy
2. Mac Demarco: Another One
3. Decemberists: Florasongs
4. Open Mike Eagle: A Special Episode.

Honorable Mentions In Every Particular Order
1. Eugene Mirman: I'm Sorry (You're Welcome)
2. Alabama Shakes: Sound and Color
3. Sleater-Kinney: No Cities To Love
4. Belle and Sebastian: Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance
5. Chvrvhes: Every Open Eye
6. Joey Badass: B4.DA.$$.
7. Eskimeaux: OK