2015. It was ok year. Not the greatest, not the worst. I’d say that applies both to my life personally, and the albums that came out. Here were some I liked in order.
10. Lightning Bolt – Fantasy Empire
If I had to say why I liked this album in comparison with other Lightning Bolt albums, I would have to take some more time to diferentiate them. As it stands, this was definitely an album I listened to and liked a lot this year, my first as a resident of Brooklyn. Lightning Bolt, even though they’ve moved back to Rhode Island, are so emblematic of Brooklyn. Like, the good Brooklyn, the cool Brooklyn – basically Bushwick, or Williamsburg ten years ago. It’s scrappy, minimal, badass, tattooed, noisy, young, experimental, ferocious. Don’t ever change, LB. At least not too much.
9. Bjork – Vulnicura
Vulnicura is relatively low on my list because I always kind of lost interest as the album went along. But even so, I can’t deny that this contains a wealth of gorgeous and astoundingly honest music. Definitely one of my favourite Bjork albums. The orchestration is incredible, and Bjork‘s vocal performances throughout thoroughly moving.
8. Frog Eyes – Pickpocket’s Locket
Sometimes a great band is rewarded by a lack of success. Whereas mediocre bands may blow up briefly, then spend the rest of their careers trying to live up to the moment in time they’re forever associated with, a great band that exists in relative obscurity, but with a dedicated fanbase, can keep pushing itself and developing over time, untethered to a particular time or sound.
I saw Frog Eyes at the too-cool-for-school venue Babys All Right in Brooklyn a couple weeks ago. It was amazing how honest and real Frog Eyes seemed compared to so many of the other shit hot hipster bands I’ve seen play the same stage in the last year or so that I’ve been living in NYC. I think maybe it had to do with the fact that Frog Eyes was older than most bands that play there. They’re at the age when people have a family and a mortgage and stop caring about looking cool. It was just refreshing.
I always felt like Frog Eyes could (in some alternate universe with more critical discernment) have blown up a couple years ago, but didn’t and have been kind of persisting in that void of disappointment ever since. Listen to how much slower, and less energetic their albums have become – though ultimately I believe that’s been for the better. They’ve made the best albums of their career in that void, including Paul’s Tomb, Carey’s Cold Spring, and this year’s Pickpocket’s Locket. Putting dollars and cents aside, maybe the lack of great, big success for this great, little band has been better for everyone in the long run.
7. Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness
Another wonderful Julia Holter album of striking composition and impeccable arrangements.
6. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – A Year With 13 Moons
An album that caught me with its cool title and kept with me its deep swirls of beautiful sound. I spent a lot of hours listening to it while studying.
Check back tomorrow for #5-1!