My Favorite Albums of 2015. Not Best, Just Favorite!

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The one thing I took away from music in 2015 was that this seemed to be the year for women in music. We were everywhere – whether fronting bands, or as solo acts. I think out of all the times I listened to podcasts or to radio, I heard a woman’s voice singing probably 7 times out of ten. I can say that’s huge. Growing up I didn’t hear a tremendous amount of women in music. It seemed like radio didn’t allow more than one woman singing every 5 to 7 years (Janet, Mariah, and Alanis being the standouts of female singers for me growing up). So to hear a variety of musicians singing different varieties of music garner attention – well – it’s pretty freaking fantastic.

Coming up with a list is always a challenge or me. I listen to and crave an abundant amount of music – probably more so on the verge of an addiction – and trying to compile a list of my favorite music is down right difficult. But starting on December 1st, I started going through my ipod and hard drives, finding music I thoroughly enjoyed throughout the year. Some of these artists made the list not so much because of their voices, but because of the production. Some of the artists made it because of melodies an of course, their voices. Songwriting plays a key too. If a song can make me think about my outlook on life and things around me, then it’s a winner in my book. I won’t give you a summarization by each album on most of these. Just trust me when I say these albums mattered. And I hope I open some eyes to artists you might not have heard of this year. So. Here we go. Oh and with the exception of the top 10, these albums are not in any particular order.

40. Lyrics Born – Real People

39. The Arcs – Yours, Dreamily

38. Mutemath – Vitals

37. Givers – New Kingdom

36. Dilly Dally – Sore

35. Matthew Ryan – Boxers

34. Allison Weiss – New Love

33. Idris Elba – Murdah Loves John

32. Bronze Radio Return – Light Me Up

31. Brown Bird – Axis Mundi

30. Junglepussy – Pregnant with Success

29. Lovedrug – Notions

28. Hemming – Hemming

27. Adam Lambert – The Original High

26. Rudimental – We the Generation

25. Brandi Carlile – The Firewatcher’s Daughter

24. Dornik – Dornik

23. Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color

22. Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material

21. Big Grams – Big Grams

20. Troye Sivan – Blue Neighbourhood

19. NYVES – Anxiety

18. Kid Astray – Home Before Dark

17. Alessia Cara – Know-It-All

16. Mac Miller – GO:OD AM

15. Baroness – Purple

14. Kwabs – Love + War

13. Sick of Sarah – Anthem

12. Adele – 25

11. Tame Impala – Currents

10. Empire Soundtracks (Season 1 & 2)

9. Veruca Salt – Ghost Notes

8. Pusha-T – King Push: Darkest Before Dawn

7. Tori Kelly – Unbreakable Smile

6. Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$

5. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love – Reunion of the year

4. Disclosure – Caracal – They never disappoint. Great dance music with even greater voices accompanying the tracks. It’s a win win.

3. Janet Jackson – Unbreakable – Comeback of the year. The true Janet fans have wanted an album like this for years on end. Working again with original hitmakers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis has proved that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Well done Janet.

2. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit – Thought provoking lyrics and loud guitars. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this one.

1. Andra Day – Cheers to the Fall – SINGER OF THE YEAR. This woman’s voice completely blew me away. She’s old school and she doesn’t sing in runs like most of the vocalists you hear in music today (Yes, I’m pointing to you Beyonce’). This album has a 50s and 60s throwback sound, I’m not going to lie. So it really doesn’t fit in with what you hear today. And it’s also why I love it. You might have seen Andra in the Apple Music commercial with Stevie Wonder, singing his Christmas hit. But once you hear her, you never forget her. Truly a treasure.

Honorable Mention:

Lizzo – Big Grrrl Small World. – Rapper. Singer. She does it all. And she’s no size 2. We need more people like her in the music business. She’s excellent.

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That’s it y’all. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

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Podcast #43. Electric Boogie..

Fellow Earbudders,

I’m back with another one right before the end of the year. I don’t know if I’ll make another year ender podcast, but stay tuned for my favorite 30 albums of 2015 post. It’s a doozy.. Until then, enjoy this show of dance, shakin’, and lovin’…

Click it.. click it!!! CLICK ITTTTTT!

Podcast #43

 

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Uma Thurman (feat. Wiz Khalifa) [Remix] – Fall Out Boy
Do What You Wanna Do (MYNC Radio Edit) – Nile Rodgers
Indestructible (feat. DBX) – Armin van Buuren
Temptation – Escort
Keep On (feat. Green Velvet) – Catz ‘N Dogz
In the Wild – Capital Kings
Til The Money Runs Out – !!!
We Are Not Alone (Fei-Fei Remix) – Basement Jaxx
When You See Me – Computer Magic
Pay My Rent – DNCE
We Continue – Dam-Funk
Milky Way – Air Waves
The First Heartbreak – Matthew Ryan
No Liars – Matthew Good
Life Is a Fear – Editors
Life is Long – Laura Stevenson
Philip the Engineer – JR JR
Smoke Around the Bend – Small Black
Happy Song – Bring Me the Horizon

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Will They or Won’t They? LCD Soundsystem

As of 5 hours ago, Consequence of Sound posted a link saying that LCD Soundsystem will reunite next year. And then, their record label, or James Murphy’s label said that this is untrue. Could this be for hype? Or are they shooting down wishful thinking? I really hope that wishful thinking turns into a reality. I like many, many, MANY, others would love to see a reunion and gladly give LCD our money. Until then, enjoy these LCD Soundsystem genius danceable lovin’ flashbacks.

Make sure you turn the volume up.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lianne La Havas’ Reign – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC 9.23.15

I’ve said there seems to be a lack of true r&b and soul music in this day and age. But there is one artist that disputes my theory – Lianne La Havas. I had the pleasure of seeing her live at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. She’s a London born talent, with more talent in her little finger than many of the pop stars who call themselves singers today. She put on a perfectly smooth show, making quick and easy transitions from song to song. She’s on tour to promote her new album, “Blood.” She performed songs from that album, as well as her debut album, “Is Your Love Big Enough?” She’s a guitarist, an arranger, a songwriter, and quite the vocalist. She combines soul and a little bit of folk and thew in a LOT of her heart to make for a beautiful show hour plus show. Here is a clip of one of my favorite songs, Au Cinema. I suggest you listen to her two albums, and catch her while you can. You won’t be disappointed. Standouts include, “Unstoppable,” “Au Cinema,” “IYLBE,” “Forget,” and “What You Don’t Do.” Her voice is heaven. Her presence is commanding. It was a beautiful night, full of beautiful music.

 

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Podcast #42. I Return-eth. Music, All Music, And Nothing But Music.

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Hello Earbudders,

After a very long hiatus, I have returned again. I bring new music so just sit back, relax, and enjoy yourselves. You earned it. If you enjoy rock, dance, and loud vocals, then my friends, you have come to the right place. It’s really just a mix of everything and anything. Make sure you turn the volume up while you’re at it. Trust me, it will be well worth it. I’ve also renamed the podcast. So let this be the first of many. Welcome to the NIL NIL podcast. I hope you enjoy your stay.

As usual: Click here to stream

Click here to download

Intro song – All For You – Sister Hazel

Cameron – DJ Spooky w/ Kronos Quartet

I Got You – Leona Lewis

Notions – Lovedrug

The Glitzy Hive – Neon Indian

Stay In My Corner – The Arcs

Waiting for Blood – Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

Trapper Avenue – Craig Finn

I Just Wanna Rock n Roll – Thunderbitch

I Do Coke (Feat. Feed Me) – Kill The Noise

Democracy – The Adolescents

Star Shaped Heart – Atmosphere

Beats Knockin’ (Feat. Fly Boi Keno) – Skrillex And Diplo

Pressure Off (Feat. Janelle Monáe And Nile Rodgers) – Duran Duran

Things You Said – Rob Thomas

If You Think Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out – Best Friends

Your Touch – Blake Lewis

Minnie The Moocher – Cab Calloway

Wildflower – Beach House

Enjoy!

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Bea Miller: No Apology Necessary

Just wanted to tip my fellow earbudders on a young singer named Bea Miller. Every few years, there is a female singer that strikes the heart of young folks and older folks like myself. Bea Miller is that singer at the present moment. With her heartfelt lyrics about fitting in, standing up for yourself, growing up, and taking life as it comes, her album, “Not an Apology” is just that – not an apology for who she is. In a time where females are expected to be perfect with no flaws, Miller takes her flaws and wears them like a badge of honor. She is open about her fears, her loves and securities. It takes guts to put feelings into a song for those to accept or reject. But she is a delight in taking that risk. She calls people out for how she was treated (Paper Doll), dares people to change (I Dare You), and just plain rocks out with no regrets (title track), and takes charge of her actions (We’re Taking Over). I think it’s pretty much pop gold for the summer. If you have never heard of her, I suggest you go and listen to her. You won’t be disappointed.

As pop gooeyness as this album is, “Young Blood,” the opening track, is my particular favorite. “But in dark times when we close our eyes, it’s a nightmare, it’s a nightmare. When the sun don’t shine we lose our minds but I swear we can get there.” That’s my favorite verse. I believe, and I could be wrong, that she’s trying to convey the idea of doing things for ourselves despite the trials. We can run away from our troubles, but we eventually have to go against them head on and we WILL overcome them all because we’re young and strong. We can’t be destroyed. Wear the strength well and use it to your advantage. Nothing is perfect, but we can try and trying to overcome is betting than nothing. Don’t give up, and don’t back down. It’s a great song and a great attitude to have.

So cheers to Bea Miller for helping people get through life, and helping us realize we’re not alone. There are many of us, of various ages, trying to make it through life one day at a time. And no we’re not apologizing for it.

She’s so young, but with an old soul. And that, my fellow earbudders, is my review of the moment.

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Oh My How Brandon’s Flowers Have Bloomed.

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I’m always wary when a lead singer of a band releases solo music. Chances are, it’s a cosmic slop of tunes that didn’t make previous albums with the band, mixed with potential radio songs. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Brandon Flowers’ second solo release (yes, he did release a first one a few years back – Flamingo – you should check it out) works.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed my fellow earbudders, the onslaught in the past year or so of an 80s sound revival that has returned to the music scene. As someone who was around this sound the first time, my ears are relieved. Flowers’ music clearly shows he was influenced by it as well. This album sounds like a throwback of Howard Jones, Culture Club, mixed in with interesting storytelling that rivals something from the vault of Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics. Flowers was always a good storyteller in his music. He makes you think, he makes you dream, and he makes you realize – no matter what – life goes on whether or not your life turned out the way you wanted it to. Combine his lyrics with a synthesizer, big band extravaganza, and you’ve got a winner of an album. The sound of keyboards with strong background female singers, and an excellent horn section should not be overlooked as well. There are a few songs that sound like outtakes from The Killers, but overall, it is worth the investment in time to listen. It’s got something for everyone. Here are a few of my favorites.

Dreams Come True – Great opener; A very positive ditty about a collection of outsiders who want something better in life other than coming home, working, going to sleep, punch the clock – wash rinse, repeat.. I’m sure we all feel the same way.

Can’t Deny My Love – First standout. The first in a series of 80s throwback songs. This really sounds like a departure from what we’re used to hearing from him when with The Killers. Has a Carribean Queen sound with a repeated but quick guitar riff.

I Can Change – Strong harmonies on this one. Another dance tune that could’ve easily been released in the 80s. Simply put, he’s willing to change for the object of his affection and he’s fine with it.

Still Want You – The chorus sounds like it could be a member of chant city. Loud chants, Kinda corny sounding, but it works. Only thing missing? A tambourine.

Between Me and You – I call this Bruce Springsteen light with Peter Gabriel thrown in for effect. It’s pretty, it’s poetic, it’s sappy, romantic, and I’m sure it will get a singalong from the audience when performed live.

Untangled Love – If you loved The Cure, you’ll love this one.

Desired Effect – The title track is another track that sounds like it could’ve been on a The Killers album. Funny enough, this is the title track. “Are you taking the time to listen, is it doing you any good? Are you looking to change the world? Have you already changed your mind?” Questions like this continue on throughout the song. He’s questioning the lives people lead, and the effect that their lives have on them. Is it what they wanted? Or is it something completely different? And if it’s not what they wanted, what are they going to do about it? it’s kind of a head-shrinky song. It definitely left me with wondering what good am I on this earth? And is the life I chose worth it after all? Where was this song when I was in college?

Overall, it’s a solid album. check it out if you want, or not. It’s up to you.

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