Lakenheath Old Boys

We are all former students at Lakenheath High School and other public schools in East Anglia. We were in school in the 70s and 80s and drank deeply from the well of British culture of those decades - the pints, the telly, and of course the footie!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Music of 2015

The picture above is of concert-goers at the Bataclan in Paris moments before many of them were pointlessly murdered. No other photo this year has taken my breath away quite as sharply because of its juxtaposition of innocent fun and the horror that followed. This picture looks pretty much like every crowd I’ve been in at any show I’ve been to since I turned 14. Horrible, horrible, horrible, and I can’t stop thinking about these victims. For me, 2015 was the year of Bataclan.

2015 was a year where I ended up catching up and buying records that had whooshed by me because I’m still not able to keep good track of what’s being released. I still read music blogs, and I’ve tried signing up to artist email news, but those seem to be lost among the 1500 daily messages I get from Pottery Barn because I once bought something from a friend’s wedding registry list years ago.

I found out this year that Bill Frisell put out “Guitar in the Space Age” in 2014, and “Big Sur” in 2013 and I supposedly get his emails. Also from 2014, I first heard Austin’s Magda Carda’s “Likeitis” which sounds like a record the Roots could have made if they’d teamed up with the Digable Planets. Teleman is a fantastic band from London who sound like the best parts of Stereolab and Belle & Sebastian one minute, and a Brian Wilson fronted Velvet Underground the next. They put out great record “Breakfast” in 2013 and I only caught up to them this past year. And I’ve completely lost track of contemporary Brazilian music which I loved to bits when I had access to brick and mortar stores and their bins of mysterious discs.

Still, through music blogs I got wind of a Zambian Artist from the 70’s named Chrissy Zebby Tembo who in 1974 put out a low-fi fuzzed out record “My Ancestors” which growls its way through stories of how very careful fishermen should be when they go angling by the river in Zambia or about someone who watches while their coffin being constructed.

I’ve also been busily Shazaming the TV that I’ve been watching because of how expertly shows like The Hour, Mad Men and Fargo are curating their music. Yamasuki’s “Yama Yama” from 1971 was a cool discovery.

The biggest rabbit hole I fell down into this year was after I read Amanda Petrusich’s “Do Not Sell At Any Price” about obsessive 78rpm record collectors. Her enthusiasm for the roots music and the stories of artists like Skip James, Charlie Patton, Angelas LeJeune and nutso “Magical Shellac” aficionados like Harry Smith was completely engrossing. I spent happy hours this year hunting down Mp3’s of the seminal tracks from the book. My Holiday gift to you is to tell you to load “Skokiaan” and “Bulawayo Sweet Rhythm Band” into YouTube. Something deliriously brilliant awaits you.

I bought several 2015 releases this year too. Jack Rabbit and the Dreamlanders have a enjoyably louche sound on their eponyous record. Robert Forster’s “Songs to Play” reminded me of how much I miss the Go Betweens. Dawes' “All Your Favorite Bands” capped the highlight year that Taylor Goldsmith had. His contributions to 2014’s New Basement Tapes “Lost on the River” were my favorites from that record. Another contributor to that NBT record, Rhiannon Giddens, put out a great record of her own, “Tomorrow Is My Turn.” There’s an infectiously upbeat Minneapolis band “The Persian Leaps” that put out an EP “High & Vibrate” which was a shot of adrenaline. So too was Potty Mouth’s EP “Potty Mouth.” The Bad Plus added Joshua Redmond to their trio and they put out an outstanding record “The Bad Plus Joshua Redmond” to celebrate their new addition. Redmond has added a texture to their music that you didn’t realize wasn’t there, but which now seems compulsory. Erykah Badu one-upped Drake by taking his “Hotline Bling” song and shaking the Canadian’s dullness off it completely with her mixtape “But You Cain’t Use My Phone” and the sizzling riposte “Phone Down.” BC Camplight’s “How to Die in the North” was another absolute favorite of mine.

I still digest most of my music as individual songs however. My favorite songs from 2015 that I heard were these, in no particular order (but if you pressed me, it’s a three way tie between D.R.A.M.’s “Cha-Cha,” Kurt Vile’s “Pretty Pimpin”, and EL VY’s “Return to the Moon” where Matt Berninger sounds surprisingly non-suicidal for once). Special mention, however, goes to Titus Andronicus and “Fired Up” as the song that speaks the loudest to teenage Steve.

What grabbed you by the lapels this year, huh?

The List:

Cha Cha -- D.R.A.M.
Spoken Jewelz -- Main Attrakionz 
HomieZ (Featuring Outspoken) -- Chimurenga Renaissance Kudada Nekuva Munhu Mutema 
Cherry Picking -- Potty Mouth 
Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo) -- EL VY 
Fired Up -- Titus Andronicus
The Legend of Chavo Guerrero -- The Mountain Goats
Rock and Roll is Cold -- Matthew E. White
Emily -- San Fermin
Pretty Pimpin -- Kurt Vile
Things Happen -- Dawes
What Part of Me -- Low
Under the Lilacs -- The Persian Leaps
Sprinter -- Torres
Ship To Wreck -- Florence + The Machine
The Scene Between -- The Go! Team
Feel the Lightning -- Dan Deacon
Can't Have -- Steven A. Clark
God It -- De La Soul feat. Nas


Blogger gooner71 said...

Thanks Blue Devil. The lack of formatting was driving me insane.

1:07 PM  
Blogger The Blue Devil said...

My pleasure, mate. Great list - I'm looking forward to checking out some of those picks. My list is coming.

6:41 AM  
Blogger The Blue Devil said...

In this world of digital files that somehow seems to cheapen the value of music, live music performances have become all the more precious to me. So, my favorite musical moments of the past year were mostly live shows. That was especially the case on June 12, when The Gooner arranged a wonderful Bachelor Party evening that featured a sumptuous dinner and a fantastic performance by the jazz trio The Bad Plus, which has recently added the tenor saxophonist Josh Redman to their ranks with fiery results. The memory of that show carried me through many weeks. Here are some of the other highlights of the last year in music:
Favorite Albums:
1. Jason Isbell - “Something More than Free:” The former Drive-By Truckers singer and guitarist’s second solo album was the one that I turned to the most this year. It was full of insightful slices of Americana. On the title track, he details the rewards and pain of hard work.
2. The Bad Plus with Joshua Redman: Tenor sax monster Josh Redman has insinuated himself seamlessly into The Bad Plus’ paradigm. My only quibble about their album together is that their strongest number on the night “Love is the Answer” is not included in the set.
3. Kendrick Lamar - “To Pimp a Butterfly:” Rapper Kendrick Lamar’s second album highlighted a great year for hip hop. It was one gigantic mess of a record that rewarded multiple listens. Saxophonist Kamasi Washington laid down Coltrane style squalls over it while Kendrick got his James Brown thing on with “King Kunta.”
4. Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap - “The Silver Lining:” After his commercial move of recording duets with Lady Gaga, it was a pleasure to hear Tony back in his real element. This album of Jerome Kern tunes reminded me of Tony’s two albums with pianist Bill Evans, my favorite vocal albums of all time. Next time you’ve got a romantic moment on hand, stick on “The Way You Look Tonight.” You won’t be sorry.
5. Hamilton - “Original Broadway Cast Recording:” A hip hop musical about Alexander Hamilton’s life could, in the wrong hands, easily ended up sounding like one of those twee “Schoolhouse Rock”-inspired educational songs about American history. But in Lin Miranda’s genius hands, it works perfectly. Give it up on trying to score tickets to this one on Broadway and enjoy this original cast recording with support from The Roots.
6. Rhiannon Giddens - “Tomorrow is My Turn:” T-Bone Burnett’s latest project features the lustrous singer Rhiannon Gidden’s whose day-job is fronting the old-timey novelty band The Carolina Chocolate Drops. Check out the title tune and Rhiannon’s cover of Patsy Cline’s immortal “She’s Got You.”
7. Laura Marling – “Short Story:” British folkie Laura Marling started as a teenage Joni Mitchell acolyte but has now well shed that label and has into a nice indie rock/folk vibe on her latest LP. She was all over SXSW this year, so this is likely to be a favorite on the year-end lists, too. Highlights include the sharp title track and the dreamy “I Feel Your Love.”
8. The Robert Glasper Trio – “Covered:” Glasper is back with another LP (does the guy ever sleep. This one is billed as a trio set but this live set mines much of the same terrain that we enjoyed on his two “Experiment” discs. The real stand-out here is a sweet take on Radiohead’s “Reckoner,” but this is a solid set throughout with one of the tightest units in jazz today.
9. Sufjan Stevens - “Carrie and Lowell:” Sufjan worked out some issues with his family history on this album of beautiful, delicate folk/rock songs.
10. Cassandra Wilson - “Coming Forth By Day:” Cassandra Wilson hasn’t returned to the form of her early Blue Note records, but at least this Billie Holiday tribute set is a move in the right direction.

6:36 PM  
Blogger The Blue Devil said...

And my songs of the year:

*The Arcs - “Stay in My Corner”
* Courtney Barnett - “Pedestrian at Best”
*Beat Connection - “So Good”
*Best Coast - Fine Without You”
*Dawes - “Things Happen”
*Drake - “Hotline Bling”
*D.R.A.M. - “Cha Cha”
*Erykah Badu - “Cellular Device”
*Estelle - “Something Good”
*Rhiannon Giddens - “Tomorrow is My Turn”
*The Go! Team - “The Scene Between”
*Grimes - “Realiti”
*Noah Gundersen - “Jealous Love”
*Ham Sandwich - “To Replicate”
*Glen Hansard - “Winning Streak”
*Jason Isbell - “24 Frames” and “Something More than Free”
*Tobias Jesso, Jr. - “True Love”
*Diana Krall - “Desperado”
*Kendrick Lamar - “King Kunta” and “I”
*Jenny Lewis - “She’s Not Me”
*Laura Marling - “I Feel Your Love”
*Modest Mouse - “Lampshades on Fire”
*Kacey Musgraves - “Biscuits”
*Frank Ocean - “(At Your Best) You are Love”
*Saint Germain - “Sittin’ Here”
*Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds - “Sugar”
*Sufjan Stevens - “Should Have Known Better”
*Kamasi Washington - “Final Thought”
*Weezer - “Thank God for Girls”

6:38 PM  

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