I used to fancy myself a real tastemaker. I’d stopped trying to tell people about my favorite albums because I started feeling dumb. This year it’s a pretty short list, and if you haven’t checked this stuff out you will be glad you did. Leave a comment. What did I miss? I tried to avoid acts that are super popular who everyone probably already knows about. Father John Misty just barely made it under that line.
We played a show with Katie Dotson, the singer, songwriter, and creative force known as Friend. She consistently writes and produces songs that make me want to spend a lot of time honing my craft. This collection is tight, cohesive, and brilliant. You’re welcome.
This album was released on my birthday and I didn’t even know. I mastered a few things for them years ago. They combine all my favorite things about 90’s indie rock. They sound like the band that Modest Mouse and Built to Spill were trying to be in the 90’s. This album is an ode to Akron, OH, the city that they are from, and the city from which I write these words right now. It’s great. They’re really great. Listen to them NOW!
I could never quite find Hip Hop. In 2014 I heard Open Mike Eagle on Wits http://www.witsradio.org, an NPR Podcast that I believe is currently on hiatus. He was playing songs from his 2014 release Dark Comedy. I fell in love. His music is great, his lyrics are great, and as an added bonus he’s great. He makes reference in his music to his contemporaries, which lead me down a rabbit hole of awesome Hip Hop. This year’s A Special Episode is an EP that does some sampling from Dark Comedy, but also stands alone. It’s tongue in cheek sometimes, it’s very serious other times, and occasionally it’s both at the same time.
I just caught this album. I love the Mountain Goats, and I hate concept records. Aimee Mann is one of my favorites, and her concept album about a boxer is my least favorite of hers (It’s still a really awesome album. The problem with your heroes is expectations). So when I saw it was a concept album about a wrestler I was kind of put off. I could not have been more wrong. Their usual songwriting mastery shines through extra hard, and the production sounds like a good jazz record. Their sparse arrangements lend themselves to that feel so the whole experience is really fantastic.
Speaking of being serious and funny, Father John Misty is kind of the king of that. His albums sound like ancient country records. His voice is great, and he writes these dark, funny, hellscapes about love, the apocalypse, and the feeling of inadequacies. Scope out his material on Youtube. His performances on David Letterman are especially crazy.