Sunday, December 27, 2015

Songs for Cineastes: 2015 Edition

Lamont Thomas of Obnox. 
Click here 
for the 2014 

I probably spent more time listening to new music in 2015 than any other year, and that includes my days as a music director (when staffers helped me to plow through the deluge of records and CDs we received each week).

On average, that means several hours a day every day listening to new singles, EPs, and full-lengths. Although I don't rank them, I also watch-
ed a lot of videos and listened to a lot of mixes. I receive most of this material from labels and publicists, but I'm a freelance writer, and I di-
vide my time between music and film, so I don't get everything, and I don't have the time or money to hear it all, so you're sure to notice notable omissions. To that end, I've included a list of records at the end of this post that might have made my list if I had heard them in their entirety. In those cases, I heard a song or an excerpt, but didn't have access to the full-length in time. Some of these titles, like the Har-
monia collection are now sold out (at least according to Other Music).

As ever, ranking is somewhat arbitrary, except for #1. I love to rank things, but I kind of hate it, too. Plus, my feelings change with time; not radically so, but enough that these titles would probably remain the same, but the order in which they appear would look different. I can never really predict what will stand the test of time. I mean, sometimes I can, but not always. If something--anything--gets overplayed, it tends to grate on my nerves after awhile, and I notice flaws that weren't ap-
parent before. Or if they were always apparent, I focus on them more than I would otherwise. You could call it a flaw in my construction, and I wouldn't beg to differ, but it's part of the reason why independent releases will always give me more joy than major-label productions.

Note: Links lead to my previews for The Stranger (the paper's staff
published their lists here). Unnumbered lists are in alphabetical order.  

Top 10
1. Obnox - Boogalou Reed (12XU)

A new discovery for me. I'm not familiar with Lamont "Bim" Thomas's previous work, and nor did I hear the other two albums, Wiglet and Know America, that he released this year. I only know that Boogalou Reed--ridiculous title and all--rocked harder than anything else I heard (including that incendiary Wolf Eyes record), and I look forward to hearing more from Thomas in the years to come. As with Kamasi Washington's The Epic, this is a record and an artist that received very little love from Seattle in 2015. We can and should do better to support such talented, uninhibited artists. The fact that they're musicians of color makes their absence from local publications and airwaves seem even more unfortunate.  

2. Thee Oh Sees - Mutilator Defeated at Last (Castle Face)
3. Shamir - Ratchet (XL Recordings)
4. Twerps - Range Anxiety (Merge)
5. Kamasi Washington - The Epic (Brainfeeder)
6. Jane Weaver - Silver Globe (Finders Keepers)
7. The Cairo Gang - Goes Missing (God?-Drag City)
8. Bitchin Bajas & Natural Information Society -  
    Automaginary (Drag City)
9. Föllakzoid - III (Sacred Bones)
10. Wolf Eyes - I Am A Problem: Mind in Pieces (Third Man)

11. Joanna Newsom - Divers (Drag City)
12. Jim O'Rourke - Simple Songs (Drag City)
13. Deerhunter - Fading Frontier (4AD)
14. Shopping - Why Wait and Consumer Complaints (FatCat)
15. Hieroglyphic Being & J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Buhl -
      We Are Not the First (RVNG Intl.)
16. Destroyer - Poison Season (Merge)
17. Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love (Sub Pop)
18. Boogarins - Manual (Other Music Recording Co.)
19. Six Organs of Admittance - Hexadic II (Drag City)
20. Royal Headache - High (What’s Your Rupture?)

Second Runners-up
21. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, 
       and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom + Pop)
22. Moon Duo - Shadow of the Sun (Sacred Bones)
23. Meg Baird - Don’t Weigh Down the Light (Drag City)
24. Slim Twig - Thank You for Stickin’ with Twig (DFA)
25. Ultimate Painting - Green Lanes (Trouble in Mind)
26. Jacco Gardner - Hypnophobia (Polyvinyl)
27. Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart - Suuns and 
      Jerusalem in My Heart (Secretly Canadian)
28. Metz - II (Sub Pop)
29. Micachu & the Shapes - Good Sad Happy Bad (Rough Trade)
30. Circuit des Yeux - In Plain Speech (Thrill Jockey)

Haley Fohr of Circuit des Yeux. 

Local Superstars
1. La Luz - Weirdo Shrine (Hardly Art)
2. The Sonics - This Is the Sonics (Revox)
3. Pony Time - Rumours 2: The Rumours Are True (self-released)
4. Wimps - Suitcase (Kill Rock Stars)
5. Childbirth - Women’s Rights (Suicide Squeeze)
6. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial (Matador) 
7. Shana Cleveland & the Sandcastles - Holy Rollers (Suicide Squeeze)
8. Chastity Belt - Time to Go Home (Hardly Art)

Top Reissues
1. Various Artists - Ork Records: New York, 
     New York (Numero Group)
2. Karin Krog - Don't Just Sing | An Anthology 
    1963-1999 (Light in the Attic)
3. Zeus B. Held - Vinyl Collection (Medical Records)
4. Various Artists - Don't Think I've Forgotten: 
    Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll (Dust-to-Digital)
5. Frederick Michael St. Jude - Gang War (Drag City)
6. Elyse Weinberg - Greasepaint Smile (Numerophon)
7. John Carpenter - Lost Themes (Sacred Bones)
8. Six Organs of Admittance - Dust and Chimes (Holy Mountain)
9. Beat Happening - Look Around (Domino)
10. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy: 
     10th Anniversary Edition (Jagjaguwar)

Note: I forgot to add Laddio Bolocko's Live and Unreleased: 1997-2000 (Quarter Records), so just think of it as #11.  

1. White Magic - I'm Hiding My Nightingale (Leaving)
2. Ty Segall - Mr. Face (Famous Class)
3. Susanna - Songs Revisited (SusannaSonata)
4. Parquet Courts - Monastic Living (Rough Trade)
5. Amen Dunes - Cowboy Worship (Sacred Bones)

Top single
David Bowie - "Blackstar" (Sony)

Also worthy of note: Benjamin Clementine - At Least for Now (Capitol Records), Cold Beat - Into the Air (Crime on the Moon), Deradoorian - The Expanding Flower Planet (Anticon), Django Django - Born Under Saturn (Ribbon Music), Drinks - Hermits on Holiday (Heavenly Recordings), Bill Fay - Who Is the Sender? (Dead Oceans), Flying Saucer Attack - Instrumentals 2015 (Drag City), Gardens & Villa - Music for Dogs (Secretly Canadian), Don Howland - Life Is a Nightmare (12XU), Stone Jack Jones - Love and Torture (Western Vinyl), Jessie Jones - Jessie Jones (Burger), Idjut Boys - Versions (Smalltown Supersound), Mike Krol - Turkey (Merge), Lady Lamb - After (Mom+Pop), Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts - Manhattan (Rough Trade), Mantles - All Odds End (Slumberland), Rhett Miller - The Traveler (ATO Records), Peacers - Peacers (Drag City), A Place to Bury Strangers - Transfixiation (Dead Oceans), Public Service Broadcasting - The Race for Space (Test Card Recordings), Michael Rault - Living Daylight (Burger), Shannon & the Clams - Gone by the Dawn (Hardly Art), Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer (Carpark), Summer Twins - Limbo (Burger Records), Richard Thompson - Still (Fantasy Records), Thundercat - The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam (Brainfeeder), Turn to Crime - Actions (Mugg and Bop), Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love (Jagjaguwar), Ryley Walker - Primrose Green (Dead Oceans), Wand - 1,000 Days (God?-Drag City) and Golem (In the Red), Jamie Woon - Making Time (Blue Note), WX - WX (Castle Face), and Yo La Tengo - Stuff Like That There (Matador).

James McNew, Georgia Hubley, and Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo at the Neptune.
Need to hear more: Dick Diver - Melbourne, Florida (Trouble in Mind), Duke Ellington & His Orchestra - The Connie Plank Session (Grönland), Fuzz - II (In the Red), Girl Band - Holding Hands with Jamie (Rough Trade), Harmonia - Complete Works (Grönland), King Midas Sound/Fennesz - Edition 1 (Ninja Tune), Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly (Aftermath-Interscope), Cass McCombs - A Folk Set Apart: Rarities, B-Sides & Space Junk, Etc. (Domino), Mbongwana Star - From Kinshasa (World Circuit), Mueller_Roedelius - Imagori (Grönland), Peach Kelli Pop - III (Burger), and Smokey - How Far 
Will You Go?: The S&M Recordings, 1973-81 (Chapter Music).

Endnote: Obnox image from Público (no photographer noted).  

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