Obsessive Year-End List Fest 2015: Favorite Songs

The first order of business as 2015 comes to a close is to sift through all of my favorite songs that I first heard this year (or perhaps late last year, and it just took me a little longer to appreciate them) and attempt to put them in order, which as usual starts to get a bit silly below the top 30 or so. Music videos and some live performances are embedded for that first chunk of the list. As I’ve done in previous years, I’ve also got a Spotify playlist that covers a lot of these, limited to a song per artist and more in chronological order of when I discovered them.

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Lifehouse – Out of the Wasteland: I sure hope that title’s not a reference to your last album.

2015_Lifehouse_OutoftheWasteland

Artist: Lifehouse
Album: Out of the Wasteland
Year: 2015
Grade: B

In Brief: At first glance, this appears to be a return to the same-old same-old as a knee-jerk reaction against the negative feedback they got when they tried to change up their sound on Almería. But look a little deeper, and there are some really well-written songs that don’t fit the expected Lifehouse mold. There just aren’t enough of them to win the band any new fans this late in the game.

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Divad’s Soundtrack #86: May-June 2010

“Movement” is the word that comes to mind when I think of the late spring and early summer of 2010. It’s a freedom that I almost feel like I was taking for granted, now that I’m thinking about it from the perspective of 2020. The month of May started off with a weekend trip to Vegas. In mid-June, I surprised Christine with another weekend trip, this time to Colorado, where we managed to cram in a National Park visit and one of my “bucket list” concerts all in a single day. In between the two, we moved to a new apartment – only 2 miles away from our old place on Granada near the train tracks, and still technically within the city of Alhambra, but close enough to its northern boundary to have a more peaceful “San Marino ambiance”. On the surface, we were turning over new leaves and doing a lot of fun things, and life was good. Deeper down, more of an unsettling sort of movement was going on. I can still remember the exact moment when a “dark epiphany” hit me that sent me into an emotional tailspin that I’d struggle with on and off for the better part of the next two years. As much as listening to this set of songs instantly brings back my excitement at the newness of our surroundings during that time, it also reminds me of some questions that haunted me at the time – things I would have never thought in a million years I’d ever have to wrestle with.

In with the New:
Paper Route

Out with the Old:
The Paper Raincoat
Joe Henry

Listen on Spotify:

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Divad’s Soundtrack #85: March-April 2010

My soundtrack from the spring of 2010 is… a bit of a hodgepodge, honestly. Most of my soundtracks are, but this one in particular has a bit of an identity crisis. Lots of great music here from across a smattering of divergent genres, but not a whole lot of connecting tissue tying most of it together – and honestly, not as many specific memories tying the music to definitive events in my life. I think this tends to happen during a season of life when I’m reasonably settled and happy – the music I’m drawn to, which might reflect a certain amount of angst or difficult questions, is probably resonating more with stuff I’ve been through in the past, or stuff I’m glad to have never been through. All of this is to say, I’ve realized in retrospect that this is a less autobiographical set of songs than most of my soundtracks turned out to be. Nothing wrong with that – remembering a time in my life when there was a distinct lack of struggle or upheaval is kind of comforting nowadays, considering how isolated, unpredictable and stressful life is for me (and for most of the world!) ten years down the road.

In with the New:
OK Go
Owl City
The River Empires
Jónsi (as a solo artist – appears earlier with Sigur Rós)

Out with the Old:
Newsboys

It Was Worth a Try:
The Clumsy Lovers

Listen on Spotify:

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The Best of the Ought Nots, Part I: 81-100

The beginning of a new year, 2010, and a new third digit in our numbering system for years that indicates I’ll likely never see another year with “0” in that slot for the rest of my lifetime, means that for the first time, this relatively young music fan gets to look back at entire decade (these things being commonly delineated by that third digit even if the technical scientific approach says our decade isn’t over until the beginning of 2011) and try to sum it all up in terms of the music that was meaningful to me over the course of nearly a third of my life. That’s right, I’m just a smidgen over 30, which means that the 2000’s (or the “Ought Nots”, as I’ve decided to call a decade of learning what not to do in retrospect) were my first full decade of being a true music fan. I might have come of age and finished high school and college in the 90’s, and I have my fair share of nostalgic tunes to whisk me back to those days. But this most recent decade was when I truly opened up, with the advent of file sharing and social networking making it remarkably easy to burst the bubble of “Christian music only” that I started out with, to go beyond the basic pop/rock styles largely dominant on the radio, and to really dig deep and find my own musical personality, unburdened by rumors of danger beyond the comfortable fences I had previously built for myself.

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Divad’s Soundtrack #74: May-June 2008

The late spring and summer of 2008 saw me finally getting into a couple of bands that I’d been on the fence about for several years, but wasn’t quite in the right headspace to fully appreciate until they dropped new records that year. As I look back on the set of songs I chose for this particular soundtrack, I’m noticing a theme of wanting to fly away or escape from some sort of captivity in a handful of the songs on Disc One, while Disc Two dives deeper into disillusionment with hypocritical leaders, and with the “prosperity Gospel” I was still trying to shake of the last vestiges of as I was confronted by issues of poverty and marginalized groups that had been treated poorly by the Church. Heavy stuff, though I saved a few lighter songs of “romantic gratitude” for the end, just to conclude the set peacefully. There’s also a pair of songs about counting, and a number of songs that switch between 3/4 and 4/4 time, which was apparently a thing I was really into at the time.

In with the New:
Ivoryline
After Edmund
R.E.M.
Yoav
Feist
Elbow

Out with the Old:
Starfield
Five O’Clock People

Listen on Spotify:

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Divad’s Soundtrack #73: March-April 2008

As always, it’s interesting to look back on these homemade compilations many years later and see if any themes emerge. The spring of 2008 was a pretty happy time in my life, so these songs aren’t tied to personal experiences per se. But I can tell that I was mulling over some heavier themes. Like what God would have to say about American Christianity’s relationship to the rest of the world. Or how I would know as a parent when to protect a child from experiencing emotional pain and when to let them go ahead and learn the lesson on their own. Or whether love was more of a feeling or a conscious choice. Or the joy of a two-minute punk song. (That last one’s not a particularly heavy theme. It was just a fun observation.)

In with the New:
The Myriad
Drive-By Truckers
Vampire Weekend

Out with the Old:
Fono
Olivia the Band
Andrea Corr (as a solo artist – appears later with The Corrs)
Corrinne May

Listen on Spotify:

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