What Am I Listening To? – July 2020

Here are my first impressions of the latest from Flock of Dimes, Phoebe Bridgers, My Morning Jacket, Starflyer 59, Jason Mraz, Mike Shinoda, The Chicks, Father John Misty, Animal Collective, Bombay Bicycle Club, Alanis Morissette, and Wye Oak feat. The Brooklyn Youth Choir.

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Obsessive Year-End List Fest 2015: Favorite Albums (and Honorable Mentions)

Here’s the cream of the crop, folks – the list of albums that captivated me most in the year 2015. While some of these picks are likely about as predictable as the likelihood of a YouTube comments section devolving into a vicious political flamewar, there are a few cases here where I genuinely surprised myself by falling in love with an artist or even a genre that I had previously decided was “just not my thing”. I hope the music that comes out in 2016 challenges me in similar ways.

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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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My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall: Mostly on the right side of that thin line between loving it and wasting my time.

2015_MyMorningJacket_TheWaterfall

Artist: My Morning Jacket
Album: The Waterfall
Year: 2015
Grade: B+

In Brief: The most musically unified and consistently enjoyable album I’ve heard from MMJ thus far. It doesn’t jump all over the place musically as much as their last two records, but it still has a strong 70s folk rock/jam bad/psychedelic vibe, and I love it all the more due to how committed they are to that aesthetic this time around.

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My Morning Jacket – Circuital: I could learn from way back when, and still live right now.

2011_MyMorningJacket_Circuital

Artist: My Morning Jacket
Album: Circuital
Year: 2011
Grade: C+

In Brief: MMJ’s odd commitment to merging Southern rock with 70’s pop and funk can be quite enjoyable. But somewhere midway through, this album short-circuits.

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Divad’s Soundtrack #77: November-December 2008

I was really optimistic at the end of 2008. It had been a tough year, but things appeared to be changing for the better. Still, I think I was more aware of a lot of the turmoil in the world around me than I had been before. I can sort of see a cycle in these songs that I picked back then, which starts out with hope – perhaps hope that was placed in imperfect humans who meant well but couldn’t fix everything we wanted them to fix all at once – and then it moves into a sequence of frustration, jadedness and cynicism, fear, conflict, war, and even death. Ultimately, with the arrival of the Christmas season, it comes right back around to hope again… but it’s tempered with a lot more grace and patience and wisdom than the first time around.

In with the New:
Annie Moses Band

Out with the Old:
Jaci Velasquez
Sanctus Real

Listen on Spotify:

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Divad’s Soundtrack #76: September-October 2008

In the fall of 2008, I was struggling with the idea of change. Some doors were closing in my life – experiences I had greatly enjoyed had come to their natural end, and my natural instinct was to fight that. My whole concept of what it meant to be a Christian in a contentious political climate leading up to the election that year was changing pretty radically. And I can see in this set of songs I put together at the time that there is a lot of coming and going represented in the lyrics here, a lot of leaving people and reuniting, and a lot of need for the assurance that no matter how much change we go through, how much we kick and scream and protest what God is trying to do in us or in the world around us, or how much our very concept of faith might evolve as we leave behind the innocence of youth, God’s love for us is the one permanent thing that will never change.

In with the New:
TV on the Radio
Capital Lights

Out with the Old:
Edison Glass
Sarah Masen

It Was Worth a Try:
Family Force 5

Listen on Spotify:

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Divad’s Soundtrack #75: July-August 2008

I’m just now realizing how richly nostalgic a lot of the summer imagery is within this set of songs I put together ten years ago. In August of 2008, Christine and I embarked on a truly epic road trip through the Southwestern states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. With the exception of our previous trip to Las Vegas, Christine had never been to any of these states before, and I hadn’t been to that part of the country in quite a while myself. On this trip we took in the Grand Canyon, Sedona, the Valles Caldera region of northern New Mexico, Santa Fe, some superlative sections of the Colorado Rockies, Salt Lake City, three Utah National Parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Zion), and finally Vegas on our way back to L.A. It took 12 days, and it tested my limits as a driver in ways that taught me to think more carefully about how many hours on the road I’d be committing myself to on future trips. But it was a great bonding experience that taught us we could enjoy nothing but each other’s company for long stretches of time out on the open road, and to this day it’s one of my most fondly remembered trips.

In with the New:
Fleet Foxes
Katie Herzig
My Morning Jacket

Out with the Old:
Fauxliage
Ivoryline

Listen on Spotify:

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