Obsessive Year-End List Fest 2013: Dishonorable Mentions and Mild Disappointments

When going over my least favorite music of the year, I have to point out as always that there is far worse music out there than anything on this list – mostly by artists who turned me off so much with a single or two, or with obnoxious public personas, that I wouldn’t want to listen to an album of theirs to begin with. But these are all sub-par albums I managed to listen to all the way through at least twice, by artists that I’ve genuinely enjoyed in the past (with maybe one exception).

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Divad’s Soundtrack #63: July-August 2006

My memories of the summer of 2006 are largely dominated by fond remembrance of our first trip back to Hawaii since we got married. Visiting family, and friends who were now starting to feel like family, made Oahu seem more and more like a second home, though there was still plenty left for me to discover. The second part of the trip was to the Big Island, which was a first for both of us. Despite how much I had enjoyed Kauai and Maui on past trips, the Big Island quickly emerged as my favorite part of Hawaii, due to the scenic and biological diversity on display – it was like an entire continent in miniature. This still stands out as one of my all-time favorite trips.

In with the New:
Pearl Jam
Rock Kills Kid
House of Heroes
Leigh Nash (as a solo artist – appears previously with Sixpence None the Richer)

Out with the Old:
downhere
Jack Johnson

It Was Worth a Try:
Thom Yorke (as a solo artist – appears elsewhere with Radiohead)

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Divad’s Soundtrack #62: May-June 2006

One of my favorite memories from the early years of our marriage is all the places Christine, who was still relatively new to Southern California and seeing it through different eyes than I always had, found for us to explore together. For some reason I seem to romanticize the idea of exploration, of filling in a previously unknown spot on the map that most of the people you know might not know anything about, and sharing that new experience together. Ten years later, I still haven’t lost my excitement about that, but new places like those have become harder to find, so I tend to look back with fond nostalgia at the “innocence” of finding out for the first time that some of these beautiful places were tucked away, far from the typical overcrowded tourist spots.

In with the New:
The Violet Burning
Rosanne Cash
Belle & Sebastian

Out with the Old:
Shaun Groves
The Corrs
Charlie Hall
Dean Gray

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Divad’s Soundtrack #61: March-April 2006

Spring 2006. Lots of rain that winter made for good hiking in those months. Life was relatively free from turmoil as far as I can remember, so a lot of the songs I chose for this mix, particularly on Disc One, instead identified with the difficulties others around me were going through. Disc Two has a more drawn-out set of mellow songs to wind it down than my mixes usually do, which may reflect my more peaceful state of mind at the time, though it’s in sharp contrast with the heavier material at the beginning of that disc. Figuring out how to transition between the various moods on these soundtracks is a puzzle that I will never completely solve.

In with the New:
Jack Johnson
The Listening
Justis Kao
Matisyahu
Dean Gray

Out with the Old:
Superchic[k]
Mark Schultz
Fernando Ortega

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Divad’s Soundtrack #60: January-February 2006

There are certain years in my life that I’m heavily nostalgic for. Just seeing the number “2006” brings a flood of memories back, most of them incredibly happy ones. It’s not the only such year, but it’s the example that comes to mind most readily when I ponder which year’s been by favorite so far. It was the first year that Christine and I really got to settle in as newlyweds, with big dreams but no pressure to make big plans in the near-term future, and with the stress that lingered throughout most of 2005 finally gone, this to me is where the “honeymoon” truly started on a more emotional level.

In with the New:
Thrice
KT Tunstall
Calexico

Out with the Old:
Bethany Dillon
Ken Oak Band
Chris Tomlin

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