|So Good So Far 2015|
Time flies when you're having fun, or when you're super busy. Music tends to be the soothsayer in our neck of the woods. Regardless of the situation there tends to be a musical companion for the moment. Earlier this summer I listed the first half of my favorite albums that had been released. Here's the second installment of tunes that I cannot yet wear out. Thanks to all of the musicians who have enriched this calendar year with ear candy. The selections preceded by an asterisk are my top five. So Good So Far 2015...
*Leon Bridges | Coming Home
Has he taken over yet? That voice, the sound, his attire, White Denim backing him, the beauty of it all keeps streaming out like an endless landscape. What his album has done is escape time; it's purely a creation. The title track brought him fame, yet other cuts such as, "Better Man" and "River" have kept me coming back for more. Anticipation and patience is in order for his sophomore effort.
*Anderson East | Delilah
Some of the album comes at you with a sharp snappiness, akin to R&B, but the blade that does the cutting are his lyrics. Plunging into you with his awareness, his words pierce with the truth of having gone through what he is penning. Delilah is a reminder that pain is an artery and the heart its source. Anderson acknowledges the mistakes he's made and in doing so, he is both the heavy hand and the healing poet. Songs such as, "What a Women Wants to Hear" and "Lying in Her Arms," capture this dichotomy with scalpel-like precision.
*Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats | Self Titled Debut Album
This outfit proves that melding different sounds and influences into one coherent portrayal is possible. A greasy country sound backed by a soulful brass section and fronted by a man who can belt it, if not howl it, is a match made in American music heaven. The Night Sweats have been one of my personal favorites this year. The Blues Brothers and Neil Diamond seemingly patched this musical Frankenstein especially for me. "S.O.B." brought them into the spotlight but they are not a one-trick pony.
The entire album is reminiscent of what Levon tells Scorsese in The Last Waltz, "bluegrass and country music...if it comes down into that area and if it mixes there with the rhythm and if it dances, then you've got a combination of all that music." Scorsese asks, "What's it called?" Levon replies, "rock and roll." Denver just might be the new city for having a good time; I think they've got a hometown band ready to lead the charge.
"Howling at Nothing"
Dead Weather | Dodge & Burn
The Dead Weather replaces trickery with an assault of intensity and skill, a collection of talent can do that—some musicians simply know how to rock. Third Man Records created a limited edition release for Vault members which fueled my excitement for this album. For those of us who like to rock out once in awhile this record is relentless, fuzzy and awesome. They hit you from the start with the opener, "I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)." Then there's, "Let Me Through," which is rough around the edges in all the right ways. Hearing Mosshart sing, "I'm a bad man, let me through," isn't a request, it's a demand.
"Cop and Go"
Jonathan Tyler | Holy Smokes
There's a type of music that exists again due to a wealth of phenomenal young artists that don't always get radio play. Jonathan Tyler embraces that quality and others in his music. Country, soaked at times in some reverb, is a good thing. The first track, "Hallelujah," colors outside the lines of traditional country with a cool garage-like sound. The second offering takes you down an entirely different path (listen below). In a nod to Townes, Jonathan teams up with Nikki Lane on, "To Love is to Fly," an honest offering of wordplay, sung over the weeping of a pedal steel guitar. This is a great album more people should be listening to.
"Goin' Down to the City"
Jack Broadbent | Along the Trail of Tears
Along the Trail has songs that hang heavy with meaning, like over-ripened fruit bending limbs that lend support. The song below embodies that sentiment. Pace does change throughout the album. "Big Black Boat" has a knack for making you tap your toes in approval. "Far Off Galaxy" is etched from the Blues, as is much of the record. Along the Trail of Tears feels like it was made for whiskey on the front porch or the back forty with a bonfire blazing. All of that sounds good to me.
My baker's dozen consists of the six artists from above as well as: *Father John Misty, I Love You Honeybear | Matthew E. White, Fresh Blood | Tobias Jesso Jr., Goon | *Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color | Houndmouth, Little Neon Limelight | Lord Huron, Strange Trails | My Morning Jacket, The Waterfall
Honorable Mentions: Beach House (x2), Lana Del Rey, Rayland Baxter, Wilco. (second half of 2015)
Thanks for checking in and reading my rabble. Fortunately this year I have had the pleasure of seeing a handful of these great acts live. Speaking of live shows, The BESTY's are coming, an annual run-down of my favorite live performances.