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2015 Year End Best Of

 
 
Minion Name:
  PostLibyan  
         
     

This is officially the 16th Year-End list i have posted on this site, and i thought i’d mix it up a little by not ranting about how disappointed i was in the year’s crop of music. 2015 was a good year for music. I saw some great live shows and listened to a lot of really good records.

 
         
 
Albums:
 
  1. Algiers by Algiers. Hands down, the best thing i have heard in a long time. Just go and listen already.

  2. Sound and Color by Alabama Shakes. How is this only their second album? It is rich and lush and full, the sound of a great band firing on all cylinders.

  3. Non-believers by Mac McCaughan. Okay, so I am kind of Mac’s fanboy, but this is a really great pop album. Mac did a better job than I had honestly expected.

  4. Days With Dr. Yen Lo by Ka and Preservation. Avant-garde rap. This is hip hop as meditation. Really lovely. Even if you don’t like hip-hop, give this a listen.

  5. The People are Home by The Underground Railroad to Candyland. Raucous goofy punk rock. This never fails to put a smile on my face and get my foot tapping.

  6. Paradigm 3 by The Virgance. Ambient guitar noodling. I love this kind of stuff, and this is one of the better examples in recent years

  7. Transfixiation by A Place to Bury Strangers. Glad these guys are still out there, fighting the good fight of crazy, dark, noise rock.

  8. Native Lights by Native Lights. This is a lovely, complex, indie rock record that rewards repeated listens.

  9. Five by Echodrone. Shoegazey noise-rock goodness.

However, there are more records that come out in a year than I have time. Some records I get and listen to, but it takes a while to really appreciate them.  The following is an alphabetical list of records that I am just not 100% sure about yet, but enjoy of first listen.

This Sea is Killing Me by Autodrone. Dark gothy synthpop goodness.

Purple by Baroness. This is catchy and rifftastic from the Savannah metal band.

One and Sixes by Low. Hey, it’s a new Low record. They are not really breaking any new ground here, but there are always a couple of gems on any of their records.

Bleeder’s Digest by Say Hi. I admit that I kind of stopped following this band, but Tracers kept raving about how this record was his best album in a long time and, well, it’s his best album in a long time. Silly, catchy fun.

Nothing Bothers Me by Triathalon. I was really impressed by the debut of this Savannah dreampoppish band, and just got a promo of their new record. I like it, but this kind of thing takes a while to really absorb.

 
         
         
 
EPs / Singles :
 
  1. Anything is Possible and Nothing Makes Sense by Twin Limb. I saw this band live at Secret Stages in Birmingham and they really impressed. I waited for them to release something, and maybe it is only available online right now, but damn this is amazing stuff. Powerful vocals, sauntering rhythms, droning accordion, and soaring guitar. Right up my alley, and perfect.

  2. Designers by Betama.  A mysterious online release from, seemingly, people local to EvilSponge. This is a nice EP of those loping techno sounds coming out of Berlin these days. Lovely stuff.

  3. Setting Fires in My Parent’s House by Blis. Lovely indie rock EP by local band. I need to track these people down in concert.

  4. Body Diffuser by Landing. Psychedelic dronemasters Landing release a cassette EP. I like the way that the whole thing flows in a loop, so if I play the tape in the tape deck in my car (yes, my car still has a tape deck!) you don’t even really notice when it flips over, everything just blends together.

  5. Anomie by Anomie. So this band is, in a way, a different variation on Field Mouse. I like the slightly melancholy indie rock they do here. But to be honest, if they released this as a Field Mouse EP, no one would have batted an eye.
 
         
 
Concerts:
 
  1. Algiers album release show at The EARL on Fri.5.June. I went into this one with high hopes, after being blown away by their record. Live, the band killed it. They are even better live, if you can believe that. Go see them.

  2. Autechre at Terminal West on Friday.9.Oct. I went to see Autechre, and just before midnight they took the stage in complete darkness at Terminal West. It was an odd show, well, truth be told there was no show per se, but the music that was blaring from the soundsystem was fascinating and, I suppose, Autechre-y. This band is so unique they get their own adjective. If you are into this sort of thing, then they were great live.

  3. Young Widows at 529 on Fri.30.Oct. I regretted missing them in the past, so I stayed up way, way, way past my (old fogey) bedtime to see them utterly crush the crowd at 529. Seriously – they were loud and brash and energetic. Amazing live, simply amazing.

  4. Mac MacCaughan at 529 on Thu.21.May. I have been going to see Mac perform for a lot of years now, and this was honestly one of my favorite performances. He and his new backing band just played simple pop music, and did it well. I really enjoyed this show.

  5. Dalek at The EARL on Tue.3.Nov. This was an odd show of hip-hop, avant-garde noise, and avant-garde hip-hop. I do like what Dalek are doing though.

  6. Fri.31.July at Secret Stages in Birmingham, AL. Three amazing performances in a row: Gold-bears, Twin Limb, and Waking Astronomer. Each band was great, and this was an excellent two hours of music.

  7. The Church at Terminal West on Tue.17.March. I have seen The Church a half dozen times, and each show has some special moments. I loved the long opening version of “Is This Where You Live?”, and seeing drunk happy fanboys dance and scream along to “Reptile” in the encore. It’s always great to see The Church, even without Marty.

  8. Smithsonian and Clashinista at Terminal West on Fri.26.June. Two local cover bands. Clashinista were amazing. Smithsonian played all of Strangeways Here We Come, which is not the most uplifting album the Smiths ever made. Their encore was great though, and this was a fun show with all sorts of friends.

  9. Wild Moth at The Drunken Unicorn on Fri.20.Nov. Wild Moth really remind me of The Golden Age of Indie Rock (aka, the 1990s). They were a lot of fun in concert.

  10. Ex Hex at The EARL on Thu.13.Aug. Muuy Biien opened and were great. Red Bull promoted the show, so I got in free for signing up to get spam emails from them. Mary Timony and friends rocked hard and great. Good show.
 
         
 
Movies:
 

I’m not really a movie buff, but here is the stuff I saw this year:

  1. Star Wars: the Force Awakens. Kind of wipes the nasty aftertaste of “the prequels” out of one’s mouth, even if director JJ Abrams does like making the audience feel dizzy.

  2. Black Mass. For some reason, my (deadhead) girlfriend became obsessed with the story of Whitey Bulger, so we went to see this in the theater. It is a chilling portrayal of a violent psychopath, and really well done.

  3. Mad Max: Fury Road. Never saw this in the theater, but caught it on DVD. Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Max is more somber than Mel Gibson’s, but this was a fun silly movie perfectly in keeping with the originals.
 
         
 
Books:
 

I go through phases where I read a lot, and times when I am so busy that I don’t have any time to read.  Here is what I enjoyed this year:

  1. Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman. This is a novel about the war in Afghanistan written by a guy who was a journalist embedded with US troops there. He tells it through the eyes of tribespeople, and it is a really fascinating look at a strange culture that we have, somehow, become entangled with. This is not a happy book, but it very well written.

  2. Life on Mars by Tracy K Smith. Smith’s poetry sometimes reads like hip-hop, and I guess the lines are a little blurred there. She has some wonderful imagery in this collection.

  3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I don’t know if this fully revolutionized my life, but Inspector Jason was the first one to come visit after I had purged, and he remarked on how more open my condo seemed. I guess that means it did something.

  4. Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey. I had heard good things about this space opera and eventually got around to reading it. Gripping and thrilling, this had me entranced all the way through. I need to read more in this series.

  5. 10% Happier by Dan Harris. Harris is a TV broadcaster that i am not really familiar with, but this is a really great read about how he came to mediation as a way to treat anxiety. Harris is witty and this is a fun read.

  6. Cloud Roads by Martha Wells. Martha is pretty funny online and I have followed her blog for a while, and then I tracked down one of her novels. This is a really interesting fantasy novel about shape shifters. I am sure that it won’t appeal to a lot of people, but if you like fantasy novels, I highly recommend it.

  7. Bird Box by Josh Mallerman. Josh is the singer in The High Strung, who we have reviewed here before, and this is his first novel. It is a horror novel about unspeakable terror, and I liked the Lovecraftian feel of it even though this is not the kind of thing I normally read.
 
         
     

So 2016: you got something to live up to. Don’t disappoint me!

 
         
 
Related Links:
  Read PostLibyan's lists from 2000.
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Read PostLibyan's lists from 2002.
Read PostLibyan's lists from 2003.
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Read PostLibyan's lists from 2005.
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Read PostLibyan's lists from 2009.
Read PostLibyan's lists from 2010.
Read PostLibyan's lists from 2011.
Read PostLibyan's lists from 2012.
Read PostLibyan's lists from 2013.
Read PostLibyan's lists from 2014.
Read PostLibyan's lists from 2015.
Read PostLibyan's lists from 2016.
 
         

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