lists

Zach’s Favorite Albums of 2016

I thought this would be the year I gave up on music, but I was wrong. I depended on music more than ever this year. For all the shit life throws at you there’s always a song to make you feel better. I want to thank the 13 artists listed below for getting me through this tumultuous year.

And now an open letter to 2016:

2016,

You can go do something to yourself that I can’t write on here because my parents might read this.

Even though you sucked, you put out some of the best rock n roll albums that I can remember in a very long time. You also gave me the most beautiful follow up to Channel Orange that I could have imagined. Oh! and Chance The Rapper; you gave us more of that guy. We all need more Chance in our life.

Sincerely,

Zach Gibson

  1. Blonde – Frank Ocean
  2. Ruminations – Conor Oberst
  3. The Life of Pablo – Kanye West
  4. Cardinal – Pinegrove
  5. A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead
  6. Goodness – The Hotelier
  7. 22, A Million – Bon Iver
  8. Teens of Denial – Car Seat Headrest
  9. Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper
  10. A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings – Beach Slang
  11. Schmilco – Wilco
  12. The White Album – Weezer
  13. Introducing Karl Blau – Karl Blau

Xtina’s Favorite Albums of 2015

2015 brought me some of my favorite albums of all time. The majority of these came out earlier in the year, which is great because I didn’t do much music-listening after the baby was born. Too much stress. My favorite albums don’t conveniently fit into the top ten formula, so  it’s a good thing I’m not writing for Rolling Stone or Pitchfork, I guess.

Anyway, it’s naptime, so I’ll stop rambling

Carrie and Lowell– Sufjan Stevens

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I expected this to be my favorite album of 2015, and I was right. I should play the lottery. This is Stevens’ most personal album to date. It addresses his largely absent mother, a woman who suffered from addiction and mental illness, and the three consecutive summers he spent with her and his stepfather. Prominent themes include regret, death, love, fear, failure, and forgiveness. You know, just a few lighthearted topics. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment (name that obscure movie reference) because I love this album. I can’t stop listening to it, and it hurts just as much (in a good way) each time.

I Love You, Honeybear– Father John Misty

I loved FJM’s first album. It was sardonic, funny, and generally entertaining. His sophomore release provided all that and more. He drops the persona somewhat, choosing to sing about love, fear, failure, marriage, and the level at which some people (including himself) suck. I’m sensing a theme here. There are some songs on this album that I related to so well it was eerie. On “The Ideal Husband,” he runs through a litany of his failures, and then asks, “Wouldn’t I make the ideal husband?” almost threatening his wife to run while she still can. He repeatedly addresses the irony of being cynical and in love, two states of being that typically do not go together. As an added bonus, it is hilarious and a perfect album to sing along to in the car.

To Pimp a Butterfly– Kendrick Lamar

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I’m not even going to feign a knowledge of hip hop. I’m an emo purist through and through, and “branching out” for me looks like adding some Americana to my playlist. And yet… Kendrick Lamar’s album hit me HARD. I don’t say this as a boast, but I have never been so affected by this type of music. I get chills every time I listen to it. To Pimp a Butterfly is so important on both a personal level and as a mouthpiece for a movement. Like Father John Misty, Kendrick Lamar addresses personal and larger failures, but he also finds a way to convey hope. And the music is so varied; he calls to mind everything from funk to early 90s hip hop, arguably providing the most varied album on my list.

Coming Home– Leon Bridges

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This debut album by a young Bridges (I can say that because I’m a month older than he is) straight up feels like someone dug it up out of a 1965 time machine. I wasn’t alive then, obviously, so what do I know, but it feels like authentic ’60s soul music. The songs don’t stray too far from typical soul music themes (scorned love; a reverence for God, woman, and home; a desire for self-improvement) but it feels so fresh. Coming Home is the perfect sing-a-long album, and Bridges is just SO. damn. cool. And it’s like he doesn’t even know it!

1989- Ryan Adams

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Adams got some flack for covering this album. People said he was trying to show how serious he was and Taylor Swift wasn’t, but I don’t think that was the intent at all. In fact, he has said that he recorded these songs as a type of therapy, and he did not intend to release them. It wasn’t until Swift herself heard them and encouraged him did he do so (free publicity?!). Anyway, this album is beautiful. I liked 1989; it’s fun, fresh, and lyrically pretty good. But Adams’ version feels like an entirely different album. It feels sarather than invigorated, hearkening back to perfect sad albums like Springsteen’s Nebraska and anything by the Smiths, really.

Kinstugi- Death Cab for Cutie

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This isn’t my favorite Death Cab album of all time, but it’s pretty damn good. Also, it’s the breakup album we all wanted when we heard he and ol’ what’s her name divorced. It includes the best of the last album– perfect vocals– with the layered, intricate music it lacked. Also, I love a little snark. (Aaaalso, I hate the word “snark.” I feel like Gossip Girl.)

 

You know you love me. XOXO, Christina

 

(Honorable mentions include My Morning Jacket’s The Waterfall, Beach House’s Depression Cherry, and Desaparecidos Payola.)

 

 

Zach’s Top 10 Albums of the Year

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  1. Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens – It’s difficult to say that this is my favorite Sufjan album. Since Michigan every release has been unique, gorgeous and groundbreaking. Don’t get me started on how wonderful (and unappreciated) The Age of Adz is. On Carrie & Lowell Sufjan pours is heart out. These songs are about his estranged mentally ill mother who passed away sometime last year. He’s never been so personal. The songs are heartbreaking, honest, and beautiful. It’s a step forward in an already wonderful catalog of music.
  2. I Love You, Honeybear – Father John Misty – This album continues to impress me. They’re love songs, but it’s more than that. It’s a hilarious take on love, society, and culture. The song writing is clever and honest.
  3. To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly was by far my most anticipated album of the year and it lived up to the hype. I was lying in bed at 12:30 am when I read on twitter that it was released early. I put my headphones on while my wife was out cold beside me in bed and embarked on a funkadelic journey led by one Kendrick Lamar. I’m still deciphering the deeper meaning of the songs. No album meant more to a movement this year. Hearing people chant the lyrics to “Alright” at Black Lives Matter rallies was chilling. Kendrick Lamar made his most important album when it was needed the most.
  4. Payola – Desaparecidos – It might be the fanboy in me, but I loved this album so much. Every year a Conor Oberst album winds up my end of the year list. I was surprised to have liked this one so much. Conor Oberst is a chameleon; he can make whatever type of music he wants and it works for me. This is a punk rock album in every sense. It’s about inequality, politics, and frustration.
  5. 1989 – Ryan Adams – The internet had a field day with Ryan Adams’ recordings of 1989. I thought they would never be released. When they were they didn’t disappoint. I won’t lie, I’m not a Taylor Swift fan. I don’t hate her, I just don’t go out of my way to listen to her music. But her influence on pop culture is undeniable. Ryan Adams’ interpretation of 1989 is a fantastic tribute to a pretty good pop album. He made me love these songs.
  6. The Bearer of Bad News – Andy Shauf
  7. The Desired Effect – Brandon Flowers
  8. Star Wars – Wilco
  9. No No No – Beirut
  10. Something More Than Free – Jason Isbell

Wires & Waves Summer Playlist 2015

For about the last eight years I’ve made a summer playlist for my pals. This summer I did the same thing. I made it on Spotify so you have to have an account to listen to it, which made me think about how much I miss making cd’s for people.

The first summer playlist I made for my friends was in 2008 and it was really fun and also very personal. It took a lot of time to burn all the cd’s and deliver them. I really miss that. I don’t think people listen as intently to a playlist made on Spotify.

With that being said, I still want you guys to listen to these songs because they’re great (at least I think so). They’re not necessarily about summer or sun or swimming or driving or beach balls, but they make me think about those things.

I hope you enjoy it on your phone, computer or tablet.

XO,

Zachary

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Winter Music Preview (or the season in which I go broke)

January, February, and March are notoriously a-hole months, especially if you live in a place in which winter is an actual thing. It’s cold, dark, and dreary, and you see no end in sight. (I take exception to this idea because I love winter. Leave me alone, everyone!)

However, winter 2015 is going to be one for the books–and by books, I do mean the pocketbooks. The checkbooks? I don’t know. So many incredible albums are coming out in the next few months, and, of course, with new albums comes tours. I’m not really in the position to be dropping loadz of cash on stuff, but oh well. Carpe diem. C’est la vie. Music is the little, innovative engineering tool that keeps the wheel turning and all that stuff. Without further ado, I present to you the albums I am most eagerly anticipating. What are you looking forward to?

Sleater-Kinney- No Cities to Love (January 20)

Anyone with ears can tell that Sleater-Kinney’s newest (and surprising) release is going to be incredible. I feel like this album came out of necessity, as if it were just bubbling out of all them and they had to release it. It has so much energy. Stream the album over at NPR now.

Belle and Sebastian- Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (January 20)

I’ve been a Belle and Sebastian fan for about ten years now, which is a long time when you’re only 25. Their music is sensitive, witty, and fun, all adjectives that also describe me (except for that last one, but two out of three isn’t bad). Related side note: I hate dancing and anything that involves big crowds of happy people. Therefore, the first time I heard “The Party Line,” I was like, “WTF, B&S?” But after many listens, I have grown to love it. I feel like it’s a dance-y party song for people who hate dance-y party songs. The ultimate introvert party song. You can also stream it on NPR.

The Decemberists- What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (January 20)

Father John Misty- I Love You Honeybear (February 10)

I don’t know what I did to deserve someone as perfect as Josh Tillman (AKA Father John Misty), but I’m not complaining. He’s hilarious, witty, a fantastic dancer, a perfect songwriter and storyteller, and he wrote one of my favorite love songs of all time. I’ve been listening to “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” on repeat since it came out. It is SO good. Apparently, the album is a concept album about falling in love with his wife, photographer Emma Tillman. I don’t know how he does it. Go buy it now!

This is where things get serious.

MARCH, YOU GUYS!

Death Cab for Cutie- Kintsugi

Death Cab just announced the album this morning, complete with track listing and album art, over on Paste. Chris Walla is also on the album, which is exciting for many reasons, namely because he departed the band a few months ago. I loved Codes and Keys, but it didn’t have the killer songwriting for which Ben Gibbard is known. I am eagerly anticipating the return of one of my favorite writers on this album.

Modest Mouse- Strangers to Ourselves

I think the whole world collectively high-fived the air when they announced this. We have been waiting for this for so, so long. Also, their first single, “Lampshades of Fire,” is the shiiiiit.

OKAY.

As I was writing this post, my favorite husband called me to tell me the most exciting news of my life.

SUFJAN STEVENS IS RELEASING AN ALBUM IN MARCH.

SUFJAN STEVENS IS RELEASING AN ALBUM IN MARCH.

SUFJAN STEVENS IS RELEASING AN ALBUM IN MARCH.

He is my #1 favorite musician in the whole galaxy. Read more about the album here. I’m crying tears of joy!!!!!

Xtina’s Songs of the Day

I have three songs of the day for today. I suppose it’s appropriate due to the unexplained silence over here. Not that anyone cares. But I care! Our SiriusXM trial ended last week, so I’ve mostly been listening to NPR again. I love NPR so much. Today on Here and Now, they had a 2015 music preview show, and it was actually pretty good. I love Tom Ashbrook.

My first song of the day is Kanye’s new song with Paul McCartney on the piano. This is the Kanye I first fell in love with a decade ago. While I admittedly enjoy and appreciate (most of) his bravado-filled songs, this one feels honest and simple in a way that he doesn’t often do.

My second song is “Torturer” by Krill, which I heard on Here and Now this morning. It’s a good, bare bones punk rock song.

My last song is a new/old Iron & Wine song. He is releasing an album of older tracks, which is exciting since it likely means more of the quiet, calm Iron & Wine that I love.

Xtina’s New Years Anti-resolutions Playlist

Merry after Christmas! We traveled a lot and have both been sick, but I just ate an orange, so now I’m a healthy powerhouse. The onslaught of New Years’ resolutions has begun. Initially, I felt a little pressured (panic sneaks up on me all the time about everything), but then I thought, “Shutup dummies,” and I made this playlist.

I can’t really jump on the resolution bandwagon. I understand that, for some, it’s a time of rebirth or a good starting point to a better, healthier, happier, more productive Radiohead-ish lifestyle, but I can’t do it, and that’s fine. It isn’t that I have no goals. I have plenty of goals. I just can’t articulate them beyond this: kick ass in school, be a good friend and family member, and be happy. Everything else kind of falls under those categories. And if I pick up a new hobby this year (not likely), then hooray for me. I win 2015.

Here is my anti-resolution playlist. Enjoy and be resolute in all that you do. See ya, dudes.