Kanye West

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Here’s another late addition to our favorite music of 2015–this time it’s our favorite songs. You’ll find Logan’s favorites first, then Chris’s, each in alphabetical order.

And if you have any interest, here’s a link to a Spotify playlist with most of the songs below–enjoy!

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“FourFiveSeconds”, the polarizing new single from Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney, has been playing in my head incessantly for over a week now. I can’t get it out of there! And that’s so weird! Because the song sounds pretty much like a glorified Colbie Caillat demo.

At least, that’s what I thought when I first heard it anyway. I scratched my head a bit (I think everyone did)… I didn’t not like it – I just thought, “that doesn’t sound totally finished”, and I thought that was that. But that wasn’t that. Because I kept playing it. And when I wasn’t playing it, I kept humming it. And when I wasn’t humming it… well you get it.

But it still just sounds like a demo to me. A demo that happens to have a (frankly) stunning vocal turn by Rihanna and a simple-but-somehow-brilliant chorus that just won’t let up.

And now it has this video. Which looks kind of like a Gap ad.

So what I’m trying to say is, this whole thing confuses me. But I like it. A lot.

(Also, that bass slide sounds SO MUCH like RX-FT500-era Mountain Goats to me. So maybe that’s why I’ve got some serious positive associations going on here…)

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It’s been pretty quiet around here for awhile (so quiet that we’re pretty sure just our mom’s are checking this thing at this point) (hi moms!), but even though we haven’t been writing all that much, we promise we’ve still been listening to loads of good music. So putting this list together has been a good chance for us to finally put down how we feel about some of the great stuff we’ve heard this year. We just hope it’s as fun for you to browse through as it was for us to pull together!

Before reading on, just a quick note about a record that’s not on this list: The Head & The Heart’s debut record saw a major label release this year (on Sub Pop), and although we’ve probably listened to that absolute gem of a record more than just about any other this year, we didn’t include it on account of it being on our year-end list for 2010, since they self-released it that year. But just know this: under different circumstances, The Head & The Heart would most certainly top this list. So if you haven’t heard them yet, let that be your invitation! Because they are so great!

So with that out of the way, we’re ready to unveil our Top 21 Albums of 2011. Just remember that this list represents our favorite albums of the year, and not necessarily the best albums of the year. If we had to pick what we thought were the very best albums critically, this list might look a little different. But we’re not critics, so we’re not going to worry about who made the greatest artistic strides or whatever this year. These are simply our very favorite albums of the year: the ones that made us laugh, cry, dance, smile, press repeat, wet our pants, etc. Basically, this is what we’ll remember when we look back on 2011.

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Since I’m still a Twitter hold-out I was a little behind on this, but have you heard of @discographies?? He reduces entire musical careers to 140 characters or less, and he’s kind of amazing at it. Here’s some favorites:

The Decemberists: 1-3 “Wand’ring wide, we sailed our tales…” 4-5 “…o’er the topographic ocean.” 6 “Safely home, we commenced to jangle.”

Kanye West: 1-3 “I was a good student.” 4 “But after graduation, I got depressed.” 5 “All I did was surf the web and listen to Meat Loaf.”

Weezer: 1 “Remember that nerdy guy from high school?” 2 “The one who couldn’t talk to girls?” 3-7 “Why are you still hanging out with him?”

Green Day: 1-2 “Retro-punk 4ever, dude! We’ll never sell out or slow down or write rock operas!” 3 Sell out. 4-6 Slowdown. 7-8 Rock operas.

LCD Soundsystem: 1 “Music about other music…”; 2 “…acquires unexpected resonance…”; 3 “…if you explain the trick and then vanish.”

Check it out.

UPDATE: I just read an interview with the anonymous writer of @discographies, wherein he says this, the most true thing I’ve ever read about modern music consumption:

“Since we’re now at a point where it costs virtually nothing to acquire and store someone’s life work the one truly valuable commodity that still surrounds music consumption is the expenditure of time necessary to hear all the stuff you’ve downloaded. If [a] hypothetical 15 year old has just BitTorrented Neil Young’s entire corpus of work onto her computer, she’ll probably be a lot happier if the first album she plays isn’t Old Ways, but who’s going to tell her that? That’s where I see @Discographies as having real utility above and beyond whatever entertainment value it may possess. If I can steer just one person away from This Note’s For You and towards Tonight’s The Night, it will all have been worthwhile.”

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Top 21? But weren’t there 25 last year? Well yes. And it was only 15 the year before that. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re not that rigid around here – all we really care about is letting you know what we’re loving right now and that’s about it. If we only fall for one record next year then you can probably expect “WiAC’s Top 1 Album of 2011”. It’ll be a good one, though. We promise.

That said, this year was a great year for music. But it was great in a different way than the last couple years. In 2008 and 2009 we fell hard for debut records by new bands (Grand Archives and Harlem Shakes, respectively), but this year our top 5 went to nearly all familiar faces. In fact, I think when we look back on 2010 what we’ll remember most was how artist after artist that released an anticipated album just seemed to deliver – and not just by making good records, but often by making the record of their career. In a year where we listened to more music than ever, we just couldn’t deny that these were the albums we enjoyed the most. Period.

Finally, remember that this list represents our favorite albums of the year, and not necessarily the best albums of the year. If we had to pick what we thought were the very best albums critically, this list would probably look a little different. But we’re not critics, so we’re going to skip all the posturing and taste-making mumbo-jumbo. These are simply our very favorite albums of the year – the ones that made us laugh, cry, dance, smile, press repeat, wet our pants, etc. Basically, this is what we’ll remember when we look back on 2010…

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I’m not exactly sure what initially kicked off my recent hip-hop binge – but Kanye West’s recent 30+ minute music video/art film for “Runaway” definitely had something to do with it. In fact, if you’re one of the few who haven’t actually heard this album yet, can I make a suggestion? Watch that video first. Let this man’s ridiculously ambitious artistic vision wash over you in the most visually/aurally engrossing way – and then tackle this album with that visual association already hard-wired into your brain. You can say what you will about the man, but there’s just no arguing that he’s got a vision. Between the “Runaway” video, his recent performances on SNL (which were pretty fantastic), and his slew of G.O.O.D. Friday tracks, he managed to get me (and just about the whole world) pretty psyched for this ridiculously titled new record, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

So does it deliver?

 

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