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Top 10 Films Of 2015

January 15, 2016

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Noah and I saw a bunch of terrible movies last year.  You probably don’t care about any of those, so below you’ll find the ones that we liked a lot.  Enjoy.

John’s Top 10 Films Of 2015

10)  Bone Tomahawk

Most people think that The Hateful Eight was the best western to come out in 2015, and they’re wrong.  It was definitely Bone Tomahawk.  Oddly enough, Kurt Russell is in both of them, and the characters aren’t all that different.  Maybe that’s part of the reason why Tarantino’s flick overshadowed the engaging slice of western horror that was crafted by newcomer S. Craig Zahler.  Oh well.  In any case, Bone Tomahawk is a fantastic film that’s brutal but also funny and charming.  See it if you missed it.

09)  Spotlight

Of all of the movies I saw in 2015, Spotlight is the only one that truly screamed “best picture” to me.  Its story is tightly presented and shocking, and there isn’t a bad performance to be found anywhere in the film.

By the way, I’d love to see the story that Spotlight is based on expanded and done in the form of an HBO/Netflix mini-series (think The Jinx or Making A Murderer).  I’m sure it would be super interesting.

08)  Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I’m all about The Force Awakens.  Yes, I know it’s practically a carbon copy of A New Hope, and I don’t really care.  The nostalgia is strong with me.

07)  Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The Mission Impossible series has largely been good, but my main reason for steadily coming back to it is Tom Cruise.  The guy goes all out on everything, and it’s his enthusiasm that allows Rogue Nation to be the best MI entry yet.

06)  Inside Out

My faith in Pixar was starting to waiver, but then Inside Out arrived and cleared away my doubt.  They’re obviously still a company that’s capable of developing new ideas and turning them into meaningful films that are great for all ages.

05)  Room

While I think that Spotlight is probably more worthy of the “best picture” award, I’m totally pulling for Room.  Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are both amazing in it, and director Lenny Abrahamson couldn’t have done a better job of constantly making me like feel an emotional wreck.

04)  The Martian

Ridley Scott hit a total home run with his adaptation of The Martian.  It’s such an easily accessible film (even with all sorts of science being thrown around), and I’m not sure Matt Damon has ever been more charming or likeable.

03)  Ex Machina

Alex Garland’s directorial debut is a mesmerizing piece of sci-fi  I especially love the way its paced.  The damn thing just patiently strolls along while steadily daring you to guess where it’s going.

02)  Creed

I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from Creed.  I love the Rocky films, but a spin-off all of these years later kept registering as unnecessary to me.  I was wrong.  I think Creed ranks just under the original Rocky as the best film in the series.  Sylvester Stallone deserves an Oscar, and I really hope that Michael B. Jordan continues on with his character and stars in a whole slew of sequels.

01)  Mad Max: Fury Road

Surprise!  Not really.  Just like the rest of the world, I love Max Max: Fury Road.  At this point (because it’s on HBO now) I think I’ve seen it 10 times, and I grow more and more fond of it with every viewing.  What a big, crazy, weird flick it is.

Here are entries 11-35.  Just for fun.

35)  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
34)  Ant-Man
33)  The Gift
32)  Southpaw
31)  Love And Mercy
30)  Goosebumps
29)  Straight Outta Compton
28)  Carol
27)  Trainwreck
26)  The Witch
25)  Jurassic World
24)  Kingsman: The Secret Service
23)  The End Of The Tour
22)  April And The Extraordinary World
21)  Bridge of Spies
20)  Sicario
19)  Furious 7
18)  The Big Short
17)  Jobs
16)  The Hateful Eight
15)  The Revenant
14)  The Lobster
13)  Magic Mike XXL
12)  Brand New Testament
11)  Green Room

Here are my biggest disappointments of 2015.

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Tomorrowland
Spectre

Here are six films I missed that I’d still like to see.

Brooklyn
Beasts of No Nation
The Night Before
Joy
Cop Car
Crimson Peak

Noah’s Top 10 Films Of 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t a perfect movie by any means. And if I wasn’t dropping it on the top of my Top 10 for 2015, I’d be happy to regale you with my issues with the film. But at the end of the day (year), I’ve seen the film twice (with a third screening on the way) and though it may have its flaws, it takes the world of Star Wars – a messy, nerd-controlled, dystopian landscape – and gives it back to the public in a near perfect distillation of everything that made the original trilogy such instant classics. I haven’t felt more overwhelmed with emotion – nostalgic or otherwise – with any other film in the last ten years. I stepped out of the press screening happy, sad, glowing with the energy a good film leaves with you, but most of all, I stepped out excited to see universe I’ve loved since before I could speak, finally returned in all its glory.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road doesn’t just look like the work of some 22-year old film prodigy fresh from movie school, it crackles with the energy you would only expect someone who’s yet to be exposed to the soul-crushing nature of Hollywood. Thus, it blows my mind that 72-year old George Miller was able to bring this singular vision of a world at its breaking point to the screen. Any other year this would have stood at the top of the pile, glowering down on any competitors. It’s a beautiful piece of world-building (they fix the cars WHILE they drive) paired with some of the most dynamic, original action pieces, well, ever. But more than that, it’s a statement, a call to arms for the future action blockbusters of the world to eschew the boring tropes of generic stories and cardboard characters. All hail George Miller.

Creed

I’m the guy who says Rocky IV is his favorite of the Rocky films. Yup, that’s me. Sad truths aside, when Stallone announced that they’d be making a new Rocky film centered on the son of Apollo Creed, I balked. Did we really need another Rocky film? The answer, empirically, is yes. Director Ryan Coogler has managed to translate the first Rocky film for a new generation. Instead of Rocky Balboa, we’re given Adonis Creed, a rich kid from L.A. who decides to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a boxer. It’s not a complicated film, but Coogler takes the energy and nostalgia for the first film and infuse it with a modern, hip-hop, underdog mentality that elevates above and beyond its predecessors. Bring on the sequels!

Sicario

As long as Denis Villeneuve is making films, I think they’ll end up on my Top 10 lists. I read somewhere that Sicario was the Apocalypse Now of drug movies, and I whole-heartedly agree. Emily Blunt plays a border police officer who’s pulled into a covert drug unit to battle drug czars in Mexico. What follows is a harrowing, dark dissection of our modern war on drugs. Though it’s intense, riveting, and full of nail-biting action moments (and one of the best Benecio del Toro performances in years), it feels like nothing that’s come before.

The Martian

I hated Andy Weir’s book The Martian, so when I heard that they were making a movie directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, I was skeptical. Yet The Martian is one of the best sci-fi films in a recent memory. Matt Damon proves his pure, unadulterated stardom by infusing the character of Mark Watney with humor, sadness, and an almost unbearable sense of loneliness. It’s somehow both realistic and fun, filled with memorable performances, and shot through with a sense of technological hope you don’t see much these days. Take your kids to this, they’ll grow up wanting to be astronauts.

Ex Machina

I sort of hate Alex Garland. He’s one of the best screenwriters of the last twenty years, and now, well, he’s an amazing first-time director. Ex Machina, the story of two men and an ultra life-like fembot is not only a great think piece about sentient robotics, but a deeply scary look at the dangers of technology. The film is gorgeously shot, beautifully scored, and features truly brilliant performances from its three leads. If the last shot of the film doesn’t make your stomach clench with anguish, well hell, you’ve got a constitution made of iron. Another notch in the revitalization of the modern science-fiction film.

The Hateful Eight

Oh Quentin, you crazy crazy man. I don’t know how to recommend this film. It’s slow and steady, shot like a play, and rests just a few inches outside of boring for most of its running time. How about this – do you like Tarantino dialogue? Do you like pop-laden discussions of racism in America? Do you like Samuel L. Jackson giving a performance only Tarantino would allow? Well, then you’ll like, probably love this film. I certainly did.

The End of the Tour

Hollywood, take note: this is how you make a bio-pic. You don’t fritter away your credibility by trying to immerse audiences in the full-scale retelling of a life. Oh no, you pick a moment – a day, a week, an hour – that identifies the major themes that ran through your subjects life, and you fully expose the entirety of it. In this case, James Ponsoldt (batting 1.000 at this point) takes a week long interview between David Lipsky and David Foster Wallace and uses it to highlight just how DFW was, while exploring the triumphs and tribulations of becoming a famous writer. Jason Segal has reinvented himself with this film and it’s always nice when someone puts Jessie Eisenberg’s inherent creepiness to good use.

Beasts of No Nation

Cary Fukanaga can do anything. I’m assured of this. He crafted one of the best ten hours of television, well, ever with True Detective. He made me give a shit about English Period dramas with Jane Eyre. And now he’s used his immense skill to artfully portray the horrors of African civil war through the eyes of a child-turned-soldier. Idris Elba turns in another star-worthy performance as The Commandant, a violent rebel leader grasping for power. But the true star of the film, aside from Fukanaga’s visuals, is newcomer Abraham Attah as Agu, a local village boy who is thrust into the armed services of The Commandant. This is a brutal, brutal film that somehow manages to be both poignant, poetic and absolutely mesmerizing. If the last shot of the movie doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you might be broken on the inside.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The best entry yet in this impossibly good action series.

Honorable Mentions:

True Story
Crimson Peak
The Visit
Inside Out

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2015 SOTO Staff Picks

December 30, 2015

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Hey!  Here’s what the SOTO staff dug this year.  Enjoy.

Here you go!

1. Tobias Gesso Jr. – Goon

2. Shamir – Ratchet

3. Tame Impala – Currents

4. Mild High Club – Timeline

5. Ultimate Painting – Green Lanes

Assembled from my list other list of Best Albums of 2015, I wanted to give the fine SOTO readers who may not be into metal a little taste of what some of the borderline metal albums this year achieved. These bands can be classified as metal, but in reality when the non-metalhead hears these records will think, “I can understand the words,” and “They are actually singing a melody,” so I call this list the Best Non-Metal Metal Albums of the Year … enjoy!

5. Clutch – Psychic Warfare (Weathermaker)

The decision to stick with a more rock based approach for Clutch worked on Earth Rocker, and Psychic Warfare presents more of that same powerful attitude and emphasis on their abilities to write strong hooks and lyrically profound jams. A balanced album that seamlessly continues the trajectory of the band gives us some great new singable tunes … and, of course, mentions Texas (so I have to love it even more).

4. Soilwork – The Ride Majestic (Nuclear Blast)

At some point Soilwork will write a terrible record – but The Ride Majestic is not that record. I am astounded by Soilwork’s ability to continually write albums that stretch what they do as a band, yet somehow fit perfectly into their catalog. This record has everything for the Euro-metalcore fan to celebrate.

3. Refused – Freedom (Epitaph)

While watching Refused on their reunion tour at Fun Fun Fun Fest, not one of their diehard fans could have possibly guessed that they could even put together another album, let alone a release as striking as Freedom. Almost two decades have passed since their ‘final’ album, The Shape of Punk to Come, and all we wanted was perfection. In many ways, Dennis Lyxzen and company have not only succeeded, but essentially created an album that did exactly what it needed to do: began the next era of punk to come.

2. Intronaut – The Direction of Last Things (Century Media)

The strange thing here is, whereas failing to pin down Paradise Lost made me move away from them, Intronaut’s similarly diverse catalog feels like a creative continuation, rather than a struggle to find a place amongst the ferns. The Direction of Last Things‘ breadth will surprise even the most hardened critic. If you aren’t BTBAM, prog metal is not an easy thing to make palatable – yet this record is undeniable.

1. Baroness – Purple (Abraxan Hymns)

Unlike the rest of the modern metal world, I did not hold Baroness’ last album in the highest regard. There were some great moments, but it was a double album that could have been boiled down to one spectacular album. So much has transpired for the band since then – setting aside the bus crash and the fallout of having to relearn how to do even menial tasks, rebuilding a band after two core members cannot continue must be daunting. After getting on the road and touring for a year with a new rhythm section, the iron seemed hot enough to get the recording going. As we hear the pieces of Purple, all that has transpired falls into the rear view. When consumed in full? Enlightened, transcendental, and mature beyond their years, Baroness’ Purple grows in stature with every listen. Heavier than the last two records, but with more subtle strides in structure, this is as close as we may get to a perfect album. Baroness tapped into something I hope they can channel for many years to come.

Enjoy!

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

2. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

3. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

4. Fashawn – The Ecology

5. Lizzo – Big GRRRL, Small World

1. Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Goin Down (Matador)

I’ve jammed this more than any other 2015 release. Vile’s songs are intriguing, yet detached. BIGD manages to say a lot about us as people and our continued course towards ultimate self involvement/destruction. It’s Vile’s own cosmic navel gazing that somehow speaks for the mass of all lost human beings looking for recognition while yearning to be left alone.

2. Dean McPhee – Fatima’s Hand (Hood Faire)

Over the course of Fatima’s Hand and its five meditative (and fully improvised) tracks, you are offered a range of solar spirituals. The depth and variance guitarist Dean McPhee is able to achieve with just a Telecaster, some pedals, and an amp deserves serious accolades.

3. Sun City Girls – Torch of the Mystics (Abduction Records)

Richard Bishop, Alan Bishop, and Charles Gocher’s finest moment gets its first reissue since 1993! Whether you consider it an underground footnote or THE best album released in the 1990s (which this writer does,) it’s easy to be pumped to not have to pay $150 for the original 1990 Marjora release on vinyl. Now Space Prophet Dogon can be jammed on wax for $17 thanks to Abduction Records.

4. Joshua Abrams – Magnetoception (Eremite)

It’s not often that a double LP of extended ensemble performances can be so damned captivating. With his magical guimbri in tow, Abrams and crew are to put it mildly, fucking killing it. This side of music has not sounded this fresh and appealing in a long damned time. Abrams is proving that solar/fire music can and will last way beyond its original purveyors.

5. Jack DeJohnette – Made In Chicago

The best jazz release this year by a mile. Recorded in 2013 at Chicago’s Millennium Park, it features pieces by DeJohnette, Mitchell, and Threadgill as well as improvised group pieces – all of them stunning. Even as each of these players age, their work continues to be timeless and endlessly inventive.

With honorable mentions to Lithuania, Metz, Beach Slang, Mike Krol, OBN IIIs and Sweet Talk, I give you my five favorite albums of the year:

1. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

2. Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie

3. Bop English – Constant Bop

4. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

5. Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

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Top 25 Albums Of 2015: Part 2

December 11, 2015

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Here are the final 10 entries in my Top 25 Albums of 2015 list!  You can see the whole thing on one page here.  Also, a Spotify playlist of most of the albums can be found here.  Enjoy.

PS – Just in cased you missed my Top 50 Songs of 2015, that list can be found here.

10) Bop English – Constant Bop

Constant Bop is my favorite album to come out of Austin this year.  I adore White Denim and want frontman James Petralli to get things back underway there, but I hope he doesn’t take too long to roll out another Bob English effort.

:Bop English – Dani’s Blues (It Was Beyond Our Control):

09) Youth Lagoon – Savage Hills Ballroom

It took me a few months to get around to giving Youth Lagoon’s Savage Hills Ballroom my full attention, but once I did it pulled me in and refused to let go.  It’s a sprawling effort that’s best experienced via headphones.

:Youth Lagoon – The Knower:

08) FIDLAR – Too

FIDLAR’s Too is a worthy follow-up to their 2013 self titled debut.  I love how sloppy, scatterbrained and loud it is.

:FIDLAR – 40oz. On Repeat:

07) Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly has grown on me more and more as the year has gone on.  At first I liked about half of its songs, and now I think that from front to back it’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

:Kendrick Lamar – Alright:

06) Annabel – Having It All

Whether or not you’re a fan of emo music, you should give Annabel’s Having It All a shot.  It’s really well crafted and the songwriting is fantastic.

:Annabel – Having It All:

05) Tame Impala – Currents

Currents is another stellar set of tracks from Tame Impala.  Now if only I could decide whether it’s their weirdest album or their most accessible.  It might actually be both.

:Tame Impala – Let It Happen:

04) Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett is a woman with a lot on her mind, and she shows it all throughout Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.  It’s such a charming, interesting album.

:Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best:

03) Screaming Females – Rose Mountain

Every single song on Rose Mountain is fantastic.  I really thought the album would serve as Screaming Females’ big break, but the band seems to still be flying under the radar.  That’s all wrong.  They deserve all the love!

:Screaming Females – Criminal Image:

02) Doomtree – All Hands

Doomtree really hit it out the park with All Hands.  If you like intense, anthemic, energetic, brainy hip hop, then you need to make sure that the Minneapolis collective’s latest effort is in your rotation.

:Doomtree – .38 Airweight:

01) Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

I was packing totally unreasonable expectations for Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities To Love – their first album in a decade – and it not only managed to impress the hell out of me, but it kept me engaged for nearly the entire year (it came out in January).  That means every other album released in 2015 had the chance to dethrone No Cities To Love, and it never happened.  SK forever!

:Sleater-Kinney – A New Wave:

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Top 25 Albums Of 2015: Part 1

December 10, 2015

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Now that I’ve completed my Top 50 Songs of 2015 list, it’s time to rundown my Top 25 Albums of the year.  Entries 15-11 are just down below.  Jump back tomorrow for the final 10 selections.  Enjoy.

PS – As always, this list is made up of stuff that I legit listened to a lot throughout the year.

25) Carly Rae Jepsen – E-MO-TION

There are a couple of tracks on Carly Rae Jepsen’s E-MO-TION that aren’t great, but overall it’s definitely one of the most fun albums that I came across in 2015.  If you’re into lady-led pop jams from the 80s/90s, you need to become one with CRJ’s latest LP.

:Carly Rae Jepsen – Let’s Get Lost:

24) Joanna Newsom – Divers

If Joanna Newsom’s Divers had come out earlier in the year, I think it might have ended up higher on my list.  Like her other efforts, this album is beautiful but dense, and it needs to be digested over lots of listens.  In another month or two I’ll be able to decide whether it’s really good or really great.

:Joanna Newsom – Leaving The City:

23) Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

Protomartyr’s The Agent Intellect isn’t exactly what I would call an easily accessible rock album.  On the bright side, if you fully commit to it you get back a rather rewarding experience.

:Protomartyr – Why Does It Shake:

22) Desaparecidos – Payola

Payola is exactly what I wanted Desaparecidos to deliver on their sophomore effort – it’s loud, inspired, angry and crazy infectious.  Here’s hoping they don’t stick to the 13-years-between-albums thing that they currently have going on.

:Desaparecidos – City On The Hill:

21) Gal Pals – Velvet Rut

While it still bums me out that Gal Pals jumped from Austin to LA, I do like that the move got them to finally put out a debut full length.  Velvet Rut is 29 minutes of garage pop perfection.

:Gal Pals – Ex-Marionette:

20) Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last

This is the fourth year in a row that Thee Oh Sees have managed to crack my Top 25 Albums list.  I don’t mind.  They make me want to be a louder person.

:Thee Oh Sees – Web:

19)  Sweet Spirit – Cokomo

I’ve jammed Sweet Spirit’s Cokomo a lot since it was released back in October.  It’s an upbeat listen that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

:Sweet Spirit – Baby When I Close My Eyes:

18) Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter

Joanna Gruesome‘s Peanut Butter is a completely schizo (but really fun) album.  They continue to be one of the best noise pop acts around.

:Joanna Gruesome – Honestly Do Yr Worst:

17) Sweet Talk – Double Perfect

Sweet Talk are one of the best bands in Austin, and Double Perfect is one of the year’s best straight up rock albums.  You need it.

:Sweet Talk – Witness:

16) White Reaper – White Reaper Does It Again

These fellas out of Kentucky really delivered the goods on their debut LP, White Reaper Does It Again.  It’s nothing but super catchy garage punk tunes.

:White Reaper – Make Me Wanna Die:

15) Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy

A 29-track, 93-minute rock opera from the one and only Titus Andronicus?  Yeah, there was never a chance that The Most Lamentable Tragedy wouldn’t be on this list.

:Titus Andronicus – Dimed Out:

14) Colleen Green – I Want To Grow Up

Colleen Green’s musings throughout I Want To Grow Up are both insightful and relatable.  Also, there isn’t a single track on it that isn’t catchy.

:Colleen Green – TV:

13) Leon Bridges – Coming Home

Leon Bridges pretty much owned 2015.  Coming Home is a warm, inviting effort, and it may just be the year’s most accessible album.

:Leon Bridges – River:

12) Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer

Admittedly, it took me a little while to fully come around on Foil Deer.  I think I was expecting a simple extension of Major Arcana, but their sophomore LP is way more than that – it’s them really evolving, expanding their sound and becoming an overall better band.

:Speedy Ortiz – Raising The Skate:

11) Ratatat – Magnifique

I think Magnifique is Ratatat’s best album.  From start to finish it’s loaded with really interesting sounds, and all of the songs move incredibly well.  I left it on repeat a lot in 2015.

:Ratatat – Cream On Chrome:

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Top 50 Songs Of 2015: Part 5

December 3, 2015

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This is it!  The end of my Top 50 Songs of 2015.  Dive into the final 10 tracks and then let me know your thoughts.  Enjoy.

PS – You can check out the entire song list on one page here, or the majority of it (47/50 tracks) on Spotify right here.

PS – Look for my Top 25 albums and my Austin Essentials mix next week.

- 50-41
- 40-31
- 30-21
- 20-21

10)  :Chairlift – Ch-Ching:  I never would have guessed that Chairlift had something this edgy in them.  I hope there’s more of the same to come.  From the land of one-off tracks (though I assume it’ll pop up on an album next year).

09)  :Tame Impala – Let It Happen:  This is such a sprawling, wonderful number from Tame Impala.  If I were to rank out all of their songs, I’d put this somewhere near the top.  From Currents.

08)  :Ratatat – Cream On Chrome:  While I’ve been a fan of Ratatat for a long time, this is the first song of theirs that I’ve truly been crazy about.  It’s so very groovy.  From Magnifique.

07)  :Annabel – Having It All:  Earlier in the year my care-level in regards to the resurgence of emo was roughly a 6/10. This Annabel track is what shoved it to 10/10.  It’s just about perfect.  From Having It All.

06)  :Speedy Ortiz – Raising The Skate:  When I ran into front-lady Sadie Dupuis at Fun Fun Fun Fest I had the urge to nervously ramble about how much I love this track and how I think it’s Speedy Ortiz’s most complete sounding effort, but instead I just played it cool and helped her find the bathroom.  Nailed it!  From Foil Deer.

05)  :Sheer Mag – Button Up:  This fuzzy, Thin Lizzy-esque song from Sheer Mag is just about as infectious as it gets.  I blame Christina Halladay’s rad voice.  And the rad guitar riffs.  And all the other rad bits, too.  From the II 7″.

04)  :Built To Spill – Living Zoo:  I don’t remember the last time that Built To Spill sounded so inspired.  The build-up at the beginning of this is something I’ll never tire of.  From Untethered Moon.

03)  :Ought – Beautiful Blue Sky:  Yes, there’s a strong Talking Heads vibe at play here.  Yes, this song is rather pretentious.  Regardless, not much else has captivated me quite like it has over the course of numerous listens.  Good work, Ought.  From Sun Coming Down.

02)  :Kendrick Lamar – Alright:  If I were to sort this list based on “times played” then it’s likely that this hope-themed track would have landed at #1.  It’s one of Kendrick Lamar’s best. From To Pimp A Butterfly.

01)  :Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best:  I like that most artists these days feel lifted out of the 90s, but it’s probably time for everyone to shift gears.  This Courtney Barnett song is as good as that throwback sound is going to get.  Even the video is 90s perfect.  Also, I think “Put me on a pedestal, and I’ll only disappoint you” might be one of my favorite lines ever.  From Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2015: Part 4

December 3, 2015

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We’re nearing the end of my Top 50 Songs of 2015 list!  Ah!  Check out entries 20-11 down below.  Enjoy.

- 50-41
- 40-31
- 30-21

20)  :FIDLAR – 40oz. On Repeat:  There’s a pretty solid chance that this FIDLAR track is the year’s most relatable song.  Now, let’s have drink some alcohol, it’ll make us who we really want to be.  From Too.

19)  :Screaming Females – Criminal Image:  This is one of my favorite Screaming Females tunes.  It’s got a big, meaty riff and frontwoman Marissa Paternoster sounds indestructible.  From Rose Mountain.

18)  :Modest Mouse – Lampshades On Fire:  Out of all the quality songs on Modest Mouse’s latest album, this one is my favorite.  For whatever reason, I dig that it essentially sounds like Dashboard: Part 2.  From Strangers To Ourselves.

17)  :Conner Youngblood – Stockholm:  This track from Conner Youngblood is hypnotizing.  You just have to love the way he uses the harp here.  From The Generation Of Lift EP.

16)  :Leon Bridges – River:  Leon Bridges absolutely blew up this year, and I like to think it was largely because of this stunning slow burner.  What a song.  From Coming Home.

15)  :Bop English – Dani’s Blues (It Was Beyond Our Control):  James Petralli (of White Denim fame) is Bop English.  There’s a playful, retro pop sound on display here that’s really great.  From Constant Bop.

14)  :Diet Cig – Harvard:  Diet Cig’s front-lady Alex Luciano is in full-on bitter mode throughout this track, and it’s fantastic.  I hope she never loses that sarcastic edge of hers.  From the Over Easy EP.

13)  :Titus Andronicus – Dimed Out:  Whenever I want to jump around like a madman in my living room, I put on this sloppy jam from Titus Andronicus.  It’s such a raucous good time.  From The Most Lamentable Tragedy.

12)  :Mos Def – Sensei On The Block (Featuring Ski Beatz):  This song is vintage Mos Def (in the best of ways), and it totally makes me yearn for his pre-Yasiin Bey days.  From the land of one-off tracks.

11)  :Purity Ring – Push Pull:  I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about Purity Ring’s sophomore album – some of it works for me, some of it doesn’t.  This beautiful number is definitely the best track on it.  From Another Eternity.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2015: Part 3

December 2, 2015

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Here’s the next set in my Top 50 Songs of 2015 list.  Enjoy.

- 50-41
- 40-31

30)  :Chvrches – Never Ending Circles:  This is such an infectious song.  Here’s hoping that Chvrches never ditch their anthemic pop routine.  From Every Open Eye.

29)  :Mas Ysa – Look Up:  I love me some Mas Ysa (aka Thomas Arsenault).  You should slap on some headphones for this ambitious track, which features big vocals and a wonderfully textured arrangement.  From Seraph.

28)  :Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle:  If you like your music to feel as sincere as possible, then look no further than this Julien Baker song.  Her voice here cuts right through me.  From Sprained Ankle.

27)  :Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin:  Kurt Vile is such a great songwriter, and he shows it all throughout this silly, but really clever track.  From B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down.

26)  :Yung – Blue Uniforms:  I’m all about noisy, shoegaze-esque indie rock, and this Yung song is six and a half glorious minutes of it.  Had to put it on my list!  From the These Thoughts Are Like Mandatory Chores EP.

25)  :Protomartyr – Why Does It Shake?:  This Protomartyr track is not exactly an easy listen, but it’s totally worth the attention it requires.  Hit play, dial in and get rewarded.  From The Agent.

24)  :Amen Dunes – Song To The Siren (Tim Buckely/This Mortal Coil Cover):  Amen Dunes covered a cover (The Mortal Coil –> Tim Buckley) here, and I just really dig the way it came out.  Be warned, you’ll want whiskey about midway through this.  From Cowboy Worship.

23)  :Girlpool – Before The World Was Big:  Growing up is hard!  This Girlpool song makes me feel nostalgic (not sad, thankfully) about life before adulthood rolled in and took over.  From Before The World Was Big.

22)  :Fred Thomas – Bad Blood:  Fred Thomas and the definition of word vomit go hand in hand in this track, but that’s fine.  If only because the numerous things bouncing around in his head are all interesting and/or relatable.  From All Are Saved.

21)  :Black Milk – I Guess:  This is just an all-out, good time sort of effort by Black Milk.  He will always be one of my favorite voices in hip hop.  From the land of one-off tracks.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2015: Part 2

December 1, 2015

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Naturally, the listing continues on today.  Check out entries 40-31 down below.  50-41 can be found right here.  Enjoy.

40)  :Big Grams – Fell In The Sun:  Just in case you’ve been off on an adventure, Big Boi + Phantogram = Big Grams.  Both are equally great here in this sparkly ear worm of a song.  From the act’s self titled album.

39)  :Kiiara – Feels:  I came across Kiiara over the summer and instantly became a fan.  This song is super hooky and wonderfully dramatic.  From the land of one-off tracks.

38)  :Ringo Deathstarr – Guilt:  This one from Austin’s own Ringo Deathstarr is a big, catchy wave of distortion.  Only listen to it with the volume cranked up high.  From Pure Mood.

37)  :Torres – Special (Garbage Cover):  I’m not even sure how many times I’ve gotten lost in this spacious, six-minute cover of Garbage’s SpecialTorres (aka Mackenzie Scott) really took the song and made it her own.  From the land of one-off tracks.

36)  :Car Seat Headrest – Something Soon:  Car Seat Headrest signed to Matador this year, and then promptly remastered and re-released some older material.  So, technically, this song is only partially from 2015.  Regardless, I think it’s a very inspired tune and I love the angsty lyrics – “I want to sing this song like I’m dying.”  From Teens Of Style.

35)  :Deerhunter – Snakeskin:  It still flips my brain around whenever I remember that the sometimes proggy, sometimes noisy rockers Deerhunter put out this funky, accessible number.  Who knew they had it in them?  From Fading Frontier.

34)  :Bully – I Remember:  This little two-minuter from Bully just rips.  I think singer Alicia Bognanno sounds like a less obnoxious version of Courtney Love (the 90s version, not the currently burned out one).  From Feels Like.

33)  :Lee Bains III And The Glory Fires – Sweet Disorder!:  I’m pretty sure I could toss this on a mixtape of nothing but classic rock tunes and no one would catch it as being from the year 2015.  On another note, Lee Bains III And The Glory Fires is a great name.  From the Sweet Disorder 7″.

32)  :Mikal Cronin – Made My Mind Up:  Another year, another charming pop song from Mikal Cronin that I can’t seem to get enough of.  He completes me.  From MCIII.

31)  :Diane Coffee – Everyday:  Shaun Fleming (Foxygen’s drummer) is the main brain behind Diane Coffee.  This track is as soulful and retro as can be. From Everybody’s A Good Dog.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2015: Part 1

November 30, 2015

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Hey!  It’s time to start counting down my Top 50 Songs of 2015.  As always, the entire list is made up of tracks that have steadily been in my rotation since I came across them.  Enjoy.

50)  :Carly Rae Jepsen – Let’s Get Lost:  I officially boarded CRJ’s bandwagon this year.  Her latest is LP is pretty damn fun, and I think this is the best song off of it.  You’re legit stone cold if you can listen to it and not want to dance.  From Emotion.

49)  :Icky Blossoms – In Folds:  I was all about this driving, synth-filled track from Icky Blossoms before I even finished listening to it for the first time.  It’s an all-around stellar sounding song that just dominates the room.  From Mask.

48)  :Death Cab For Cutie – The Ghosts Of Beverly Drive:  This is the first Death Cab For Cutie single in a very long time that’s stuck with me.  Probably because it moves well and the band actually sounds awake in it.  From Kintsugi.

47)  :Albert Hammond Jr. – Born Slippy:  It’s nice that the Strokes are still working together, but I’d be fine if they called it quits and guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. just went about churning out more solo albums.  As shown here, the guy really knows how to write an inviting pop tune.  From Momentary Masters.

46)  :The Suffers – Make Some Room:  Houston’s The Suffers really took off this year, and I’m so very happy for them.  As for this track, I think it’s one of 2015′s most endearing efforts.  From the Make Some Room EP.

45)  :Sweet Spirit – Babydoll:  I’ve been watching locals Sweet Spirit play this live for a long while, so I love that a recorded version finally came along.  It’s definitely one of those songs that I find stuck in my head seemingly all of the time.  From the band’s self titled EP.

44)  :Jeff The Brotherhood – Black Cherry Pie:  This song from Jeff The Brotherhood features a goddamn flute solo by Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame) and has a chorus that mentions wanting to stab someone in the eye.  Those two things alone should warrant its placement on anyone’s year-end list.  From Wasted On The Dream.

43)  :Desaparecidos – City On The Hill:  The Conor Oberst that fronts Desaparecidos is my favorite Conor Oberst.  I think his emo-y voice is best used in tracks like one, which is an anthemic scorcher.  From Payola.

42)  :Dan Friel – Rattler:  Dan Friel is a master at twiddling knobs (not a euphemism).  I frequently put this inspired tune on whenever I need to rally up for something.  From Life.

41)  :jj – Truce:  The immense amount of attitude that’s all throughout this jj song has entertained me for much of 2015.  The whole thing is just ridiculous (and fun).  From Truce.

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