Happy New Year, Vitality Community!
As a new year gets moving we often don’t have the time to reflect. We make resolutions and often anticipate giant shifts that are unlikely without effort. The sun rises on the first day of work on the New Year, and we tie our shoes, comb our hair and get started. One of the ways I force myself to be reflective is to make a list of my favorite albums that came out over the last year, and at Dr. Hart’s request, I decided to share my list this year.
These are albums that I think are excellent, but that excellence is based in my life, memories, opinions, all of which make this a much more personal list than many that claim to be objective. These range from punk albums to instrumental jazz to folk to funk.
Enjoy. I hope if you take the time to read through these, you find something that makes the transition to 2019 a little better.
1. Chanti Darling: R&B Volume 1: There was some real debate in my mind about number 1 and 2. This won out because my wife said so. If you’re a fan of retro funk or more recent Daft Punk, this album is for you. It was released by PDX label Tender Loving Empire and features a large selection of Portland hip hop and soul artists. The album is gender nonconforming R&B at a its finest. It works out in the yard while grilling out in the summer or in your living room while reading a book at the end of the day to space out a little bit. Here’s a live performance:
2. Jeff Rosenstock: Post: This was a surprise release on New Years Day 2018 and was a favorite all year. Jeff is my punk rock hero. His show this year was one of the most powerful I saw all year. I like to describe this as if 90s kid who loved Weezer, Ska, and Green Day kept learning more about music but never gave up being angry or silly. This album is at time sweet and extremely political and I love it. Its available free at www.quoteunquoterecords.com.
3. Kendrick Lamar: Black Panther Soundrack: The movie was amazing, and the soundtrack is an awesome, cohesive hip hop album who’s songs stand alone or as part of a greater whole. I hope this inspires more movies to make soundtrack companions coordinated or headlined by a single musician.
4. Arctic Monkeys: Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino: Throwing away guitar fronted garage rock for a keyboard and synth heavy space opera was surprising, but it left us with a beautiful ode to David Bowie. Great for when the stars are out.
5. Marisa Anderson: Cloud Corner: This album allowed me to really feel some grief about a family member that passed away this year. Marisa is a Portland guitarist who plays beautiful instrumental folk/ambient music, splitting her time between new arrangements of old standards and her own compositions. If you need to work something out in your brain, this is the album for your evening.
6. Kamasi Washington: Heaven and Earth: Jazz to space out to.
7. Antarctigo Vespucci: Love in the Time of Emails: Jeff Rosenstock and Chris Farren ditch any punk pretenses and release smart, catchy power pop about friends and relationship in the era of instant gratification and poor communication.
8. Andrew WK: You’re not Alone: Motivational Speaking and positive hard party rock.
9. F@#$ed Up: Dose Your Dreams: Diverse and ridiculous artsy hard core.
10. Restorations: LP 5000: This one has my favorite album art of the year and feature great work play and song structure that pulls you in. Very political with a small side of Bruce Springsteen.
11. Paul McCartney: Egypt Station
12. Reel Big Fish: Life Sucks Let’s Dance
13. Mean Jeans: Jingles Collection
14. Decemberists: I’ll be Your Girl
15. Screaming Females: All at Once
16. Julia Holter: Aviary
17. Yob: Our Raw Heart
18. Sidekicks: Happiness Hours
19. Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer
20. Ural Thomas and the Pain: The Right Time
21. Interrupters: Fight the Good Fight
22. Frank Turner: Be More Kind
23. Nicolay and the Hot At Nights: Glacier
24. Swearin’: Fall Into the Sun
25. Mind Spiders: Furies
I hope that in the New Year you can embrace the things you love. Like stuff! It’s allowed.