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Records of the Year: 2017

I love looking back at a year and rediscovering the music that carried me and inspired me through the year. Here are some of the favorites.

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ONE. The War on Drugs.  A Deeper Understanding.

One of the best rock bands that currently exists is putting out really special work. When your record includes an 11-minute experience  that seemingly transcends time and space, you know you have a winner.

There are so many amazing sounds on this record. I'm still blown away with the tones I hear in each listen.


TWO.   John Mayer. The Search for Everything

The consistent quality in the    songs  John Mayer has been putting out for so long now is incredibly impressive.

This collection is extremely solid and grows with each listen.

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THREE (tied). Phoebe Bridgers. Stranger in the Alps.

This record came out of nowhere this year.  The lyrics are poignant, and her voice is a strong whisper of delight.

Sonically, she breaks a lot of barriers of what a singer/songwriter should sound like and it's a treat for the listener.

 


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THREE (tied).   Ethan Gruska. Slowmotionary.

This is definitely my favorite collection of songs from a new artist. I had seen Ethan's  name online, but I hadn't listened until I saw him open for Asgeir in the summer and his voice immediately won me over. (The exact song that did is featured in the video below.)

I went home that night and listened all the way through twice. It was so smooth and  unique, and even cinematic.


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FOUR. Feist. Pleasure.

Feist is always pushing the envelope and I really enjoyed what she did with this record. And while the songs are really cool, it is mainly her voice that I am obsessed with. I can't get enough.


FIVE. Fleet Foxes.   Crack-Up.

The return from their 6-year  hiatus was strong, and the live show accompanied it so well.   Robin Pecknold's return to songwriting after his time at Columbia  University  and not being sure that he wanted to make music anymore  really pushes the envleope in the best way. I am glad he decided that making music was worth it!

I especially enjoyed the Song Exploder episode with Robin talking about "Mearcstapa."

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And in no particular order:

  • Leif  Vollebekk. Twin Solitude.  Leif has a rich voice and tells great stories with his songs. (Bonus: some of the instrumentals of these songs are used in  The Heights.)
  • Hiss Golden MessengerHallelujah Anyhow. Hiss Golden Messenger came on my radar this year for the first time via "Cracked Windshield", and it came out just in time to turn me onto the light Americana goodness that is his new record.
  • Upper Room Music. Center of Your Love. This really special group of people from Dallas drove out to Ranch Land Studios and made an incredibly heartfelt work - and Pete really nailed the production.
  • The National.   Sleep Well Beast. Simply loved it.
  • Sleeping At Last. Atlas.  Ryan has long been one of my favorite songwriters, and his Atlas project continues to push the boundaries. It was one of the coolest honors for me to be a part of his song, "Two," based on the Enneagram. (Bonus: Listen to his  fantastic podcast about his process for "Two.")
  • David Ramirez. We're Not Going Anywhere.  A really raw and special new effort from David.
  • Noah Gundersen. Bad Noise.  Directionally a lot more pleasant noise, and it worked really well.
  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. The Nashville Sound. A master class in songwriting.
  • Blond Piano. Piano Tribute to Frank Ocean. Keiran posted this at some point early in the year and  I was intrigued enough to give it a shot and it became a working staple of the year for me.
  • Colony House. Only The Lonely. Getting more heartfelt with lyrics and impressive musically.
  • Madi Cunningham. Love, Lose, Remember. In my opinion, Madi is one of the best new and clear  voices in music, and  Tyler Chester did a killer job producing this.
  • Taylor Swift. reputation. The production and those tracks are SO good.
  • Sufjan Stevens. The Greatest Gift. A spin on some already released songs, but Sufjan can do no wrong.
  • Gangs of Youth. Go Farther In Lightning.  A fresh batch of songs that I stumbled into and really enjoyed this year.
  • Kendrick Lamar. DAMN.  Kendrick takes some really exciting and daring steps with this.
  • HAIM. Something To Tell You. Synth pop dreams.
  • Slow Meadow. Costero. My favorite  ambient compositions.
  • Joseph. Stay Awake. Really special collection of B-sides. Their  harmonies don't get old.  
  • Tyson  Motsenbocker A Kind Invitation / Almira. These are some of my favorite songs of the year. Carefully crafted - and I love playing bass on some of them live.
  • Wild PonyEncinitas. Another really excellent collection of instrumental music.

Honorable Mentions: Liza Anne, Vulfpeck, Joey Dosik, The Belonging, U2

Also of note:

  • This Khalid video VEVO / Ryan / Micah / Contrast did was really a highlight for me.

Records of the Year: 2016

ONE.   Michael Kiwanuka.   Love & Hate. I was looking forward to this release for a long while, and it did not disappoint. Michael says a lot of hard and important things on this record.

TWO.   Chance the Rapper.   Coloring Book.  Really special, and bringing new meaning to "Gospel record." And I really enjoyed David Dark's commentary on Chance.

THREE.   Local Natives.   Sunlit Youth.   Hooks and production on this record were so solid.

FOUR.   Bon Iver.   22, A Million.   Solid effort for those of us who have been waiting a while for this record. 

FIVE.   John Legend.   Darkness & Light.   I really enjoy these songs and love that Blake Mills produced this record. 

And in no particular order:

  • Joseph.   I'm Alone, No You're Not.   The songs are exceptional and the harmonies on this record are so solid and definitely a household favorite in the Dodd home.
  • Radiohead.   A Moon Shaped Pool.   Standard greatness. Thankful they make music.
  • Anderson Paak.   Malibu.   Total groove. I love the tone that "The Bird" sets up top.
  • St. Lucia.   Matter.   A wall of sound in the best way.
  • Sturgill Simpson.   A Sailor's Guide to Earth.   He is pumping out solid effort after solid effort.
  • Frank Ocean.   Blonde.   Lots of scrutiny and secrecy around this release, and I did it.
  • Dawes.   We're All Gonna Die.   Class in songwriting, and another solid Blake Mills produced record.
  • Paper Route.   Real Emotion.   Solid.
  • Switchfoot.   Where the Light Shines Through.   Really love how this record turned out.
  • Crowder.   American Prodigal.   The Grammys agree with me, and this is such a phenomenal record. Crowder's version of Thad Cockrell's "Great Rejoicing" is one of my highlights of the year.
  • Phil Wickham.   Children of God.   Sonically always getting better, incredibly heartfelt songs, I love what Phil is doing (especially when collaborating with Pete)!
  • The Last Royals. Never Be Alone.   Consistently putting out great songs.
  • Tyson Motsenbocker.   Letters to Lost Loves.   This really is one of my favorites because of the way these songs ring in your soul.

Honorable mention: Stranger Things Soundtrack, Matt Corby, Travis, Sandra McCracken, Foy Vance, Matt Wertz, Lael, Trent Dabbs, Cass McCombs, One Republic, David Bazan, Macklemore

Check out the Spotify playlist  of some of my highlights from these records, and a few more songs I enjoyed from the year. (Big props to Spotify for automating a great collection  of my favorites from 2016 as well.)

And I want to hear about your favorite records! Tweet them at me here: @p_dodd

Giving Tuesday (and Beyond)

You've probably been overwhelmed with online "deals" over the past week and a handful of "Giving Tuesday" options today. Everyone has a cause and an ask, but for whatever it's worth I thought I'd share a handful of organizations that mean something to me personally and that I've seen amazing work come from.- Love Does. I have always been thankful for the work that Bob, Debs, and company take part in. By providing a safe and fun environment for kids to learn in, they create future leaders who break cycles of poverty, restore hope in their communities, and spread love wherever they go.

  • Bro-Am Foundation. Not only are the guys some of the best guys you'll ever know, but their heart to make a difference in the lives of deserving yet underprivileged youth is so awesome.

  • PastorServe. PastorServe is a ministry I know, trust and personally support. This year, PastorServe is dedicating Giving Tuesday to serving Haitian Pastors impacted by Hurricane Matthew. Go to their website to find out how you can help Haitian Pastors by giving Haitian pastor couples an experience they will always remember.

  • Young Life. Through a handful of really important people in my life, I have learned from multiple sources how important Young Life is to introducing people to Jesus.

  • Show Hope. I love how Show Hope paints the message of the gospel with the story of adoption.

  • Preemptive Love. These people are going to really hard places and loving people anyway, regardless of circumstance.

  • Nations Foundation. I am a new Nations super fan. On top of donating, buy the journal!

  • Charity Water. I really appreciate what Charity: Water's attention to detail and care on the mission of providing clean water to people who need it on a massive scale.

On the for-profit side, I have been very impressed over the past few days of the messages sent by PatagoniaMiir & Soma about how to be conscious consumers.