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Records of the Year: 2015

ONE.  Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell. There was so much anticipation for this record and it delivered in a huge way as well as massively exceeded expectations. His faint voice and light instrumentation is perfect.

Note: in becoming a continued student of the relationships of music and spirituality, Sufjan's words and songs are especially intriguing. This article is worth a read.

TWO.  Leon BridgesComing Home. I'm a fan. I love the fresh soul he brings and tribute to Sam Cooke.

THREE.(tied) David RamirezFables. David's work has always resonated well with me. I am a fan of David as a person, as a songwriter, and as a performer. For him and Noah to team up to make this record was a really great gift this year gave.

THREE.(tied) Noah GundersenCarry The Ghost. Haunting, beautiful, arresting, tasteful, art. That's all I got.

Note: This record had PHENOMENAL album art. Philip Harder's work on this cover is really incredible.

FIVE. MutemathVitals. I knew that Mutemath was coming out with a record, but I honestly did not expect for it to be so good. I have listened to it so much, and this song is one of my favorites of the whole year.

And in no particular order:

  • Ryan Adams1989. I love that he did this. I love that he didn't care. And I actually really enjoy it.
  • Sandra McCrackenPsalms. Sandra infused so many beautiful melodies into the Pslams - so thrilled for her and how this turned out.
  • Jon ForemanThe Wonderlands. Jon's writing shines so brightly through this series of EPs
  • Adele25. I am not the only one who liked this record a lot.
  • Matthew Perryman JonesCold Answer. This record seemed to fly totally under the radar, but has some gems on it.
  • Brandon FlowersThe Desired Effect. "Between Me & You" is one of my standout tracks of the year.
  • Rayland BaxterImaginary Man. Rayland has a super fresh voice and a lot to say.
  • Chris StapletonTraveller. There are only a handful of people or guideposts that I personally look to for music recommendations. Seth posted about Chris Stapleton right when the record came out and I gave it a gander then and immediately thought "What a voice!" America has also caught on and that is fun.
  • LoveliteHopeful Strangers. Always solid.
  • The Japanese House. All releases. TJH is one of the greatest surprises of the year. Cool vocals, some heavy emotional distortion. I love it.
  • Oh WonderOh Wonder. Simple and pretty. Some great piano riffs.
  • BeirutNo No No. I never gave Beirut a listen before this year and my interest was piqued when I saw their new record released. The sonics and melodies on this record are phenomenal. 
  • James BayChaos & the Calm. Zero to hero in a seemingly short time and he deserves it.
  • Justin BieberPurpose. This is an amazingly catchy record.
  • Julien BakerSprained Ankle. Last "JB" of this list and a pretty important record as far as faith + music is concerned.
  • Hillsong UnitedEmpires. Standard greatness.
  • Tobias Jesso JrGoon. Feels old-timey and I dig it.
  • Matthew E WhiteFresh Blood. Just enough groove to keep it fresh.
  • ColdplayA Head Full of Dreams. Getting slightly better with every listen.
  • Joy WilliamsVenus. New Joy & new songs made a great combo. Some solid tracks, but "Sweet Love of Mine" is a standout.
  • Ben RectorBrand New. Ben is a kind man and consistently putting out great work. Stoked on how this record came out.
  • Slow MeadowSlow Meadow. The best instrumental music out there at this point.
  • Ivan & AlyoshaIt's All Just Pretend. Simply solid.
  • Lord HuronStrange Trails. Continuing down the trail they blazed.
  • LapsleyUnderstudy. Quite the arresting voice.

Thanks for getting this far. A Spotify playlist of some of my highlights from these records has been compiled for you here.

And I want to hear about your favorite records. Tweet me! @p_dodd

P.S. Interesting graphic Spotify gave me this from their Year In Reviewfunction:

SpotifyYear2015.jpg

Anticipated Records: 2015

After watching some of the Grammys this past weekend and collectively reflecting with music fans everywhere on music in the year past, I got excited about making a list of the records I am really looking forward to hearing this year from artists who have (at least) hinted there is new music to come this year:

  • The Lone Bellow. This record already came out, and people are taking notice. Cool move for them to work with Aaron Dessner from the National.
  • Local Natives. They are only getting better with time.
  • John Mayer. Come on! Nothing better than a good Mayer record, so hoping this one is good.
  • Macklemore. Highly anticipated follow up. I hope the energy stays the same.
  • Frank Ocean. More hype to follow.
  • Coldplay. I am not sure the extent of this release, but they usually put out gold, so I feel good about it. (Goldplay ... see what I did there?)
  • Lord Huron. Their first release was so solid and loved by so many other artists (including this one), that big things are expected here. 
  • Sufjan Stevens. I have never been more excited a vinyl coming. (It's clear ... another pun.)
  • Sandra McCracken. An honest take on the Psalms that will be really refreshing for everyone who listens.
  • Josh Garrels. Josh has been posting bits and pieces here and there. 
  • Hawai. Now that they have changed their name from JThoven, everything is in line to go well for these guys.
  • Phil Wickham. Every release gets better, and with Phil and Pete working together again, great things are destined to happen.
  • Passion Pit. They just released a trailer for their new record on Pitchfork which was short, but got me excited for April.
  • BONUS A few great records that are already out that I really recommend you check out:

  • Cody Culberson. Tyler Halford has been super hard at work with Cody, and it is paying off big time.
  • Father John Misty. J. TIllman is definitely shaking up the boat -- and it's a good thing.

Let me know what the records you are looking forward to most are on Twitter! (@p_dodd)

Records of the Year: 2014

ONE.   Blake Mills.   Heigh Ho. Blake Mills' show at El Rey in September was one of the best I have ever seen, and I don't say that lightly. The instrumentation, the songs, and the talent on display were all top notch.

TWO.    Ryan Adams.    Ryan Adams. This record was like a ice cold glass of water on a hot day: exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.

THREE.   The War On Drugs.   Lost In The Dream. This record showcases some amazing tones and great production. I probably listened to it 25 times in a row after the first time I put it on.

FOUR.    Beck.    Morning Phase. I hadn't listened to Beck too much before this year, and this record as a complete work was really impressive to me.

FIVE.   Sturgill Simpson.   Metamodern Songs in Country Music. Recording live-to-tape is getting more and more rare, and this team knocked it out of the park with that process. I love how this record sounds.

Here are several other records I really enjoyed this year in no particular order:

  • Hozier.   Hozier. I'll just say this: I am not the only person who has him on a year-end list.

  • Delta Spirit.   Into the Wide. Total rock'n'roll.

  • Young Oceans.   I Must Find You. I needed this record this year. The song "I Must Find You" was really great for re-centering and late nights.

  • Copeland.   Ixora. I love that these guys came back -- but the April Fool's announcement threw me.

  • Coldplay.   Ghost Stories. Continually solid and dominating their niche.

  • Field Report.   Marigolden. Singer-songwriter music that feels really fresh.

  • First Aid Kit.   Stay Gold. Great songs, good melodies, good harmonies. Sounds like Eisley + country, and Lacey and I loved it.

  • Taylor Swift.   1989. Her marketing people deserve some kind of award as well.

  • Tycho.   Awake. Some of my favorite instrumental music in the last decade. Love it.

  • Crowder.   Neon Steeple. Solid all-around record.

  • Luke Reynolds.   After the Flood. Just heard of this guy recently, and I really like the tunes.

  • Colony House.   When I Was Younger. Proud of these 3 ... they have been hard at work for so long. These are all really solid songs.

  • SOHN.   Tremors. Incredible voice and great programming.

  • Brooke Fraser.   Brutal Romantic. New territory for Brooke, and it's a good direction.

  • Matthew & the Atlas.   Other Rivers. New discovery this year for me. Great for working late at night.

  • St Lucia.   When The Night. These songs get me playing the air drums really hard.

  • Noah Gundersen.   Ledges. Noah really put his best into this record. Excited for people to start seeing our #SerialBoxTV episode with him.

Thanks for reading! I made a Spotify playlist of some of the highlights here.

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

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Happy Labor Day weekend!

  • These minimalist portraits of athletes are genius.

  • I can't remember where I heard this over the last week, but I have thought about it a lot. Hope it encourages you:

"Whatever God promises, He will always deliver."

  • Super stoked on my new ARYSEco surfboard by Ryan Sakal.
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Weekend Links

  • Insane to think that Baylor Homecoming 10 years ago was my first time to step foot on the most amazing university's campus. Wish we could have been there this weekend. Sic 'Em!

  • Man, am I excited for Coldplay's new live DVD: