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rayland baxter

Records of the Year: 2018

ONE. Kacey Musgraves. Golden Hour.

Impeccable writing, crazy catchy, but not too much. I remember hearing this the first time and thinking, “I am a Kasey Musgraves superfan?!”

TWO. Big Red Machine. Self-titled.

Justin Vernon finds himself on my list again with another project that is fresh, and thoughtful, and excellent.

THREE. Dawes. Passwords.

These guys just have it. Insane musicality, provoking lyrics, and a great songwriting brand.

FOUR. Mike Viola. The American Egypt.

I have admired what Mike is doing from a distance as a artist guy and a record man at the same time. I’d love to be able to juggle both the way he does.

FIVE. Madison Cunningham. Love, Lose, Remember.

Madi is the voice of this generation. Continually impressed by her writing and melodies. Seeing her live is something I will personally put on every musical bucket list I have access to.

And in no particular order:

  • Dan Auerbach. Waiting on a Song. Technically this was last year, but got super into this year. Fun to hear what happens when you get all of the best guys you know playing music in a room. That’s the magic.

  • LANY. Malibu Nights. Pop-geniuses. Love it.

  • Matt Corby. Rainbow Valley. His voice is so rich. This record hit me by surprise, I really loved it.

  • Phil Cook. People Are My Drug. I remember hearing this and thinking this is the kind of music I want to make.

  • Rayland Baxter. Wide Awake. Super solid batch of songs from one of the better songwriters.

  • Shawn Mendes. Self-titled. These are really well-crafted pop-songs. Stoked on the career ahead of him.

  • Ben Howard. Noonday Dream. Glad he’s back.

  • Leon Bridges. Good Thing. Solid sophomore effort

  • Dr Dog. Critical Equation. These guys have been too under the radar, and I love the music they make.

  • Pat Barrett. Sails EP. As far as worship songs go, Pat’s songs are exactly what I need.

  • Troye Sivan. Bloom. Solid pop songs, all around.

  • Sam Weber. New Agile Freedom. Love what Tyler Chester has done here with Sam.

Find Spotify playlist of these highlights here.

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: