Photos, videos, words and autographs obtained by G.
If you are unfamiliar with any of these bands, songs or albums listed below, I urge you to open your mind and check them out. Maybe they won’t be your taste or maybe they will change your life! And now… According2g.com’s top 15 albums + songs of 2015!!!
Currents by Tame Impala
“Currents” by Tame Impala. By now you should know I am obsessed with this band. They fuse psychedelic rock and and pop seamlessly on this album, their third, and I can’t get enough of it. Lead singer Kevin Parker’s voice sounds like a fusion of John Lennon and George Harrison with a little bit of reverb on his vocals. The opening track “Let It Happen” is over 7 minutes long and I listen to it over and over and over again and months later, I am still not sick of it. By now you’d think I’d have the lyrics memorized, but the processing on his voice makes the end part sound like he’s signing “Shoobie doobie doobie” to me. And I’m not complaining! It makes me smile every time I put this song on repeat. The songs on “Currents” move away from being so rock oriented and this collection of tracks are the grooviest songs Tame Impala has done to date. If this is the direction they are headed in, I am ready to take the ride. I recommend this album, but if albums aren’t your thing, check out “The Less I Know The Better,” “Let It Happen,” “Eventually,” “Cause I’m A Man” and “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.” If those songs don’t rock your world, we are no longer friends 🙂
Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey
2. “Honeymoon” by Lana Del Rey. I’m really glad the world finally stopped hating Lana Del Rey and came to the realization that there is no one else out there in the music scene that is like her. From her dark lyrics to her noir-esque music, Lana’s songs sound like mini 5 minute soundtracks to David Lynch films that don’t exist yet. Love her or hate her, no one else opens an album with a 6 minute song that is nearly a capella, save for an orchestral arrangement when the name of the song is sung. Her lyrics are badass (“you could be a bad motherfucker, but that don’t make you a man”) but she still gets her heart broken (“Ever since my baby went away, it’s been the blackest day/ All I hear is Billie Holliday/ It’s all that I play”) and in between she name checks legends and talks about many of our favorite subjects including getting high by the beach, appreciating art deco and invites you to move to California and become a freak like her. Oh Lana, you have my heart!
Alex Kapranos of FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks)
3. “FFS” by FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks). Who would have thought pairing 90s rockers Franz Ferdinand and 70s duo Sparks would have been such a great idea, but whoever matched these two bands up deserves a medal. The 16 song (if you have the deluxe edition) album is as theatrical as a Broadway show and has enough grooves and quirky lyrics to make you listen to this album repeatedly, whilst occasionally laughing out loud at the absurdity. The opener “Johnny Delusional” talks about not being attractive and trying to impress a hot woman. With song titles like “Dictator’s Son,” “The Man Without a Tan,” “The Power Couple,” the band knows how to take the piss out of themselves. In fact, the regular edition of the album closes out with “Collaborations Don’t Work,” and “Piss Off” which is obviously telling critics to piss off, since the results of this collaboration (that does work!) are some of the best work either band has done. The deluxe edition features the song “So Many Bridges” and just from hearing the title, you think it’s going to be a reflective song, and instead they sing about how there are “so many bridges in the world to jump off from.” This album rules!
4. “Thirty One” by Jarryd James. Jarryd James is a singer/songwriter from Australia who has a nice mixture of soul, R&B and pop in his songs. In the age of the piano ballad that makes you want to slit your wrists, Jarryd James is the relief as his music has a beat and many times, a funky little groove. His album has yet to make a splash in America, but I think with the right marketing, he has the potential to be a big star. I happened to see that he was playing a concert in New York and the promoter inserted a youtube link to his track “Do You Remember?” and I pressed play, heard about 5 seconds of the song and said “I need to see this guy sing.” It was a great decision and I enjoyed every song I heard that night and when his album came out, I found the same love for every track on the record. If you are looking for a starting point, let me recommend “Give Me Something” (for a more upbeat taste) and if you need a slow jam, check out “High.” I really hope Jarryd’s career takes off because I love this album so much. I am looking forward to hearing more from Jarryd James and you should be too!
5. “25” by Adele. Hello! A brilliant album of sad songs. Adele is so charming when she is interviewed (I’ve met her 3 times and I can confirm the charm), her laugh makes the world a brighter place. But sad songs are her specialty, so we’ve gotta let Adele be Adele. Luckily songs like “Send my Love (To Your New Lover)” and “Water Under the Bridge” give us a glimpse of Adele when she is at her most up beat. The world is her oyster, so hopefully we will get a tour and more music without having to wait years in between. But Adele lives by her schedule perhaps if more artists did that, we’d get more artful works such as “25.”
6. “Dopamine” by Borns. If T. Rex were alive and making music with the band MGMT in the age of the millennial, it would sound a lot like Borns. His songs are groovy and soulful with a little bit of psychedelia mixed in. You’ve got to watch the video for his single “Electric Love,” and if the song and video don’t blow you away, then try the title track “Dopamine,” which will have you repeating the chorus “wanna feel that stream of dopamine” over and over again. “10,000 Emerald Pools” and “The Emotion” are two of my favorite songs on this great debut. If you scour the archives of this site, you will find videos of Garrett Borns covering Bowie and Elton John. You’re welcome!
7. “Back In Time” by Judith Hill. Judith Hill is so bad ass! She’s sung backing vocals for a list of legends including Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson and for her latest album “Back in Time,” Prince produced it! This production gives us a throwback to the purple proteges of the 1980s when every song on the record is great and it sounds like a Prince production. I saw Judith Hill perform a few of these songs live and the studio renditions don’t do her voice justice because this woman can SING! If you don’t throw your hands up church style when you hear songs like “Cry Cry Cry,” you might need to get your ears checked. “As Trains Go By,” the album’s opener is that funk that is sorely missing from Prince’s own output these days and “Jammin’ in the Basement” will make you do just that. Hopefully the world will catch on to the amazing Judith Hill because she deserves to have a career as great and powerful as her voice.
8. “Kylie Christmas” by Kylie Minogue. Aside from a handful of rock songs, I typically despise Christmas music. I was pleasantly surprised to find Kylie Minogue’s Christmas record to be a mix of classic x-mas songs with traditional arrangements (“It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,” where they’ve seamlessly spliced in Frank Sinatra’s voice) to 1980’s covers (“2000 Miles” by the Pretenders, “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses – but Kylie’s version is paired with Iggy Pop! and “Only You,” a Yaz(oo) cover “Only You” paired with funny man James Corden – proving he’s got a nice set of pipes) to a disco Christmas song – “100 Degrees,” a duet with her sister, Danii Minogue. It’s got a little something for everyone and you’ll need the deluxe edition if you want some of the better tracks on the album. Ho Ho Ho!
9. “Caracal” by Disclosure. Not as strong as their debut, the sophomore release from the cute Lawrence brothers has some really strong tracks. In fact, when the tracks are strong, they hit it out of the park and when they are weak, they are little more than album filler. Their collaborations with The Weeknd (“Nocturnal”), Sam Smith (“Omen”) and Lorde (“Magnets”) make you wish they would do full albums with these artists.
10 “Uptown Special” by Mark Ronson. Mark Ronson + Kevin Parker of Tame Impala = G Heaven. There are in fact 3 collaborations with the pair including “Daffodils,” which is a track so funky, I’ve had it on repeat a lot this year. But the collaborations don’t stop there, Ronson also works again with Andrew Wyatt of the electronic group Miike Snow (sic) as well as producer Jeff Bhasker and there’s even a little bit of Stevie Wonder’s harmonica featured to open the album. The record also features the mega smash “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars, and to be honest, Bruno’s music is so derivative to my ears that this song sort of sounds like a Saturday Night Live parody of Eddie Murphy doing James Brown, but that’s just me. The music is funky though, and that’s what matters. This record is a little patchy in comparison to Ronson’s last effort “Record Collection,” but I still love it.
11. “The Gates” by Young Empires. There is no greater champion for this band than me, and I was so excited that their full length debut record has finally seen the light of day. Their music is dance rock, funk punk or “haute rock” as they like to say. Call it what you want, there are 10 tracks to shake your ass on the dance floor and some of my favorite songs are the reggae tinged “Never Die Young,” “So Cruel,” and “Mercy.” Below, you can check out a live version of “Sunshine.” Apologies for it being so dark – that’s rock and roll!
Matt Bellamy of Muse
12. “Drones” by Muse. Not their strongest album, but there are so many Muse moments, from their very political lyrics, to Matt Bellamy’s high pitched voice, stadium anthem ready choruses and my favorite moment on the album – the song “Revolt” where Matt Bellamy tells the listener to do exactly that! FUCK YEAH MUSE!
Bernard Sumner of New Order
13. “Music Complete” by New Order. Peter Hook is noticeably absent on bass, but there are guest stars a plenty that range from good “Superheated” (featuring Brandon Flowers of The Killers) to really good “Tutti Frutti” and “People on the High Line” (featuring Elly Jackson of LaRoux) to cringe worthy “Stray Dog” (featuring Iggy Pop). The strongest tracks on the record, according2g are the obvious tribute to Peter Hook “Unlearn This Hatred” and “Plastic.”
Simon LeBon of Duran Duran
14. “Paper Gods” by Duran Duran. Duran Duran’s career in the 2000s has been all over the map as they released the near-career killing, but mostly pleasant “Pop Trash,” the comeback, but not hugely popular album “Astronaut,” the absolutely horrible “Red Carpet Massacre” (PLEASE don’t ever work with Timbaland again), the criminally underrated “All You Need Is Now” and the spotty “Paper Gods.” As FFS somewhat rightly noted in entry number 3, collaborations don’t work. This rings true for some truly WTF moments as DD have collaborated with Kieza on the otherwise good track “Last Night In the City” but she over-divas her vocals and that has no business on a Duran Duran album. The first single “Pressure Off” also suffers from the ill conceived collaboration with Janelle Monae. Don’t count Duran Duran out though – their live show is still great and Simon LeBon’s voice sounds better than it has in years. They perhaps need to just focus on their strengths which are best made with the 4 remaining members of the band.
15. “Unbreakable” by Janet Jackson. It’s just so good to hear Janet sing again after the death of her brother and almost a decade long hiatus, she could sing the phone book and it would have made the list. Don’t ever leave us again Janet! And check out “No Sleeep” (sic). It’s classic JJ!
16 / 17. “Rebel Heart” by Madonna and “Black Messiah” by D’Angelo and The Vanguard. Both of these albums were released at the end of 2014, so they don’t really count. Well, Madonna’s record leaked over 6 months early and didn’t see an official release until 2015, but the versions she picked to give the fans something different than what leaked are nearly all inferior to the leaked versions. A pity, since this was Madonna’s strongest studio effort in a decade! On the other hand, “Black Messiah” is a fucking masterpiece by the recluse of R&B, D’Angelo. Every song on it is not only great, but essential listening. Let’s hope he is inspired, after the universal love he got for this album, to continue to release music in intervals shorter than every 14 years.
Here are my Top 15 songs of 2015. I’m going to save the commentary, so seek out these tracks!
Erik Hassle – “No Words”
Nervo (featuring Jake Shears, Kylie Minogue, Nile Rodgers) – “The Other Boys”
Van Hunt - Live At The Troubadour - Out March 13, 2012
I am definitely biased when it comes to Van Hunt’s music. He can pretty much do no wrong by me musically as I’ve loved the progression of his sound from album to album. He gets compared to Lenny Kravitz and Prince a lot and I see why people say those things; however, if you see Lenny or Prince these days, they’ve lost the creative spark that used to show them setting trends instead of following them. Enter Van Hunt. He’s not Prince and he’s not Lenny. He’s one of the few artists out there that is taking chances musically. The latest direction in his music is the 2011 album “What Were You Hoping For?” a seamless fusion of Soul and Punk! The title of the album suggests correctly that if you think you are going to get a rehash of the types of songs Van Hunt has already released, you’ve probably purchased the wrong album.
I’ve recommended going to see Van Hunt live every chance you can because he is not just an exciting studio musician, but when he performs, you get to see a whole other side to Van Hunt. He’s not one to sound exactly like his records in concert and in fact he typically plays almost unrecognizable versions of his songs as he changes the arrangements dramatically. For those that have been unable to see Van live, the next best thing is “Live At The Troubadour 2011,” a 19 track live album recorded in Los Angeles last year. You’ll hear what I’ve been talking about with these great performances of songs like “Character,” which is much more rock than soul; a thrashin’ version of “Her December” instead of the jazzy studio version, and a fast version of “Hot Stage Lights” (known on the album as “Man of the Year”). He also plays a couple of tracks from his still unreleased record “Popular” and even those renditions are different than the studio versions. You’ll also hear live takes on many tracks from “What Were You Hoping For?” including a funky version of the title track, and the thrashing “Watching You Go Crazy Is Driving Me Insane” as well as the first single, “Eyes Like Pearls.” At the risk of losing fans, Van Hunt is not trying to alienate anyone with the dramatic direction he’s taking. He’s just trying to grow as an artist and listening to “Live at the Troubadour” will cement the fact that Van Hunt is a force to be reckoned with. In addition, the album will tantalize you for his next tour (and great news – his Spring 2012 tour dates are below) and will ensure that you never miss seeing Van Hunt perform live.
3/15Austin, TX @ Cedar Street Courtyard – SXSW/Thirty Tigers Showcase
3/16Houston, TX@Warehouse Live Studio
3/17Dallas, TX @ Prophet Bar
3/20 St. Louis, MO @ Lola
3/21Chicago, IL@ Lincoln Hall
3/22Ferndale, MI@ The Magic Bag
3/23Cleveland, OH @Beachland Ballroom
3/24Toronto, ON @The Great Hall
3/27Washington, DC @The Hamilton
3/28Baltimore, MD @Sound Stage
3/29Pittsburgh, PA@ Thunderbird Café
3/31Providence, RI@ Fete Lounge
4/1Philadelphia, PA@ World Café Live
4/2New York, NY @ The Studio @ Webster Hall
4/3Brooklyn, NY@ Knitting Factory
4/5Charlotte, NC@ Double Door Inn
4/6Atlanta, GA @The Earl
4/7Nashville, TN @ Jazz & Jokes
4/9Columbus, OH @The Basement
4/11Dayton, OH @Canal Street Tavern
4/13Bloomington, IL @The Castle Theatre
4/14Davenport, IA @RME Performance Hall
4/15Minneapolis, MN @Fine Line Music Café
The Tracklist for Van Hunt’s Live at “The Troubadour” 2011 is:
Two bits of great Van Hunt news! Van Hunt will be releasing his first live album “Live At The Troubadour 2011” on March 13, 2011 (in digital format only). If you’ve never gotten the chance to see Van Hunt live, you are missing out in seeing one of the ONLY true musicians out there who challenges himself and his audience as he refuses to take the “easy road.” When you go see Van Hunt live, you won’t hear a regurgitation of the album, but instead you’ll hear a completely different twist on very familiar songs. His latest album “What Were You Hoping For?” is a breath of fresh air in a time where so many artists repeat what they think is the winning formula. Van Hunt has always been known to mix rock and funk and on this album, you’ll hear genre-bending tracks that seamlessly meld soul and punk!
You can catch Van on tour in 2012 at:
3/15Austin, TX @ Cedar Street Courtyard – SXSW/Thirty Tigers Showcase
“Penguin Prison” by Penguin Prison. While most of the albums on this list are in no particular order, my favorite record of the year is definitely the self-titled album “Penguin Prison.” In early 2010, I caught Penguin Prison in concert as an opening act and before the set was over, I became an instant fan. Lead singer and PP brainchild Chris Glover is so talented. Every song on his debut record could (and should) be a hit. The record definitely sounds like a greatest hits album instead of a major label debut. Sonically, Penguin Prison sounds like Off the Wall era Michael Jackson but as produced by LCD Soundsystem. As a result, each song is pop perfection from the catchy-as-hell opener “Don’t Fuck With My Money” to the Radiohead-esque closer “Someone got Everything.” As Chris Glover has cited hip hop, rap, pop, dance and country music as the music he listens to, I would not be surprised if his future records infuse these diverse styles. In an era where music is so dispensable, it’s very refreshing to have an album that I can listen to over and over again without getting sick of it. Thanks PP! Cannot wait to see what you come up with next!
Christopher Owens of Girls
“Father, Son, Holy Ghost” by Girls. This album took me by surprise. When 2011 began, I’d never heard of Girls and by the middle of the concert, I couldn’t wait to make my way to the merch table and buy this album. The album has a little bit of everything – power pop, gut-wrenching ballads and heavy metal! The album flows great from start to finish and I have to limit myself from listening to it too much because they lyrics deal with love, loss and reconciliation and sometimes it’s too much for me to take. You should definitely investigate lead singer Christopher Owens’ back story from cult-member (with his mom!) to drug addict. It helps complete pieces of the puzzle and in my opinion makes the album even more beautiful. I highly recommend the heavy metal song “Die” as well as one of the most heart wrenching songs I’ve ever heard – “Vomit.” The background vocals are worthy of a slot on a Pink Floyd record and Christopher Owens is so beautifully vulnerable when he sings the line “Come into my heart,” it gives me chills every time.
Mark Foster of Foster The People
“Torches” by Foster the People. Foster the People have had an amazing 2011. They started off the year playing small venues and they ended the year playing 2 sold out nights at the 3,000 capacity Terminal 5. Rightfully so too. Their debut album “Torches” is packed with catchy dance/pop and it’s another album that sounds like a greatest hits record instead of a debut. A lot of people have perhaps rightly criticized the band for sounding too much like a fusion of MGMT, Peter Bjorn and John and Two Door Cinema Club, but luckily for me, I love all three bands so I am not bothered at all. Their live show is a seizure inducing light show which allows the audience to dance like nobody’s looking, so if you like this record, definitely see Foster the People live. I recommend the songs “Houdini” and “Miss You,” if you are looking for a place to start, but I think you’ll enjoy the entire record.
“The Defamation of Strickland Banks” by Plan B. This album was released in the UK in 2010, but it didn’t see a US release until 2011 so I am including it on this list. Plan B is a rapper turned crooner, whose voice sounds like Smokey Robinson and he is not afraid to show off his rapping skills in his songs. The album is a masterpiece from start to finish and the songs (and videos) connect the audience to the story of Strickland Banks, a singer who gets locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. The only crime that has been committed is that Plan B is not a superstar in America. There are so many sub-par artists out there and this record outshines all of them! The entire album is great, but I highly recommend the silky smooth “Prayin,” the rockin’ “Stay Too Long,” and the funky “She Said.”
“Seeds We Sow” by Lindsey Buckingham. So many artists that I’ve followed for most of my life have unfortunately reached a creative zenith and have been putting out material beneath their greatness for years. Not Lindsey Buckingham. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer/guitarist/creative director for the off again/on again Fleetwood Mac seems to get better with age. A few years ago, he released a solo album “Under the Skin” and it was the beginning of a new creative chapter in his life. In a short few years, Lindsey has released 3 solo studio albums (“Under The Skin,” “Gift of Screws” and “Seeds We Sow”) and all three are excellent. Lindsey’s guitar playing is better than ever (which is hard to believe because I think he’s one of the best guitarists I’ve ever seen); his vocals are more powerful than ever and his melodies are so beautiful that if you’re having a reflective moment when you listen to his music, you might shed some tears. “Seeds We Sow” is a near perfect album with rockers like “One Take,” the gorgeous ballad “Gone Too Far,” and the empowering anthem “In Our Own Time.” Though we are talking only about 2011 here, I recommend you get all three of these albums and listen to them back to back because they are perfect companions to each other.
“Anna Calvi” by Anna Calvi. It’s hard to describe Anna Calvi’s sound, but the words “noir” and “otherworldly” come to mind. Musically, the tracks are dark and moody and Anna’s voice is powerful. Fans of Siouxsie Sioux or Florence Welch will enjoy this record too as Anna’s voice will give you chills. I highly recommend you catch her live as well as she is great in person. She’s very stylish, plays electric guitar like one of the great virtuosos and can hit all the notes in person. My favorite songs on the album are “Suzanne and I,” “I’ll Be Your Man,” and “The Devil.” The non-album track, her cover of Edith Piaf’s “Jezebel” is also fantastic!
Cody Critcheloe of Ssion
“Bent” by Ssion. Lead singer Cody Critcheloe gave away this entire album for free during the summer and if you are a regular reader of this site (and I thank you for your patronage), you have been enjoying this album ever since. The album serves as a great party record for any mood. If you are listening to it before you go out, you’ll want to put on “Listen to the Grrrls,” “Psy-Chic” or “Blonde With U.” If you are just coming back from a night out and you need some chill-out grooves, “LuvBazaar,” “Growin’” and “Earthquake” will put you in the right frame of mind. Ssion is another great band to see live as you won’t just be seeing great songs being performed, but you’ll also see great performance art.
“Timez Are Weird These Days” by Theophilus London. Mad props to Theophilus London because I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a rap album since Outkast’s last record which came out years ago. The master of the mix-tape released his debut album this year and it’s great. He mixes rock, rap and new wave in the best way possible. He is a big fan of The Smiths, Prince and Kraftwerk and it shows in his songs. I for one, appreciate the diversity. Highlights are “Stop It,” “Wine and Chocolates,” and “I Stand Alone.”
“All You Need Is Now” by Duran Duran. Parts of this album were released as a preview in 2010, but the full album was not released until 2011 so I am including it on the list. It’s my pleasure to say the following sentence – Duran Duran are back! After making one of the worst albums I’ve ever heard, 2007’s disastrous “Red Carpet Massacre,” Duran Duran decided that working with one trick pony producers like Justin Timberlake and Timbaland do nothing for their music. For “All You Need Is Now,” Duran Duran enlisted producer Mark Ronson, a fan of the band, and he produced a modern classic Duran record. The album has the classic elements of their first 2 records while still sounding fresh. The song “the Man Who Stole A Leopard,” is like a modern day “Chauffeur,” and “Girl Panic” would fit in on the “Rio” album with no problem. It’s really disappointing that the record didn’t do better, but perhaps it had to do with the singles they released – like the weakest track on the album – the title track. If you can get your hands on the special edition, I recommend that as there is a bonus DVD where the band and Mark Ronson talk about the making of every song. It’s a really great thing to see for a really great collection of songs.
“What Were You Hoping For” by Van Hunt. If you follow Van Hunt’s career, you know that there are a lot of ups and downs. On the negative side, a label dispute prevented his amazing third album “Popular” from being released. On the positive side, Van Hunt is one of the most exciting artists out there. He continues to expand his musical and stylistic vocabulary and that growth is ever present on “What Were You Hoping For?” I think even the title alone suggests that Van Hunt is a real artist and he’s going to do what he wants. It’s evidenced by some of the most atrocious album artwork I’ve ever seen. But if you can get past the exterior, you’ll find one of the most exciting albums of 2011. Van rocks a lot harder on this album than in the past, but one thing is certain, his lyrics are extremely deep and he is really pushing himself to take his music to the next level. Songs like the punk-infused “Watching You Go Crazy Is Driving Me Insane” may not be a commercial hit, but I applaud Van Hunt for taking a creative risk. It paid off! The final track, “It’s a Mysterious Hustle” is probably my favorite track on the record as he just describes the craziness of life when things aren’t always what they seem. A very appropriate final statement for the record, according2g.
Guy Garvey of Elbow
“Build A Rocket Boys” by Elbow. I love Elbow. The only way to describe their music is with this word – Epic! Each song is like a mini-symphony and this album is no different. The record opens with the 8 minute epic “the Birds.” Lead singer Guy Garvey asserts that “looking back is for the birds” and I couldn’t agree more. While the album is slightly less perfect than their masterpiece from 2008, “The Seldom Seen Kid,” there are many great moments like the rocker “Neat Little Rows,” and the single “Lippy Kids,” which mentions the album’s title. Once again, I highly recommend seeing Elbow in concert if you get the chance because they sound just as great live as they do on record with one major difference – when you see them live, you get an ocean of people singing along!
Have you ever wanted to sing “I want to fuck… you baby” in a concert setting? Luckily for me, Van Hunt has made that dream a reality. The master of psychedelic soul performed “The Lowest 1 of My Desires,” from his unreleased album “Popular” at the Studio at Webster Hall on September 19, 2011 and the show was fantastic. This was the closing song of the night. Enjoy!