It’s June 16th and (technically) the year is half over. I know, I know, time flies and all that.
I made a promise to myself earlier this year that I wasn’t going to do any critical pop culture blogging until my end of the year lists started to roll out. I’ve been trying to develop my side as a creative writer, and not blogging as much has allowed me some freedom in that regard.
But every once in a while you have to scratch an itch. And since it’s the mid-point of 2015, I figured I’d share a little bit about what I’ve been listening to. Of course, there are albums that everyone and their mother has been talking about: Kendrick Lamar, Sufjan Stevens, Drake, etc. And then there are albums that everyone is hotly anticipating: Kanye West, James Blake, Frank Ocean, etc. So instead of ruminating on the obvious or looking forward to what hasn’t yet come, I present to you a few different records that you may or may not have scoped out at this point. If you haven’t, you really should have by now. C’mon…you’re better than this.
Tobias Jesso Jr.’s Goon
Fans of Paul McCartney rejoice: the successor is here. That sounds like a tall order for Tobias Jesso Jr. to fill and, to be fair, he probably won’t ever reach the same levels of fame and genius as Sir Paul. But Jesso’s timeless songwriting and warbling, whispered vocals echo some of the finest Beatles-McCartney moments: “Yesterday”, “Blackbird” and “Hey Jude” for example. He’s only 30 years old, so he has some time to grow. Goon is an impressive start.
Lord Huron’s Strange Trails
I’ve already posted about my predilection for Lord Huron on Facebook, so I apologize for redundancy. But in the time since then, Strange Trails has grown into something beyond a simple follow up to the brilliant Lonesome Dreams. Lord Huron’s music evokes a sense of adventure that blends the records together; it may seem repetitive at times, but the sophomore effort is all about subtlety. Instead of singing about adventure, they’re now telling stories. It may seem nuanced, but it makes a big difference.
Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment’s Surf
This record probably best fits the title of the post: if you haven’t listed to Surf yet, I don’t know what you’ve been doing. It was highly anticipated (for those that pay attention) and, best of all, it’s totally free on iTunes.
Surf is leaps and bounds beyond 2013’s Acid Rap, expanding Chance the Rapper’s irreverent and colorful style into a bright and exuberant celebration of life, emotion and positivity. Sound cheesy? It’s not. In fact, it’s refreshing and necessary. And what first comes off as a dense, jazzy record eventually transforms into one of the easiest listens of 2015, a breathe of fresh air in a year full of heavy-hitters.
Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear
Fear Fun didn’t make my end of the year list in 2012, which I now realize was a huge mistake. It’s still rocketing up my list of all-time favorites. And for those expecting another silly, sarcastic effort from Josh Tillman, heads up: I Love You, Honeybear isn’t nearly as tame as its name would suggest. Instead, Tillman reflects on the natures of commitment and love in a way that comes off angry, biting and 100% transparent; surprising, considering he was recently married. But that 180-degree turn is exactly what makes I Love You, Honeybear so essential. It’s bold and brash, and there are a lot of good, rich thoughts for the taking. You won’t have as much fun as Fear Fun, but you’ll definitely feel like you learned something.