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My Favorite Albums of 2015



I spent most of 2015 listening to musicals, honestly. If I was being 100% real, my top 5 would be something like Fun Home, Hamilton, Thoroughly Modern Millie, They’re Playing Our Song and Tarzan. But there were new albums that came out this year that I quite enjoyed.

Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens. When this one came out, I didn’t have very high expectations. I couldn’t even with his last album, Age of Adz, and I didn’t think this one would be anything better. But it caught me off guard. A beautiful collection of mellow, lightly-electronic slow songs about love and loss.

Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz I thought her last album was so fun, but I didn’t think she could follow up with anything noteworthy. Fortunately, she hooked up with the Flaming Lips for this one, and the formula totally works. A very listenable collections of weirdo-rock, with a tiny splash here and there of young woman angst.

Fun Home Fun Home wasn’t entirely on my radar until the 2015 Tony Awards. I watched the performance of Ring of Keys and I was IN. Bought the cd that day. I was lucky enough to see the show months later, in New York. By the time I saw it, I essentially had the CD memorized.

Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence was a departure from her established sound. Much more guitar and less orchestra. Honeymoon is back to her lush sound, but it goes another new direction. Sounds like old Hollywood. I think it’s beautiful.

The Inevitable End by Royksopp I got in to Royksopp because of their work with Robyn. I heard they had a new album and thought I’d check it out. First listen, I didn’t think it was for me, but I got in to it. It’s pretty great. Supposedly, this is their last “traditional album”, but you never know.

My Favorite Albums of 2013

My favorite Albums from 2013 (reposted from Google+, a year ago)

A lot of great stuff came out in 2013, and a few acts disappointed me. Here are what I consider the highlights. (In chronological order)

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

I really enjoyed the Tron Legacy soundtrack, but I didn't consider myself a DP fan. But at Coachella in April, a promo for Random Access Memories popped up on a video screen. This was the first time I heard Get Lucky. It was so alive. The crowd went crazy, and shortly afterwards, the world was sold on that song.
The album was polarizing. Many of my friends dismissed it immediately. I loved it from the start. To me, it's a perfect album.

Check out: Touch (featuring Paul Williams)

Lil Wayne - I Am Not a Human Being II

I've never been one to shy away from guilty pleasures. IANAHB2 was my summer jam. I listened to it every day for months. I couldn't always relate to the lyrics, which are primarily about pussy, drugs and beating people up, but I could certainly appreciate the album production and LW's word play.
I even wound up seeing him perform it live, towards the end of the summer. I had a coupon.

Check out: Rich as Fuck

Janelle Monae - The Eletric Lady

I loved Janelle's previous album, but I was convinced lighting couldn't strike twice. But between the opening song (featuring PRINCE), Primetime (with Miguel), a series of whack-a-doodle radio skits and a slew of standout tracks, she's outdone herself with this one.

Check out: Prime Time

Arcade Fire - Reflektor

AF provided us with another top notch collection. Reflektor, to me, feels like an album album. In this age of mp3 singles, it's nice to have something like this.

Check out: Here Comes the Night Time

Beyonce - Beyonce

This one came out of nowhere. Beyonce is back to doing music that I can actually enjoy. And having a video for every song on the album is a fun gimmick.

Check out: Mine (featuring Drake)


HONORABLE MENTION:
Of Montreal - Lousy with Sylvianbriar It's great, and I listen to it frequently, but to call it one of my favorites of the year would be kidding myself.
Miley Cyrus - Bangerz Speaking of guilty pleasures.

DISHONORABLE MENTION:
Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks I want to love this album, so much. But let's face it. It's boring.

My Favorite Albums of 2014

Here are my favorite albums of 2014.

Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence

Like any good album, it took a few listens to get in to. It's much more stripped down than her previous two albums. But at one point, I realized it totally works for her. Because with LDR, it's all about her voice. Bonus points for the song Brooklyn Baby, which makes me think of 4 different friends of mine, for 4 different reasons, every time I hear it. Super happy New York memories.


Die Antwort - Donker Mag

Donker Mag was the first album I heard this year where I thought, "This is one of the best albums of 2014." It's so good. Super weird, and I'm not always in the mood for it, but it's produced so well, and it's just so darn original, from beginning to end.


Gerard Way - Hesitant Alien

Hesitant Alien was a surprise for me. The last My Chemical Romance album was pretty meh, so I had low expectations for this. But it wound up being everything I loved about My Chemical Romance, minus everything I dislike about My Chemical Romance.


Prince - Art Official Age

I love Prince so much, but I'm very aware that his modern output is not in the same league as, say Purple Rain. But this one came out of nowhere, and I really, really like it. The, like 3 friends I know who actually listened to it, all agree on one thing. "It's weird". I'm down.


If/Then

My dear friend Richard and I saw If/Then on Broadway the last night of my latest trip to New York. We even got autographs from Ideena Menzel and Anthony Rapp. I enjoyed the show, but I was tired and ready to go home. It wasn't until I got back that I started obsessing over the cast album. I listened to it incessantly for weeks.


Honorable Mention:
Royksopp - The Inevitable End
The Generationals - Actor-Castor


Dishonorable Mention:
U2 - Songs of Innocence, lol

Ani Difranco

I'm slowly getting back in to listening to Ani Difranco. The other day, I came in to work early. It was a noticeably quiet morning, and I was feeling a little emo. Reveling/Reckoning really hit the spot.

Revelling

In my opinion, this was when she was really nailing it, artistically. Before this, she was maybe a little too militant-Lesbian, and after this one, she got a little too jazzy. R/R is perfectly produced and really packs a punch, emotionally.

Tori Amos?!

I actually like the new Tori Amos album. Like, LIKE like. Surprisingly. I had kinda given up on her. I mean, I never disliked her, but she can get a bit too heavy (boring...?) for me.

This new one is a great mix of pretty piano music, good lyrics and quality production. Plus, how can you go wrong with a mother (Tori) and daughter duet?!

I recommend.

Hey,

I feel a burst of creativity and motivation coming on. The last time this happened, I remodeled my bathroom, back in 2012. Want to see it happen? It's right here, on the Good ol' Mike Show!



Enjoy

Viva Portlandia

I quite love the show Portlandia. So, when it was my turn to pick where to go for our anniversary, I picked Portland, OR. JP and I had a lovely time. We mostly ate, drank, snuggled and shopped.

We've been dating for 2 years. Ace Hotel

We stayed at the Ace Hotel, which is satirized here in this Portlandia skit. It was a great hotel, especially for the price!

And then there was Voodoo Donut. I had heard about this place for years. Turns out it was right down the street. Loved it. We ordered a lot of donuts. Wouldn't you?!

Donuts from Voodoo Donut Bacon

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I'm a firm believer in advertising. If you want to have a great birthday, you need to let people know it's happening. I certainly made it clear to everybody when my time was. In lieu of a Birthday I had more of a Birthday Week. It's the one time a year I do this, so why not?

I'm the Birthday Boy!  #38 #oldLady #fancyLady

The good times began with a pub crawl with coworkers the night before my birthday. By design, we were out until midnight, featuring "Happy Actual Birthday!" and a prompt journey home. I worked on my actual birthday. I think that was a first for me.

After work, jpinsd and I headed up to Anaheim. Too late for Disney, we had a great Mexican dinner with a local couple, followed by a drink at the Disney Tiki bar.

I looked at Friday, which I took off of work, as my birthday OBSERVED. We did Disney all day and had chips and margaritas for lunch. That evening, we met up with semi-locals and Disney regulars Richard and Reid for a few rides before heading home.

Birthday week continues!  Today is my birthday (observed). Disney!

Saturday capped Birthday Week. We got a bunch of guys together for dinner at El Zarape. It has come to my attention that I like Mexican.

Throughout the week, I received all kinds of birthday greetings from people in real life and close friends and family I didn't get to see in person. I feel very loved and blessed.

Best Albums of 2012

--- The Top 5 Albums of the Year ---


Kanye West - Good Music Cruel Summer

I was at Amoeba Music and saw that Kanye had a new album out. I asked Thomas what he knew.
"It's a label comp." he said.

It is and it isn't. Kanye may not rap on every track on the album, but he's very present throughout. The rapping, by dudes like Jay-Z, Big Sean and 2 Chains, is some of the best in their careers. Much like Twisted Fantasy, Kanye's previous LP, I can listen to this one on a loop.




Big Sean - Finally Famous

This one grew on me. At first, I had trouble really caring about it, but each track has grown on me.

Big Sean, who constantly refers to himself as "B I G", is quite a talented rap artist. I see a lot of potential here.

Production (partially by Kanye West) throughout the album is great. No album fillers.




Alanis Morissette - Havoc and Bright Lights

I used to be a huge Alanis fan. The Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie album? Yes, plz. But she fell off for me once she started producing her own albums. She did like three in a row that I found unlistenable.

So, when Matt told a bunch of us that she was coming out with a new album, I wasn't pre-sold, at all. The day I got it, though, I listened to it incessantly. I was pleased to hear that she has learned a thing or two about mixing and being subtle. The deep cuts are… smart and pretty.




Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania

I know, I'm holding on to the past. And I was aware of that when I first started getting in to the album.
But Billy and Co are really on to something with this one. I listened to this one hard this summer. It was my go-to.




Lana Del Rey - Paradise

I think this album is perfect. Lana is weird, and her voice isn't perfect, but it works.






--- What I actually listened to this year ---



Jackson 5 - Dancing Machine

Dancing Machine seems to have come out when the guys were unsure which musical direction to head. Michael had gotten older, and Jermaine was about to quit. And apparently Tito wanted more guitar solos.

Regardless, Dancing Machine is a trip. The one that really caught me was I Am Love. It broke down all of my preconceptions about these guys.




Katy Perry - Teenage Dream (The Full Confection)

Matt and I were on a road trip to Arizona and he brought this album. I resisted hard, but after I heard Last Friday Night for the first time, I was a fan. I love that song!

The rest of the album is really strong and well produced.




Barbra Streisand and the Bee Gees - Guilty

I picked this one up on vinyl, in a dollar bin. Barbra Streisand is what she is, but Barry Gibb takes her music to a whole new place. It's such an entertaining and perfect-sounding record.




of Montreal - Daughter of Cloud

I'm biased. Of Montreal is my favorite band right now. Daughter of Cloud isn't a new album; it's instead a collection of rarities. But it's really the same quality as their other releases. The super wacky standout is the one non-wacky song. Sung by someone named Rebecca Cash.





--- Honorable Mention ---

Mika - The Origin of Love
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist

Happy Halloween!

I bust this shirt out once a year. It gets tighter and tighter each time. :)

No big plans tonight. But I'm certain I will be avoiding my house. We get a lot of trick-or-treaters, and I haven't bought any candy. Oops!

Happy Hallowe'en

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