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Some Things I Listened to in 2015 -- James Weber Jr.

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Feb 20th, 2022
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  1. (2015 was seven years ago, or it was, and I claimed these 2015 listens in January 2016 --JWWJR)
  2.  
  3. Here's some things I listened to in 2015:
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  5. Monika (Christodoulou) – Secret in the Dark
  6. Are you tired of hearing the “story about the record” before you even hear the record yet? I sure am, but here's the story: idiosyncratic Greek pop talent Monika has near-death experience (sort of) with a boat explosion and marathon swim to safety hooks up with Daptone (not THOSE guys again!) and makes transAtlantean pop record. It's not half as pop as they think it is, or at least in the way they think it is. There are your 1979 eurovision also-rans sounding tunes, your depth plumbing slow burners with spare beats, Abba nods. It's a fun ride but ultimately disposable I reckon. Still, there's something here that rewards. Also of note is contrasting the 2014 Greek album cover with the 2015 USA artwork. The Greek release: disco lighting, plastic red visor, bare shoulder, portrait studio. USA: leaning on a rail in front of NYC big city lights, lazy hair in face, leather jacket. Euro pop star in one. Liminal and ambiguous street-struttin' anygirl USA in the other. Welcome to New York, Monika. It's been waiting for you? More girl-composed/fronted art-pop like this in 2016, please. Or if it's already out there, point me its direction. Do we really think she's writing songs for a Brothers Karamazov stage production? Good heavens that would really be...something.
  7.  
  8. 79rs Gang – Fire on the Bayou
  9. Romeo Bougere of the 9th Ward Hunters and Jermaine Bossier of the 7th Ward Creole Hunters make groovy new Mardi Gras Indian record. Any new MG Indian record is worthy of celebration, and I figured this percussion + voice to be good in an archival sense but not something I'd want to put on more than once or twice a year. Nope, it's groovy as heck-fire. A wammer-jammer of the highest order, Sinking City Records continues their great work.
  10.  
  11. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
  12. There is a lot of music here and a lot of it sounds like the late Gerald Wilson's widescreen and occasionally messy jazz orchestra records. No surprise, K. W. did time with G.W., and that is a good thing. Good jazz records come out every year, but there is rarely a story for non-jazzers to grab onto / care about. This one happens to have a story. Anything I'd say about this will be said / has been said 20k times in the last 4 weeks, so I'll write “it's pretty great, look up the other players and buy their records too, go see them live”
  13.  
  14. Michael Magne – Tropical Fantasy
  15. French film composer / avant-guardian gets $$$ to make exotica record (a “style” of music he publicly spits nukyoolar bile on), throws in every jungle sound emulatable by human or instrument, WAY over the top, supra-exotica? Ends up making greatest exotica record, hah hah.
  16.  
  17. 2814 – Birth of a New Day
  18. this collab by telepath blah-blah-blah and Hong Kong Entertainment is under direct aggressions like “vaporwave grows up” (a non-genre and attractor of 20-somethings who operate from a base of distorted historical realities (thanks, internet!), though it's fun to just let the 8 gigs or whatever of “Essential Vaporwave” archive zip through casual ears and hell I need to relax more right? Right?) but is really just the next iteration of various wave-gazers dating back to the Inventors of Ambient Music: Claude Debussy (not really), Tadd Dameron (maybe but no) + Bix Beiderbecke (In a Mist? Nahhhh...), and Erik Satie (yes) + Delia Derbyshire (yes) + etc. The beautiful thing about art and music is that no one is required to experience the same positive emotional responses as anyone else, right? Me, I like this. It's pace is glacial and pianos plunk and 12 strings wobble in and out a la that cocteaus record Victorialand (sold to me as their acoustic record back in the day, it isn't actually) and then a car drives by and honks and stuff. I like it.
  19.  
  20. Stranger Cat – In the Wilderness
  21. many many songs and much much music more every day sound like late 90's femalien r&b but stripped of the hooks and danceability which really sold that stuff. I'd wager Cat Martino was not yet born into this world when Mariah Carey's debut gained traction with “Someday” and “Love Takes Time,” but that's really where she's trying to get from/to. I see sub 22 year old's walk out of the store with 90's r&b tapes pretty frequently and I wonder what it all means. Where does this lead? All things in fashion at once, luckily I really like that stuff and I enjoyed the heck out of this Stranger Cat record. “Soulful affectation” and all, FJM.
  22.  
  23. Richard Hawley – Hollow Meadows
  24. If you think there are not people every day writing songs and making records with the quality charm and pathos of the Sinatra concept records or the Walker Bros “Sun Ain't Gonna Shine...”, you are very wrong. Hawley walks on the surface of the lake he builds from your tears. Put on some headphones.
  25.  
  26. Coultrain – Side Effex of Make-Believe; divided for love's sake
  27. 6 songs, another lush life passion play this year from Coultrain who carves out more space in his preferred cruising altitude: just below the radar. Will he ever blow up? Not likely, but just hope he keeps making records
  28.  
  29. Deaths' Dynamic Shroud.wmv – I'll Try Living Like This
  30. throw-away jitter-garbage with only-for-the-headstrong dance beats kinda and sounds like what 2094 Tokyo sounded like in 1993. Reminds me of a time when the internet was going to fix everything and none of the stuffs that happened after 2000 actually happened. Music for feeling simulated among simulants at 4am or so
  31.  
  32. tech noir – (spirit)
  33. ambient nonsense candy pt 3
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  35. Al Stewart – Year of the Cat
  36. If Sebastian Tellier is the real Father John Misty (and I'd say he kinda is), then Year of the Cat is the real I Love You Honeybear. I guess I had to be almost 40 before I got why this record is so great, but boy do I ever get it now
  37.  
  38. v/a – Ork Records by Numero Group
  39. overdue compendium done the right way by the folks that do it right
  40.  
  41. Bill Evans – Since We Met
  42. 70's trio live at the Vanguard. Nothing remarkable, I just really liked it this year. Not everything has to smash the system or stand the test of time. It's music, get into it
  43.  
  44. Charles Mingus – The Jazz Experiments of Charlie Mingus
  45. John LaPorta, dude! Cheap-o LP combination of two 10"s called “Jazzical Moods” – again nothing mindblowing here, just LaPorta and Mingus and Macero modernizin' and theorizin' up some college-grad jazz. The “Stormy Weather” is particularly hip and “The Spur of the Moment” is a really satisfying digest.
  46.  
  47. James Taylor – One Man Dog
  48. well, the uncharacteristic instrumental sketches that freckle this 1972 “flop”
  49.  
  50. Bilal – In Another Life
  51. continues his rocket out of a long frustrating career; hooks, vocal performance is positively Prince-ian (in a year of plenty of Prince-a-likes, including that skinny mxfx with the high voice!), Adrian “everywhere on everything” Younge produces
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  53. The Ukiah Drag – Crypt Cruiser
  54. Thin White Rope ain't dere no more, no one can lift Guy Kyser's heavy torch, but these guys at least have their faces in the dirt shoved against the firepit, are blowing on the embers to keep the flame alive
  55.  
  56. The entirety of the Captured Tracks / Flying Nun reissue campaign
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  58. The entirety of the Blue Note 75th anniversary reissue campaign
  59.  
  60. Brian Ellis – In the Dark
  61. Midnight Runners – Open Labs
  62. definitely disposable but not very slight stabs at electro/boogie reboot in 2015. Definitely the best driving-around-town-at-night tapes in my car this year. Definitely refreshing I found so much music so fun and so disposable this year. Nothing lasts forever, ya know?
  63.  
  64. BC Camplight – How to Die in the North
  65. marries 1980's C-tier Cocteau-copycat mixtape to Daryl Hall and Robert Fripp covering The Beach Boys' “Please Let Me Wonder (Amazing Vocal Session #5a)”
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  67. Most enjoyable trend of 2015: tie between animated GIF album cover art and forcing the bags of Funyuns on other people.
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