ONE. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & 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 Bridges: Coming Home. I'm a fan. I love the fresh soul he brings and tribute to Sam Cooke.
THREE.(tied) David Ramirez: Fables. 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 Gundersen: Carry 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. Mutemath: Vitals. 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 Adams. 1989. I love that he did this. I love that he didn't care. And I actually really enjoy it.
- Sandra McCracken. Psalms. Sandra infused so many beautiful melodies into the Pslams - so thrilled for her and how this turned out.
- Jon Foreman. The Wonderlands. Jon's writing shines so brightly through this series of EPs
- Adele. 25. I am not the only one who liked this record a lot.
- Matthew Perryman Jones. Cold Answer. This record seemed to fly totally under the radar, but has some gems on it.
- Brandon Flowers. The Desired Effect. "Between Me & You" is one of my standout tracks of the year.
- Rayland Baxter. Imaginary Man. Rayland has a super fresh voice and a lot to say.
- Chris Stapleton. Traveller. 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.
- Lovelite. Hopeful 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 Wonder. Oh Wonder. Simple and pretty. Some great piano riffs.
- Beirut. No 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 Bay. Chaos & the Calm. Zero to hero in a seemingly short time and he deserves it.
- Justin Bieber. Purpose. This is an amazingly catchy record.
- Julien Baker. Sprained Ankle. Last "JB" of this list and a pretty important record as far as faith + music is concerned.
- Hillsong United. Empires. Standard greatness.
- Tobias Jesso Jr. Goon. Feels old-timey and I dig it.
- Matthew E White. Fresh Blood. Just enough groove to keep it fresh.
- Coldplay. A Head Full of Dreams. Getting slightly better with every listen.
- Joy Williams. Venus. New Joy & new songs made a great combo. Some solid tracks, but "Sweet Love of Mine" is a standout.
- Ben Rector. Brand New. Ben is a kind man and consistently putting out great work. Stoked on how this record came out.
- Slow Meadow. Slow Meadow. The best instrumental music out there at this point.
- Ivan & Alyosha. It's All Just Pretend. Simply solid.
- Lord Huron. Strange Trails. Continuing down the trail they blazed.
- Lapsley. Understudy. Quite the arresting voice.
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 Review function:
After watching some of the Grammys this past weekend and collectively reflecting with music fans everywhere on music in the year past, I got excited about making a list of the records I am really looking forward to hearing this year from artists who have (at least) hinted there is new music to come this year:
- Jose Gonzalez. You check check out the record now via NPR Music's First Listen. And let this get you excited.
- The Lone Bellow. This record already came out, and people are taking notice. Cool move for them to work with Aaron Dessner from the National.
- Local Natives. They are only getting better with time.
- John Mayer. Come on! Nothing better than a good Mayer record, so hoping this one is good.
- Macklemore. Highly anticipated follow up. I hope the energy stays the same.
- Frank Ocean. More hype to follow.
- Coldplay. I am not sure the extent of this release, but they usually put out gold, so I feel good about it. (Goldplay ... see what I did there?)
- Lord Huron. Their first release was so solid and loved by so many other artists (including this one), that big things are expected here. First single is a good glimpse:
- Sufjan Stevens. I have never been more excited a vinyl coming. (It's clear ... another pun.)
- Sandra McCracken. An honest take on the Psalms that will be really refreshing for everyone who listens.
- Josh Garrels. Josh has been posting bits and pieces here and there.
- Hawai. Now that they have changed their name from JThoven, everything is in line to go well for these guys.
- Phil Wickham. Every release gets better, and with Phil and Pete working together again, great things are destined to happen.
- Passion Pit. They just released a trailer for their new record on Pitchfork which was short, but got me excited for April.
BONUS A few great records that are already out that I really recommend you check out:
- Cody Culberson. Tyler Halford has been super hard at work with Cody, and it is paying off big time.
- Father John Misty. J. TIllman is definitely shaking up the boat -- and it's a good thing.
Let me know what the records you are looking forward to most are on Twitter! (@p_dodd)
ONE. Blake Mills: Heigh Ho. Blake Mills' show at El Rey in September was one of the best I have ever seen, and I don't say that lightly. The instrumentation, the songs, and the talent on display were all top notch.
TWO. Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams. This record was like a ice cold glass of water on a hot day: exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.
THREE. The War On Drugs: Lost In The Dream. This record showcases some amazing tones and great production. I probably listened to it 25 times in a row after the first time I put it on.
FOUR. Beck: Morning Phase. I hadn't listened to Beck too much before this year, and this record as a complete work was really impressive to me.
FIVE. Sturgill Simpson: Metamodern Songs in Country Music. Recording live-to-tape is getting more and more rare, and this team knocked it out of the park with that process. I love how this record sounds.
Here are several other records I really enjoyed this year in no particular order:
Hozier. Hozier. I'll just say this: I am not the only person who has him on a year-end list.
Delta Spirit. Into the Wide. Total rock'n'roll.
Young Oceans. I Must Find You. I needed this record this year. The song "I Must Find You" was really great for re-centering and late nights.
Copeland. Ixora. I love that these guys came back -- but the April Fool's announcement threw me.
Coldplay. Ghost Stories. Continually solid and dominating their niche.
Field Report. Marigolden. Singer-songwriter music that feels really fresh.
First Aid Kit. Stay Gold. Great songs, good melodies, good harmonies. Sounds like Eisley + country, and Lacey and I loved it.
Taylor Swift. 1989. Her marketing people deserve some kind of award as well.
Tycho. Awake. Some of my favorite instrumental music in the last decade. Love it.
Crowder. Neon Steeple. Solid all-around record.
Colony House: When I Was Younger. Proud of these 3 ... they have been hard at work for so long. These are all really solid songs.
SOHN: Tremors. Incredible voice and great programming.
Brooke Fraser: Brutal Romantic. New territory for Brooke, and it's a good direction.
Matthew & the Atlas: Other Rivers. New discovery this year for me. Great for working late at night.
St Lucia: When The Night. These songs get me playing the air drums really hard.
Thanks for reading! I made a Spotify playlist of some of the highlights here.
I want to hear about your favorite records. Tweet them at me here: @p_dodd
Happy Labor Day weekend!
These minimalist portraits of athletes are genius.
I can't remember where I heard this over the last week, but I have thought about it a lot. Hope it encourages you:
"Whatever God promises, He will always deliver."
- Super stoked on my new ARYSEco surfboard by Ryan Sakal.
If you want to see an effective church website in action, check out The Village.
I loved listening to Chase Reeves' interview with Mark Canlis on the customer experience. I highly recommend listening to it.
Coldplay. True Love. Enjoy.
- A few people have posted this recently. Great thought to sit on:
"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." -A.W.Tozer
- Since seeing Wish I Was Here at Sundance in January, I've been excited for this soundtrack. The Shins just released the song they wrote for the movie, and it's good:
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