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:
- Loving the new Lord Huron record. I hope you've had a chance to listen.
Lovelace Made is open for business! Take a look around. Proud husband over here.
Things for Apple Watch looks pretty sweet.
I've mentioned this before, but I am thankful for this reminder:
"God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which He must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves." -A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
When we intentionally seek out the difficult tasks, we're much more likely to actually create value." Another killer blog from Seth Godin.
Sandra McCracken's 'Psalms' record is out, and it is beautiful.
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)
September has been an unusually rich month for new music, and here are some highlights for me:
- Blake Mills | Heigh Ho. The live show last Thursday at El Rey was among the best I have ever seen. Unbelievable instrumentation and direct songs. Hoping to get the vinyl soon.
- Ryan Adams | Ryan Adams. After listening the first time through on NPR, I knew this record would be in my top 3 for all of 2014. I only buy vinyls of records I already love, and I bought the vinyl the day it came out.
- Delta Spirit | Into the Wide. I've loved keeping up with these guys since the Noise Ratchet days, but this record shows their maturation in the best way.
- Lecrae | Anomaly. A huge congrats to him on charting #1 on Billboard!
- Alt-J | This Is All Yours. I have only given this a quick listen, but so far I like what I hear.
- The Tree Ring | Ten Rivers. Going to a farewell show for one of your favorite bands is never fun, but The Tree Ring has continued to give their community great songs. (See photo below)
- Robbie Seay | Psalms, Volume 3 - EP. Robbie is an amazing songwriter and so consistent.
Then came some surprises with new singles from Damien Rice and Ben Howard.
And in a historical and controversial move, this other small band made their record available for free.
And with that, I deem this a rich musical month.
For anyone interested, I made a September playlist comprised of some of my favorite songs from all of the aforementioned records on Spotify. Enjoy.
Photo of The Tree Ring from their farewell show by Phillip Harder.
A huge congrats to some great launches from great people, all of which I couldn't be more proud of:
Sam Larson for a great Lone Flag opening party.
A few things have gone down this week which have reminded me that good guys win!
Ben Rector's tour is a show you hopefully saw, but in listening to the records again recently, I have to encourage you to buy everything he has ever released again.
- Just reliving the Junip show from a few weeks ago. Gosh. So good.
- This is crazy, but I love it:
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