My Gift to Belinda Carlisle: Music With Character

Go Go's, Beauty and the Beat

Go Go's, Beauty and the Beat

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I gave myself a challenge in response to comments Belinda Carlisle made about music today not having any character. I decided to try to post 40 bands/artists who had released a good album in the last two years that could be accessed through Spotify.

1. Beach House - Depression Cherry

2. Father John Misty - I Love You Honeybear

Father John Misty aka J. Tillman writes great songs and also songs that make me feel.

3. Waxahatchee - Ivy Tripp

I have huge respect for Katie Crutchfield, this album by her band Waxahatchee is awesome (and good for you too - 9/10 Doctors agree).

4. Titus Andronicus - The Most Lamentable Tragedy

Titus Andronicus is a punk band in the true sense of the word, don't be fooled by the media definition of that term - just listen and enjoy this very ambitious and excellent album.

5. Julien Baker - Sprained Ankle

Tempted to say that if you don't like this album by Julien Baker you might need to see a therapist. Beautiful voice, interesting lyrics, HUGE new talent.

6. Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone

Profoundly painful and cathartic is how I would describe listening to Majical Cloudz. They wear emotions everywhere (not just on sleeves).

7. Chvrches - Every Open Eye

This Chvrches album makes me remember the 80's - I even wrote about it a few times in this context. I know I said "no nostalgia" but this was so fun it is an exception for me.

8. Vince Staples - Summertime 06

I liked this album by Vince Staples so much that I didn't even care that he mocked my "white" love of 90's rap.

9. Girlpool - Before The World Was Big

Was why ahead of the curve on Girlpool - heard them on some compilation (Chinatown) way before the album came out and when it came out LOVED this album. I see them as very Punk, again not in a sound profile, in approach.

10. Alabama Shakes - Sound And Color

If you read this blog, or follow me on Twitter, you know how much I love Alabama Shakes. And, if Belinda doesn't think Brittany Howard has talent and character I would be shocked. Congrats again to AS on 4 Grammy's! Sometimes music wins and the Borg loses!

11. Dilly Dally - Sore

Dilly Dally burn the house down. Hard edges, provocative, I loved this album.

12. Milo - So The Flies Won't Come

Milo is really interesting. Not your usual run of the mill R&B with MC overlay.

13. Chastity Belt - Time To Go Home

Great band Chastity Belt, unlike many, they aren't cultivating a brand as much as saying and doing what they want + speaking truth to power.

14. Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect

Again, if you read this blog regularly, you know how I feel about Protomartyr. Great Detroit band getting better with every album.

15. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Just Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett is a great lyricist (singer songwriter) whose music is improving with every new record. I even compared her to Elvis Costello once.

16. Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer

Sadie Dupuis (front woman of Speedy Ortiz) is another person frequently kicking musical ass while speaking truth. Another great rock album with teeth and a unique point of view from 2015.

17. Hop Along - Painted Shut

If I got to give an award for criminally overlooked album of the year, this Hop Along gem would probably be my pick.

18. Albert Hammond Jr. Momentary Masters

Maybe overrated this one a bit in my end of year pics, but I do really like this album by Strokes music-man Albert Hammond Jr.

19. Blanck Mass - Dumb Flesh

Intense noise exploration here. If you don't like experimental adventures in noise and texture, this might not be for you - but I loved Blanck Mass's Dumb Flesh (side project of Fuck Buttons).

20. Gun Outfit - Dream All Over

Dreamy and sun-baked driving music. I think that is how I described this album by Gun Outfit back when it came out - still true.

21. Deerhunter - Fading Frontier

Good but not great album by a band I really love. Still a damn fine album and one in which they are transitioning stylistically. Deerhunter is a great band.

22. Chelsea Wolfe - Abyss

So dark and ominous, a great post-modern Gothic stew this Chelsea Wolf album. If you are feeling like taking a dark journey, here is your tour guide.

23. Shopping - Why Choose

Minimalist ska influenced post-punk, to throw some genres around (why?). Tapped my toes throughout this whole Shopping album.

24. Cold Beat - Into The Air

Cold Beat, another entry into my "how the hell did people miss this album" Olympic competition for 2015. Really great!

25. Grimes - Art Angels

Grimes is the second most popular artist (with label support) on this list. Wasn't my favorite album, but I did like it. And for once, I let some friends talk me into a second listen and I liked it even more. Still better than most of the truly mainstream stuff by a mile.

26. Pinkish Black - Bottom Of The Morning

Pinkish Black are musically as strong as anyone on the list (right in my sludgy sweet spot). My only gripe is the vocals. I still listen to this one pretty regularly.

27. Diat - Positive Energy

Regret not ranking Diat higher last year. Great post-punk awesome-tastic-ness. Not listening would be a Traves-sham-ocracy. If you like Wire, you will like.

28. Bully - Feels Like

Bully suffered just a bit for me because I liked the EP versions of several of the same songs better. They had a rawer quality to my ear that I liked. That said, great "debut" album (not really a debut).

29. Ought - Sun Coming Down

Another in the criminally under loved category IMHO. Ought are a complex and interesting band worth multiple listens.

30. Cloud Nothings - Here And Nowhere Else

Might have been my favorite album of 2014. I love - LOVE - Cloud Nothings. If you didn't hear this album or it's predecessor, for shame.

31. Tame Impala - Currents

Tame Impala make precise psychedelic music (not sure how that is possible). Another album you should have heard.

32. Jesu/Sun Kil Moon - Jesu/Sun Kil Moon

Did you hear Benji by Sun Kil Moon, imagine the same incredibly personal, almost day in the life, lyrics with the darker more atmospheric music of Jesu.

33. Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2

Mike Render (AKA Killer Mike) is someone I admire a great deal. He was toiling in the garden of hip-hop or a long time before he hooked up with El-P and started this project. This second album was one of the biggest sellers in Hip-hop in 2014. Run The Jewels are the real deal, and Mike is really doing great social justice work across the country as well.

34. TV On The Radio - Seeds

A Truly optimistic album from a band I have liked a great deal over the last decade. If you are looking for a pick-me-up in a rock package check this one by TV On The Radio.

35. So Pitted - Neo

So much goodness on this album I can hardly stand it. Not for the faint of heart. Probably should come with a warning label - faint of heart should not enter, So Pitted Playing here. Might be a bit harsh for some tastes.

36. Pinegrove - Cardinal

Been writing about this one for the last few weeks. Pinegrove kind of makes feel all indie rock again.

37. Shearwater - Jet Plane And Oxbow

Shearwater started as a side project for Okkervil River, but this album is just flat out beautiful. For some reason it hits me better when I start with track six and wrap around?

38. DIIV - Is The Is Are

Yup, been yapping about this one lately too. DIIV, great band and another album you should be listening to.

39. Wand - Golem

Wand is finally on Spotify, this was one of my fave albums of 2015 but I couldn't find links to share (anywhere), so I let it go. This band is awesome! Powerful, Trippy, Mysterious goodness.

40. La Misma - Kanizadi

Closing strong.

I have been totally behind La Misma since I heard the very first second of the first song. Punk at its messy awesome best. She sings in Portugese and KILLS it. Turn it up, burn the speakers down!

It used to be on Spotify but seems to have disappeared. I will embed the bandcamp link instead:

This really doesn't violate my rules, however, because I did not include Mas Ysa from my 2015 best of list, and I could easily keep going for hours (not kidding).

Here is the Mas Ysa link (he is a really nice fella BTW) make sure to listen to at least Margarita:

That is 40 easily accessible albums that I strongly recommend. I could easily come up with more, and that is JUST THE LAST TWO YEARS.

Remember, I am not even delving into unsigned bands who have bandcamp or Soundcloud accounts (1000's more).

To sum up:

1. I could not disagree more with the "Music Today Sucks" argument because it doesn't. I was alive in the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's, and 10's. I feel like I am qualified to judge.

2. The Media and major labels have made a neat little bed full of images and brands they can sell to people who don't care about music as much as beats. The same 50 artists are pushed non-stop across every "official" channel. No chance, for instance, Prince would have been a radio artist today.

So yes, to someone who doesn't dig, music today sucks. I am empathetic to this, I would feel awful if I thought Maroon 5 and Selena Gomez was all that was out there.

3. I am not entirely sure, but I suspect this is what Belinda was saying? Maybe she will clarify, she has Tweeted with me before. I will let you know. Either way, I made this as a present to you and to her.

Hope you get hours of listening enjoyment out of this, I sure have.

Vacation by the Go Go's 

Vacation by the Go Go's 

How do you feel about what Belinda said? How did you like my list? What bands and albums would you have added? Let me know, leave a comment!