2015 — A Soundtrack for Change

Music serves as the soundtrack for our lives, but it’s often background. Streaming, MP3, portable music has turned an enlightening experience into white noise for many.

But if you slow down, pay attention, the music you listen to can distill thoughts into digestible pieces. It can help simplify complex emotions, allowing those feelings to be processed.

2015 started in a very dark place. But the music of this year, from January to December, provided strength and solace in a year of huge change.

This isn’t about technical reviews. If you want to discuss the skills of the musicians listed here, we can do that later. This is a list of the music that aided a healing process, and had a huge emotional impact.

Crunk Witch, Uzuhi and Ceschi — Over 2 nights last January, I saw three acts for the first time that provided the first bittersweet smiles of the new year. My great friends in the NOfriends crew were performing on these bills, the reason I went in the first place. Crunk Witch was a high energy, neon new wave dance party. Uzuhi was punk filtered through Japanese culture positive energy.Seriously, how do you not enjoy a song titled “Sweet Lovely Chocolate Smile”. And Ceschi… Ceschi would become a source of great strength with the release of Broken Bone Ballads in April. His ability to put direct words to very painful, complex feelings is unparalleled. Once that album was released, I listened to nothing else for a month. Nothing. All 3 gave me a needed break from the darkness of the time.

Another album that has held deep meaning this year is Lord Huron — Strange Trails. This is a seriously dark album, that also gets your toes tapping. Beautiful melodies, haunting lyrics. This will challenge you for days.

July brought us Two Weeks Notice, a project from Mikal kHill and Tribe One. Seriously, who writes, records and releases an album and books a tour in two weeks? These guys. They have been there for me in many ways, most importantly as friends, and this record is incredibly creative. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.

In April, I was properly introduced to Tim White of D&D Sluggers. His last ep Hot Banana is one I’ve returned to many times this year. Fun, danceable, with a touch of melancholy. Great music from a great person.

Jason Isbell — Something More Than Free. Jason Isbell is an amazing songwriter, amazing performer. He has an ability to get directly to your heart while making it look simple. This album would become central to a major development in my year, the growth of my new relationship. A beautiful album, one that he has rightfully received a Grammy nomination for. But while “24 Frames” is the nominated song, the true masterpiece is Children of Children. This song is perfectly structured, simple, meaningful lyrics juxtaposed with a swelling second half that drives the emotional impact home. Just amazing.(But “Flagship” is my heart.)

August brought us Motorhead — Bad Magic. Lemmy was as bad ass as always. He has earned his rest. Now rock out!

Bringing me toward the end of the year is Sulfur — Re:Birth. Sulfur is amazing, a true showman with awesome mic skills. This album is one of the best things he has ever done. Check out “Never Stop Learning” for a great example of his skills and positive outlook. Just fantastic!

All of these albums got me through a very tough year, one that started in darkness, loss and hopelessness. It is ending in light and love. I hope that you check these artists out. I am luck enough to know several of them, and all of them deserve support.

Don’t let your music just fall into the background, a noise that you barely notice. Pay attention, and let the music enrich your life and give you strength for all of your endeavors.

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