The Year in Rewind

Here's my ten favorite releases this year. (insert cranky keyboard commentary here)  Enjoy and remember, it can really just be about the music, if you really want it to. Just get past the hype or criticisms and spend personal time with everything you can, and you'll find the songs that speak to you, without advertising dollars or popular opinion, especially in a world that is trying to push you towards a cliff, trying to scream in your face that war is coming, to fear your neighbors and judge as fast as you can type... It's as simple as tuning them out, and turning up the volume of the music you love.  Stay true my fellow music lovers. It's all we got, together, in or out of tune.. In much love, there is all the sound you need to make sense of yourself.

Existentially Yours,
Nation Ocean

Number 10: RP Boo - Fingers, Bank Pads and Shoe Prints

You know those people who don't trust people who don't like animals (you know, the must love dogs crowd?) Well I inherently do not trust people who do not dance. It's strange to me. Bodies are meant to move, and there's evidence we've been dancing longer than we've been worshiping false idols thousands of years into the murky past. Today though, it is more difficult to get your groove on. People cram into clubs and music festivals to stretch out their skeletons, but then there are many who elbow their way to center of the stage just to stand and stare at a DJ. Ughs! I want to push them into a vat of acid. That'll get them dancing! 

Aside from homicidal thoughts of boring people, there's the odd, and hugely popular - Zumba. It's kinda just.. ridiculous. Here you have working class freaks flocking to florescent mirrored rooms after long hours at the office to wear bright colored atrocious gym attire to dance to licensed Pitbull remixes.. and guess what? It's fucking amazing. Between side stepping salsa and energetic core workouts, you get lost in Ester Dean's Drop It Low while twerking away your stress weight. It's one of the dorkiest things you can do in the modern world, and an average of twelve million a week attend the cult. Most people want to do more than lift weights and stare at themselves.. No cool kids allowed here. There's a tax accountant who is chained to his desk all day, a Korean woman that cannot speak a lick of English but unleashes herself to Beyonce's Surfboard, and a sassy black ballet dancer who is chasing his Hollywood dreams all next to each other without the self conscious PC police on how to act or think for an hour each day. 

Humans were meant to feel the beat. Physicists are pushing past the fact that we are a fuzz of energy beyond the scale of quartz. Aren't we then too just quantum vibrations responding back to the very form of dance music itself? So it just seems inhuman not to shake your booty, right? That's what RP Boo is. He's the coach, the referee and cheerleader for footwork. In yet another year where media has controlled the narrative of police brutality, with attack after attack on our senses of shock and horror, RP Boo knows.. Zumba geeks know, and even you really know, the best way to beat them back is with a beat so loud, you can't hear anything else when you're dancing.

Thank you RP Boo, I'll keep dancing.

Number 9. Enya - Dark Sky Island

Don't worry, I'm scratching my head too. Enya? Really? Well.. yeah, really. Because as I seemingly tripped and fell into her new album this past month, that knee-jerk reaction everyone has inflicted upon her finally wore off on me, at least. I wasn't numb from 9/11 and my tongue was found nowhere near my cheek, as track after track confirmed the legend that is Eithne Ni Bhraonain. For a world cloying at cynicism marred with faux wars and ugly politics, this Irish lass has no room for irony. Even more impressive is that she doesn't seem to even have the capacity to capitalize on trends. Where corporate speak has become common dialogue for consumer slaves, she brings the sound and aura of a world without dollar signs, be it the country side or a white sand beach at sunrise, whatever your Thomas Kinkade fetish figures out to be.  

What's most revealing about her isn't even about the music, but actually her critics. Everyone seems to look down on her or use sarcastic humor to belittle a woman who has done nothing but bring heritage music to the mainstream. It shows just how ugly the industry can be, and how fickle the fair-weather fans really are. We debase Enya, yet she's sold almost 30 million records worldwide. We try to label her as tacky as disco, yet she's stayed in fashion to have a top 10 record for the past 30 years. On top of all that, I can't think of anyone working today who sounds as they did when they first started to an almost eerie deja vu mastery, down to studio production and overall motif so perfectly, that when I played "Even in the Shadows" for my Mom over the holiday, she commented "Oh I just love this song!" with a big smile, not realizing she's never heard the song before. Is this finally the age of unironic Enya love? I think it's time.

Number 8. The Through & Through Gospel Review - On The Lord's Wrecking Crew

I don't think I'll ever get tired of lo-fi big band honest efforts. And where Polyphonic Spree is a cannon shooting out confetti, The Through and Through Gospel Review is a rustic wheel rolling down a gravel road. Thing is, with the name and the album art, it's actually just a solo-project of Joel Marquad. But he sure brings the full sound of the gospel down to your ears, like with the heavenly pleasures of 'I'm Pleased' as a single plucked guitar all the way back to the title track's wail of an announcement to god or his endowment, Joel makes his larger than life presence feel more solid than haunting. While once again, I'm attracted to sounds that I can't find anywhere else during any given year, the Gospel Review sound is downright goofy next to the Father John Misty's of the indie darling crowd. It's worth going to church when Chandler, Arizona is in the pews.

Number 7. Keita Sano - Holding New Cards

Japan can be so kitsch to many Americans, not that the Japanese do much to squash the opinion that they are abstract weirdos way ahead of their time with the sights and sounds of what culture can be, but just as they reappropriate American consumerism in a funhouse mirror and reflect it back to us et al American Ninja Warrior, there is still a sophistication in the communication, albeit found in deconstructed gems via soundcloud. Keita Sano snaps into this space-age dub scene perfectly (see James Holden etc...) that this new material out on the label 1080op is a much needed left turn in the hyper-produced EDM Frankensteins that lurk around our world. So if Diplo can still be a terrible fucking hypocritical dude to women and still get his American Music Award too, then there's always room for dessert, served up in neon from the lost districts of Tokyo.

Number 6. PNEU - Destination Qualité

HEALTH and Battles should have a baby while vacation in South America -- where the sexy, beat-driven mood strikes them to where they can no longer be apart. Body part rubbing feverishly on body part, until the sweaty results become PNEU. It's a food fight for your sonic palate that gets tastier with each bite. Just watch out for the terrible twos, I can only imagine what a bigger budget would do for this glitchy glorious band of noisemakers. Call me perverted for eavesdropping in on this baby-making music, but I can't help myself. Check out my favorites: The Smashing Pumpkins - Gish inspired 'Municipal Geographic' and the utter annnnnnnticipation of 'Gin Tonique Abordable'

Number 5. Spycc - Wuavé Season

You've got to admire a rapper working in near obscurity while hanging upside down on our planet and somehow still making quality, affecting work. That's what got this New Zealander attention in the first place with 'Bad Habit' and then followed up for all the curious onlookers with his exclusive (totally not made up genre Wuavé) record of big dreams and love letters to your girl, all the more surprising, done so respectably. I'm tired of Kanye and Drake. I'm tired of ADD-addled self appointed hip hop icons screeching for more attention over the other. I'm really fucking tired of anyone using the word Nigger. Especially anyone under the age of 30 who have no fucking idea what they're doing with that word. Drake says it over 50 cringeworthy times in one track alone. He says it like a suburban Canadian kid who counts his money before he presses play on his iPod to mimic his 'hits' for adoring 'fans'. God it's so gross. Anyway, I'm on a tangent now, mainly because Spycc reminds me that hip hop was about beat exploration, about community in places that needed to gather together to be stronger, and it was about respect, back in the beginning. -- It's a perfect comparison to the Republican party in which, moderate conservatives have watched in horror as their party has been completely derailed by corporate megalomaniacs that have nothing to do with actually serving the people. So it's nice to get a refreshing sense of what this music can be, even in 2015. And it came from a guy where Lord of the Rings is the only export and extreme bungee jumping the biggest tourist attraction. I'd say that sounds about right.

Number 4. John Carpenter's "Lost Themes"

It's no wonder the man that precisely concocted nervy synths matched with VHS era horror could come out with something so perfect in message and delivery. Any fan of his work would dive right into the static to feel the unease and excitement of post-apocolyptic themes. Without words to mouth up the place, the Lost Themes really let your mind fly through the carnage that has incubated the talents of Ben Frost, Clark, Tim Hecker and their ilk. I think this would catch as gimmicky if done by anyone else, but he pulls each soundscape out of his own blackhole to remind you he brought you The Thing all the way to Ghost of Mars. Too bad his interviews during this press run has really turned me off to him personally. To think, the master that brought us They Live is too lazy these days playing video games and watching sports to care enough about making another movie... Well, that's depressing as all hell. So here's just hoping these nine tracks are valued as much as his movies, not his motives.

Number 3. Jazmine Sullivan - Reality Show

Ok, yeah I've officially gone crazy. First Enya, now Jazmine. I don't even know who I am anymore. But here I am, putting major labels on blast; a positive blast that could be seen as finally succumbing to a lifetime of brainwashing. I will now just buy Starbucks approved music and give into the soft comforting glow of pop culture. Or I could just be enjoying music from these two ladies whom I think sorely deserve more praise in this year where mainstream music itself has taken a backseat to politics and Facebook shaming. There is no time, it seems, to appreciate the artist rollout like the past few decades. It was a courteous dance between artist and new fans as each tidbit, to single was given to us, the listener, with care. Now we have Miley Cyrus running out of giant vaginas with thirty day-glow dressed drag queens. I only compare because it is indeed the same arena where Tina Turner came from, so it's heartbreaking to see that as women singers get older, they are ignored by those with money to put behind them, but I digress. Jasmine is here still, she's on Warner Bros of all places and Reality Show is some of the most classic R&B I've heard of this millennia. 'Let It Burn' is like turning on the old-time radio on a Saturday night, just some cabernet in your hand and your lover holding you close. It's so smooth you'd think you could sleep atop every silky note pouring onto her well worn diva vocal strut like red velvet. With the album centerpiece that is 'Brand New' she has established herself this year as being the only classist in a must-always-be-new Rihanna/Beyonce battle royale. Just because you're black and beautiful, your music doesn't have to be hyper sexualized. There's more to songs than just bling and booty -- You'll find it all in the light of heartbreak. 

Oh and 'Stanley' is her stunning Daft Punk-esque song of the year. More in that direction please!

Number 2. Ekoplekz - Reflekzionz

Don't make sense to anyone, it's a waste of your time. The world is ending because news tells us it is. Around 300 million human beings live on this US land and yet we only see a few hundred people represented over and over with mind-controlling ease on every digital screen bending back the fine line of your distorted desires. Are you even real? If you should keep going through this mental maze to find out what is around the next corner, make sure you are addicted enough to the cheese you're chasing. The most boring question is if there is a God. That just shows you what kind of world is being projected back to us. You want to turn off the electricity beaming into your brain to tell you about transgender plastic surgery monsters, you want the slick plastic bright pink commercials to stop beating your soul to death. Click after click, video after pointless video you've wasted your entire adult life with.. Playing the game, going along with the rules, like any of this counterpoint is new or even matters. It's all cliche, we should set fire to this world like it was the end of a big budget movie not so secretly selling every product possible to undeveloped minds. We are in a created crisis and maintained in a campaign of fear. We are the all-muted, ever angry, keyboard warriors lost among a digital revolution that's left us all behind for the coming trillionaires who will rocket away to another planet to call all their own. Look up into space tonight, just think of how absurd we all are. We should be embarrassed, yet we're ravenous lunatics vacuum sealed within our suburban galaxy with no hope or hell coming. I mean, when you think about it, you just want to stop thinking all together, and make a noise that represents your existential dread of it all. That sound, can be found, my friend, in Ekoplekz. Now go back living as unconscious meat bags among the madness.

Number 1. Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Three River Run Thee

Wow! Wow. WOW. 

Everyone can give up and go home now. Matana Roberts has got this music thing covered. When in a year that I've all but thrown in the towel, she comes in only to drench me like I haven't been so thirsty in my life. You see,  I can be cynical; I can feel stuck in three tiny dimensions that make me itch and sigh too often. I can be bored of all this overwhelming American apathy and I can burst out into the nothingness that is the endless internet. We are just blips with broken lights trying so hard not to be noticed. 

Matana's mournful, purposely grating vocal fry drags out all these navel gazing thoughts while she haunts your very existence. It's like she's come as a humid apparition to visit your most intimate thoughts through osmosis. Her mater of fact multitrack prose prickles into your pores to inhabit you in such a welcoming way, you can't help but sit up and take notice.

When I was a young boy, many adults often told me with a calm, cool voice, things got easier when you get older, that the world makes more sense to you by the time you start to wrinkle. Today, lost, as a man-boy in meta filters and hyper police states of inprisoned passion, I want to wag my finger and slap their tongues. For the 'now' is as confusing as ever. Motion and gravity still stuck in theories. Time too complicated to exist. The landscape of our mental projections are getting so muddy. We exaggerate meaningless outrage. We have fallen asleep in a medicated daydream with the powers that be having full grasp on new technology. Everyone today is under someone else's thumb.

"I've got mine." 

Is all I've seen from one side.

"I'm never going to get mine."

Cries the other.

And together they say:

"I'm so angry today, but I'm going to forget why by tomorrow."

That's 2015.

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