Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year A Comin'

Just when you think that 2015 has no more surprises, the ground starts to shake.

I live in earthquake country, but often forget about it, since the last earth shattering event I experienced was in 2001. Way back to when I was trying to complete a math assignment in a classroom on the third floor of my ancient middle school.

Now, 14-years later, I couldn't first blame all the shaking on the boy next to me who always annoyingly propped his feet up on our table, constantly causing my perfect penmanship to get all squiggly.

Back then I couldn't finish my algebra assignment because of an earthquake and Tuesday night my Christmas tree loudly thumped several times in my living room due to the same reason.

It was a 4.9 magnitude, relatively small, but strong enough for my brother from across town to text, "it was like a strong giant running into the apartment several times. crazy."

Let's just say I've been acting a little paranoid since the 20-second (or so) event. Even today I slightly panicked after seeing dark "smoke" coming out of the peak of Mt. Baker.


Turns out it was just a perfectly placed dark cloud, made more apparent due to the rest of the sky being clear and crystal blue.

I've taken a few breaths, achieved some calm with the phrase, "don't be scared, be prepared", and settled in to wrapping up a few more favorite things before fulling embracing 2016.

This past year I got obsessed with a small number of albums, and so I didn't think that I branched out too much. But thanks to some handy calculations done by Spotify, I found out that I apparently still listened to 251 different artists this year. (Anyone can see their year in music here.)

That's just through Spotify though, which probably only accounts for about half of my music listening, since I still roll old school and buy physical copies of CD's, plus, stream quite a bit through Pandora

Even if I did listen to a bunch of different artists, there is definitely overlap when it comes to what I listened to the most:

This was definitely the year that I went from being a casual Brandi Carlile listener to embracing her full on. She's a native to my neck of the woods in the PNW and has performed in my hometown a ton over the last ten years, so I have been listening to her music for a long time, but I still never considered her one of my favorite singers. Now, I definitely do. I quickly became obsessed with her 2015 album, The Firewatcher's Daughter, which also led me to go back and listen to some of her superb albums from the past (Bear Creek).

Some of my other favorite albums of the year were: Marina and the Diamonds, Froot , Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell (both of which were previously discussed here), Kacey Musgraves, Pageant Material (previously written about here), Leon Bridges, Coming Home (covered here), and Ryan Adams, 1989 (written about here).

This year was also the year I welcomed the Scottish electro-pop band Chvrches into my life with full force. There isn't any album this year more worthy of blaring in head phones and chair dancing your night away than Every Eye Open. 

Apparently I've really been digging this whole electronica/pop vibe, especially when it's done by cool chicks. Really, being a Robyn fan, it shouldn't be a surprise. Sometimes you just want to have fun, and Grimes has been running with that over the last five years. She created yet another fantastical album this year. Art Angels didn't make my top list on Spotify, but that doesn't count since I sill listened to it religiously.

Another favorite was an album that didn't come out in 2015 - Sia's, 10,000 Forms Of Fear. I listened to the hits from this album in 2014, but 2015 was the year that the CD didn't come out of my car for months. The strong songwriting on powerful topics like fear, addiction, and heartbreak was wonderfully spun into an entire album of power anthems. That girl can sing and perform the heck out of anything.

One new single that did come out this year was, "Alive". Sure it's a great pop song with more anthem like qualities, but what really takes this song to another level is the moment near the end of the song, when Sia reaches that note where her voice cracks. It's completely visceral and a explosion of sound - it gives me chills every time. She's not holding anything back and, judging by her popularity, we never want her to stop.

I love tracking all my stuff, so I also keep tabs on what I'm listening to through It's always fun to look at the end of a week, month, or year to see what songs/artists you were most addicted to.

Some of the songs from that list are pulled from my favorite albums of the year, but the rest are outliers. Paul Simon must be due to this great movie and the song by Sara Watkins was featured in the final episode of Parenthood. Sometimes watching something ends up inspiring lots of listening.

One of the other songs from my most listened to list was simply a gorgeous cover of a classic John Denver tune. Take it away Brandi Carlile and Emmylou Harris!

This past year was another fruitful one for the lives of music fans. One of my goals for 2016 is to commit even more of my time to discovering more great albums.

Today we all say goodbye to 2015 and here's hoping the new year brings wonderfully exciting things to us all. After spending four days this week crazily power-housing through Making A Murderer, I can't stop thinking about injustices and abuses of power, so for 2016 I couldn't wish more than for everyone out there to think about the little things we could all do to positively impact everyone around us and beyond.

Blah, blah, blah - I know, I realize I'm up on a soap box, but I really can't help it!

It all starts somewhere and I know that, besides obsessing over pop culture, movies, TV, music, and everything else in the world of the arts, I'm going to push myself to become more involved in issues found in the real world around me.

There's always something to get done, or something to enjoy, and here's to a big, shiny new year of finding out what that is going to be. Hopefully that doesn't include any more ground shaking. **Knock On Wood** - because I'm a paranoid SOB.

Until next time.

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