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My Favorite Songs of 2015- Cream on Chrome

Cream on Chrome – Ratatat

Ratatat’s Loud Pipes was most people’s exposure to the band. This track is still their most listened to 9 years after it came out – and that’s because of the rich arrangement and the groove that sticks in your ear hours afterward. That vibe characterized their first two albums – a rock electro fusion that was conducive for dancing. Their appropriately named 2nd album Classics, was gold. Great tracks and reviews that praised them across the board.

Their next two albums were an evolution. LP3 (their 3rd album in 2008) traded out many rock elements with instruments and sounds native to India and the Middle East. They moved away from head-bopping tunes and closer to eerie soundtrack music. The music was good for being introspective music, but to fans who wanted more songs to blast in your car there was disappointment. LP4 (2010) moved farther from both the rocking audience and the contemplative.I loved Classics because it had just the right amount of repetition before adding a new layer of sound. It always kept you interested. LP4 repeated to the point of boredom. One of the two band members had a short lived project, Abuela (2014) that returned to that LP3 sound, but it never got any traction and disappeared. For me, there wasn’t much hope for the hard hitting Ratatat I once loved.

April, 2015 they released Cream on Chrome. A return to that sound I had longed for. It was loud, beautifully arranged and had THE groove. On top of that, in the last minute or so, they bring in that eastern influence with a sitar-inspired guitar line that hits just right. This was the Ratatat I knew and loved. Their 2015 album Magnifique had it all – songs to turn up to 11, songs to ponder to and just straight up chill-out tracks. It was easily the most unexpected comeback of 2015 for me.

My Favorite Songs of 2015 – Funky Duck

Funky Duck by Vulfpeck
Funk music is good times music – party music – something you can move to. Funk is all about the rhythm. Vulfpeck is that and Funky duck is just that.

Funky Duck was the second single to be released for Vulfpeck’s first LP Thrill of The Arts. It features Antwaun Stanley- a frequent and soulful collaborator with Vulf since before they were even a band. Stanley can be smooth as butter like on Wait for The Moment or can invoke the rasp of James Brown in a moments notice such as in 1612. ‘Twaun goes hard as he ever has here. This track showcases Vulfpeck as raw as they have ever been, rougher then even their most head-bobbing songs. With Richie Rodriguez also on congas, this song demands movement and cannot be stopped. True to any good funk tune, it doesn’t need an abundance of melodic or harmonic material – it just has the groove that brings you higher and higher.

When I heard Funky Duck for the first time – I had to listen to it again. I think I listened to it around 8 times the day it came out. With this track just clocking in at 2:10, the brevity is powerful. Because of the short-winded nature of the song, it so very easily replayed.

Thrill of the Arts has Vulfpeck at the top and the bottom of their dynamic abilities – while Smile Meditation is a simple flute driven track that is as calm as your chiropractor’s playlist, Funky Duck brings Vulf to their grittiest.

My Favorite Songs of 2015 – Long Way To Go

Long Way To Go – Ben Folds & ymusic
Ben Folds doesn’t reinvent himself. He expands his previous ideas to make something more complete. On his album So There, he just does that.  Most successful rock bands tend to add a string section on a ballad or some slower tracks on their second LP, after their budget has increased enough for some bells and whistles. Ben Folds, however, has used strings from the start. On Ben Fold Five’s first album closer Boxing we hear the imaginary musings of Muhammad Ali underscored by some lush strings. Over the years he has continued to develop his use of strings, using them for the majority of a song such as the dynamic Narcolepsy and a few years ago he started to perform with entire orchestras like the Oregon Orchestra and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

On So There, he does an entire album with the orchestral group ymusic, a modern string ensemble known to collaborate with rock and indie artists such as Dirty Projectors and José González. His orchestrations have never been as mature or beautiful as they are on this record. In this song we have big full ornamented moments that sound like they belong on a movie soundtrack alongside pockets of sparse piano and voice, which remind me of Illinois-era Sufjan Stevens (which is not a surprise since ymusic has worked with him too). Long Way to Go deals with the end of something. It is ambiguous what the end is, but the two characters deal with this end with introspection and savoring the moment. The ambiguity of Long Way To Go is perfect because it balances Folds’ classic story-song writing style with the vagueness of a pop song, making it very relatable to any audience. In an interview he said that this song was an experiment of sorts for him. He said that he waffles between thinking it is a total failure or a great song. For me, I think it’s the best he’s done so far.

Who Writes Blog Posts? Me?

It’s me.
I was wondering after all these years if I should blog again.
To go over everything
They say music is a language
But I ain’t done much talking

Alright. That’s enough.

Hello the abysmal pit called the internet. I am not writing to you because I have a new year’s resolution. I am not writing to you because I think my thoughts are particularly revolutionary, that is, deserving of revolution. I would rather make peace with my words than cause a revolution. Those are rather bloody usually. I am writing because I like to write. I remember when blogs were new. When the word blog or blogger gave pause to most people and made them crinkle their nose and ask what that is. Now everyone knows blogs. Companies have blogs, moms have blogs, authors have blogs, even I have a blog apparently.

A byproduct of writing, I would hope, is personal reflection. When writing about anything, especially your life, it causes you to look at your intentions and look to convey meaning that reflects who you are and what you want to be. Because of this positive byproduct, as of ten minutes ago, I am going to start writing again. I will probably write about my life, my experiences in school and music.

I am tempted to delete my old blog posts, because they have silly jokes I don’t find funny anymore and unnecessary adjectives because I had nothing better to say. I firmly believe that I have gotten better at using unnecessary adjectives, so I will continue to write. I have saved the posts on Google Drive, to be accessed at a later date. I didn’t delete them, but I got close.

Anyway, read if you want. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. That’s the beauty of the internet. It’s like a closet of arts and crafts supplies that could lead to a lot of unique projects or it could be a closet. Take me or leave me, sequins and all.