Best Albums of 2015

One thing I noticed as I reviewed my Best-of list for 2014 was that several of the albums were notably brief. My #1 album from last year (Sleepy Kitty’s Projection Room) clocked in at a tight 37 minutes. This year – not so much. My top 3 albums this year are all over an hour, and my favorite album of 2015 is, well, a bit longer than that. Long winded? Not when what you have to say is so compelling.   Honorable Mention: Jon Benjamin, Well, I Should Have…* – As in, “Well, I should have learned how to play piano.” Comedian and voice-over artist extraordinaire recorded a jazz album featuring himself on piano. No, he does not play piano. Instead, he created an absurd, Andy Kaufman-esque experiment with some legit studio guys lending support. It seems like the shtick would wear thin over a full album, but somehow it remains hilarious.   Essential Listening: “I Can’t Play Piano, Pt. 3”, “It Had to Be You”     17) Wilco, Star Wars – Though not as expansive or experimental as some of their recent output, Wilco returned this year with a surprise (and free!) album featuring A.M.-esque roots-rock. Contributions from more »

Forever Young: The Shocking Power of Bob Dylan’s Live Vocal Performance

I had been looking forward to this past Friday night ever since my birthday nearly a month ago.  My wife got me a ticket to see the Chicago performance of the Americanarama tour, which is the heavily touted nation-wide tour that features My Morning Jacket, Wilco, and, of course, Bob Dylan.  I had never seen MMJ before, but I own all their studio albums, and I’ve heard they put on an amazing live show.  Wilco is one of my favorite bands, and although I have seen them live, I was excited to get to see them again.  Both groups easily lived up to expectations, and add in a blistering 30-minute opening set by The Richard Thompson Electric Trio, and you already had a memorable evening. As is so often the case, Dylan was another story.  I had also never seen him live, but my path to his music was less direct than it was with the former two.  It took me awhile to open up to his music, but you don’t go through life as my father’s son without at least developing an appreciation for Dylan’s music.  I have come to thoroughly enjoy Dylan, and I certainly have a profound more »