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Matt Garman writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2015: Matt Garman

CHIRP Radio Best of 2015

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2015. Our next list is from DJ, Programming Committee member, and ex-Music Director Matt Garman.

Big year; started one way, ended another. That's progress!


#1   Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens (Asthmatic Kitty)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Sufjan Stevens Carrie & LowellThis album is a beautiful return to form for Stevens, whose ability to write tastefully-arranged acoustic folk is unmatched. As you may be aware, Carrie & Lowell is about Stevens' effort to grapple with the 2012 death of his mother Carrie, an alcoholic who struggled with mental illness, and wasn't able to be as present in his life in the first place. Losing her was like losing her a second time, I imagine, and the album documents his feelings of loss and attempts to drown in distractions while facing down some burly demons.What makes the album doubly powerful for me, in addition to my lifelong love of sad, beautiful songs, is the fact that both of my parents died within a few years of each other, and within a few years of Carrie. They were both touched, more my father than my mother, by stuggles with addiction and mental illness. My mother, Janice, is wholly responsible for my love of sad, beautiful songs.She would have loved Carrie & Lowell. I love Carrie & Lowell. So gracefully ugly.


#2   Short Movie by Laura Marling (Ribbon)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Laura Marling Short Movie2015 is the year I discovered Laura Marling, age 25, as she released her fifth album of biting, agile folk. I hate being late to parties. Nevertheless this past Spring I was listening to Short Movie on headphones at work, after hours, not really paying full attention. "Strange" (5), comes on, and about halfway through the song I stop grinding and realize that what I am listening to is fucking incredible. 9 months later I'm still sucking the juice out of this magnificent recording.


#3   To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a ButterflyI got a bone to pick: I don't want to read another think piece on this game-changing rapper again. I'm mad, but I ain't stressin. The production on good kid, m.A.A.d. city was annoying and trendy, in my opinion, so I couldn't get into it. This record right here, on the other hand, is sonically perfect, poetic interludes notwithstanding. I love this dude's voice, and his point of view is unflinchingly real. He's gonna win all the awards, top all the polls, and he pretty much deserves it.



#4   No Cities to Love by Sleater-Kinney (Sub Pop)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Sleater-Kinney No Cities to LoveI'm just gonna say it: this is their most consistently satisfying, ie, best, album. Dig Me Out and The Woods have better songs, but No Cities to Love has no bad songs. So glad Corin, Carrie and Janet got back together, because while I like Portlandia, Carrie Brownstein will always be a better guitarist, songwriter and rock star than comedian.


#5   Joey by Tica Douglas (Swell)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Tica Douglas JoeyThe debut album from a young songwriter who mostly sings about heartbreak and misunderstandings - instantly relatable topics, from an individual who appears to have emerged already fully formed as a musician. Charming, catchy, lyrically heavy, and a top-to-bottom quality listen.


#6   Tangier Sessions by Sir Richard Bishop (Drag City)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Sir Richard Bishop Tangier SessionsThis master guitarist, a (former?) member of Sun City Girls, fell in love with a guitar that was too expensive for him. He kept going back and back to the small Swiss secondhand shop to play it. Eventually he found a way to take it home, and then to the West African city of Tangier, where he stayed in a room not far above the noisy street. He waited until the late night hours yielded the least amount of ambient sound to record these songs as single takes. The result is a collection of fantastic, Middle-Eastern and African-inspired instrumental pieces.


#7   Compton by Dr. Dre (Aftermath/Interscope)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Dr. Dre ComptonI sure do like middle-aged Dre better than young Dre. His production skills are sharper than ever, and he's way mellower, which is kinda my thing these days. THUMPIN.


#8   21st Century Molam by Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band (Studio Lam)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band 21st Century MolamThis Bangkok outfit plays traditional, indigenous Thai molam music with a deeply funky foundation. I adore the blend of styles, which is adventurous yet familiar, and entirely down to earth. I bet these guys are rad at a party.


#9   Abyss by Chelsea Wolfe (Sargent House)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Chelsea Wolfe AbyssDoom folk that will freak out your parents, unless your parents are cool. This lady is responsible for such deliciously dark heaviness; I truly wish I could eat it with a spoon, sleep under it, wrap myself up in it, drown in it.


#10   Ones and Sixes by Low (Sub Pop)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Low Ones and SixesLow has been around for like 20 years, and the fact that they still make good records of spare, introspective, haunting indie rock is a feat in itself. The fact that they are Mormon and yet still exude a dangerous cool seems like it's also worth mentioning.



FKA twigs - M3LL155X / Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear / Colleen Green - I Want to Grow Up / Ibeyi - Ibeyi / n. Lannon - Falling Inside / Jessica Pratt - On Your Own Love Again / King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Quarters / Tunde Olaniran - Transgressor / METZ - II / Saun & Starr - Look Closer / Marika Hackman - We Slept at Last / Shana Cleveland & The Sandcastles - Oh Man, Cover the Ground / Eleni Mandell - Dark Lights Up / Ben Folds - So There / Erykah Badu - But You Caint Use My Phone / Phylums - Phylum Phyloid / Kinski - 7 (or 8) / Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress / Blur - The Magic Whip / toyGuitar - In This Mess


1/2 Decade of Wonder (2011-2015)

Best Albums, 2011-2015:

Spoon - They Want My Soul (Loma Vista)

Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)

Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself (Mom + Pop)

Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork (Matador)

Shabazz Palaces – Black Up (Sub Pop)

Bonus: Half Acre Day – Lunar Singles (Right Mind)



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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2015

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