2015: Or The Year Music Looked Back
  • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2015

  • Posted by: Vince Brigante

It's always difficult to recap a year. Besides popular events, there's personal side to it, too. It's a moment to reminisce. Maybe you met a girl, or maybe you got into a wrestling match with some chump from the bar the day after Thanksgiving over who ate more turkey the day before. And you got those boots you really wanted, didn't you? Not too shabby. This year was a doozy: a new Star Wars came out, Adele sold close to five million records in just two weeks, and Kendrick Lamar spoke to Tupac in a goosebump-giving fashion. I can personally attach myself to all three; sitting in the library on campus trying to figure out the familiar voice K. Dot was conversing with, feeling completely stunned once I pieced it together. Trailers for Suicide Squad and Batman Vs. Superman had inspired many to deadlift heavier than usual in the gym and gave us something to anticipate for next year.
But, as always, music thrusted itself into dominance. I can't seem to put my finger on what it was about the tunes because I've had such a positive response to music this year. Plenty of baby-making masterpieces and enough demanding grooves to create Saturday Night Fever all over again. Both Refused and Bjork put out records; Coheed and Cambria released a new album as well. That alone is enough to calm me like a pacifier would an infant. Trying to narrow it down to my favorite this, or my favorite that, would be near impossible. In some ways, music did drop the ball. I'll go ahead and say, "Did we really need more Justin Bieber?" But in many, many other ways, this year was a beautiful blossom of passionate and artistic cunning that seemed scarily absent from music. Earlier, my editor and I were trading conversation on how good Miles Davis and John Coltrane were. We concluded Bitches Brew to be something timeless, something that will be celebrated forever. And just this year, we were graced with the "modern Bitches Brew" in all it's jazzy-aggression, Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly. What makes this record genius is its fusion of Return to Forever-like jazz-funk and The Slim Shady LP's narrative attitude. Younger generations will read this and be like, "Who the f*** is Miles Davis? That stuff my dad tries to listen to at dinner?" And that's exactly what it is: your father's conversation music, except now, it's in the earphones of a teenager. This year has brought back a perhaps considered "forgotten" era of music, served it on a new dish for listeners to eat with new silverware to be digested over store-bought Starbucks instead of a French press brewed cup of joe.
Tame Impala's Currents embodies the lucid, muggy-bass, straightforward power drumming atmosphere that you might find yourself hearing on Grover Washington Jr.'s "Mister Magic." It's even comparable to a Beatles-like simple-rock formula. On "The Less I Know The Better," the group brings this Bee-Gee falsetto together with, again, the ever-distorted bass of a dancing father Time. There's inevitable modernity because, well, Tame Impala is neo-synth-indie, but again, we see artists chopping down the sturdy Oak of the past, pulling its roots like Paul Bunyan, and throwing it into their songs.
Lest we forget Miguel and Wildheart in all it's wonderful, graveling sexual glory. I'm going to receive serious criticism here, but Wildheart is the closest thing to Michael Jackson we're gonna get. It's got that flare, that certainty that it's "it." The cover itself is this fantastical, opulent, euphoric, stellar dream. Miguel scraps the blueprint of today's standards. No boundaries and dangerously daring, the originality overflows the bathtub that Wildheart lays in, one leg surfacing the shallow waters with rose petals floating around it. Miguel's got the style of Mick Jagger, and Marvin Gaye would deem him the heir to his throne. (Okay, not formally, don't press me for libel here, but hypothetically he would.)
In retrospect, this year was a blowout. I'm still contemplating some deadlifts tonight after re-watching that Batman and Superman trailer. And I'm thinking about the beauty of a Miles Davis record making its way to importance again (although, has it ever really been unimportant?) in a somewhat saturated 2015. Some of the biggest names, surrendered their biggest influences to their music, and gave us something even bigger to talk about. Just think about it. Revisit those old Coltrane and Davis records, and take a second for it to sink in how they've managed to ease their way into our current flows of soundwaves. Music is always in transit, and it's truly enduring. 2015 has justified that in numerous ways, that these brief little asterisks I've virtually put next to some of today's artists barely even make a dent. I mean, s***, Adele sold five mill in about two weeks, and I'm allowed to say "s***" in an article and talk about Coltrane, and what Miguel and Mick Jagger have in common. Been one helluva year, huh?
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