Some huge albums to cover this edition from Ibeyi, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Mavis Staples, Samantha Fish, Kamasi Washington and Alex Lahey. Also, we’ve got some great new singles from Drive-By Truckers, Neil Young, and The Breeders.
I’d been tentatively constructing my top 10 albums for the year, but a few late albums have really shaken it all up. One that absolutely captured me in the last couple weeks is Ash by Ibeyi. The duo comprised of twin sisters Lisa-Kainde & Naomi Diaz created something truly special here. I could hardly listen to anything else for several days. The musically sparse sound lends itself well to the intimacy of the album, the well articulated themes of social justice, and a few perfect guest appearances (in particular, Kamasi Washington on Deathless) make this an album worth listening straight through repeatedly. It has a lot to offer with repeated listening, and I see it being an album that will stick with me over time.
A lot of people seem to be noting that there are a lot more artists being overtly political in the past couple years. I would argue that music and art has always had political aspects. That said, in our current political climate, some artists respond with thoughtful and cutting critiques, and some respond with half-baked, angry, namecalling. No one does politics in music like Drive-By Truckers, and they are in fine form on their newest single, The Perilous Night. For those who have been familiar with the Truckers for a while, their views have always been a part of their music. However, it really came to the forefront of their music in last year’s American Band. This new single continues in that vein, and it does so very well.
Sharon Jones was someone who carried herself with the utmost grace and strength through her battle with cancer. Last year’s documentary, Miss Sharon Jones, told her story of struggling through cancer treatment while still keeping on recording and performing. I had the privelege of seeing her perform during that time (Every now and then, I go back and watch the video from that show). Now, on the one year anniversary of her passing, we get one final album from Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings: Soul of a Woman. It is everything that any fan could ask from a Sharon Jones album. Her voice sounds as beautiful as ever, and the record exudes all the energy and soul and life that we’ve come to expect. There’s nothing missing from it. It is the perfect Sharon Jones record. For more on the record, this is a good review.
As mentioned, I’ve been considering my favorite albums of the year. The last Fortnightly Playlist of the year will be my top 10. There’s still a lot of shifting positions there, and quite a few more than 10 I’m considering. I’d love to hear from you on your favorites this year as well.
Until next time,
1. The Breeders – Wait in the Car
2. PINS – Serve the Rich
3. Neil Young – Already Great
4. Ibeyi – When Will I Learn
5. Daniele Luppi, Parquet Courts – Soul & Cigarette
6. Samantha Fish – American Dream
7. Philip Morgan Lewis – Six Foot Tambourine
8. Drive-By Truckers – The Perilous Night
9. Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy – Ain’t No Doubt About It
10. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Searching for a New Day
11. Kamasi Washington – Knowledge
12. Bootsy Collins – Come Back Bootsy
13. Teen Daze – On the Edge of a New Age
14. Ibeyi – Away Away
15. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Sail On!
16. Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending
17. Alex Lahey – I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself
18. They Might Be Giants – I Left My Body
19. POLICA, stargaze – How Is This Happening