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Spanspek's Favorite Music of 2015 - National/International Releases

Good morning people of Middle Earth! Hope you're having a good morning!  For those of you that aren't familiar with us Spanspek dudes, let me give you some deets!  This here operation is run by Israel Flores and myself (Cristobal Carrillo).  We're two local musicians (see Werebear, Macondo) that help put on the Spanspek Music and Arts Festival in Orosi, CA.  The event promotes local music and art, and helps fund high school scholarships.  Basically, we love music man! 

So here's the sitch for the rest of the week.  Izzo and myself will be sharing lists of our fave music of 2015.  Today we'll be talking about national/international shit, while Thursday and Sunday will be all about local music.  We'll also be culminating the week with an end of the year podcast!  It's fun, it's informative, and you can share all the content with your family during the holidays.  It's a great way to bring everyone together!

Alright! So lets get to our list of favorite national/international releases!  DO IT!

Israel's List

Five Hundred Seeds
 It took just two listens early in the year to cement Five Hundred Seeds as one of my favorite albums of 2015.  A beautiful minimalistic arrangement softly cradles singer RC Essig's voice.  Haunting, honest and just vulnerable enough.
Key tracks: "The Fox",  "The Chase"

The most plays of any album this year for me. Kooleidoscope is the hardest working local artist I know. Eclipse is another level of maturity for an already seasoned Ronnie Taylor. A homage to the way albums used to smoothly flow. Her voice cuts through just right even while in conversation. Great producing plus great arrangements plus great lyrics is what I call win win win.
Key Tracks, "da Vinci", "The Black", "Shots Fired"

Gary Clark Jr.
The Story of Sonny Boy Slim (Warner Bros. Records Inc.)
I've noticed more and more as I get older that digesting music for me is more about what mental state I'm in at a particular time than about when the music was released. I often hear great albums or tracks that I am simply not in the right space for. I don't forget about them, but they do get shelved until the proper state of mind and landscape are ready for a thorough listening. I had almost forgotten about how Gary Clark Jr's Bright Lights EP came in at the perfect time in 2012. The Story of Sonny Boy Slim also came at a perfect time this year. A quiet delivery of fantastic guitar tones with gospel hooks, blues and hints of hip hop.
Key Tracks: "The Healing", "Grinder", "Stay".

Grizzly City Boys
Grizzly City USA (The I.A.N. Group)
World class beats from my new favorite producer Jukebawks is what first caught my attention.  Add Fashawn, Otis Reed, Omar Aura and Halo (AKA Pizza Halo) to the mix and you have a hit. "Early 2000's" has all the ingredients for a great California summer jam. Try playing it in your car without bobbing your head and unintentionally speeding up. It's impossible!
Key Tracks: "Early 2000's"

Bomba Estereo
Amanecer (Sony U.S. Latin)
One of my favorite acts since their 2009's Blow Up (which I highly recommend), Amanecer keeps moving and evolving with out loosing any of Li Saumet's Colombian grounding charm and "Tropical Elegance" as she sometimes puts it.
Key Tracks: "Fiesta", "Algo Esta Cambiando", "Voy"

Cristobal's List

Earlier this year my wife gave birth to our firstborn son. And you know what folks, it's true what they say about the impact a baby has on your life: babies haaaaaaaaate rock music. And hip hop for that matter.  Well, atleast my kid does.  Pretty much everything's off the table that isn't "Wheels on the Bus" or "Five Little Monkeys."  So basically I didn't get to listen to much.  So here are five of my favorite albums of the year, plus five more that I liked!

Mumford & Sons
Wilder Mind (Glassnote Entertainment Group LLC)
Note: Shout out to my niece for pretty much making me listen to this album to the point where I actually started to like it.  Damn banjos!

The Ecology (Mass Appeal)

Beach House
Depression Cherry (Sub Pop Records)

Gary Clark Jr.
The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim (Warner Bros. Records)

Super Me (Kill Rock Stars)

Women's Rights (Suicide Squeeze Records)
Listening to the debut album from Childbirth makes me want to be a better feminist. With each stoner punk riff the band shines a light on male stupidity employing biting satire and sarcasm to hilarious effect. Whenever some guy starts mansplaining feminism to you, I suggest bumping this shit in retaliation.
Key Tracks: "More Fertile Than You", "Since When Are You Gay?", "You're Not My Real Dad"

Fading Frontier (4AD)
Bradford Cox man, he's legit. The frontman for the indie/somewhat shoegazzy band knows how to make even the most random squawks and drones sound golden! Songs like "Living My Life" and "Take Care" and pretty much summer slow jams, right at home on an iTunes playlist next to whatever Katy Perry or Taylor Swift are cooking up.  That's a huge exaggeration I know, but that's how this album feels to me.  It's pop music for weirdos and I was digging it.
Key Tracks: "Living My Life", "Take Care"

Hamilton - Original Broadway Cast Recording (Atlantic)
NPR is my DJ, and I'm glad it is.  Otherwise I never would have heard about Hamilton, the smash musical making waves on the east coast. The musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton (he of the famous Hamilton-Burr duel, of which I first learned about in milk commercials).  All the characters (including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other founding fathers) are played by a cast of black and latino actors; the first immigrants portrayed by the immigrants of today. And to top it all off, the score incorporates hip hop and R&B in ways that are natural and vibrant. The inspired musical tells an engaging historical tale while also reflecting the present day (ex. Hamilton's teenage son getting unjustly shot by an authority figure). The musical is a must for fans of the genre, and deserves to be experienced by a wider audience.
Key Tracks: "Alexander Hamilton", "My Shot"

Screaming Females
Rose Mountain (Don Giovanni)
Screaming Females are like Sleater-Kinney's kid sister; wanting to make a name for itself by being lounder and ballsier than their older sibling.  And you know what, they are ballsy as fuck.  On Rose Mountain, the trio is all atomic riffage and operatic wails (both courtesy of singer/guitarist/rock god Marissa Paternoster).  Songs like "Ripe" tear shit up with a combination of virtuosity and toughness. Really, what this album is is punk rock played by people who actually know what they're doing. And you know what, it's badass! Who knew?!
Key Tracks: "Ripe", "Burning Car"

Tame Impala
Currents (Modular Recordings)
This album was one of my most anticipated of the year and it delivered big time!  While I was a fan of Lonerism I didn't find it very consistent.  Currents brings the goods all the way through, which is quite a feat in and of itself because this album is all over the place era wise.  There's 70's psychedelia mixed with 80's synth and 00's hip hop drum programming. But it all works together to great effect, producing a challenging album that rewards multiple listens. The epic "Let It Happen" alone is enough to justify this albums status as one of the best of the year. It's multiple components all flow into each other oganically and don't feel forced in the slightest.  Plus the production on this is amazing, every instrument fine tuned to a specific timbre. Lead singer/guitarist Kevin Parker is working at a Brian Wilson/Pet Sounds level here, and it's pretty magical.
Key Tracks: "Let It Happen", "Eventually" "'Cause I'm A Man",

That's it for today folks! Izzo and I thank you for reading and we'll see you tomorrow with the first of our local music lists!


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