The 17 Best Albums of 2015

It's been a very good year for music, hasn't it?

So many great records have been released in 2015, it's difficult to make a list of the best 10, so I'm allowing myself 17.

Below are my favorites, in order of their release. It's no coincidence, I suppose, that I saw all of these bands live this year.

I've also put together a video playlist featuring each album in its entirety. Ah, the joys of Youtube.

Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear - February 10, 2015

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit - March 20, 2015

Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell - March 31, 2015

Toro y Moi - What For? - April 7, 2015

Built to Spill - Untethered Moon - April 21, 2015

Blur - The Magic Whip - April 28, 2015

Django Django - Born Under Saturn - May 4, 2015

My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall - May 4, 2015

Hot Chip - Why Make Sense? - May 18, 2015

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love - May 26, 2015

Wilco - Star Wars - July 16, 2015

Fine Points - Hover - July 17, 2015

Tame Impala - Currents - July 17, 2015

Astronauts etc. - Mind Out Wandering - September 18, 2015

Kurt Vile - B'lieve I'm Goin Down - September 25, 2015

Blitzen Trapper - All Across This Land - October 2, 2015

City and Colour - If I Should Go Before You - October 9, 2015

Video for "Up For Grabs" by Astronauts, etc.

A few weeks ago, I saw Oakland-based Astronauts, etc. open for Toro y Moi and was mighty impressed.

After the show, I put their latest album, "Mind Out Wandering," on repeat.

One song in particular got stuck in my head, bringing up random thoughts about love and relationships.

Clocking in at 2 minutes 56 seconds, "Up For Grabs" is a gem of a song. It inspired me to make a video using some public domain film footage. People of a certain age will immediately recognize it.

Earlier today I was thrilled to see that Adrian Spinelli discovered my video.

Thanks to Adrian, the band noticed, too.

Here's the video. I hope you enjoy it. And go check out Astronauts, etc. Their music is sublime.


10 Podcasts To Listen To If You're New to Podcasts

According to Ben Hammersley ("Audible revolution" The Guardian, 12 February 2004), audioblogging or podcasting became a thing in 2004.

2004?! Except for the geekiest among us, podcasting was something people were only vaguely aware of in 2004, let alone in 2014.

And then came Serial.

The momentum created for podcasts since the crossover success of “Serial” at the end of 2014 has continued months after the true crime series became the first podcast to top 80 million total downloads from the iTunes.

President Barack Obama made an appearance on comedian Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast in June, and Tuesday marks a nationwide podcast festival with the live simulcast of “Cast Party” to over 500 movie theaters nationwide, featuring shows from four of the most popular podcast networks.

“Cast Party” co-creator, producer and host Seth Lind experienced the “Serial effect” up close and personal with his job as director of operations for “This is American Life,” whose producer Sarah Koenig was the creator of “Serial.”

“’Serial’ increased listening across the whole medium, including ‘This is American Life,’ ” Lind said. “We got probably something like 200,000 new listeners that could be attributed to ‘Serial,’ which is significant... It was fascinating to see how much bigger it got than any of us thought.”

I was one of those geeks who listened to podcasts 10 years ago, but fell out of the habit.

Why? Listening wasn't that convenient and most programs I heard on my local NPR affiliate were better.

No longer. Listening is now super easy, even when you're offline, with iTunes and apps like Podcast Addict for Android (my app of choice).

And there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of programs you can listen to, some of which are as entertaining as anything you'll find on public radio.

If you haven't yet listened to Serial, give it a go. I liked it. My wife loved it.

Here are 12 other podcasts to listen to if you're new to podcasts.

  1. Song Exploder
  2. Question of the Day with James Altucher and Stephen J. Dubner
  3. Reply All
  4. StartUp
  5. Invisibilia
  6. Mystery Show
  7. 99% Invisible
  8. Freakonomics
  9. Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin
  10. Radiolab
  11. The Tim Ferris Show
  12. Ask Altucher

Am I missing any? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy listening!