2015: YEAR IN ALBUMS

Like every other vain dweeb who makes, keeps up with, or obsesses over music, I have my ~end of the year Best Of~ lists every year. Most of us just make a list of 10-50 impacting Artists - Albums. If we work for a publication or run a blog, we'll go a little in depth into the music. I'm all about the 'music' part, and just as much about the 'vain dweeb' part. 

There was so much great music out this year that I can't rank it from 'best' to 'slightly less best'. Instead, because everything to me is a diary, I'm gonna run a chronology of my year x the 20 albums that were the most significant to me.  I know, this list is extremely Westernized, but what am I gonna do, invent a time machine that takes me back this year so I can listen to more global bodies of work? There's always room to expand on the 2016 year-end! 

1/2015

Nothing special but comparatively less grim than the rest of the year. I was employed at a sound studio, I started my work with DRANK, I shot a music video with the Bedroom Witch, I had no idea what I was doing career~wise or anything~wise.  This biddy was a beautiful mess. 

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official album cover

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1. Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper. This heavily influenced the genesis of Death Valentine. For my post-Red Stripe music project, I wanted to create a character that exhibited my dark inner feels, but in a fabulous way. When I saw some of the imaging of Panda Bear’s album, I knew I was heading in the right direction. (What do I want to be when I grow up? A Barbie? A mermaid? A ballerina? No, I’m the motherfucking grim reaper, Princess Death Valentine.)  


Fun fact: I smoked weed twice in 2015: once on 4/20 (I took one hit and passed the fuck out), once in January when PBVSGR came out (blasting the album on my soundsystem while playing ambient “6 hours of meditation and chill” youtube tones with foliage screensaver, pretending i was in the forest in college having a transcendental experience to Panda Bear).  

 

The music on this album is an improvement on Panda Bear’s already impressive repertoire. There’s something for everyone: the upbeat & hyphy “Mr Noah”,  the Debussy-sampling “Tropic of Cancer”, the emotional synths of “Selfish Gene”.  The album is aggressively Panda Bear, never veering into any unusual territory, but since this sh*~t is already so dank, the overconsistent sensibility isn’t a problem. 

 

 

2/2015

Sometime around Valentine's Day I took the leap from Red Stripe to Death Valentine. I was invited to join Suntundra Moon on tour. My parents split up. Many feels for such a short month. 

 

2. Bjork - Vulnicura. Of course I have to include Bjork in the year end list!!! Very relevant in terms of dealing with heavy personal emotions: I gave it to my mom to listen to (since she and Bjork had similar types of breakups) but I don’t think she liked the album very much. Sorry, mom.  “Moments of clarity are so rare, I better document this,” Bjork writes on “Stonemilker”. What a nugget of truth from a beautiful genius who turned 50 this year. 50!!! Seriously, if Bjork is not #lifegoals, I don’t know who is.  

 

 

3/2015

March was the best; the Suntundra tour was amazing and the people in that band are fucking awesome. Shot at SXSW on the way back to LA and that ruled. 

3. Suntundra Moon - All Will Be Tested With Fire EP. The body of work that Suntundra promoted on tour. Beautifully crafted psychedelic songs that sound even better live than on the album: how a 9 piece band holds it all together is beyond me, but I’m very happy I got to witness it time and time again.   

 

 

 

4/2015

Coming home to LA after three weeks of awesomeness on tour, I switched jobs, got really existential upon the thought of being a year done with my senior thesis film, and played the first Death Valentine show in LA (technically it was in the Valley but don't tell anyone).

The day after I played that show, something really grim happened and I can actually pinpoint April 11th as the day my soul started to deflate in 2015 (don't worry it re-flates eventually). However, I also finished the first EP in April, so that was pretty chill.

 

4. Death Valentine - My Bloody Valentine EP.  Yes, I’m including my own 2015 release on my informal ~best of~ list because I can (because I'm the best), and because this was a crucial album to make in between major life transitions from personality 1 (lost, deathly, idiotic, fragile, confused) to personality 2 (rising out of the ashes like a phoenix of conceptual art & chill). The sonic pallette also expanded from emotional guitar music to emotional synth/sitar/layered guitars music. Tbh I might abandon the Death Valentine moniker in 2016, but this incarnation is always going to have an important, defining role in my 2015 experience. 

 

 

5/2015

It's been a year since graduating from Bard. More feels. Kind of a weird and troubled month. I had some industry affiliates drag my art into the dirt and seeing as how this was not only my ~*~*first criticism*~* but my first brutal and derogatory criticism, I kind of just took it like a traumatized, aesthetic punching bag.  

 

5. Bedroom Witch - Ceremonial Serenades. If I walk into a haunted nightclub packed with fabulous vampires who look like they just walked out of Liquid Sky, this is the album I would want to blast and dance my hot witch ass off to.

 

 

6/2015

Still weird and grim, but I got to work with chillers like Snow Wite, Andrew Rinehart, and Period Bomb, so a little less weird and grim. 

 

6. Snow Wite - Dry Humping Stage Monitors I Am An Indestructible Master. I’ve gotten familiar with Snow Wite’s music after working on his “7-11” music video, and I knew he had a new album dropping soon, but I wasn’t expecting this. Master is an awesome departure from Snow Wite’s earlier, hard~rock-er work. It sounds like wizards doing coke off of an Ableton interface and going for a drive in Angelyne’s pink corvette aka crazy and fabulous as hell. “Joint” is the fuckin’ jam. 

 

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official album cover

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7. Giorgio Moroder - Deja Vu. Speaking of crazy and fabulous as hell, Giorgio Moroder released this album with dank cameos by Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Sia, Charli XCX, and more. This album is so happy and I’ve listened to it over and over without getting bored. 

 

7/2015

I was commissioned to shoot a music video in Russia in late July, which was amazing because then I also got a chance to visit my extended family. This month I also launched Valentine Enterprises: I made a commercial on a whim and totally went for it

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official album cover

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8. My Chemical Romance - I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. Random-ass throwback: I listened to this album so much in 2005, one of the songs came on shuffle randomly on a train ride in Moscow and I listened to the whole thing and got really emotional. I still stand by the vibrance of this album and the longevity of this band. Gerard Way is literally a genius. Someone I was talking to this year hadn't heard of My Chemical Romance and that's when I knew, daaaamnfuck dawg I am old. 

 

9.  Hole - Celebrity Skin.  Another totally random flashback that I haven’t fully engaged as an album since the mid 2000s: the title track also came up on my shuffle and again I had to listen to the whole thing and get super emotional. Genius pop album, full of so much pain and beauty and imagery. Literally a classic.  Bonus: Gerard Way & Billy Corgan (who was Courtney Love's bf at the time of this album?) could literally be twinzzz

 

8/2015

Flew back from an enlightening international trip back to the valley of my depression. I dismissed my haters, but a week later got into a (non-fault) car accident. Oops. Am I surprised? What else you gonna throw at me, 2015?

 

10. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly. Fuck, this album deserves all the awards. Is there anything I can say about its brilliance and relevance that hasn’t already been said on hundreds of tastemaking blogs/ end of the year lists? Heartbreaking and groundbreaking and wild and catchy and heavy and exhilarating all in one. We’ll still be listening to this years down the line. 

 

 

9/2015

I began a program of car accident recovery, saw a chiropractor and a pain mgmt specialist. Planned to see a psychiatrist for my PTSD. I saw a spiritual advisor who told me I was spiritually dying but I can be revived if I work on myself. Evan and Julia, my ex housemates from Bard, visited LA. I hope to visit NYC in 2016!

 

11. Tame Impala - Currents. I have to say this is my favorite album of the year, not just because it’s a fascinating and immaculately crafted piece of work, but because it’s the only CD I have in my car and I can listen to it without getting sick of it. 

 

 

10/2015

Since my body was fucked up, I couldn't physically go back to work and my job broke up with me. By some weird cosmic gravity, I was fated to work for Angelyne. I lived in Los Feliz and made a studio out of my dad's back haus. I wrote a 2nd Death Valentine album but hesitated on making any moves to release it.

12. Neon Indian — Vega Intl Night School. Perhaps I’m only including this album on the list because I have a cameo in the “Slumlord” music video, perhaps because upon hearing the dank beats of “Dear Scorpio Magazine” and “Annie” I’m reminded that there’s bubbly disco life after “Should Have Taken Acid With You”. 

13. Oneohtrix Point Never - Garden of Delete. Bold moves: the album’s acronym is GoD. Need I say more?

 

 

11/2015

My birthday's in November! Things start to feel chill again. I got a new job, I started to work on this website, I shot a music video for DRANK's first single. 

 

14. Grimes - Art Angels. This album is so visionary and next-level genius. Grimes is truly an art angel. Listening to this album is like an influx of glittery dopamine into my brain. I also really dig her dark, otherworldly illustrations. 

 

15. Andrew Rinehart - Everything / Nothing. Rinehart’s music sounds like a desolate, existentialcrossover between Swans and Pavement. Good to listen to while playing intense drinking games to, or sitting and crying by yourself. 

 

 

12/2015

Spiritual resurrection and critical healing: the most wonderful time of the year. Also, I get to put on my blue dress and take photos with dank, luscious Russell. 

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16. Lana Del Rey - Honeymoon. Bless u, Lana, for existing. I don’t think this album was given enough love so I’m gonna throw it down for this one. It’s a slow listen, but absolutely worth it for the gorgeous songwriting and symphonic arrangements baby bye baby high baby baby bye beach baby baby bye baby~~~

 

17. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell.  “Death With Dignity” and “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” are two of my favorite song titles this year, and possibly ever. Perfect album to listen to when you need a dose of ~intimate and haunting~*~. 

18. A$AP ROCKY - At Long Last A$AP. Something I noticed about music and art trends this year (this goes for life, categorically, as well) is the blurring of boundaries between genres, and the rise of “auteur vibes” and strong subjectivities as opposed to !~~a strong rock album!~* or [[{a strong hip-hop track~. “L$D”, this album’s standout track, is like three different songs effectively and trippily rolling face into a singular. As a whole, At Long Last A$AP.  is an awesome conglomerate of rap, electro, funk, pop, rock, future psychedelic trip hop, whatever A$AP want$ it to be. 

 

19 & 20. Justin Bieber - Purpose & Selena Gomez - Revival. I do have a soft spot in my heart for his Christmas classic “Little Drummer Boy”, but if you told me a year ago that I’d rank Biebs as one of my favorite artists by the end of 2015, I’d lol (though his team should do something about that god-awful album cover). Selena’s Revival is also absolutely speaking my language. Revival: it’s hella real! Selena is a hot, sad mess rising like a phoenix into musical and personal evolution. My friend MJ does an amazing acoustic cover of “Good For You” that proves her theory that Selena is a “sad girl at heart”. 

I predict that in 2016 the sad girl will evolve into the trippy girl and I'll release an album as Salvia Plath and it will be a bestseller. Coco Chanel will be a guest feat from beyond the grave and Kanye will design a capsule collection for my stage performance that screams 'emotionally derelict future hobbit'. Can't wait.