Aspenbeat Best Repeat Songs of 2015

As broadcast on Aspen Public Radio, Saturday, December 26, 2015. Host and curator: Andrea Young

Adding to the ‘Best of 2015’ music lists, Aspenbeat has come up with its annual foray into showcasing songs commercially released in 2015 that are worthy of consideration for your ‘constant repeat’ playlist. This is a wide field — there are possibly a million songs released each year! So even if you spent most of your days and into your nights listening, you wouldn’t be able to listen to half of the songs released each year. It’s a challenging selection process to come up with a mere 15 songs to reflect the best of an entire year’s releases.

Aspenbeat’s listening resources include the new ‘submission sites’ (fluence, Musicxray), other curators, colleagues, Aspenbeat artists, friends, family, tv, radio, movies, and even walking through malls (that was in the Time Warner building in NYC earlier this year).

From emerging musicians to established well-known artists, the list crosses genres, with rock, alternative, hip-hop, singer-songwriter, reggae, folk, dance, and pop music all represented. What these best of tracks have in common is a catchy ‘earworm’ sensibility, outside of Top 40 Pop and the current EDM/electronic rage, that somehow keeps them showing up on Aspenbeat shows and playlists over and over again. As is customary on Aspenbeat, the show starts out with music that might have you dancing (although not necessarily of the dance music genre), and then tails off into a more mellow thoughtful mood.

Feel free to add the ones you like to your Pandora station or Spotify, Tidal or iTunes playlist or whatever service you are using to listen these days.

Drum roll please!  The list includes ROD STEWART, BAIO, MARK RONSON, TAME IMPALA, NICKI BLUHM & THE GRAMBLERS, ADDAL, KIWINI VAITAI, SNOOP DOGGMILK CARTON KIDS, PRESSING STRINGS, TOBIAS JESSO JR, ELEPHANT REVIVAL, THE RIFTERS, and OLA ONABULE

Playlist tracks on iTunes, Spotify, and more info and artist, youtube and Soundcloud links all follow.

 
LISTEN TO THE TRACKS ON SPOTIFY HERE:

 

 

ITUNES PLAYLIST FOR PURCHASE:

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SPOTIFY PLAYLIST:

**INDIVIDUAL TRACK INFO**

1.  ROD STEWARTPLEASE

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I like to start my shows off with some high energy tunes, and then tail off into more introspective styles (sort of like how I exercise and organize my day ha!) Stewart released a new album in October and this track “Please” has a great high energy rock & roll vibe, fabulously produced, easy on the ears, and easy to dance to! It’s co-written with his longtime collaborator Kevin Savagar, who also produced, arranged, engineered and mixed all tracks. Rod and Kevin cowrote most of the album. The video is pretty awesome high energy too (below)
“Slide over here
Let’s keep each other warm
Shelter from the storm
Come closer to me
Give me a little of your time
Tell me what’s on your mind” Read more: Rod Stewart – Please Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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2. BAIOSISTER OF PEARL

baioI’m a big fan of Daniel Glass and Glassnote Records, and I of course know Vampire Weekend, so I was so excited to find this September new release by Scott Baio (aka Baio), the backing vocalist and bass player from Vampire Weekend, as released by Glassnote. It’s got a David Byrne/Talking Heads kind of high energy for me. Pitchfork notes that Baio describes “Sister of Pearl” as “a Bowie and Ferry-referencing throwback pop song with a simple, straight-forward lyrical message: be who you want to be.” You’ve got to listen.

“…Oh sister of pearl
I wouldn’t change you for the world

Think I might forget it
Gonna write it down
Bring it back around
I’m tired of fighting
In another man’s pointless war
So please keep up with it
Just like you had done before”

GO DEEP:
Listen and watch video of ‘Sister of Pearl’ String Sessions, a fascinating inside look at the track before it was commercially recorded and released

Baio also released a Soundcloud mix for ‘Cold Winter, Warm Beats’


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 3.  MARK RONSONHEAVY AND ROLLING (feat. Andrew Wyatt)

mark ronson2 I’ve been following Mark Ronson since I learned he produced some of my favorite Amy Winehouse tracks.  I’m a fan of ‘Uptown Funk’ of course, but this track is sophisticated R&B that’s a throwback to the Philadelphia sound of the 70′s for starters.   Here’s what Ronson said about the song in an article for The Guardian in early 2015: “Michael had these lyrics fully formed. He was really into the expression “heavy and rolling” that NYC hire car drivers use to signify to the base that they have their passengers and are on the job. Andrew [Wyatt, Miike Snow] had this bassline (from an xx remix that he never finished) and just started singing the lyrics off the page. We added some chord changes and it was pretty much done. This is one of my favourite pairing of lyrics/song/performance on the album. If I could sing like Andrew, I would stay home and serenade myself all day.”

“When the city’s flowing
I found a way to move my weary soul
Ridin’ straight and low
Stay heavy and rolling”

Songwriters
MARK RONSON, JEFFREY BHASKER, MICHAEL CHABON, ANDREW WYATT

 


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4.  TAME IMPALACAUSE I’M A MAN

tame impalaI attend a music business conference every Spring in L.A. and that’s where I first heard of Tame Impala a few years back.  As it goes with truly great bands and songs, their music somehow stuck with me.  I’ve had ‘Cause I’m A Man’ on my Constant Repeat playlist all year long, and its still there.

“Cause I’m a man, woman
Don’t always think before I do
Cause I’m a man, woman
That’s the only answer I’ve got for you
Cause I’m a man, woman
Not often proud of what I choose
I’m a human, woman
A greater force I answer to”


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 5.  NICKI BLUHM & THE GRAMBLERSONLY ALWAYS

nicki bluhm2One of my friends from  L.A. introduced me to Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers (thanks Sarah!).

“Our music definitely hearkens another era,” says Nicki Bluhm, “but at the same time, we want it to be contemporary. Reflective of now even though it nods to other times. We want it to be vintage modern.”

“Cause you’re as bright as a star
Shining in the moonlight
And you’re as warm as the wool
Thats lying over me at night
You’re like a sweat cup of tea
Medicating me right
This was my dream of you last night”

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6.  ADDALMORNING IN LOVE

addalADDAL is a DJ from Milan, Italy.  She says on her Soundcloud account that, “emotional music’ is the concept behind Addal. Born to satisfy the human needs of emotions, passion and feelings.  It’s the pure essence of love turned into music.”

This track features Lisa May on vocals.

ADDAL has over 92,000 followers on her Soundcloud account , and over 50,000 views on youtube of this song.

 


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7.  KIWINI VAITAI – 16 YEARS

I just found out this single was actually released in 2013, so it has to fit into the ‘new to me’ category for 2015.  Kiwini is a Hawaiian artist — island reggae is alive and well in Hawaii!  This track has been on my ‘Constant Repeat’ constantly since I found it earlier this year.

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Kiwini (pronounced Kee-vee-nee) was born in Dallas, TX and is a local of Waianae, HI.  Kiwini (who is half Tongan and half Hawaiian) has really taken the best of both cultures to create music that is enjoyed and loved by many.

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 8.  SNOOP DOGG – CALIFORNIA ROLL (feat. Stevie Wonder)

 

Snoop Dogg California Roll
This just has the right groove to it, that’s all I can say.  I’ve loved Snoop Dogg since he came out with his first track and I heard about it through the salespeople at a music distribution company in Atlanta who just went on and on and on about this new artist called Snoop…….they were right!The track includes vocals from Stevie Wonder and Pharrell (no wonder I like it)


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9.  THE MILK CARTON KIDS – SECRETS OF THE STARS

Milk Carton Kids

The Milk Carton Kids remind me of Simon and Garfunkel – sweet, acoustic melody and harmonies accompanied by guitar.

Turns out they’ve been featured on NPR, the Wall Street Journal and numerous blogs, along with being in the middle of an international (and U.S.) tour.

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 10. PRESSING STRINGS – GOING TO CALIFORNIA

Pressing Strings

 

This cover of the Led Zeppelin classic has soul — in an acoustic guitar and vocals kinda way.  Check it out, you might not be able to play  it just once either….  Once you hear their sound, it’ll  make sense that the three members grew up basically on the Mason-Dixonline.  The lyrics mean more than ever sung by these guys.

 

 

 

 

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 11. TOBIAS JESSO JR – WITHOUT YOU

Tobias Jesso Jr

I first heard this on one of the late night shows.  The recording is just as wonderful.  Tobias is a Canadian musician and his album, Goon, on which this single is included was named one of the 20 Biggest Breakouts of 2015  in Rolling Stone Magazine.  Adele somehow found him and they co-wrote two tunes on her ’25′ album (“When We Were Young” and “Lay Me Down”(Target version)) on her ’25′ album.

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 12.  ELEPHANT REVIVAL – ECHO’S ROSE (Live at the Boulder Theatre)

Elephant Revival 400x400

“Where words fail… music speaks.” Elephant Revival proves this Hans Christian Andersen quote that appears at the top of their webpage, in ways that you have to experience by listening to them perform live or in their recordings, rather than reading a description.  They have called their music ” transcendental folk, a mix of bluegrass, Scottish fiddle music, swing and more” — and it is  genre-bending, with a blend of instruments that includes washboard, banjo, fiddle, cello and guitar, and Bonnie Paine’s distinctive vocal trills added to the mix of sweet harmonies from everyone in the band. I can find something to listen to over and over again from each and every one of their albums, and their live album “Sands Of Now”, on which this track is included, is no exception.  Elephant Revival is from Colorado and there’ll be a big party when they headline Red Rocks May 22.

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 13. THE RIFTERS- A HUNDRED MILES

Van's Cimarron River Dance @ The Holy Waters ©Jim Cox 2014

The Rifters are from Southern Colorado/Northern New Mexico and their loyal following in that area speaks to their musicianship and their danceable Americana folk tunes.  Catch them in Taos or Santa Fe and you’ll find yourself twirling to the two-step.  This tune is a crowd favorite and the lyrics remind me that in the West, it’s the vistas and the wide open prairies that inspire me as much as the majestic mountains.

This tune is included on both this album and the ‘Live At The Sagebrush’ album, and I still can’t make up my mind which one I like best, they’re both constant repeats.

 

Life’s got me surrounded oh you know I feel confounded by the million things somebody thinks that I should do
You know I’m just astounded by a place that I have found where what
once meant so much can seem so little when the day is through

I just want to see for a hundred miles, I just want to see for a hundred miles
I just want to do some things that make me smile,
I want to see,   for a hundred miles — D.L. Richmond

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14.  OLA ONABULE – IT’S THE PEACE THAT DEAFENS

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I host a jazz show on Aspen Public Radio, and that’s how this song came to me, someone sent this record in to be submitted for jazz radio airplay.  It is so much more than that. This track just struck me immediately as something I had to hear over and over again.  It is a beautiful songbird of a track, and, it turns out, it has very deep and significant lyrics and meaning, in that Ola is reminding us that “it’s the stability and peace we have in western society that deafens us to the injustice experienced in other parts of the world.” (Amazon review by Peter McLaren).