ABC Best Of The Year Part 1: Alabama Shakes, Bjork, Courtney Barnett, David Bowie
Looking back at the past year I have decided to think in alphabetic order,… what did I listen to this year? Some new and old stuff, but overall some very good stuff! I went to many concerts, although there are many of these artists I haven’t seen live… yet! Four by four, the challenge will be to find an artist, who has been significant for this year, for each letter of the alphabet, and I already have an idea for almost each letter, although Z will be a challenge.
A as in Alabama Shakes: Definitely a revelation of this year for me! Just this past week, their album ‘Sound and Color’ earned four Grammy Award nominations, including album of the year, which means I am not alone. When I saw them in concert this summer at the Greek theater, Brittany Howard’s long howls gave me the chills during a hot August night, and I got very impressed. She was commanding the stage and was exulting soul, rock and R&B with a rare intensity. ‘Sound and Color’ is a brilliant album, mixing many genres and this woman is a visceral force to reckon on in the future.
B as in Björk: She released a masterpiece ‘Vulnicura’ at the beginning of this year, and even though I have never been a strong Björk fan, the beauty and sadness of some of these songs are unparalleled. It may be her more personal and emotional album as it is arranged around the chronology of her relationship and breakup with artist Matthew Barney. Although it was released in January, Bjork has managed to stay in the news till December, because she is an environment activist who cares about the future of the earth,… meanwhile Vulnicura was nominated for the Best Alternative Music Album Grammy.
C as in Courtney Barnett: She really took me by surprised when she released her album ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit’… I had heard ‘Avant Gardener’ a few times at the radio and I immediately got hooked on this odd song about gardening during a heat wave. Courtney is an observer of the slow-passing life around her that she describes with a morose tone and more words than Bob Dylan. She sounds so clever but she brings no pretension, especially during her shows, which have the wild energy and the looseness of 90’s grunge. And yes, she also got some Grammy nominations!
D as in David Bowie: He has not released his new album ‘Blackstar’ yet (set for January 8th) but, a few weeks ago, he gave us an amazing 10-minute video for the title song, and if you are like me, you have been haunted since. When many aging rock stars try to stay relevant in this youth market, I bet Bowie doesn’t care for a Kanye-West-Rihanna collar. At 68, he is not following anyone, because he is still a trendsetter, he is getting better with age, but everyone knows Bowie has no age.