Favorite Albums of 2015

I purchased nine albums/extended plays released in 2015, and here’s my ranking.

Veruca Salt - Ghost Notes

Veruca Salt - Ghost Notes

1. Veruca Salt - Ghost Notes
One of my favorite albums from the 1990’s was the Veruca Salt album Eight Arms to Hold You, which sadly preceeded Nina Gordon’s departure from the group. A decade plus later the full original line-up reunited for an excellent combination of hard riffs, melodies, and harmonies. One of my favorite moments was the line from “Empty Bottle” that went “Banging my head against a wall of sound.” That’s Veruca Salt in a nutshell.

2. Metric - Pagans in Vegas
Canadian alternative vets Metric went into a very synth-y direction on their latest album. I really liked some of this material including some instrumental and experimental songs such as “The Face” and “Office Towers Escalate.” Mainstream songs such as “The Governess” and “The Shade” show that Metric is still one of the best groups at producing catchy alternative rock.

3. Editors - In Dream
Another nice post-punk revivial record from Editors, who’s last record I skipped. They too went into a more synth-heavy direction on this album. I also liked the alternative versions on the extended version of the album.

4. FFS - FFS
The most unexpected release was this collaboration from Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. While some songs felt like “Sparks” songs or “Franz Ferdinand” songs that were brought to the project, the epic “Collaborations Don’t Work” was seamless blending of styles. Some very strong material here, and it’s nice when popular “students” do effective and enjoyable projects with their “masters.”

5. Colin Hay - Next Year People
Another effective album of catchy and reflective material from Hay, who’s live show I caught this year as well. While in concert it’s mostly Hay and a guitar, the record features a full band sound. Hay’s voice is as effective as ever and this is one of his best solo efforts. I pre-ordered and received an autographed copy too.

6. Madona - Rebel Heart
There were lots of tracks I really liked, including the title song available on the extended version of the album. But there was a lot of weird and hip-hoppy material that really isn’t my thing (example: “Bitch I’m Madonna”).

7. David Gilmour - Rattle That Lock
The title track is amazing, but the rest of the album isn’t really that catchy. Kind of ironic that I prefer last year’s mostly instrumental Pink Floyd release to this.

8. Foo Fighters - Saint Cecilia EP
Their last album was nearly the top of my list in 2014, and one of my favorites of the last 10 years. But Saint Cecilia is pretty generic stuff. Which is okay since it was released for free as a bonus to their loyal fans.

9. Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Letters from the Labrynith
This came along with a purchase to their live concert and suffice to say that I’d have never bought it on it’s own.

Most Played Songs of 2015

As part of an annual tradition here are my most listened to songs of 2015, based on play data from iTunes. In contrast to 2013 and 2014, the gender representation has basically flipped as the top of my charts feature female artists or female-fronted bands in nearly every top slot.

Charli XCX’s excellent Sucker album was a holdover from late 2014, but her new track “Mow That Lawn” that debuted at Positivus and was a staple of her live shows was my favorite track of the year. I also enjoyed new albums from Metric, Madonna, and a long-awaited comeback from the original lineup of Veruca Salt. And credit for UK post-punk revival band Editors for adding a bit of testosterone this year.

In total I listed to 2829 songs, up from 2669 last year.

Name Artist Album Plays
Mow That Lawn Charli XCX Live At Positivus Festival 2015 59
Nuclear Seasons Charli XCX You’re the One - EP 53
Famous Charli XCX Sucker 49
SuperLove Charli XCX SuperLove - Single 42
Nuclear Seasons (Live) Charli XCX The Blind Club 35
Cool for the Summer Demi Lovato Cool for the Summer - Single 33
Forgiveness Editors In Dream 32
The Museum of Broken Relationships Veruca Salt The Museum of Broken Relationships - Single 32
Breaking Up Charli XCX Sucker 31
Break The Rules Charli XCX Sucker 30
The Shade Metric Pagans in Vegas 30
The Fatal Gift Metric Single 30
Empty Bottle Veruca Salt Ghost Notes 30
Sucker Charli XCX Sucker 29
Gold Coins Charli XCX Sucker 29
Body Of My Own Charli XCX Sucker 29
Alternative: Forgiveness Editors In Dream 28
Rebel Heart Madonna Rebel Heart 28
It’s Holy Veruca Salt It’s Holy - Single 28
London Queen Charli XCX Sucker 27
No Harm Editors In Dream 26
The Face, Pt. I Metric Pagans in Vegas 26
The Gospel According to Saint Me Veruca Salt Ghost Notes 26
I Want Candy (Live) Charli XCX Transmitter 25
Ocean of Night Editors In Dream 25
Alternative: No Harm Editors In Dream 25
Fortunes Metric Pagans in Vegas 25
Cascades Metric Pagans in Vegas 25
Office Towers Escalate Metric Pagans in Vegas 25
Laughing in the Sugar Bowl Veruca Salt Ghost Notes 25
The Museum of Broken Relationships Veruca Salt Ghost Notes 25
Break the Rules (Live) Charli XCX Live At I Heart Radio 24
Hanging Around Charli XCX Sucker 24
Devil Pray Madonna Rebel Heart 24
The Governess Metric Pagans in Vegas 24
Nuclear Seasons (Live) Charli XCX iTunes Festival: London 2012 - EP 23
The Lebanon The Human League The Very Best Of The Human League 23
Love You Less Veruca Salt Ghost Notes 23
Boom Clap (Live) Charli XCX Transmitter 22
Ghosttown Madonna Rebel Heart 22
The Forbidden Zone Oingo Boingo Oingo Boingo Demo EP 22
Lost To Me Veruca Salt Ghost Notes 22
Alternica Veruca Salt Ghost Notes 22

Top 15 Albums of the Past Ten Years

Interesting the way that my favorite albums seemed to be clustered in certain years. This list is presented chronologically with no specific ranking.

Charli XCX - Sucker (2014)

Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways (2014)

Pet Shop Boys - Electric (2013)

Ixtahuele - Pagan Rights (2013)

Infant Sorrow - Get Him to the Greek (2010)

Metric - Fantasies (2009)

Franz Ferdinand - Tonight (2009)

Editors - In this Light and On This Evening (2009)

The Bravery - The Sun and the Moon Complete (2007-2008)

Kelly Clarkson - My December (2007)

Dewey Cox - Walk Hard Soundtrack (2007)

Dave Gahan - Hourglass (2007)

Rock Kills Kid - Are You Nervous? (2006)

Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape (2006)

Audioslave - Revelations (2006)

AT&T Park

I saw two SF Giants games at AT&T Park this weekend, though I only paid for one. I flew home from Chicago on Friday night and arrived at the stadium to have a hot dog from a street vendor and to watch the game from the free viewing section in right field. Julie and Quinn were at the game and I thought about trying to get in, but it was cold and they wanted to leave anyway.

The next day we went to a game starting at 6:05 and got to see sundown around the stadium. It made the pretty ballpark even more picturesque.

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Spring Training 2015

Julie and I spent the weekend in Phoenix a couple weekends ago to see the SF Giants at Spring Training. We attended a very relaxed game at Surprise, AZ, the home of the Texas Rangers (and KC Royals). The next day we went to the SF Giants home in Scottsdale, AZ. We liked Old Town Scottsdale but it was warmer and less shady so we didn’t love the in-game experience. Overall, we had a great time attending Spring Training.

Fearless Oscar Predictions 2015

Projected winners in bold. I kind of feel like Best Picture and Best Director could split again this year, but I don’t know which one has the lead for each award. So, I’m guessing Boyhood for Best Picture and Birdman for Best Director. It really could go either way with one film winning both or Linklater winning Best Director and Birdman for Best Picture. But, I’m not playing it safe by picking the same film for both slots.

Which award winner would I stand and cheer for? Maybe Steve Carell in a miraculous upset. I’d probably cheer for Bradley Cooper too (he has a much more realistic shot). I’d like to see Big Hero 6 win Best Animated.

Update: Final tally is 16/24  - a pretty lousy results this year

Best Picture

  • “American Sniper”
  • “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
  • “Boyhood”
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • “The Imitation Game”
  • “Selma”
  • “The Theory of Everything”
  • “Whiplash”

Actress

  • Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”
  • Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything”
  • Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
  • Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”
  • Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”

Actor

  • Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”
  • Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”
  • Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”
  • Michael Keaton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
  • Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”

Supporting Actress

  • Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”
  • Laura Dern in “Wild”
  • Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”
  • Emma Stone in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
  • Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”

Supporting Actor

  • Robert Duvall in “The Judge”
  • Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood”
  • Edward Norton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
  • Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher”
  • J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”

Director

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Alejandro G. Iñárritu
  • Boyhood” Richard Linklater
  • “Foxcatcher” Bennett Miller
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Wes Anderson
  • “The Imitation Game” Morten Tyldum

Adapted Screenplay

  • “American Sniper” Written by Jason Hall
  • The Imitation Game” Written by Graham Moore
  • “Inherent Vice” Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
  • “The Theory of Everything” Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
  • “Whiplash” Written by Damien Chazelle

Original Screenplay

  • “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
  • “Boyhood” Written by Richard Linklater
  • “Foxcatcher” Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
  • “Nightcrawler” Written by Dan Gilroy

Animated Feature

  • “Big Hero 6″ Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
  • “The Boxtrolls” Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
  • “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
  • “Song of the Sea” Tomm Moore and Paul Young
  • “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura

Cinematography

  • “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Emmanuel Lubezki
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Robert Yeoman
  • “Ida” Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
  • “Mr. Turner” Dick Pope
  • “Unbroken” Roger Deakins

Costume Design

  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Milena Canonero
  • “Inherent Vice” Mark Bridges
  • “Into the Woods” Colleen Atwood
  • “Maleficent” Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive
  • “Mr. Turner” Jacqueline Durran

Documentary Feature

  • “CitizenFour” Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
  • “Finding Vivian Maier” John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
  • “Last Days in Vietnam” Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
  • “The Salt of the Earth” Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier
  • “Virunga” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Documentary Short Subject

  • “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1″ Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
  • “Joanna” Aneta Kopacz
  • “Our Curse” Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
  • “The Reaper (La Parka)” Gabriel Serra Arguello
  • “White Earth” J. Christian Jensen

Film Editing

  • “American Sniper” Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
  • “Boyhood” Sandra Adair
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Barney Pilling
  • “The Imitation Game” William Goldenberg
  • “Whiplash” Tom Cross

Foreign Language Film

  • “Ida” Poland
  • “Leviathan” Russia
  • “Tangerines” Estonia
  • “Timbuktu” Mauritania
  • “Wild Tales” Argentina

Makeup and Hairstyling

  • “Foxcatcher” Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy” Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

Original Score

  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat
  • “The Imitation Game” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Interstellar” Hans Zimmer
  • “Mr. Turner” Gary Yershon
  • “The Theory of Everything” Jóhann Jóhannsson

Original Song

  • “Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie” Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
  • “Glory” from “Selma” Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
  • “Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights” Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me” Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
  • “Lost Stars” from “Begin Again” Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois

Production Design

  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • “The Imitation Game” Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
  • “Interstellar” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
  • “Into the Woods” Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • “Mr. Turner” Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts

Animated Short Film

  • “The Bigger Picture” Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
  • “The Dam Keeper” Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
  • “Feast” Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
  • “Me and My Moulton” Torill Kove
  • “A Single Life” Joris Oprins

Live Action Short Film

  • “Aya” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
  • “Boogaloo and Graham” Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney
  • “Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)” Hu Wei and Julien Féret
  • “Parvaneh” Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
  • “The Phone Call” Mat Kirkby and James Lucas

Sound Editing

  • “American Sniper” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
  • “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock
  • “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
  • “Interstellar” Richard King
  • “Unbroken” Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro

Sound Mixing

  • American Sniper” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
  • “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
  • “Interstellar” Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
  • “Unbroken” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
  • “Whiplash” Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

Visual Effects

  • “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
  • “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy” Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
  • “Interstellar” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
  • “X-Men: Days of Future Past” Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer
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