2015 In Music

I could go on about how 2015 was vastly different from last year’s music offerings, and how going to shows and listening to records drastically changed in the last 12 months, but I’d be lying through my teeth. It was a year that saw musical releases from many high-profile artists, newly established acts, and reunited groups that were never going to return. In short, it was 2014, 2013, 2012, and so on.

Still, it was still a pretty good year. These were some of the highlights:

Best Albums of 2015

You’ve seen it on every Best of 2015 list, but Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly was truly one of the best albums of the year, and one of the best releases in hip-hop in a long time. It paired well with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me, an honest look at race relations in the modern American landscape, which the album dissects through the lens of a hip-hop artist and the community as a whole. It’s all told through a narrative using a variety of seemingly unrelated genres, like afrobeat and free jazz, making it both the most experimental and most high-profile release in the genre this year.

Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit harkens back to a “slacker” ’90s era of indie rock, but more enjoyable to listen to than Pavement and their Fall-aping tour mates. Barnett’s lyrics about depression, gentrification, and life in general are worth reading on their own.

Sure, the Adele album came out this year, but Tobias Jesso Jr. — one of the writers on the album — released a pop record that could go toe-to-toe with some of the best of the ’60s. Worth noting is how Jesso Jr. learned the piano for the piano-driven record, and Chet “J.R.” White (formerly of Girls) produced some of the record.

Wildhoney released their debut LP (Sleep Through It) and an EP (Your Face Sideways) this year, but they sound like it could have been released 25 years ago on Creation Records. I’ve listened to both releases this year as much as I’ve listened to Ride, My Bloody Valentine and other comparable bands. Seeing the band live and speaking with the principal songwriter only made me like them even more.

I first rejected the two Beach House records outright, but then I inexplicably kept coming back to them over and over again, to the point where they were my most listened to records of the year. While the first few Beach House records were great but sounded a lot like an Americanized Cocteau Twins, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars couldn’t sound more different. I look forward to seeing them live next year for the first time.

Things I Didn’t Like

Future and Drake

I don’t get it.

Half of the new Adele album

The production is ace, but the lyrics are pretty garbage for the most part.

Favorite Sample

There hasn’t been a better VU sample since A Tribe Called Quest.

Things I’m Missing From This Article

  • Probably a lot
  • I’m tired
  • It’s New Year’s Eve


Scott Weiland

Before I became interested in indie rock, the avant-garde, and so on, I listened to Stone Temple Pilots. Before I listened to In Utero, I listened to Core on repeat. I recall times where I subjected my sister, my mother, my grandmother, and my friends to Tiny Music, Stone Temple Pilots’ best album that I somehow owned two copies of on cassette.

Over the years, my interest in a variety of music genres diversified, but I still listened to STP’s discography ever six months or so. Scott Weiland’s lyrics were nonsensical at best, but the crunchy, distorted guitars, and the growling vocals combined with sweet pop hooks made it well worth listening to over and over again.

Weiland lived with a bevy of personal issues, and circumstances surrounding his death are currently unclear. But if you haven’t listened to his work with Stone Temple Pilots and 1998’s 12 Bar Blues, you’re doing yourself and your peer group a great disservice. There would be no modern/alternative rock without Scott Weiland, and I would be a much different, less exciting human being because of that.

New Gig

O blog, how I have neglected thee!

While the country slowly Netflix and chilled itself to complacency, I have been out and about taking the world by storm.

Well, not really, but I’ve been preoccupied by a new job! Once a run-of-the-mill copy editor and writer at my old gig, now a senior editor-in-training at a promising young company, I can finally say for the first time in a while that I feel at home. No longer do I wake up in a cold sweat and remain awake thanks to my old pal, Crippling Anxiety. No, I am refreshed, almost well-rested, and content with life and all that garbage.

Yet in the process, I neglected to update ScottSteinhardt.com, the #1 in Alexa-ranked site 33 years in a row. For that, I am most sorry. Allow me to explain the surrounding factors:

  1. A new place of work requires my utmost attention and care, as did spending every other waking hour planning my exit.
  2. I put down the computer and picked up a book whenever possible, growing tired of using it for my profession and to find a profession.
  3. I switched from Spotify to Apple Music, which does not allow embeds and makes it incredibly difficult for me to share music with you.
  4. I secretly had a time-sucking addiction to a video game named Destiny, which I no longer play.
  5. I started work on a super-secret project.

Regardless, now is the perfect time for my return to this format after a lengthy absence. I have secretly reviewed many albums over the last two months, which I will post piece-by-piece over the next weeks. A lot has also happened in the world of professional wrestling, which my millions of longtime readers clearly care about. Perhaps most important is this “secret” project, which will hopefully take al life of its own before the end of the year. I am actually excited (and motivated!) for the future of this blog and its proprietor, and I cannot wait to share some good news!

Until then, see yourself out with this wonderful song by No Joy, who put out one of the best albums this year.

Talk soon (with hopefully a lot less eloquence).


Deerhunter – “Snakeskin”

Deerhunter is perhaps the most versatile band to survive the Great Indie Wars of the ’00s. Every other band that toured with them from 2007 to 2010 either broke up, went on hiatus, or faded into obscurity. Deerhunter, on the other hand, still recorded a couple of quality albums, put on some amazing shows, and released choice LPs from various side projects.

The band’s last album, 2013’s Monomania, mostly eschewed their shoegaze and dream pop leanings for more a abrasive, (post-) punk-oriented sound. Thought it took an entire year for the record to grow on me, Monomania excels as a snapshot of the band at the time — which, according to a recent interview, seems to be a fairly negative place. It holds its own in the Deerhunter catalog, along with dreamier classics like Microcastle and the Fluorescent Gray EP.

According to press for their upcoming album, Fading Frontier, the band’s new material leans more toward their 2010 album, Halcyon Digest, which still incorporated a multitude of fuzz pedals, albeit with more of a pop sensibility. If lead single “Snakeskin” is any indication of the rest of the album, then expect textured guitars, clever choruses, and Cox’s haunting vocals throughout, which are more coherent than before.

Watch the video for “Snakeskin” below, and keep your eyes peeled for a Deerhunter-themed Never-Ending Mixtape in the next few days.

The State of Scott Steinhardt: August

I’m sitting at home with a pounding headache and the lack of any drive to venture outside. I’ve felt like this for a little over a week now, though now a lot less physically ill (despite the headache). This should hopefully pass by tomorrow, but because of my sickness, I’ve missed the chance to see Yuck, U.S. Girls, Yo La Tengo, and Lee Renaldo live and for free. To kill time, I’ve worked, caught up on True Detective, spent hours listening to Apple Music mixes, and read a book that I would have been a lot better off skipping.

Nonetheless, I’ve still remained fairly active in terms of reading what’s going on in the world, listening to new albums, and trying to catch up on what’s in theaters, which is something I rarely do.


The new Titus Andronicus album, The Most Lamentable Tragedy, is both an evolution for the band and a return to form. The group’s last album is pretty forgettable and throwaway, while this 27-track “punk opera” makes sense, with little filler and a variety of styles covered over the course of 90 minutes. I went into the album expecting to hate it, which is something I rarely do with music. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by new additions to the band’s sound (they finally have a rack tom!), along with guest vocals and string arrangements that should be superfluous, but aren’t. I only listened to the album a few times, so I can’t give it a proper review, and I don’t have much time to listen to a double-album several times over. Still, it’s worth a listen if you’re a fan of punk, Jersey-tinged Americana, indie rock, and a variety of subgeneres that are often done wrong elsewhere but given adequate attention on this record.


Though not news, per se, I recently read a few features about the death of Kitty Genovese, which occurred 50 years from last year. Though I knew the “37 witnesses” deal was partially fabricated by the newspapers, I didn’t know just how much actually happened that wasn’t accounted for in the press. For instance, one witness sacrificed her safety to actually comfort and spend time with Genovese at the crime scene, while several others placed calls as the attack happened. CityLab has a really good article about the myths and mistruths surrounding the case.

Another article that made the rounds in the last couple of weeks was the amazing New York magazine feature on Bill Cosby’s victims. Personally, I look forward to when Cosby has to testify again in court, as it hopefully sheds more light on these cases — more than the recently-unearthed deposition discovered by the Times.


I actually went to the movies in the last few weeks to see Ant-Man. If memory serves me correctly, it was the first time I went to the theaters in 2015. Though the movie was just okay, the experience was pretty amazing. It was my first time at Bay Ridge’s Alpine Cinema, and it quickly became my go-to theater. It’s clean, quiet, 13 minutes by bike, and relatively inexpensive. Plus, they show movies releasing on Friday the day before for $7. This discovery might actually inspire me to go to the movies more often, especially if popcorn and a drink come out to less than the cost of a ticket.


My girlfriend, a friend, and I are going to the Barclays Center later this month for NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. As I’ve mentioned before, NXT is the “minor leagues” to the WWE, but it’s much more impressive and gives every performer a fair shot. For example, the brand does not lump all minorities together on some sort of stereotypical gimmick, nor does it display women as sex objects who sometimes engage in a catfight. It is pro wrestling if it finally (finally!) grew up and was made available to an audience of millions. WWE the brand can barely claim any of these achievements, but it’s getting there.

Takeover: Brooklyn is special for a few reasons. One, it’s the first wrestling show I’ve seen live in over a decade, as well as my girlfriend’s first show ever. (I had to kind of coax her into going with the offer of ample booze and vegan snacks). Also, the Barclays Center holds tens of thousands of fans, which would make this the best attended NXT event so far. WWE’s marquee event, Summerslam, will be held in the same arena the next night, but I’m predicting that Takeover will completely take over overshadow its big brother show. Regardless, it’s bound to be a fun weekend in Brooklyn for all local wrestling fans, especially since rival promotion Ring Of Honor is hosting an event in Coney Island on the same Saturday night as Takeover.

Video Games

Try watching this trailer and taking Destiny seriously. If you can, I have a bridge to sell you.

Tame Impala – Currents

Is psychedelic rock still a thing in 2015?

Sure, there are enough psych bands in existence to fill out the Austin Psych Fest and its sister happenings, and it’s nigh impossible to watch a cable drama without hearing The Black Angels soundtracking the credits. Yet the psychedelic craze, which peaked in the late ’60s, is now more of an influence than a genre. For every psychedelic rock band, there are one hundred bands in various rock sub-genres, many who take bits and pieces of psychedelic rock and ultimately incorporate it into something entirely different. Many former neo-psychedelic mainstays even found that turning straight rock and pop (or, in the case of the Flaming Lips, becoming a bad imitation of the Butthole Surfers) ended becoming ultimately more rewarding, at least from a commercial standpoint.

Perhaps that’s why Tame Impala is a disco band now. After two albums of psychedelic guitar- and synth-driven rock, Kevin Parker opted to not get pigeonholed as a psych artist and move on to a completely different track. The change should work in theory, but it has boring songs and awful lyrics working against it.

Lonerism and its predecessor, Innerspeaker, were enjoyable records that presented interesting musical concepts. Sure, they were filled with moments that were recognizable from 50 years of psych rock records before them, but they were worth a few listens and maybe a return every once in a while — just like ’00s-era Flaming Lips records. It’s hard to argue they were revolutionary when the sound and the songs were done before by everyone in Austin, San Fransisco, and elsewhere, but they were pretty okay on their own.

Currents follows the trend, but replace “psych” with a handful of dance genres in the last 40 years. Each track cherry picks influences from disco and electro/dance history, puts them in a blender, and adds cringeworthy lyrics detailing various parts of a break-up and a relationship — a first not only for recorded music, but for this year/month, so I’m told. If you were to walk into a room while Currents played on laptop speakers, you might not be able to tell the difference between a song on the album and, say, something on Songs from the Big Chair or a pre-roll movie theater intro from the ’80s telling you where the snacks and exits are located. It is barely indistinguishable from the dance stuff you hear on the radio or in the club late at night, albeit less formulaic and written by one person instead of 15.

I listened to the album ten times since its release, but I was able to understand it the best after a sobering train ride home and unwinding at 2 a.m. on a weekend. If you’re in a quiet house after a long night and all you hear are random ambient noises and Currents playing in the background, then it makes sense. It’s a pretty relaxing album, despite uptempo numbers and a heightened sense of energy, and I fully understand who it appeals to, why it’s talked about everywhere (aside from heavy marketing, but c’mon, we’re talking about a UMG band here), and in what context it works. Still, if I were in the mood for a slightly dancey, synth-heavy album worth listening to, I’ll probably stick to Sprits Having Flown in the future.

So why did Kevin Parker decide to move to ersatz disco if he can’t really pull it off? Why didn’t he just stick with psych rock as the spokesperson of a new generation? Why disco? Though it’s commendable for the artist to try something new and out of his comfort zone, it doesn’t land. Instead, Tame Impala became another group with synthesizer, who make music that sounds like all other music instead of doing something inventive with them.

Stupid Things Said by Musicians, July Edition

“I thought it was going to be like the ’90s and people would let art be art. You know, when you had Eminem saying all types of shit he didn’t have to explain that shit in interviews or on the radio or on camera or shit. People just said what they said and you had to listen to the next song to hear how they felt.”

A$AP Rocky on his art, defending a misogynistic couplet, and not realizing that Eminem spent his entire career saying horrible things for shock value that appealed to angsty suburban (predominantly white) youth — and offended everyone under the sun — to sell records, of course. (NME)

“I don’t fuck with the Bill Cosby slander. Of course I’m always against a rapist, but it’s just like y’all eat up anything the media feeds y’all. You internet kids know nothing except what they put in front of you on these devices. Every media site can start slandering anyone at any moment with some half-ass story and you guys will fuckking believe it. At the end of the day, y’all know the media is all propaganda and distractions anyway. The media rapes, [brainwashes], [kills], and [humiliates] more people than anyone on this planet, bruh. Fuck you mean? You always gotta know there is a real story underneath the cover story.”

Joey Bada$$, late to the party, apparently hasn’t read the Times‘ in-depth review of an unearthed deposition, which paints Cosby as a horrific sexual predator preying on women for several decades. Also, dozens of women coming forward with allegations of rape and sexual assault might point to something. (The Guardian)

“I was in LA a few years ago and for some reason we’d taken mushrooms, it must have been the end of our tour. I was coked up as well, and a friend was driving us around LA in this old sedan. He was playing the Bee Gees and it had the most profound emotional effect. I’m getting butterflies just thinking about it. I was listening to Staying Alive, a song I’ve heard all my life. At that moment it had this really emotive, melancholy feel to it. The beat felt overwhelmingly strong and, at that moment, it sounded pretty psychedelic. It moved me, and that’s what I always want out of psych music. I want it to transport me.”

Kevin Parker, of Tame Impala fame, on why his awful new disco album sounds like it was made for dudes in bathroom stalls and not for regular human consumption. (The Guardian)

Yuck – “Hold Me Closer”

London’s Yuck are one of the few modern bands who lost their singer/songwriter and continued to release amazing songs. After Daniel Blumberg left to start a solo career (and release a lackluster album with Royal Trux’s Neil Michael Hagerty), the band promoted guitarist Max Bloom to lead singer and continued down their ’90s revivalist path. 2013’s Glow and Behold saw the re-energized group stray from their obvious ’90s indie rock influences and draw inspiration from Creation Records bands, all while sounding different from any other shoegaze/shoegaze revivalist band. (I honestly prefer Glow and Behold to the band’s 2011 debut.)

Yuck are reportedly set to release a new album at the start of 2016, and today posted the first song from the album’s sessions. Listen to the fuzzed-out “Hold Me Closer” after the break. Also, if you’re in the New York area, be sure to catch them live (and for free) on August 8th at Pier 84 in Manhattan.

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Tony Molina – Dissed and Dismissed

In the time it takes you to read this, you could have listened to two songs from Tony Molina’s Dissed and Dismissed. The San Fransisco-based musician released a brief album on Slumberland Records last year, featuring 12 short tracks in just as many minutes.

Clearly influenced by alt rock staples like Dinosaur Jr. and Weezer, the songs neatly wrap up a verse and chorus in about a minute each, all with shredding guitar solos, dueling lead lines, and subject matter that would make Rivers Cuomo proud. Had Molina written a full verse, chorus, and bridge for each song and followed typical pop song structure, he would have an album great enough to rival The Blue Album. But Dissed and Dismissed instead follows the Guided By Voices song structure, even going so far as to cover Vampire On Titus’  “Wondering Boy Poet” in the process.

This experiment in brevity works, though by the time you realize you’re enjoying it, the album’s already over. As I found out a week ago, the short arrangements are equally surprising in a live setting; it took me several minutes before I realize that, yes, the band was playing awesome power pop songs and yes, they were over before I thought about them in depth. Perhaps that’s what so great about Dissed and Dismissed: the listener is forced to hear the album in the moment and think about it after the fact. Still, the hooks and melodies are instantly catchy and well worth hours of playing on repeat.

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The Internet – Ego Death

It is nigh impossible to listen to hip-hop and R&B these days without listening to artists dip a toe in psychedelia. From Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap to A$AP Rocky beating listeners over the head with a song called “LSD,” psychedelic drugs and leanings replaced Givenchy et al. as today’s lyrical mode in the last few years. Still, the fact that these artists also found their way on the radio while talking about psychoactive/psychedelic drugs (with a metric ton of censorship, mind you) is an impressive feat, especially since it comes several decades after rock’s head-on journey into the center of the mind.

Ego Death, the third album from Odd Future affiliates The Internet, seems like a more earnest exploration into the psychedelic realm than their contemporaries. However, instead of elaborating on an acid trip in lyrical content, the psych influence is felt in the album’s production. Syd Bennett, Matt Martin, and their backing band carefully craft blissed out synths and treated guitars to create tracks  reminiscent of both late ’80s 4AD recording artists and mid-to-late ’90s R&B video stars. The group somehow accomplishes both sounds at the same time, all with slightly melancholic hooks, layered vocals, and guest stars that don’t ever seem to feel out of place.

The most impressive accomplishment on Ego Death is that the Maxwell and D’Angelo lyrical influences are turned on their head, as singer Syd addresses the romantic highs and lows of a relationship with another woman. Though, yes, it is 2015, and such a thing should be commonplace and not considered out of the norm, it is worth noting again that this is an Odd Future record. Yes, the same Odd Future that instantly rose in popularity while using every homophobic slur under the sun just released one of the most amazing R&B records that just so happens to be entirely about accepting and letting go of love from the same sex. It is a stark contrast from talking about fecal matter and killing people, almost negating half a decade of juvenile lyrics over decent beats. Though the subject matter is nothing new for Syd and The Internet, it’s the first time the band wrote thoughtful lyrics over songs worth remembering, showing a rare maturity for an Odd Future group and an act worth following for well more than a viral hit.