Blackstar, David Bowie
In coming to see David Bowie the man finally portrayed by David Bowie the artist, he not only affirms our natural human hopes and fears, but realizes his own in his final hours. The artist lowers his mask and takes a bow. And the audience applauds.
untitled unmastered., Kendrick Lamar
A testament to hip-hop’s undeniable spearhead, Untitled Unmastered does away with excessive decadence. There is no flashiness on its facade, nor no grand showing as to how good the music is, it’s simply a collection of eight tracks recorded during the To Pimp A Butterfly sessions that demands to be lauded.
–Pretty Much Amazing
Everything You’ve Come to Expect, The Last Shadow Puppets
The lyrics, devilishly wedded to their echo-chamber-laden arrangements and sneering Bowie-esque croons, play like coded spells set to music.
Ouroboros, Ray LaMontagne
This unexpected and daring album doesn’t pander to the audience LaMontagne has acquired through five previous releases that sound little like this. Better yet, it never feels forced or pretentious, but rather a natural if somewhat startling extension of the artist’s determined and compelling internal compass.
The third studio long-player from the Muscle Shoals-born crooner, the aptly named Cautionary Tale finds Dylan LeBlanc exorcizing some personal demons while injecting some much needed pomp and circumstance into his signature blend of breezy, ’70s West Coast singer/songwriter pop and Bible Belt-bred gothic Americana.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson
Simpson … seems hell-bent on disassembling the genre and piecing it back together the only way that sounds right to him. While the best of the best learn to master country music, he’s turning it into a whole new monster, one that’s his and his only.
Best singer-songwriter I’ve heard in a while. Soulful and musically masterful. A great lowkey album that’ll sound great on a front porch in summer as you sip on a cold beverage in the breeze. A kind California country vibe permeates his songs.
Sounds like: Ray LaMontagne
Listen to his latest album, Cautionary Tale.
Though this trio of films received a combined zero nominations from the Academy, all three are award-worthy and worth a watch.
The End of the Tour
Synopsis: The story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace, which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel, ‘Infinite Jest.’
This movie is not for everybody. It’s a simple character study about two literary intellectuals discussing the merits of art and fame. Jason Segel does an excellent job disappearing into his role and provides the film with a low-key depth.
Love & Mercy
Synopsis: In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.
A fascinating look at the life of a musical genius. This is a film for not only fans of the Beach Boys, but for anyone who’s intrigued by the intersection of creativity and mental illness. The use of sound throughout is especially remarkable.
Synopsis: A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart.
Another flick that’s probably not for everyone. Shot entirely on iPhones, this tragicomedy follows a group of underrepresented characters through the seediest parts of L.A. on a kinetic and colorful journey. It’s a small story but one that deserved to be told.
1. Kid A, Radiohead (2000)
Essential Track: “Everything in Its Right Place”
2. Funeral, Arcade Fire (2004)
Essential Track: “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”
3. In Rainbows, Radiohead (2007)
Essential Track: “Reckoner”
4. Is This It, The Strokes (2001)
Essential Track: “Last Nite”
5. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Arctic Monkeys (2006)
Essential Track: “A Certain Romance”
1. OK Computer, Radiohead (1997)
Essential Track: “Paranoid Android”
2. Nevermind, Nirvana (1991)
Essential Track: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
3. The Bends, Radiohead (1995)
Essential Track: “Fake Plastic Trees”
4. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)
Essential Track: “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”
5. Loveless, My Bloody Valentine (1991)
Essential Track: “When You Sleep”
1. Doolittle, Pixies (1989)
Essential Track: “Here Comes Your Man”
2. The Queen Is Dead, The Smiths (1986)
Essential Track: “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”
3. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses (1989)
Essential Track: “I Am the Resurrection”
4. The Joshua Tree, U2 (1987)
Essential Track: “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
5. Remain in Light, Talking Heads (1980)
Essential Track: “Once in a Lifetime”
1. The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd (1973)
Essential Track: “Time”
2. Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin (1971)
Essential Track: “Stairway to Heaven”
3. London Calling, The Clash (1979)
Essential Track: “Train in Vain”
4. Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd (1975)
Essential Track: “Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts I-V”
5. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, David Bowie (1972)
Essential Track: “Starman”
1. Revolver, The Beatles (1966)
Essential Track: “Tomorrow Never Knows”
2. Abbey Road, The Beatles (1969)
Essential Track: “Something”
3. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles (1967)
Essential Track: “A Day in the Life”
4. The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Velvet Underground (1967)
Essential Track: “Venus in Furs”
5. The Beatles (The White Album), The Beatles (1968)
Essential Track: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”