Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Honorable Mentions: The Cold Civil War

I’d love to be able to say that it was a great year, but in retrospect, there were some troubling developments. That’s not to say that is was a bad year for me personally, but it feels like society at large is taking a dark, nihilistic turn. For example, it seems like the American flag flies at half-mast so often that the general public doesn’t even consider why. Our society is riddled with instances of meaningless deaths, and this will not change by the installation of any law or policy. It will only change if we, as individuals, change.

For my part, I rarely post anything political, but looking back at 2015 gives me the sense that this philosophy might be misguided. It’s not that I am without political opinions, or that I think that the opinions of the individual are without meaning. I just don’t like to bare my breast to the knife of trollers. I find them troubling, and I doubt that my viewpoint will change minds fossilized by fear and ignorance.

And maybe it won’t, but we have unlimited channels to raise awareness. Leaving these resources untapped seems irresponsible, so I will take this opportunity to plead the case that more guns will not result in less deaths.  It just doesn’t make logical sense. Guns kill. That is their purpose.

That is not to say that I am against people owning guns. I am against the idea that so many people seem to genuinely think that they need them.  I don’t think, however, that it is the government’s place to confiscate guns, even though it seems to be the only solution to disarming this “Cold Civil War” that the populace seems to think is realistic. It doesn’t put any belief in the individual’s right to make morally correct choices and surround themselves with objects that are truly beneficial to mankind’s progress. Instead, attachment to guns becomes more deeply entrenched as people feel that their right to keep them is taken away.

So I think that in 2016, there should be a movement towards the voluntary surrender of firearms in honor of all the innocent people who have been shot and killed in 2015. The fact that this sounds an unreasonable or impossible request is an indicator of just how big the problem is.  At the very least people should consider that the purpose of a firearm is to kill, not to serve as status symbol. It is my fear that, as open carry policies start today in Texas, this latter standard will be the case. Individual businesses can opt out of this policy, however, and I will actively seek out these businesses in 2016 so that my daughters don’t have to feel like they are being raised in a military state. Despite what the fearful may think, we are not (at least not yet).

My apologies. Although I have considered writing a post on this subject for almost three years, this blog is about music and the topic has not coincided with my listening in any believable way. As the year ends, though, and we look back on the last few albums in 2015 that were in the running for the top twenty, it seems as appropriate as it ever will.

In general, these last five albums were ones that I really wanted to get into the “Best of 2015” category, but just did not have the staying power of the others.  Still great, and worth investigation if they grab your ear.

BeckMorning Phase: With half of the original Jellyfish lineup serving as backup musicians and some of Beck’s strongest work, excluding this Grammy winner was a tough call. It was just barely nudged out

Deafheaven – New Bermuda: There’s two ways this album could have gone: more of the same that Sunbather had to offer or something totally different. They took the latter route, and although it has all of the emotional impact of its predecessor, it did not distinguish itself as much as I would have liked.

iamthemorningBelighted: Gleb Kolyadin’s electrifying piano performances drew me to purchase Belighted early this year, and it is undoubtedly one of the more original and satisfying prog releases I have heared in a while. iamthemorning is, however, a duo and the album has some studio musicians filling out the arrangements, and I would like to have heard a more developed group dynamic on the whole.

Tal National - Zoy Zoy: A fantastic, current African pop album, a genre that unfortunately has to contend with the unreasonably long shadow of Fela in my collection. Despite being an adequate listen, Zoy Zoy was not distinctive enough to withstand months of vetting to make the year end list.

Tame Impala Currents: I advocated strongly for Tame Impala’s previous release, and I do like Currents. It has a perceptible turn away from adventurousness towards commercialism, however, that held me at a distance.

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