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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Best Music of 2015

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Another year of music has gone by, with all of the ups and downs that entails. In conjunction with our recent list of the best albums of 2015, SportsAlcohol.com rock and rollers Rob, Sara, Marisa, and Jesse got together to talk about the best music of 2015 — not just the best albums, but our favorite songs, each other’s idiosyncratic tastes, thoughts on Top 40 pop, and some gripes about the worst the music industry has to offer. Listen to our best music of 2015 podcast to find out:

–How we felt about this year’s high-profile band reunions
–Why we all like Belle & Sebastian so damn much
–Who among us is the biggest Carly Rae Jepsen fan
–Why Rob is glad he didn’t have social media as a kid
–What songs or albums we’d strike from the 2015 record, if we could
–What our moms think

It’s one of our widest-ranging discussions, and you don’t need to be some kind of music snob to enjoy it! So go enjoy it!

How To Listen

We are now up to SIX (6) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

You can also listen to some of the music we talk about in this Spotify playlist.

TRACK MARKS: Best of 2015 – “Sapokanikan” by Joanna Newsom

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.

Our Track Marks feature spotlights individual songs that SportsAlcohol.com contributors love. Looking back at the year, we’ve selected some of our favorite songs from albums that don’t appear on our Best Albums of 2015 list.

By this point it would be fruitless to come to a Joanna Newsom record with any expectations; she’s made a career of defying them. It can make her difficult for new listeners to approach but it’s also why she’s one of our most thrilling artists. There are constants throughout her four LPs thus far: the distinctive (some would say unbearable) voice, the ornate instrumentation, the GRE-vocab-level lyrics. Tagged as an elfin maid after her debut The Milk-Eyed Mender, Newsom zigged away from her freak-folk persona by putting out the sort of five-song suite that wouldn’t be out of place in the Renaissance, and her 2015 album sees her forging down another unforeseen path. Borne from the opposite inspiration of her previous record, 2010’s Have One on Me which was a three-disc eulogy for a dying relationship, Divers finds Newsom tackling another kind of darkness: the abstract, contradictory fear of loss that comes with being deeply happy.

This thematic through-line is perhaps least immediately evident in lead single “Sapokanikan” which both begins and ends with references to Shelley’s immortal poem of power’s futility “Ozymandias.” History, as the Trump-ian saying goes, is written by the winners, though Newsom’s not interested in known quantities but what lies underneath; the title is taken from a Native American settlement that, prior to the Dutch colonization of Manhattan, was located approximately in the area known nowadays as Greenwich Village (which is also where, in the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed video, Newsom cheekily frolics.) Unfolding over a vast, unpredictable arrangement that recalls ragtime with a regimental beat, the lyrics weave a tale of empires conquered and chastened, lands recorded and erased, Newsom taking on various personas whose fate was molded and cast aside by greater unseen hands. “Will you tell the one that I loved to remember, and hold me?” she pleads at one point, but there is no answer for her as there isn’t for any of us.

If Newsom is interested in darkness here she’s also consumed by cycles, particularly those imposed by time, which marched on for those before us and will do so again. “The city is gone,” she sings at the song’s end, “look and despair.” But Divers is ultimately a tribute to love manifested as an echo, the final song “Time as a Symptom” cutting off in the middle of the word “transcend.” It’s startling at first but it’s also an invitation to turn the record on again, which begins with the word “sending,” thus closing the loop opened at the end. It’s an artist reaching out her hand to bring you back into her world, and ignore the advance of time a little longer.