In 2018 and 2019, the big news for us was grandchildren. Grandchild #1 (GC1) was born a couple of weeks after our younger son got married. GC1 has the distinction of being the first Keller female born in captivity in over a century. The last time we had a full-blooded Keller female born were the sisters of my dad’s father. Needless to say, it had been a very long time.
A little over a year later, GC2 was born. Now, this one was a boy, of course. This child is very active, constantly on the move searching out the next object he wants to mess with that he shouldn’t. Of course, I prefer my description of him as being a disaster looking for a place to happen.
Honestly, I can’t wait until this stupid pandemic is finally put to rest so we can enjoy GC1 and GC2 together. That could be a very interesting mix. The cool thing is that they will grow up in the same school corporation, though they will not be in the same building until they are in middle school. Now, based upon their current heights, I suspect that GC1 will be significantly smaller that GC2. But, I also envision GC1 being able to verbally handle herself with him. Just for the few interactions they had together this past summer, GC2 did much physical protection of GC1. I really think those two have some kind of telepathic connection developing quickly, so it should be very interesting to witness their developments as they grow up.
I know! Quit the grandkids this, grandkids that routine. I said, “Okay!” Let’s look at this last entry for my 1000 favorite albums blog series. These will be the albums forever associated with MY grandchildren. Unveil my selections!
Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer (2018). Will someone please explain why Janelle Monáe, the talented Prince and Outkast protégé never had a Top 100 pop hit song as a solo artist but only via a guest vocalist on a yoga song called…uh…”Yoga”? Dirty Computer is her third album that reminds this old guy of someone’s own Dirty album. All of her stuff is from the Janet Jackson/Prince/Outkast mold with Monáe taking similar risks while effortlessly bending genres. Now that Prince and Bowie are deceased, Stevie is off in whatever La-La Land he landed in, Janet’s a mom and Outkast remain apart, Janelle is our current hope for this throne of personal musical diversity. This album should have been huge.
Kacey Musgrave – Golden Hour (2018). Musgrave is arguably the one modern day, non-throwback oriented country singer/songwriter who is doing something that isn’t bad Eighties music with a fiddle. No, Kacey has some sly humor deep in her lyrics while her music gives nods to soul, R&B, soft rock and even (gasp!) disco and hip hop. In lesser talents, this mix would break careers. Yet, for Musgrave, she continues to rise in status.
Leon Bridges – Good Thing (2018). Mr. Neo Soul is back with his sophomore release, and it proves to be no slump. The deck was stacked against Bridges being able to move past his seemingly stuck-in-the-Sixties soul, but he nimbly navigated that concern with some mighty fine songs. Sure, he’s still a soul man, but he is branching out as his lyrics get to be more heartfelt and personal. “Beyond” is a timeless song about budding love.
Ariana Grande – thank u, next (2019). Grande’s creative growth was so fast that the new smell on her 2018 Sweetener album had not even faded when gave suddenly dropped a new song, which ended up being this album’s title track. Suddenly, her songs’ lyrics maturation were catching up to her otherworldly voice. This is what should happen for all singer/songwriters, or at least the ones I root for. I can understand why young ladies in their late teens made this album their go-to musical binge during times of breakup angst.
Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go (2019). Along with Grande’s LP, this was the other big selling album of the year. Eilish immediately filled the role of being the anti-pop star of Generation Y. Her lyrics thrust her into the unenviable role of becoming the voice of her generation, a title that the others before her openly shunned, such as Dylan, Lennon, Springsteen, Stipe, Cobain, Tupac and Kanye. Some of those names navigated the waters, some simply turned away and yet others succumbed to the pressures. I love her starting place on the map of her career. Let’s simply hope that she is more of a Bowie, rather than end up like Cobain or Tracy Chapman.
Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock (2019). I gotta admit that I love 2010s Bob Mould! The man has been on a stellar creative role ever since the release of his autobiography See the Light in 2011. But, on this release, Bob is looking backward as much as he is forward. The album is a non-compilation culmination of his career. You can hear all of his phases throughout his career. From the early days of Hüsker Dü to latter day Dü through acoustic solo to Sugar up to and including older, angrier Mould, all together on one album of fresh material. Rack this one up with Zen Arcade, Workbook and Copper Blue as his classic albums.
Coldplay – Everyday Life (2019). It’s official people: Coldplay was one of the biggest musical acts on the planet. So, in celebration, the band goes into full on U2 territory by creating an album similar in nature to U2’s triumphant return to their basics on All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Coldplay was nearing the end of their second decade as one of the big rock draws in the 2010s, much like U2 had been as Y2K approached. And, Coldplay began to look all around them for inspiration, including the politics of the countries they had just visited. This album is in the same vein as U2’s 2000 release because of the introspection. Additionally, this album confirms that Coldplay is the real deal.
Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019). Lana Del Rey exploded on the music scene back in 2012. The public was eating up her noir lyrics-meets-Chris Isaak’s music, while critics were skeptical, claiming she was a manufactured singing star. Then, she had a disastrous performance on SNL, which I thought would signal the end of her career. What happened? The woman persevered by working harder at her craft, developing her vocals and choosing some fantastic musician/producers. Everything finally came together on this wonderfully dark album of just plain outstanding songs. Del Rey teamed up with Jack Antonoff to carefully creature the textures that enhance Lana’s descriptive lyrics. The more I listen to this album, the more that is opened to my ears.
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You (2019). So, who had Lizzo as their breakout musical star for 2019? No one was really that surprised as Billie Eilish and Lana Del Rey both achieved commercial success. But Lizzo? First off, the woman IS a talented singer, songwriter AND musician. Her first EP was lackluster at best. Then came Cuz I Love You, and, OMG, this thing blew up! This is how dance music should sound in a word: FUN! It had been a very long time for this old geezer to name the last album he thought was “fun.” He went back to 1983 for Madonna’s self-titled debut for that word. I’ll take albums like this any day of the week!
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen (2019). Everyone’s favorite death-obsessed rock star is back with one of the best albums of his career. Sure, Cave’s lyrics remain dark, but they are tinged with a spirituality that is more Biblical than it is Gothic. The beauty of Cave’s work is that darkness is balanced with just a tincture of hope that cuts to the core of The Message in The Bible, the stuff that usually is ignored by American Christianity. Yet, it that very thing that Americans yearn for, while they remain completely petrified by that notion. It is in with the sinners where the growth takes place. And Cave alludes to that throughout his best albums. Just like this one…
Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride (2019). During the six years between this album and the band’s previous album, much happened. Most significantly, one of the creative minds behind the band, Rostam Batmanglij, went solo, while the other creative spark, Ezra Koenig, left the East Coast for L.A. During this time, Koenig fell in love with Kacey Musgraves’ music, influencing Koenig’s writing by developing sound characters for his songs. On their previous album, Modern Vampires of the City, VW had shown much growth. However, Vampire Weekend truly displayed major growth in their music, especially within their lyrics. This is the case of addition by subtraction.
And that wraps up the list of My 1000 Favorite Albums of All-Time. So, what albums should have I included? Let’s hear it people! Peace.