Every month since January 2011, Shaun Johnson has been making monthly playlists of his favorite music. As soon as the last couple days of the month roll around, Shaun starts a new playlist for the next month with whatever music he is jamming out to at that time. These playlists include any music that Shaun loves and are not confined to any specific genre or release date. The playlists usually include new music, but they can also include tracks from bands that Shaun is planning on seeing live that particular month.
These write-ups are solely for Shaun to promote the music he loves and to give him an outlet to write about music in a consistent manner! Don’t be afraid to send him your thoughts on his write-up or playlists on Twitter: @ShaunSJohnson
I had the privilege of interviewing CHON’s Drew Pelisek in Omaha at The Slowdown at the Circa Survive, Balance and Composure show. It was one of the best concerts, let alone be experiences of my life. Pelisek was one of the coolest band members I have ever met in my entire life. My media production class at Iowa State University demanded a project every single week for the last 6 weeks of class. The main stipulation of the assignments was that they have to have something to do with an event in Ames. It can be a feature on a future event, too. This was particularly rough for me since I lived in Des Moines, Iowa.
I tweeted at Pelisek a few days before their show at The Slowdown in Omaha with Circa Survive and Balance and Composure about a possible interview to preview their Iowa State University show just a few weeks later. He said, “yeah” and I was excited. The tweet was completely on a whim and a final attempt before I would have to do some sort of lame preview of something I don’t care about in Ames.
The next few days before the show I was jamming to CHON’s new album, Grow, nonstop, along with all of their other tracks. I listened to CHON and only CHON for the first week of April because of all the editing I put into the video.
The beginning of April I was watching Transparent on Amazon Prime. I had just finished The Walking Dead’s season five and Better Call Saul’s first season, so I needed to move onto something else. When deciding I watched a couple trailers of shows. Transparent was one of those shows. In the trailer, they used Vance Joy’s “Mess Is Mine”, which is a phenomenal song that fit very well in the shows trailer.
Sufjan Stevens masterfully crafted some of the most heart-wrenching songs of the year with one of the best albums of 2015 with Carrie & Lowell. There are a bunch of great songs on the album, including “All of Me Wants All of You”, “Fourth of July”, “No Shade In the Shadow of the Cross” and more. The album is truly wonderful and will be on my end of the year list, for sure.
Madeon also released a new album in 2015 with Adventure. It is a good album, but somewhat forgettable, overall. I do enjoy the tracks where he collaborates with a solid vocalist most. The track with Passion Pit, “Pay No Mind” is probably the best on the album.
Death Cab for Cutie’s Kintsugi was released in April, also. It falls short of most of their other works. It’s a shame because of how great I know that Death Cab for Cutie can be. This was also their last album together as the same band that released the fantastic albums in their catalog, like Plans and Transatlanticism with Chris Walla’s departure.
The third single from Passion Pit’s Kindred was released mid-month. It was “Until We Can’t (Let Go)”. If I were to rank the tracks on the album in terms of best to worst, I would put it in the middle of the album overall. A lot of Kindred is really solid, songs like “Lifted Up”, “”Whole Life Story” and “Where the Sky Hangs” are close to the quality of Gossamer’s tracks. I think that Gossamer is nearly perfect overall, so Passion Pit had a lot of work to capitalize on that album. Overall, I think Kindred fell short of that, but it is still a solid album.
Earl Sweatshirt released I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside at the end of March. Although, I haven’t given it enough time, I really like the first half of it. Tyler, the Creator released the Cherry Bomb in April, too. This year has been a really great one for rap and hip-hop albums. I think Tyler released a good album. The two singles, “FUCKING PERFECT” and “DEATHCAMP” are really great. I also love “SMUCKERS” with Lil Wayne and Kanye West. Lyrically it is heads above Wolf, but I don’t think the album is better at this moment. I connected with songs like “48”, “Awkward” and “Answer” off of Wolf. Tyler, the Creator really has a lot going for him and I think he will be around for a long time.
I threw some Run the Jewels on the playlist because they were announced as one of the headliners at this year’s 80/35 in Des Moines. I cannot wait! The show will be absolutely bonkers. Earth Wind & Fire’s “September” was on the radio at work and I found myself grooving to it.
The Bully and JEFF the Brotherhood show was at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines on April 11th. It was a great show and got me even more excited for Bully’s first full length, Feel Like on June 23rd.
The Brand New, Circa Survive show was on April 25th and both bands were absolutely unreal. Brand New sounded very good and were everything I expected them to be. They opened with their new song, “Mene”, too, just as I predicted. Seeing Circa Survive twice in the same month was pretty neat. Anthony Green is one of the best frontman and performers of all-time. He looks healthy, vibrant and sounds clean. I’m happy for Green and the rest of the dudes in Circa Survive.
I became somewhat reminiscent of Electric Forest and some of my friends in my “forest family”. Before Electric Forest, I had never listened to Tycho. At Electric Forest, after we got our camp all set up and the schedule of performances poster put up, we all sat around the poster discussing who we wanted to see. The only person in the group that said anything about Tycho was my friend, Danyiel Turner. There was so much to do and see at Electric Forest but none of it meant much unless I was experiencing it with my friends. So, I told him I would tag-a-long with him for Tycho. And I’m glad I did, since they put on one of the best performances of Forest. Now nearly a year later I’m still listening to their debut album Awake. They would definitely be up higher on my end of the year music list, too.