EDITOR'S NOTE: All month long we’ve travelled back in time to take a look at the music of years gone by. For the most part one trend has been clear: The more things have changed the more they have stayed the same. One look at the charts will tell you that what is selling in any given year very rarely lines up with what was making waves. In fact it wasn’t until the grunge explosion of the 90’s that there was even semblance of confluence between the two. And while that tide may have retreated back down the musical shore, in 2012 we find it ever so steadily creeping forward once again. Are we headed for the next big music singularity, or are we doomed to repeat the endless cycle? Nobody can tell for sure, but in this, our final entry into our year-by-year Rocktober coverage we take a look into our crystal ball and check in on December 31, 2015 to see what the heck is going on in the world…
While the biggest local stories of 2015 were Japandroids’ two consecutive sold-out shows at FedEx Field and former NPR intern Emily White taking a job as director of marketing for Dischord Records, the music industry enjoyed the usual dizzying highs and terrifying lows in 2015. A review of some of the highlights:
- Animal Collective releases an album of dolphin noises and sound effects culled from the Atari 2600 game “Pitfall.” It gets five stars from Rolling Stone and sells more than two million copies.
- A masked man threatening to detonate a small handheld device on a Green Line train is disarmed and killed by former Husker Du front man Bob Mould. Asked for comment, Mould says “just doin’ my duty.”
- Taking a cue from the lucrative success of John Lydon’s butter commercials, Robert Smith begins selling Purina Puppy Chow, Nick Cave becomes the spokesperson for Disney Theme Parks, and Trent Reznor appears in ads for Home Depot. Reznor also scores the soundtrack to the Wii U game New Super Mario Brothers Galaxy 8, Volume II.
- Music fans are elated and confused as Shakira, Beyonce, and A Place To Bury Strangers are selected to open the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Jack White astonishes fans and critics by writing a song with more than one riff.
- M. Night Shyamalan’s Star Wars Epsiode VII: The Rise of Prince Xizor is a massive box office disappointment. Critics dismiss the film as having “way too much fanboy crap,” and fans take issue with Shyamalan’s standard surprise ending, citing Xizor could not be Chewbacca’s father for both chronological and biological reasons.
Pretty sure we couldn't write a better caption than this guys face
- Kanye West marries Dum Dum Girls frontwoman Dee Dee Penny in a small, private civil ceremony in Omaha, Nebraska.
- Facing a shutdown because of an inability to reach consensus on spending bills, both houses of Congress hold a closed door meeting with former Sugar front man Bob Mould. Minutes later an accord is reached and the government functions continue.
- Listening parties are held throughout the country to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Senator Ted Nugent’s groundbreaking 11th album Spirit of the Wild. During one listening party, Sen. Nugent shoots a fan who claims the “bass could be higher on ‘Lovejacker.’” Sen. Nugent invokes his second amendment rights and notes “that guy didn’t know how to f***ing rock anyway.”
- Rather than releasing albums, Beck begins selling napkins that he has doodled on while eating at Denny’s. “Do what you want with them,” Beck says in a statement, “I don’t give a tin shit.”
- R.E.M. embarks on their 29-city “We Knew This Would Happen Too” reunion tour.
- Bon Iver surprises critics and fans by releasing his first horrorcore album, WisconSINNER. Despite lyrics such as “Sold my cold knot, a heavy stone / put a muthafuckin’ bullet in that bitch’s dome,” critics hail the album as a triumph and anticipate a sweep at next year’s Grammy awards.
- Pitchfork introduces a controversial new rule stipulating that no album by a band from Brooklyn can be rated less than 8.6.
- Music fans are stunned when it’s revealed that Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum is in fact former Sundays front woman Harriet Wheeler.
- Professional DJ Bob Mould headlines Coachella, Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, Virgin FreeFest, Burning Man, the city of Jackson, Wyoming’s 4th of July parade, and, inexplicably, the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival.
- Fans walk out of an Amherst, Massachusetts performance by Matt & Kim when the duo stops smiling for six seconds. “They’re usually so happy,” says one disappointed fan.
- Fiona Apple releases what is believed to be her first novel to massive critical acclaim before informing news outlets that it’s actually just the name of her new record.
- Avril Lavigne becomes the first hoverboarding fatality, as she’s sadly hit by a hovercar on her way to the premiere of Jaws 19.
- The Federal Government effectively bans the music of Pond in the U.S. by labeling their music a Schedule III substance.
Clearly an unfair stereotyping on the part of the govern...oh wait...nope...we see their point
- Despite numerous corporate types trying to make him stop, Andrew WK defies all odds and continues to party.
- After debuting a completely new sound reminiscent of early Neil Young, Odd Future is booed off the stage at the Newport Folk Festival. After someone in the crowd yells “Judas,” Tyler the Creator detonates a small but powerful nuclear weapon.
- The revolutionary BepiColombo spacecraft, set to be the first craft to ever photograph the planet Mercury, suffers a massive technical failure and is unable to launch until renowned memoirist Bob Mould picks it up and throws it straight out of the Earth’s atmosphere. “I work out,” said Mould. “Ain’t no thing.”
- Ben Gibbard is named an American Idol judge. A slightly larger surprise comes when Ty Segall joins The Voice.
- Former Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum plays one show in the doorway of a small café in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His setlist is comprised mainly of Jim Croce covers and a new song about lizards.
- Bloomsbury Publishing continues their wonderful “33 1/3” book series with entries including Tune-Yards’ Whokill, Deerhunter’s Halcyon Digest and, inexplicably, Limp Bizkit’s Gold Cobra.
- Ryan Adams’ tweets about his socks become sad and repetitive as he begins wearing knee high black Hanes and Teva sandals every day.
- Music fans are shocked and delighted as R&B star Amy Winehouse emerges, dirty but seemingly healthy, from her burial site in north London. “Think I can’t hold my drink, eh?” asks Winehouse. “Give us a fag, will yeh?”
- Lana Del Rey debuts her new reality show, “The Kooky Adventures of Lana D,” on TruTV. Her new fragrance is the hottest selling item at Wal-Mart, and her line of pajamas is given credit for keeping Sears in business.
- Crazed fans kidnap LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy and hold him hostage, demanding that the band reunite. The standoff continues for three days before WWE script writer Bob Mould initiates a brave and successful rescue using nothing but a single guitar string.
And there you have it. It's been a remarkable month of rock in which collectively we saw close to 50 bands and nearly broke ourselves in the process, a feat which is not recommended. But hey, if you gotta rock...
And while the future of rock may be unclear, there is one thing we can say with absolute certainty:
Yes Chicago...as long as there are years for you to spoil that you continue to make music, we will still love you. Always and forever
Until next year...we'll see you at the show,
The ChunkyGlasses Crew