My Favorite Media From 2015
It’s that time of the year again when everyone writes their top 10 lists. I’ve done this in the past (mostly when I was consuming more media) and thought I’d do something similar this year. It’s not top 10 lists per se but here is some of the media I’ve enjoyed over the past year. Not all of it came out in 2015 (these days I’m often behind) but none the less I did enjoy it this year.
I’m going to break up this section into two lists: albums that came out in 2015 and albums that didn’t. I don’t listen to as much new music as I used to so I can’t really do “The Top 10 That Came Out In 2015” thing. Instead I’ll give you my “Top Listens of 2015”.
Albums Released in 2015
- Son Lux “Bones”: This was by far my favorite album of 2015. It released around the time I was leading an intensive training program and it got my through the busy admin work. I’d turn it on, pop in my ear phones and knock out a bunch of work. Find it on Amazon. Top songs: Flight, Change Is Everything
- Ryan Adams “1989”: This is a fun little album. The ladies in my life enjoy Taylor Swift quite a bit, and her 1989 was a potential for this list, I just got more enjoyment out of Ryan Adams’ take. I’ve mentioned this album on my blog before. If you like Ryan Adams or Taylor Swift it’s definitely worth a listen. Find it on Amazon. Top songs: All You Had To Do Was Stay, Bad Blood
- Wolf Alice “My Love Is Cool”: This album is very new to me. I discovered it about a week ago on someone else’s “Best of 2015” list. I’ve really enjoyed listening to it over the past week and imagine it might show up on the 2016 version of this post. I’m not going to mention top songs quite yet as its still quite new to me. Find it on Amazon.
- Amanda Cook “Brave New World”: I imagine it’d surprise people to see this one on my list. If the year had been different it actually probably wouldn’t be here. But I found this album to be significant in our time of sabbatical. The slightly ambient nature of the worship songs helped ground quiet times and study times and I found the lyrical content to be mostly helpful as well (with some exceptions). Find it on Amazon. Top Songs: Mercy, Kind
Albums Released Prior to 2015
- Frightened Rabbit “Pedestrian Verse”: If you like Mumford & Sons, you’ll probably Frightened Rabbit as much (if not more). I find this to be a musically rich album and quite enjoyable to drive or cook to. Find it on Amazon. Top songs: The Woodpile, Late March, Death March
- Bon Iver “Self Titled”: One of the older albums on this list but that’s ok. It’s the go to album to exhale and relax and come down from a long day of doing stuff. Find it on Amazon. Top songs: Holocene, Perth
- The Head & The Heart “Self Titled”: This has been at the top of my list since I first heard it several years ago (it came out in 2010; I probably first heard it in 2011 or 2012). It’s folky goodness that begs to be listened to as an album and not as individual songs. Because of this it’s hard to pick out top songs but here go: Down in the Valley, Sounds Like Hallelujah. Find it on Amazon.
- My Epic “Behold”: I mentioned above that Amanda Cook isn’t typically the type of worship music I enjoy; My Epic is. It’s probably not for everyone though. A bit post-rock. A bit emo. A bit hard rock. And a lot of awesome. Top Songs: Zion, Hail (which ends in a rousing hard rock chorus of Majesty, Worship His Majesty…if you are familiar with that common church chorus). Find it on Amazon.
I love movies, as does my wife. Our preferred date is going to see one especially since they are so inexpensive here (that is, if something good is showing - in Kenya that’s not always the case). I’ll forewarn you that I’m a science fiction/fantasy nerd and this list is waited heavily in the direction of what I enjoy. And the deeper, thoughtful indie flicks don’t often make it to our part of the world so don’t get mad at me if its a shallow list. I enjoyed all of these quite a bit, at least. Here’s my take:
- The Force Awakens: Mild spoilers might follow but I’m trying to keep this spoiler free. People like me have been waiting for the continuation of the Star Wars saga for ages. The 3 prequels didn’t really count (especially #2 - Attack of the Clones - it was painful to re-watch) so anxiously we awaited JJ Abrams & Disney’s take. I admittedly was a bit pessimistic at first (that mostly stemmed from the disney to abandon the expanded universe books; I really wanted a Grand Admiral Thrawn trilogy) but was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The new core characters are amazing. Rey and Finn are perfect characters to take the mantle. The ways they are sunsetting the prior trilogies characters are believable and tragic and the right decisions all wrapped up together. I’m more excited than ever for what will come in the Star Wars universe (and am hoping the core stays true and Rey is who I think she is).
- Jupiter Ascending: Critics didn’t really care for this movie but I loved it. It would have been my favorite movie of the year if SWVII hadn’t come out. An epic space opera set predominantly in modern day earth was a great and engrossing choice. The challenge of this move though is the story; it covered a lot of ground quickly that ended up being confusing for people. I wish it could have been spread out just a little bit. Still, I’d watch a sequel.
- The Martian: This might have been the most well done movie I saw this year. I wasn’t expecting to like it (I didn’t like that Tom Hanks movie where he talks to a volley ball and Gravity wasn’t my favorite either and both of those seemed similar) and instead I ended up loving it. Matt Damon did a phenomenal job marooned on the moon. I’ve read several reviews that claim the movie is better than the book (a feat almost never achieved) and I’d believe it in this case.
- Jurassic World: The first Jurassic Park was such a fun movie to goto. It might have been the first PG-13 movie I got to goto in the theaters. The two follow ups were terrible though (particularly 2). I was cautiously optimistic about World and thankfully was not disappointed. It successfully captured the magic of the first one and made me once again want to go to the dino zoo.
- Ant-Man: We didn’t get to this one in the theaters, instead we watched it home. While a bit skeptical (particularly my wife) we found Paul Rudd to be funny and enjoyable as Ant-Man. He’s a bit of an odd superhero but it works quite well. It will be interesting to see what role he plays ongoing.
- Avengers 2: This was a big movie. It acts as a nice cap to the current phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe but was almost too busy. Still, quite a bit of fun to watch.
- Mission Impossible 5: I’ve enjoyed previous Mission Impossible movies but none as much as this one. I think it was because they downplayed the slightly hokey tech stuff and emphasized more of the classic spy tropes. Whatever it was, I enjoyed MI5 quite a bit more than the prior MI movies.
- Spectre: The James Bond movies are the spy movies I enjoy, and the latest didn’t disappoint. While not as good as Casino Royale, I really enjoyed how it brought the various threads woven by the Daniel Craig Bond movies together and found it to be a bit more enjoyable then Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.
I typically read a lot. I’ll mention some of my favorite reads from the past year.
- Leviathans Wakes by James SA Corey: I loved this book. It felt a bit like a cross between Firefly and Star Wars. I don’t get to read a lot of fiction these days but am looking forward to slowly working through the followup books. Find it on Amazon.
- The Tortoise Usually Wins by Brian Harris: This was my favorite book on leadership to work through during my sabbatical time. It looks and takes seriously leaders who don’t necessarily want to be leaders and how they can best lead. In particular it looks at how they serve, shepherd and steward. I hope to write more reflections from this one in the new year. Find it on Amazon.
- The Advantage by Patrick M Lencioni: This was my favorite management read. Lencioni is an engaging author and this particular book is quite practical. Focusing more on organizational health I found a lot to glean from it. Perhaps my favorite bit was the identification of adrenaline bias in organizational development (“we’ve got to go as fast as we can, build as quickly as we can and be perfect yesterday in order to be successful”) when the reality, as he states it, is quite the opposite: ”…you have to slow down in order to go fast.” Find it on Amazon.
- The Wheel Model by Frank Schattner: The Wheel Model is focused on sustainable church planting. It examines the fruit of global church planting movements and pulls out the core unifying factors that produce sustainability and health. I found this to be extremely helpful in tying together what I was already feeling. Find it on Amazon.
- Spent Matches by Roy Moran: Spent Matches is another CPM book but written by an American pastor implementing core principles in a traditional American setting. Part autobiographical, part instructional I found it to be a really interesting read, especially as we engage traditional church structures. Find it on Amazon.
- Heaven on Earth by R. Alan Streett: This is a book I’ve seen recommended all over the place by a wide range of people. So wide in fact that I knew I had to check it out, particularly as it covers one of my favorite subjects: the kingdom of God. This is another one I hope to revisit on the blog should time allow. Find it on Amazon.
- Unleader by Lance Ford: This one was a re-read for me. It came out a couple of years ago and at the time was the best book on pastoral leadership that I’ve read. It’s written for the church and examines how Biblically church leadership might differ from other leadership models. Find it on Amazon.
I’ve hoped you’ve enjoyed a view into some of the things I’ve enjoyed over 2015. If you have the time let me know what all you enjoyed in 2015 (and what you might be looking forward to in 2016!).