Let’s face it, 2015 was a tough year for Planet Earth. Terrorists attacked, politicians argued, and the climate continued to destabilize. There has never been a better time for happy music, and thankfully, we’ve got a great selection right here!
Listen to these recordings and allow your worries to evaporate; remember the innocence of childhood and the beauty of the world. Cling to the fact that while we can’t stop bad things from happening, we can’t stop good things from happening either! Our cups might seem only half-full, but they can overflow. Our cover image comes from the site Pancake of the Week. Did you know there was such a site? Doesn’t it make you happy?
And now, A Closer Listen presents The Happiest Music of the Year ~ a selection for the spirit, heart and mind!
Ali Helnwein ~ Voyage (Spring Break Tapes)
Baroque music, handclaps, dialogue samples and timbres from vintage films combine in this ebullient collage. Helnwein’s crew seems to be having a whole lot of fun, which means we are too. Voyage sets sails on a sunny day with just the right amount of wind, and reaches port in the hearts of its listeners.
Cars & Trains ~ Dust (Self-Released)
The artist’s first instrumental album is warm and endearing, the sound of dust blown from an old childhood toy. Combining bright instrumentation with the strings of William Ryan Fritch, Cars & Trains offers a sweet alternative to the troubles of the world.
Dan Friel ~ Life (Thrill Jockey)
Half an hour of distorted abandon may be too much for some, but for others, it’s just right. Life is like a cotton candy carnival, a sugar-fueled race through a park of exuberance. Friel’s inner child is allowed to play untethered, and his wild rumpus is cathartic.
Haiku Salut ~ Etch and Etch Deep (How Does It Feel to Be Loved?)
Etch and Etch Deep brims with color and confidence. This is the rare album that sounds like its color, a kaleidoscope of timbres and shades. The glockenspiel is never far from the picnic table, but shares the food with its companions; the music sounds like a summer feast.
Le Millipede ~ Le Millipede (Alien Transistor)
Le Millipede is just one man with a whole lot of friends, but his love for rhythm and riff is contagious. This album is a perfect example of what can happen when all of the instruments get along: it’s like a family reunion without the arguments.
Lullatone ~ The Sounds of Spring (Self-Released)
The completion of Lullatone’s seasonal project is yet another joyful release, in love with spring in all of its promise and bloom. Few artists have captured the essence of childhood as well as this duo; credit a love of parenthood along with an attitude of innocence.
Music Komite ~ Congo Square (Discontinuerecords)
Where did the slaves of New Orleans find the strength to endure their conditions? Faith, community, and music. The album is dedicated to the Congo Square, a gathering place for creative emotional release. By imitating the community’s joyful collaborations, Music Komite honors their example.
Oskar Schuster ~ Tristesse Télescopique (Self-Released)
On Tristesse Télescopique, the young composer continues to emulate the sounds and moods of Amelie. One can imagine the ingenue as she skips stones and falls in love. Playfully romantic, this album is like a first date in a pastry shoppe: sweet and confected.
R. Weis ~ Parrot and Paperback (Self-Released)
As far as happy music is concerned, one cannot go wrong with a parrot and a paperback. This simple, gleeful concept is something that no one had thought of before. In subsequent years, we’ll hear a glut of parrot and paperback albums, and we’ll look back and reminisce about the day when it all began.
Software of Seagulls ~ Sunrise Industry (Feral Media)
Percussive and sample happy, Sunrise Industry drives a golf cart into the supermarket, the corner office and the living room. Its permutations of light produce a comforting glow. All is well in this world. The seagulls are smiling.